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And what about ceramics?

2387 Views 14 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  abernick
I am a young single guy who loves to cook for himself, friends and family. I am looking to buy a new set of ceramics knives. I used to have kyocera but they lost their sharpness in less than a year. 

What can you recommend? Thank you all!!!!!!!!!!
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MillionsKnives is right - no knife is going to last anywhere near 1 year of use without dulling, unless it's sharpened.  In fact, more frequent sharpening (depending on the knife and it's use, it could be monthly or weekly) is really going to be crucial.

I'm not willing to buy or keep a ceramic knife as a principal chef's knife - it's just not very practical.  Outside of the sharpening difficulty, there aren't any ceramic knives on the market which are longer than 8 inches - any longer and the forces encountered will exert enough leverage to risk having the blade break.  Yet, 8 inches is usually the practical minimum length for an all-around length for anything involving such larger foods as roasts.

If you are serious, then you will need a good quality steel blade.  And also consider getting some sharpening gear and have at it practicing sharpening.  There's nothing mystical about it.

And the risk of breaking a steel blade if you drop it is close to zilch.

Also, "Sets" are something almost no one on this site goes for.  You are spending a lot of money for a gaggle of mostly useless blades which will take up a lot of space and which will probably be very poor quality construction.  Save your money and invest in a good quality chef's knife, a good (but cheap) paring knife, a good quality cutting board and some sharpening gear.

There are plenty of threads and posts about choosing knives, sharpening stones and cutting boards.  The search function above can help immensely.  Or, if you are interested in getting some real recommendations, then just ask.  We'll each have our own ideas, and we can be passionate amongst ourselves online, but you will get some good advice in the long run.

To start with, if you can answer some questions, then we can save some time and effort.

Are you willing to learn and then try to sharpen your own knives? 

What's your budget?

What type of foods do you normally prepare and cook up?

What is the largest number of people you cook for in a single cooking session in the course of a month?  In a year?

Where in the world are you?  (the question - and the answer - is important, since availability of knives, cutting boards and sharpening supplies is highly dependent on what country an individual lives in - and we get inquiries from around the world).

I hope we hear back from you.  

Galley Swiller
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You are going to have to think about this as a three-part process: the knives as the first part; a good cutting board (to significantly slow down the dulling process) as the second part; and a way to sharpen your knives as they get dull as the third part.

For a working set of knives, you will need 3 knives: a chef's knife as your basic knife, a paring knife as your secondary knife and a serrated edge bread knife, for anything with a hard crust and a soft interior (such as bread and such vegetables as tomatoes).

The bulk of your money needs to be spent on the chef's knife. You don't need to spend anywhere near as much on either the paring knife or the bread knife.

Most people are going to need a knife 20 cm long or slightly longer. I'm going to use that as my guesstimate length for you.

There are several critical things to look for in a knife. Functionality and design are important, but the quality of the steel and the quality in the heat treatment of the steel put into the making of the knife blade by the maker are among the most important things. Unfortunately, those are qualities which simply cannot be seen by the naked eye. Instead, you need to either use the knife or rely upon those who have used the knife and can talk about it to find out what is or is not good.

With a budget of 200 Euros, I'm not willing to put all of the money into just one chef's knife and leave it at that. You are also going to need to spend on the paring knife and the bread knife. You are also going to need to spend on a cutting board and a sharpening system as well. So, I'm going to set my limit at 75 Euros for the chef's knife, and see what I can find.

There are 3 knives in that length and price range that are excellent quality: The Tojiro DP F-808 210 mm gyuto, the Fujiwara FKM 210 mm gyuto and the MAC HB-85 chef's knife. All 3 are knives made in Japan. All 3 are well-regarded However, all three need to not be used near either bone or frozen foods. Their steel is hard, but not as tough as European steel knives. You can get them to very, VERY sharp levels, but in the wrong conditions (bone or frozen foods), the edge will break off in chunks, a process known as "chipping". The upside of that sharpness will be that it will be so, SO MUCH easier to cut.

One issue for you in Italy is shipping and duty. Many of the sources I have found in the past few hours are outside of the European Union or have shipping charges that I have a problem figuring out. So, I would suggest a level of caution about ordering, until you can get a firm view of what the final cost would be.

The Tojiro F-808 is a "clad" knife, with 3 layers. The two outer layers are softer stainless steel and serve to protect the inner core steel, which has the cutting edge. That inner core steel is VG-10, a well known steel used in many upper end knives. It can be brought to a very high level of sharpness and then after coming down in sharpness small degree in use, it will then provide a very good level of sharpness for some time before needing to be re-sharpened. If there are drawbacks to VG-10, one of the principal drawbacks is that the knife maker needs to be careful in the heat treatment process. Otherwise, the blade will be too brittle and will soon chip out. Fortunately, Tojiro has the reputation of getting their heat treatment done right. Used properly, Tojiro DP knives won't normally chip in use. The Tojiro DP knives are hardened to a level of about hRc 60.

