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Fujiwara FKM or a step beyond?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I have been reading about Japanese gyutos and I comming to the conslusion y should get the Fujiwara FKM which is around $75/$83 in 210/240mm versions.

 

It is more or less generally accepted that the Carbonext ($105/128 in  210/240mm) is a better knife, but I don't like the the fact that it's not stainless and can rust or discolor and needs more attention.

 

I have seen the Artifex, which is considered better than the FKM, and is not mre expensive that the FKM, but I am not convinced I would be completely satisfied with the looks.

 

Above the FKM/Artifex, how much must one spend to get to the next level?  I keep reading these are nice knifes to get into Japanese knifes, but I would rather spend a little more and get a knife for a long time.

 

A second question is if for home use (not even daily home use) a 240 would  really be more convenient than a 210? I have had a German 200mm chef knife up to now.  Is there really an advantage if not cutting large quantities?  Is the 240 easier to learn how to use right?  (I must still work on my cutting skills).

 

Thanks for your suggestions.


S

post #2 of 13

Hi madera! Welcome to ChefTalk!

 

Before you make your decision, we need to discuss a few other things.

 

There's more to it than just buying a knife.

 

So, let's start with a basic truth. All knives when used dull. There is a difference in how easy or difficult different knives can be in sharpening, there can be differences in how sharp different knives can be brought to, and there are differences in how fast or slow the dulling process can be.

 

But use a knife, and it will be duller than when you started. That's a fact of the Universe.

 

So…

 

You need to take into account how you are going to sharpen that new wonder blade. And you need to budget the cost of sharpening gear into your money budget.

 

Also, you need to figure out what type of cutting board you are going to use. That's going to make a huge difference in how fast or slow your knife's dulling process will be.  And, if you need to get a good cutting board, that cost needs to be added in.

 

Let's start with some questions:

 

How do you intend to keep your knife sharp?

 

What will you be using for a cutting board?

 

What country do you live in? (we get questions from around the world, and knife selection is very much dependent on what country someone lives in)

 

What is your overall budget?

 

Do you use a pinch grip to hold your knife? Do you grab the handle like a tennis racket?

 

What type of foods do you cook?

 

What is the largest number of people who you will cook for in a single cooking/preparation session, in the course of a year?

 

Now, for a few replies.

 

First, about size. This is going to be dependent both as to the types of foods you cook and to the number of people you will be cooking for in a major cooking session. Certainly, a 210 mm blade is adequate for a small number of people, but the extra length and size of a 240 mm blade will make shorter work for those big sessions. And it will usually take someone just a few weeks to get used to the longer length. Your current 20 cm German blade is long enough so as to make the transition to a 240 mm blade easier.

 

Second, as to the FKM vs. the Artifex vs. the CarboNext vs. ??

 

Yes, both the FKM and the Artifex are considered as entry level knives. And the CarboNext is a step above them. And yes, better knives are out there.

 

But what will really make the biggest difference won't be getting a new knife.

 

It will be your working to keep your knives sharp.

 

That's what will really have the biggest impact.

 

This is not to say that getting a Japanese blade won't be an upgrade. It will. And Japanese knives are able to be sharpened to a higher level. They will stay sharp longer. And they are easier to sharpen than German knives.

 

But, you still need to have sharpening skills.

 

So, let's talk.

 

Galley Swiller

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi Galley,

 

thanks for your reply!

 

Here more information and answers to your questions:

.

How do you intend to keep your knife sharp?

 

-yes, something i have to learn how to do

 

-I have the plan of getting 1000/6000 stones from Chief or 1000/3000 from Cerax.

 

What will you be using for a cutting board?

 

-I have a wood board, nice quality and not very hard.  I don't know what kind of wood it is.

 

What country do you live in? (we get questions from around the world, and knife selection is very much dependent on what country someone lives in).  

 

-Germany, but I would have no problems importing from JP or buying in the US (I travel often).

 

What is your overall budget?

 

-well, my original inquiry has mostly to do with the question if it is worthwhile to increase the original budget of the knife from 85 to $x to get into a knife that satisfies for a long time. I am looking for a good knife, but I am no knife fetichist!  If stepping up means doubling the price I will not be doing it, but if there is something really better for up to ~$40 more I would.

 

Do you use a pinch grip to hold your knife? Do you grab the handle like a tennis racket?

 

- I usually don't pinch grip, but I am willing to develop my skills.

 

What type of foods do you cook?

