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Japanese Knives – What to Buy?

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273 replies to this topic

#61 Human Bean

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Posted 26 April 2004 - 07:21 PM

Woohoo! I just got a Shun 10" chefs knife. It certainly feels and looks awesome; no reason to think it won't work just as well, but time will tell.

I've done 95% of my everyday cutting with a 7" stainless Chinese cleaver, which is also awesome though without much aesthetic value, and had considered a good chef's knife for awhile to see how it might substitute for the ol' reliable cleaver. Even though the knife is made in Japan, Kershaw (the importer) is local (Oregon), and they're sponsoring Caprial's (Oregon chef) latest PBS show, so local chauvinism suggested I give it a try.

I wasn't going to buy a knife without being able to handle it first (note below about Global) and I found a local retailer that had the knives (at full retail price, grrrr), but I'd pay the premium over mail-order since actually being able to try the knife for fit before purchase is more important than getting the best price.

I got the 8" chefs knife, brought it home, and decided it was too small, even though it was longer than any everyday knife I'd used before. The 10" seems like a winner, even though it also seems huge at the moment. Mathematically, it doesn't seem like two inches would make much difference, but it really does.

I don't consider out-of-the box sharpness as particularly important; a good sharpener makes it irrelevant. Nonetheless, it was quite sharp as shipped, but will still probably take a ride on the Edgepro. (Knife geek stuff: readily shaved hair and the rubber band test had at least two pieces on the first try, one piece (cut the rubber band) on a second and third try. The guy at the store decided to slice a piece of paper at the store to demonstrate it's sharpness; ugh! Cutting paper is hard on an edge, but I guess it impresses the rubes).

While I was at the store, I tried a Global 10" knife, since they also had those. It didn't seem to fit my hand quite right in a pinch grip, and the handle seemed slippery (the slippery handle seems to be a common criticism of the Global knives; I could possibly overlook that if it weren't for the fact that it just didn't feel right in my hand). Sigh; I still prefer any Japanese knife I've tried to any of the German ones; definitely a case of YMMV.

#62 Smithy

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 02:07 PM

I couldn't resist these when I spotted them in TJ Maxx last week. I liked the feel, the look, and the price ($13 each). While I can't exactly say I need them, they are different than any of my other knives and will fill small niches in my knife collection.
Posted Image
The handles are simple wood. The shorter knife has more heft and is beveled on one side only; I think it will lend itself well to chopping items that don't need a full-blown cleaver. The longer blade has a nice balance and seems more suited to fine dicing or slicing due to its lack of heft.

Posted Image Posted Image

For scale, here's the shorter one in hand:
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The instructions on the back are entirely in Japanese, and I can't read a word of it. I am entertained by the instruction that appears to be saying you can use these as a hammer.. :wink:
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Note the sharpening instructions and the angles of these blades. Pretty fine angle, huh?
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Finally, here's a partial list of the knives this manufacturer offers:
Posted Image

So, now that I have these inexpensive beauties, what have I purchased? What does that hammer instruction *really* show? :laugh: Am I inferring the correct blade angles from the diagram for sharpening?

Any advice, comments and translations will be welcome.

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#63 johnsmith45678

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 02:30 PM

I am entertained by the instruction that appears to be saying you can use these as a hammer..  :wink:
What does that hammer instruction *really* show?  :laugh:

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I don't know what to make of that either. Staking vampires? :raz: Or maybe it's to pound the handle further onto the blade, if it's loose, and if that's how they're constructed. Otherwise, beats me.

#64 david coonce

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 03:06 PM

I think the hammer thing is showing how to reattach the blade. These cheap Japanese sushi-style knives always have that problem - the blades aren't full tang (i.e., they don't run the length of the handle), and the only way the blade is attached to the handle is to simply insert it in the middle. Anyone who has ever used Joyce Chen sushi knives knows what I'm talking about. It's annoying, because once the blade comes out the first time, it never really goes back in for good. I have a couple Chen blades hanging out somewhere in my kitchen;, I have no idea what happened to the handles.

The hammer "solution" shown on the packaging seems like it might really hurt the blade, but at $13 bucks, I bet those blades aren't going to stay sharp for very long anyway, so it's no matter.
When it comes to kitchen knives, sadly, you really do get what you pay for.