One additional issue with all VG-10 edge knives is that, in sharpening, you need to raise a bead on one side of the edge, and then flip the knife over and raise the bead on the other side. This will be done multiple times with each blade, using successively finer grits each cycle until you get to your final and finest grit stone. Some people prefer to not want to worry about that. They instead will simply get a knife with something besides VG-10 as the core steel.

One thing I will also caution you about concerning VG-10 steel: STAY AWAY FROM DAMASCUS BLADES!! Many multi layered blades are available, especially with a VG-10 steel core. These blades can have upwards of 129 layers. They look spectacular. However, that wonderful look does nothing to improve the functionality of the edge, and very quickly, the surface of the blade will get scratched up and look awful. It can only be restored by polishing out the scratches and then chemically etching the surface with a very powerful etching acid. I do not think it is worth it. However, the Tojiro F-808 is not a Damascus blade and it will wear scratches as badges of honorable work.

Your best bet for a Tojiro DP knife may be Amazon Italy ( ). You might also find that the best value may be a 240 mm version of the Tojiro. The web sites I am seeing are:


The second knife, the Fujiwara FKM, is a blade made of AUS-8, a different steel from VG-10. It will not be as hard as VG-10, but with the FKM series, Fujiwara has hardened the steel to about hRc 57 to 58. That's not as hard, but still respectable. The FKM series gyutos have long been a staple as an entry-level knife for people wanting to try out Japanese knives.

In Italy and in the rest of the EU, there doesn't seem to be a source I can readily find. There is a Japanese site: Japanese Chefs Knife is a well-regarded web retailer based in Seki City Japan. All prices and shipping are posted in US Dollars. The Fujiwara FKM 210 mm gyuto is $75, while the 240 mm gyuto is $83. Shipping is a flat $7 per shipment. If only a single knife is ordered, then the resulting price in Euros would be just over 75 Euros for the FKM 210 and 82.19 Euros for the 240 mm FKM gyuto.

Koki (the person who runs usually sends the package with a quoted price which normally does not get too much scrutiny by Duty inspectors. However, that might be subject to how a particular official might respond on a day-to-day basis. You take your chances.....

The third knife, the MAC HB-85, is somewhat of a "mystery metal". No one outside of the company knows for sure about the steel used. The American Importer has let it be known that it is a steel from Hitachi, though the specific steel is not identified. MAC has gone on to say that the steel in the "Chef" series knives and the steel used in most of the "Mighty" "Professional" series chefs knives are "Original" steel. However, MAC knives have for several decades had a superb reputation, so I personally will not worry too much about the quality of the steel used.

The MAC HB-85 is a knife which is both thinner than the MAC Professional series knives and a knife which does not have a metal bolster. While it is a "whippier" knife at 2 mm thickness than the MAC Professional knives, it still comes with one of the sharpest edges of any out-of-the-box knives available and it can easily be sharpened.

One semi-complaint is about the forward end of the handle. However, since there is no metal bolster, then the scales can be very easily smoothed over with sandpaper or quickly reshaped with wood working tools. Re-handling the knife is also a relatively easy project.

The least expensive European Union source I have found is on eBay Italy at just about 70 euros, shipping included:

Of the 3 knives, my choice would be the MAC HB-85 for edge quality and ease of sharpening. It doesn't have the looks, but its performance is superb.

For a paring knife, I recommend a Victorinox paring knife with an 8 cm long straight-edged (non-serrated) blade and a fibrox or molded handle. No need to get fancy here. The least expensive you can find will do just fine. The important thing here is to find a paring knife which has a length roughly as long as your first finger (the finger next to your thumb). That will make the tip of the knife feel as if it is right at the length and feel of the tip of your finger

Similarly, I would recommend a Victorinox serrated edge bread knife which is at least 25 to 30 cm long, with fibrox or molded handle. The least expensive will do fine.

For a good cutting board, I am at a quandry. I do not know the European market - and much of the cost of a good cutting board deals with shipping. You probably will need to look at the market over in Italy and the EU.

The basics I would recommend are as follows: you should be looking for a board at least 30 cm by 45 cm in size. The best boards are end grain wood: that is, where the grain of the wood in the finished boards is vertical. The boards should (if possible) be individually inspected - especially for cracks, warps or crevices. End grain boards should be no less than 5 cm in thickness. One wood I have heard from a good source (Daniel Smith of The BOARDSmith) as common in Europe is beech. Avoid Metal, Glass, Bamboo (bamboo involves glueing up many small pieces. The glue is very hard and is not good for good knife edges. Also, bamboo is a plant which readily absorbs silica, which stays in the fibers and is also very bad for knife edges).