 

-  Lots of pasta (all kinds, including pizza and stuffed pasta), vegetables, risotti, "eintöpfe" (= german stews) less often meat, fish or poultry, and in those cases quite basic things.

 

What is the largest number of people who you will cook for in a single cooking/preparation session, in the course of a year?

 

- In the course of a year I would say I cook once or twice for 15, 6-10 times for 6-10, and daily for 3.

 

----

 

I understand your point that probably learning good sharpening skills and keeping the knifes sharp will be more important than the difference between knives in this class.

 

Some few questions:

 

1) is the carbonext easy to keep looking good (stains, rust, reactive, etc)? with the special price now the difference to the FKM is only $30.

 I very much prefer the optics of the FKM, specially with the wine pakka wood handle

 

2) i would prefer a thin geometry.  On German forums there are reviews of the FKM and while the 210 is said to be "ok" geometry wise, there was a 180 which had a much thinner, better geometry.  This was attributed to production variation and/or dependence on length.  Any info on this?

 

3)  would the FKM benefit from "thinning"?  I can get it done professioanlly really well for around $25, so even considering this the end price would still be ok. 

 

 

Thanks,
S

 

 

 

post #4 of 13

madera, I'm glad to see you intend to get some sharpening stones. My first recommendation is that you do not get any stones which are smaller than 200 mm X 50 mm. And larger than that is better still.

 

A good place to start is to read this post by Chad Ward on how to sharpen:  https://forums.egullet.org/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/

 

And some of the best videos showing how to sharpen are done by Jon Broida, here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/JKnifeImports

 

I read from your posts that how the knife looks is an important issue with you. However, please be advised that I have a different view. I believe that how well the knife works is the overriding most important factor, followed by cost, and how the knife looks is a distant third.

 

In fact, some of my most cherished knives are referred to as “dirty old carbon” knives – well used, but cared for, with stains and other blemishes in appearance that reflect proper care during that usage.

 

In fact, for any carbon blade, it's been my practice to induce a deliberate patina, so that the surface of the steel will be stabilized and passivated against further oxidation.

 

Black or dark brownish colors are good and are a strong indication of Fe3O4. That's what forms with proper development of a patina. Red or orange is Fe2O3 and is definitely not good – that's rust and needs to be scrubbed off as quickly as possible.

 

I recently acquired a CarboNext 240 mm gyuto, so I can probably recommend against your acquisition of the knife. The reason isn't the potential for staining – it's because the knife comes somewhat crudely finished along the edge. That is perfectly normal for many Japanese knives sold in Japan to Japanese chefs. Japanese chefs are trained to properly finish the edge of a knife, so as to place an edge that they individually want on a particular knife. Westerners, on the other hand, expect that the edge put on at the factory is the best. Different cultures, different expectations.

 

For the size of the knife, I would recommend getting a 240 mm blade. You will be using it enough to make the length and width of the blade a significant difference.

 

I am assuming that you are using the word thickness to refer to the thickness of the metal at the spine. Certainly, thickness makes a difference as to the stiffness of the blade. But how well the blade thickness tapers down to the edge from the spine can be important. What others refer to as “thinning the blade behind the edge” refers to a selective thinning by a very experienced sharpener using a bench waterstone and hand sharpening, so as to thin the overall thickness of the blade very near the edge. That helps tremendously in cutting down on the “wedging” of the blade when cutting through foods.

 

As for your using a professional sharpener's services, before committing and putting your blade in that other person's care, ask how the knife will be sharpened. If you are shown stones – that's very good. But if you are shown a motorized sharpening machine, do not have your knife sharpened on it!

 

As for the thinness of the FKM, it's not unusual for a shorter knife to be thinner. Longer knives need to be thicker to compensate for the additional leveraged force that the longer blade will place on the metal.

 

Now for a specific knife recommendation.

 

You might want to consider a MAC “Chef Series” BK-100. I use one as my principal blade.

 

On the negative side, it's really a very un-fancy blade. There's no bolster – just plain riveted scales. It's also not promoted very much. Most who buy it seem to be professional cooks just starting out. And if appearance is important, it's probably not what you would like.

 

But, it's a MAC chef's knife. The steel used is exactly as is used by the MAC Professional MBK-95. And I can tell you from personal comparison with the MBK-95 (I own a number of MAC knives), that both knives have the same thickness (2.5 mm) and the same level of stiffness.