Anyway, you asked what these are good for - obviously, sushi and sashimi are the best bets, and if you only use them for those, the blades might stay sharp for a good long while (never run them through a dishwasher!). You are correct that those blade angles are the right ones for sharpening, but don't worry if you can't seem to get them sharp - cheaper knives are generally hard to get and stay sharp because they're made of inferior metal. Like I said, if you use them everyday they're going to get dull in a hurry.

Edited by david coonce, 25 March 2007 - 03:15 PM.

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#65 Jon Savage

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 03:41 PM

You are correct that those blade angles are the right ones for sharpening, but don't worry if you can't seem to get them sharp - cheaper knives are generally hard to get and stay sharp because they're made of inferior metal. Like I said, if you use them everyday they're going to get dull in a hurry.

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We have several of these in the same price range. Been using them for years and they sharpen up nicely. Used one yesterday (a longish sushi knife) and the duck prosciutto was almost see through.

Jon

 

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#66 Octaveman

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 05:03 PM

You bought what most Asian grocery stores carry. They are worth what you paid so don't expext a whole lot from them. The smaller one is a Deba and is used for more heavy duty work. You could use it to seperate chickens at the joint or you can use it to break down whole fish. I'ts not tough enough to go through the bigger bones of a chicken but ribs will be okay. You could also use it to take the meat off the bones too. While it's not ideally a boning knife you could use it that way.

The longer knife looks more like a typical Japanese boning knife. The Honesuki as it's called can either take on a straight/flat profile or slightly curved like yours. I'd have to see it in person to determine if it really is a boning knife but it probably should not be used to go through the ribs...just for taking meat off bones. I'm sure you could use it for smaller prep type jobs too. What ever you want to use it for, really.

Sushi is not what these knives are for. I wouldn't use either one for making slices of sashimi or slicing the rolls. You can use them any way you'd like because if they get damaged, oh well, throw them out. They're not work the cost of sharpening/repairing.

What the hammer picture is showing is how to put the handle back on or to make it more secure should it come loose. Handles on very cheap knives will come loose and to tighten them you hold the knife and strike the handle forcing the blade into the handle. This is the way all traditional handles on these knives are put on whether they cost $15 or $1,500. The rat-tail tang (not a full tang) as it's called is not a design flaw. It's made this way on purpose to make replacing of handles easy.

The first page of the instructions talk about use and care. The second page is how to sharpen and the third is showing all the different styles.

If you really want a bargain in a Japanese knife take a look at these. They are the Tosagata brand and for the money you get really good knives for a super cheap price. They are rough around the edges (no pun) but I'll tell ya, the blades are really good and they are sturdy knives. The Satsuma knife is a new one they started offering and looks like a great prep knife. The Atsu Deba is super tough. I have the small chopping knife and it's done a great job so far.

Anyway, use your knives until they fall apart and throw them out. Just keep in mind that they don't represent a good value nor quality Japanese blades.

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#67 Smithy

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 07:36 PM

You bought what most Asian grocery stores carry.  They are worth what you paid so don't expext a whole lot from them. 
....
Anyway, use your knives until they fall apart and throw them out.  Just keep in mind that they don't represent a good value nor quality Japanese blades.

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Thanks for that, as well as the intervening information elided from the quote. I figured that they weren't especially high-quality, but what the heck - I was on holiday, I needed better cooking knives than the rental place provided, and these struck me as being perfect traveling equipment:
- inexpensive
- unusual (for me) and therefore interesting
- sharp, at least for the nonce, and
- having that certain jais ne sais quois . The French say it best, even about Japanese cutlery.

These knives did right away have an aura of "camp box!" - which says something about their quality - but for now I'll enjoy them at home, even as last week I enjoyed them on vacation. At the moment they have good edges and a good feeling to the hand.

More comments and insight are welcome, of course! For example: given that these aren't especially high-quality, will the shape and balance give me a clue as to whether good Japanese knives would be helpful to my style of cookery? At present my good knives (don't you dare snicker) are Chicago Cutlery, Lampsonsharp, at least one Henckels and *randommumblefamilyheirlooms*.