For sharpening, I would recommend a ceramic honing rod preferably 30 cm in length, but certainly as long as your chef knife's blade. Unfortunately, since I read almost no Italian, I am unsure as to how to properly seek out such an item on the web. The brand I use and would recommend is the 12 inch (30 cm) Idahone, which is available through eBay Italy as an import from Australia for about 60 euros (including shipping, but not including duty). However, if you can find a ceramic rod in Europe, please get and use it.

Honing rods don't sharpen, but they do straighten out the microscopic edge of the knife. They can also damage the edge when used wrong. The trick here is to never bang or clash. Instead, gently place the hone on the edge so that the base of the hone is just lightly lying at the heel of the knife (the end of the edge closest to the handle), then draw the hone and the knife edge so that the hone sweeps across the edge and the tip of the edge comes off the hone close to the tip of the hone. The amount of pressure should be minimal - not more than part of the weight of the hone. Then do the same to the other side of the edge, using the weight of the knife this time. You don't need to do it much - just 4 strokes on each side, alternating side, for a total of 8 strokes total.

Honing should not be about sharpening, but about edge alignment. For sharpening you need to remove metal.

The least expensive method is with stones. For ordinary sharpening, you will need stones which are at least 20 cm long by at least 5 cm wide, but those are minimums. Bigger is definitely better. You will need a general stone - something around 1000 to 1200 grit. You will also need something around 5000 to 5000 grit as a finishing stone. And for repairs, you will need something around 500 grit.

Look for water stones, which are artificial. Always use them with water as your lubricant. Depending on the individual stone, you may need to soak the stone for 20 to 30 minutes beforehand.

This is a good tutorial on sharpening:

The best videos I can recommend are

An alternative to stones is a sharpening jig. The best are made by Edge Pro. Unfortunately, they are VERY expensive. An alternative are cheap chinese knock-offs of the Edge Pro. However, if you decide to get an "Edge Faux"jig, then seriously consider getting better stones.

Hope that helps

Galley Swiller
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phatch, thanks for alerting us that this is very possibly a shill.

Frankly, I feel like I've been used.

But it does make me feel as if a bit of revenge would be in giving a bit of a "review" of the knives as offered on Kickstarter.

For the record, I have no problem with Kickstarter. Asking people to help a start-up project is a fairly good idea, and Kickstarter allows people to connect with projects they might not otherwise be aware of.

The problem here was that the OP, by posting virtually the same leading question on multiple sites and then leading people on, before springing virtually the same link, gives the impression of deceptive advertising. That type of deception simply is not acceptable business practice.

Now for the knives:

The ceramic blades are simply too generic for any examination of their material quality. However, they are what you can expect, with the longest being 20 cm. That is usually the longest length which a ceramic blade will be offered at, in order to reduce the level of stress that a (relatively) long blade can exert by leverage. Also, the shape of the chef's knife blade is one with belly - in this case, not just some belly, but A LOT OF BELLY. Frankly, much more than I would ever be comfortable with. I'm not a fan of big belly knives. Give me a flatter profile any day.

Now for the steel blades.

In my post (#8 above), I emphasized the importance of the type of steel. The steel knives being offered through Kickstarter are made from X30Cr13 steel. Z knives notes "Highly stainless steel, some budget knives are made from it." Carbon content is 0.15% to 0.36%. That's small. I would not be surprised if that results in a hardness rating of hRc 54 or hRc 52, though I don't have any way of really telling how well it was heat-treated. For a stainless steel knife, that's extremely low. There's no Molybdenum or Vanadium on Zknife's chart for that steel. There is a Chromium content level of 12.00% to 14.00%, and a Nickel, Manganese and Silicon content of 1.00% for each of those elements - just what you would expect for a steel which is intended to keep its shiny looks as a priority, but places hardness as a lower functionality priority.

The chef's knife has a medium amount of belly. Not as good as a gyuto, but better than their offered ceramic blade.

The steel knives when bought as a set have a "sharpener" built into the knife block. While I do feel that being able to maintain the sharpness of a knife edge is critical, this "sharpener" is a pull-through type of sharpening system. I have yet to see any pull-through which did not produce an extremely coarse edge. That edge will "feel" sharp, but it will wear extremely fast, and the knife will need to be "sharpened" very often. Soon enough, it will become very thick behind the edge, with wedging problems and no way to correct for that wedging.

Just so people will be able to view the information for themselves, here are the web sites:



Bottom line - No thanks. Save your money and buy something better - even the less than overwhelming (but honest) Victorinox Fibrox handle knife.

Galley Swiller
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