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I agree that a price for the MAC MBK-95 of 210 euros is very high. I am seeing a price of 198 euros at www.macknife.nl. It may also be that you were looking at the MAC MKS-105, which is not a gyuto, but a type of slicing knife known as a sujihiki.

For a MAC knife with the same steel type (MAC's "Original Steel") and thickness (2.5 mm), but a much less expensive handle, you might look at the MAC BK-100, which is a 255 mm blade gyuto. The price is 119 euros. While the handle does not give the same prestige as the MAC "Professional", the blade gives the same performance as the "Pro", especially when used with a "pinch grip". Or with just a little bit of effort and some abrasive sandpaper, you can easily shape the forward end of the handle to fit your grip (though that would probably void any return rights to the distributor).

Of course, if you are willing to forego a Japanese knife, then a traditional carbon steel Sabatier is also available. The K-Sabatier 250 mm chef's knife is a bargain and long respected.

With any of the Japanese knives, you should not use any European-made "sharpening steels" or more properly known in English, "honing rods" To be effective, a honing rod needs to be harder than the steel in the knife. Otherwise, the edge of the knife will "dig into" the honing rod and the result will be a very damaged knife edge and an extremely damaged honing rod. European-made honing rods are designed for the hardness of European knives, which use steel which is hardened to a much softer level than Japanese knives. For a Japanese knife, you will probably want a ceramic honing rod, rather than a steel one. A very good ceramic honing rod is the Idahone, which can be purchased through eBay France for 36,96 euros (including shipping from Australia) for the 12 inch size ( http://www.ebay.fr/itm/Idahone-Shar...l-Fine-/291296815207?var=&hash=item43d2a4a867 )

About sharpening stones - the surface size of the stone is critical. The absolute minimum surface size you should accept is 200 mm long by 50 mm wide. And longer and wider than that are much better. If this is Item 313346, then it is just too short at 175 mm.

Hope that helps.

Galley Swiller
 

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Hi French Curious

Sorry it has taken so long to come back to answer you.  I have been having computer problems.

About the MAC "Chef" series - I have to disagree with BDL's information about them.  

First, about the "lesser alloy".  My source of information is directly from the MAC web site, which states that the steel in the "Pro" series is "Original" steel (except for the MTH-80, which is the 210 mm "Pro" gyuto with the "kullens", which are the ground-out indentations.  That knife uses the "Superior" steel, which apparently - from the MAC web site - uses a different heat treatment process, presumably a different quenching and tempering treatment).  Also, from the MAC web site, the "Chef" series is listed as using MAC's "Original steel".  

Second, about the thickness of the "Chef" series knives.  There are two possibilities here.  Either the "BK" knives had not yet been introduced at the time that BDL made his statement, or (I suspect) that BDL was only looking at the specifications of the HB-85, which is only 2 mm thick, compared to the 2.5 mm of the "Pro" MBK-95.  In terms of personal inspection and comparison, I have both a BK-100 and a MBK-95.  I have not only compared the specified thickness on the MAC web site (2.5 mm for both knives), I have also used a high quality manual dial gauge caliper, which confirmed the same thickness.  I have also done a personal manual stiffness feel test, from which I could not tell any difference in stiffness.  For what it's worth, I also have a HB-85, which is 2.0 mm thickness in MAC's specifications, shows a reduced thickness when measured with my caliper compared to the MBK-95 and the BK-100, and is noticeably more flexible than either the MBK-95 or the BK-100.  As a further comparison, I have (and compared with all of the above) a MAC SBK-95, which is the 9 inch (225 mm) version in the "Ultimate Series", and that is the thickest (at 3 mm), heaviest and stiffest blade.  But, just to emphasize again, between the MBK-95 and the BK-100, there is no difference in thickness or in stiffness that I can tell.

As for the K-Sab carbon being "only" 55-56 hRc, that did not bother BDL, who had an older pair (200 mm and 250 mm) of Thiers-Issard 4-star Elephant nogent handled chef knives.  He found them to be superb, and only needing a honing before use.

With respect to Benuser, I partially disagree about hones and I believe that a good quality honing rod properly used can extend the time between sharpenings.  The purpose of the honing rod is not to sharpen - it is to straighten out the microscopic areas along the edge which have folded over.  The problem is that most hones are mis-used.  The popular image is that of the chef who swings the blade towards the hone, resulting in a clang and the illusion of heroic danger of being personally sliced (and often just that result), with multiple clangs being seen as necessary.  The proper use is to avoid all that nonsense - quietly lay the base of the hone at the heel of the blade, then with very light pressure (either the weight of the hone on top of the edge of the blade, or the weight of the blade when on top of the hone), then sweep the hone and blade edge on a diagonal to each other until the tip of the knife is reached just before the tip of the hone is reached.  That's one stroke.  Alternate strokes between the two sides of the edge, until you reach 4 strokes per side.  And that's it.  No muss. No fuss,  No "HEROICS".  I suspect that a lot of the problems with honing come from the clanging (imagine how much force is concentrated at the point of impact - especially on a microscopic area such as a properly sharpened edge) and from an vastly excess number of strokes (again, very possibly part of the "HEROIC" image process).

Now, some of the J-knives simply do not need or cannot really benefit from honing, especially those with higher hRc numbers.  For those knives, a few light strokes on a high numbered grit stone will do the same function.  But certainly MAC knives can use a hone as part of the maintenance process.

Finally, about length.  I agree with you about 30 cm.  It's just too long.  I also have a monster knife just slightly longer, a 315 mm MAC BK-120, which I have problems controlling the tip (BDL also had the same problem).  And that knife, because of its length, does have a noticeably more flexible blade (even with a 2.5 mm blade thickness).  But BDL did see a 240 mm or 270 mm blade as very workable.

Hope that clears up a few items.

Galley Swiller 
 
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