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#68 david coonce

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 09:10 PM

[quote name='Smithy' date='Mar 25 2007, 08:36 PM']
[quote name='Octaveman' date='Mar 25 2007, 07:03 PM']You bought what most Asian grocery stores carry. They are worth what you paid so don't expext a whole lot from them.
.

More comments and insight are welcome, of course! For example: given that these aren't especially high-quality, will the shape and balance give me a clue as to whether good Japanese knives would be helpful to my style of cookery? At present my good knives (don't you dare snicker) are Chicago Cutlery, Lampsonsharp, at least one Henckels and *randommumblefamilyheirlooms*.

View Post

[/quote]

If you're used to the ones you cite then this may not be your cup of tea, but my "go-to" knife is a Japanese 8" chef's knife from Global. It's fairly expensive, but the blade is razor sharp and holds an edge forever. I've had it 4 years and had it professionally sharpened once. It's one piece of metal so there's no concern about the handle coming out or whatever. The one caveat I have about it is that it is ultra-light. Some chefs are put off by that - while it makes for great filleting/boning, etc, there's a serious mental block when it comes to cutting through a bone or some other tough piece. It also doesn't have a bolster, which is great for when it's being sharpened (you don't get the "notch" near the bolster like you would with Henckels and Wusthofs) but the top edge of the blade is really narrow, and so if you hold the knife like I hold it, where the top edge burrows into my pointer finger, you get a really gnarly callous. I'm a professional chef so I don't mind, but for someone who doesn't use a knife 50 hours a week the edge might be irritating.


There is a line of Japanese knives made in a similar style to the ones in your post made by Kershaw under the brand name Shun that are really great quality. Very expensive though more expensive than the Global. But absolutely indestructible and razor sharp. If you find that you love these TJ Maxx knives and want to make an investment in a higher-quality knife in that style, I would say that is your best bet.

And don't be ashamed of your family heirloom knives! My father-in-law has a knife he got from his mother - he doesn't cook at all, and the first time I visited (Thanksgiving) I was looking for a sharp knife, and he pulled out this tiny little version of a butcher's cleaver, and it was absolutely a perfect knife. It was probably made in 1935. It's the knife I use whenever I go up to visit them now.
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#69 Octaveman

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 09:49 PM

Smithy, they'd make great camping knives. Using them won't give you insight into whether Japanese knives will be good for your style of cooking. This is because these are traditional Japanese shapes. This means they are single beveled very much unlike your current set of knives.

Without going into what is appropriate I suggest you look around at the websites below. I have ordered many knives from these people and they have a very good selection of knives. The main western style Japanese knives you should consider are the Gyuto, Boning knife (if you bone chickens), a petty and a bread knife slash roast slicer. First thing you will notice is that the shapes are very similar to your current knives yet are different too. Another thing that seperates them from their Euro counterparts is the steel. These differences are huge when it comes to performance and quality and durability and how long they stay sharp. I used to use Henckles until Sept 04 when I bought my first Gyuto. I gave those Henckels away and use Japanse knives exclusivly. Look around and see what you find. Ask away if you have questions.

http://www.japanesec...ndleSeries.html

http://www.japanesec...rakuSeries.html

http://www.japanesec.../KANETSUGU.html

http://www.japanesec...com/RYUSEN.html

http://www.japanesec...UX10Series.html

http://www.japanesec...m/VGSeries.html

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#70 Hiroyuki

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Posted 25 March 2007 - 11:49 PM

Other people have already answered your "hammer" question correctly.

The longer one is gyuto, and the shorter one is deba.

#71 Carlovski

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 05:27 AM

I'be bought knives from TK Maxx (British Name for TJ Maxx - apparently so as to avoid confusion with another chanin called T.J Hughes) before - I hate going in the place but the one near me has the cookware section on the ground floor, and near the door so i occasionally pop in. I bought myself a sort of hybrid santoku knife (Santoku blade, but full tang and a more 'western' handle ) which I use all the time (Needs a lot of sharpening though) and a more traditional one which I gave as a wedding present (I know, bad luck in a lot of cultures, but he didn't mind!) which they use all the time - just very carefully (They were used to blunt knife block style knives before)
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#72 paulraphael

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 01:08 PM

Octaveman suggested that I write about my entry into the world of Japanese knives. I decided to wait until I had a bit of experience, including learning how to sharpen. It's now been several weeks and my one Japanese knife has spawned a couple of siblings.

