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First 'upgrade' Japanese knife.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
So most posts seem to have people asking for more detail about the poster asking the question so I'll start there.

I'm moving into the kitchen having been a porter on and off for quite a while due to circumstances. There's a gap in our kitchen for the lowest level of cooking and prep work and I'll be filling it.

My current day to day prep includes a lot of veg prep and so I do already have some knives. They've been just fine but I have on occasion used some of the chefs knives and they are a world apart. I have no idea what his are unfortunately!! Which brings me to the point where I would really like to upgrade my own knives significantly. I use them a lot and I do like to cook at home too and my home knife block is just cheap pap.

I was looking at getting a Santoku first as it's the most used of my knives really in a 160-170mm length. The knife will be used most days and preferably relatively low maintenance as it's often very busy. I never leave my knives (even the rubbish ones) dirty for long periods of time, but occasionally so for a few minutes or so.

I've looked at quite a number and originally only really wanted to spend about $120-140. Then I saw one knife by Yoshikane that I just LOVE the aesthetic of. Having done some research about the materials it's made from (SKD, SUS 405 clad Sanmai construction) I still can't really figure out if it's suitable for my level of sharpening expertise and desired levels of maintenance?

I have already got a sharpening kit of 4 stones and a polishing stone made by Eden and have started practicing on my current knives and any old knives I can find. I have a cheap ceramic rod, but would be happy to invest money here - I really don't mind spending money on good quality tools of any kind.

My head is telling my maybe it's better to get a softer knife, but my heart just loves the aesthetic of this Santoku and I can't find another anywhere that is similar but of different steel and is still in the same price bracket. Is it a plausible option or am I just being stupid? I have a feeling that if I opt for something else (presuming the steel is suitable for my application) then I'll just always wish I'd spent the extra $50.

Any help really appreciated!!
post #2 of 17

I think santoku are too short if you're doing a lot of prep.  A longer knife is less fatiguing over time.


Anyway if you are set on a santoku and it works for you, then I'll say Yoshikane is a good knife.  I would throw this one into consideration




free shipping, excellent customer service

post #3 of 17

The Hiromoto AS 190mm santoku is one of the best I know. A bit longer, with a great core steel, easy sharpening and thin behind the edge. Attractive price and free shipping.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Both lovely knives to be fair - the Gesshin in particular is a very attractive prospect at that price especially with a saya. 

Has anyone got any experience with SKD11/SUS405 Yoshikane knives from a practicality/ease of maintenance point of view though? I don't feel like I can drop the hammer on a particular knife until I've explored the viability of the Yoshikane for my purposes!

post #5 of 17

It's discussed here with a blast from the past BDL http://www.chefknivestogoforum.com/skd-steel-t2593.html

post #6 of 17

FWIW I look at geometry and knife profile/shape a lot more than steel type these days

post #7 of 17
IIRC from sharpening SLD/SKD11: very abrasion resistant, coarsely grained. Technically almost stainless. Even an obtuse edge will perform very aggressively. Requires fast cutting stones and some sharpening experience.
post #8 of 17

Makes sense.  Most 'tool steels' are coarsely grained, as in they were never really meant for knife making.


@chaski I don't know which yoshikane you're looking at exactly, but if it is at http://www.epicedge.com/  be aware they have a big black friday / cyber monday deal every year.  You can get upwards of 20% off.  I picked up some nice stones and accessories during last year's sale.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

I did see that thread, but I needed it in laymans terms like Benuser said it. The knife in question is indeed on the epicedge website - I had no idea about a Black Friday sale! I'll be sure to check. We don't really have many places that 'do' Black Friday in the UK so it didn't really cross my mind. Though, I think (regrettably) that I need to be realistic and gain more experience with sharpening before going for it. I may pick it up if there's a good deal on and then shelve it until I have honed my skills! 

Thanks very much for the advice guys. 

I have found a Seki Kanetsugu Saiun Gyuto 230mm for just $125 (price converted from £ GBP) here in the UK which is a good $45 cheaper even than the US shops. From everything I've read, this might be a good knife for me to start with instead? Extra length as advised, softer HRC and from what I can see a well respected maker?

post #10 of 17
I guess that's one of the numerous VG-10 blades with a faux-damascus cladding. To be avoided. In general they are fairly thick behind the edge. The damascus-pattern won't look that pretty after a few months of use and a bit of sharpening. And VG-10 is probably the worst steel to sharpen if you're not very experienced.
Better have a middle-of-the-road stainless gyuto to start with. JCK offers an end-of-the-year discount and free shipping. E.g. this Misono 440:

post #11 of 17

The Tojiro powdered seires is a fairly fine-grained steel and should outperform SLD in every way, it's also in your price range.


http://www.amazon.com/Tojiro-F-517-Santoku-170mm/dp/B002JPK6VC  Along with the Hiromoto these are your best options for stainless (well, not compeltely stainless for the Hiromoto, but AS is less reactive than other carbon steels).


The F-520 and 521 are 210 and 240 gyutos.




post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Interesting - is it difficult to sharpen VG10 because it takes a long time due to wear resistance and therefore requires consistency of angle running across the stones? 

This is the knife series in question: http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SaiunDamascusSeries.html#Saiun


Those Misono knives look good - do they hold an edge well? 

post #13 of 17

VG-10 has a problematic characteristic of needing to be taken through a series of progressively finer grits, with each successive raising of burrs.  If you try to just deburr, it can result in the burr snapping off and leaving a flat along your intended edge.  You instead have to start all over.  Royal PITA.


And as Benuser noted in Post #10 above, a faux damascus should be avoided, especially if you end up needing (or wanting) to thin the blade.  Otherwise, the blade will look horrid after the thinning.


If you are looking for a tool rather than a showoff piece, better to get something without embelishment.



Galley Swiller

post #14 of 17
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by chaski View Post

Interesting - is it difficult to sharpen VG10 because it takes a long time due to wear resistance and therefore requires consistency of angle running across the stones? 

This is the knife series in question: http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SaiunDamascusSeries.html#Saiun

Those Misono knives look good - do they hold an edge well? 

VG-10 is very difficult to sharpen. The Misono 440 is finely grained and will sharpen easily. Edge retention is not spectacular. Expect some frequent touching-ups. A few strokes on a 2k, some leather and that's all.
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips guys! It really is helpful. 


I get the feeling I will end up spending a bit of £££ to figure all of this out, but that's generally how things go in life to figure out what's right for you. Lord alone knows I've spent enough on snowboarding equipment/tools doing the same!


A bit out of budget, but trying to blend my quest for some level of aesthetic joy and the suggestions made... would this be a suitable (albeit out of budget) alternative? R2 PM steel, with a similar design to the original knife I asked about. 



Other than that, I'm most keen on the Takamura and the Tojrio suggested above. I think the point Gary made about overly 'pretty' knife blades looking crap after extended use is a really valid one, so am leaning towards a simpler looking blade and focus on the over all shape/profile for my aesthetic (and practical) needs rather than the detailing.   

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

I should also say one difficulty for me is actually obtaining these knives as if I import one I may have to pay customs charges and dealing with a return issue would be a nightmare if I pick the wrong one! 


Edit: I made a post before this one, but it's awaiting moderation as I posted a link to a UK shop asking about a Shibata Kotetsu SG2 Bunka 180mm.

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