 

Since you are in Germany, you would be buying from the German importer, kuechenmesser.de.  The BK-100 price is €115.  The web page is:  http://www.kuechenmesser.de/shop/index.php/language/de/cat/c19_Chef-Serie.html

 

If you are travelling to the United States, and if you have access to an American shipping address, then you can order a MAC BK-100 from Chef Knives To Go for about $110, shipping included (but not available to be shipped outside the United States).  The web page is http://www.chefknivestogo.com/macchse10chk.html

 

You should also acquire a ceramic honing rod.  The 12 inch (300 mm) Idahone fine grit rod is what I use.  Do be advised that a ceramic rod will shatter if it is dropped.

 

For some valuable tips about honing rods in general, read here:  http://www.cookfoodgood.com/?p=551

 

Hope that helps.

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #5 of 13

Galley, I have been wondering about the grind on the carbonext.  When you say the edge is crudely finished, just what do you mean by that?

 

 

 

Rick

post #6 of 13

So far, all I've done is to order and receive the knife, so it's technically "pristine".

 

Based upon viewing the reflected width of the primary bevel on each side of the blade, I'm estimating the grind is about a 70/30 ratio.  

 

I haven't checked to see what bevel angles are used.

 

In addition, there are some very small rough areas along the immediate edge.  However, none of those rough areas will likely remain after the first proper sharpening.

 

The secondary bevel is flat.

 

Based on feel of thickness, the area behind the edge can probably benefit from thinning.

 

Given a proper thinning behind the edge, re-balancing the bevel ratios more to my (the end user's) preferences, putting on the angles I would prefer and then seeing if I can induce a properly passivating patina, this knife has a high probability of becoming a quality performance piece.  But it does not come quite at that level out of the box.  This is definitely a knife which is the cutlery equivalent of "Some Assembly Required".

 

That's what I would expect from a knife aimed at a culture which expects the end user to be directly involved in establishing personal preferences.

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #7 of 13

Hmmm, thick edge, well at least that leaves a little room for convexing those flat sides.  I few thousands is actually better than nothing.

post #8 of 13
Wonder why you would convex the flat left side.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley Swiller View Post
 

So far, all I've done is to order and receive the knife, so it's technically "pristine".

 

Based upon viewing the reflected width of the primary bevel on each side of the blade, I'm estimating the grind is about a 70/30 ratio.  

 

I haven't checked to see what bevel angles are used.

 

In addition, there are some very small rough areas along the immediate edge.  However, none of those rough areas will likely remain after the first proper sharpening.

 

The secondary bevel is flat.

 

Based on feel of thickness, the area behind the edge can probably benefit from thinning.

 

Given a proper thinning behind the edge, re-balancing the bevel ratios more to my (the end user's) preferences, putting on the angles I would prefer and then seeing if I can induce a properly passivating patina, this knife has a high probability of becoming a quality performance piece.  But it does not come quite at that level out of the box.  This is definitely a knife which is the cutlery equivalent of "Some Assembly Required".

 

That's what I would expect from a knife aimed at a culture which expects the end user to be directly involved in establishing personal preferences.

 

 

Galley Swiller

My CarboNext 240 came pretty much the same and with a 70/30 grind, except I ordered the 'sharpened' version for an extra 10 or 20 $ TBH I thought it was intentional for a right handed user

 

I don't really know enough to comment further but 'thick behind the edge' seems right, comparing to my other knives

 

Would be good to see how you deal with yours, as it sounds like a fun project to have a go at for me

post #10 of 13
I don't understand why one would change the edge geometry of a new knife. The edge geometry results from the blade's geometry, and ignoring it often leads to terrible steering and wedging issues after a few more sharpenings.
post #11 of 13
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benuser View Post

Wonder why you would convex the flat left side.

 

Well you can still maintain the original 70/30 geometry.  But you know any little bit of convexing helps with things like potatoes, that stick to a flat-ground side like a suction cup.

 

The cross section profile is going to line up with the handle scales within about 1deg even if they only ground one side in shaping the blade, so a relatively thin flat-ground knife is going to be fairly symetrical behind the edge either way, yes/no?

 

Anyway I agree with Galley that the Carbonext is possibly not ideal here.

 

Next step up from the Mac bk100 is going to be around $150.

 

 

 

Rick

post #13 of 13
Only if you're a left-hander. Otherwise the already convexed right face will evacuate produce. Convexing the left side will enhance clock-wise steering.
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