Background, prejudices, etc.:
By nature I'm not a collector, and tend to find a good, all purpose tool, and use it to death. I'd used various low and middle end European style knives over the years before upgrading to a Schaaf Goldhamster chef's knife about five years ago. This knife wowed me every time I used it, and I used it for everything from mincing herbs to slicing roasts to hacking apart chickens. In the years I owned it I sharpened it on stones once; frequent steeling kept it sharp enough to shave with. Nevertheless, all the recent noise about Japanese knife nirvana got under my skin, and curiousity got the better of me.

After a mind-numbing amount of research and discussion with the sociopaths at knifeforums.com, I decided to try a Hiromoto AS gyuto in the 240mm length. This knife has been getting a reputation as an excellent value. It has a very hard, high end carbon steel edge, clad on both sides with stainless. It's available directly from Japan for $130 from Japanesechefsknife.com. Their service and shipping are outstanding.

Out of the box, the knife stuck me as light (but not feather light), slim, and nimble, in spite of being an inch and a half longer than what I'm used to. Fit and finish were not quite up to the standard of the German knife, but the blemishes (mostly around the handle) were easily touched up with sandpaper. In use, going back and forth between it and my german knife, it felt sharper but not dramatically so. On a scale of one to ten, one being a butter knife and ten being Star Wars light saber, the Hiromoto felt like and 8 and the Schaaf a 7.

This is where learning to sharpen came in. I bought the sharpening DVD from Korin.com, which is good for the basics. I also read tons online, and finally decided to start out with the so-called scary sharp system, which uses silicon carbide sandpaper mounted to glass, rather than using water stones. This mimics the way stones work, and while it's expensive in the long run, the intitial investment is much lower than with good water stones. I also purchased a horsehide strop from handamerican.com, which works with half-micron chrome oxide abrasive powder.

The learning curve was pretty easy. I'm still a beginner, but find it straightforward to get a good edge on the blade without destroying it (so far).

Needless to say, this is already more investment in time and gear that I ever would have imagined for maintaining a knife! I've now spent close to the cost of my German knife in tools and educational materials, just for taking care of the Japanese knife--and this is without having invested in real stones.

An advantage is that I can tune the edge to perform the exactly the way I like. The hard carbon steel can handle angles anywhere from the 15 degree (on each side) factory angle to a scalpel-like 5 degrees. The tradeoff is fragility. The sharper angles make a chip-prone edge that needs to be babied more than I'm probably willing. What I've ended up doing is leaving the factory angles on most of the knife, but thinning the three inches near the tip to 20 or so degrees. This allows it to slip easily through onions and hard garlic cloves when push-cutting the vertical cuts, but keeps the chopping edge stout.

Even at the factory angles, this is not intended to be a heavy duty, all-purpose knife. Anything hard or tough that can grab the edge is capable of chipping it. If I need to hack up a bird or chop chocolate, or hand a knife to someone not used to treating it like a surgical tool, out comes the German knife.

So now, with the refined edge and mirror polish from the strop, the performance is considerably better than it was out of the box. It slips effortlessly through anything, if you can get some forward or backward motion to the blade. It really likes to slice. It does less damage to the food than any knife I've used. An apple sliced with the Hiromoto will not brown, even after 45 minutes. It doesn't bruise herbs. It goes through onions silently (none of that telltale crunching sound). It's so easy to slice things to transparent thinness that I have to remind myself no to.

After experiencing all this, I expected the German knife to feel clumsy in comparison. But remarkably it doesn't. I'm amazed that this thing with the factory angles and minimal maintenance can come so close. It does all the things the Hiromoto does, just not quite as well. Sometimes the German knife requires effort. If the Japanese knife does, it means I'm doing something wrong. Conversely, the German knife does things that the Japanese one can't, or at least shouldn't.

In the end, the Hiromoto has become my main knife, and the Schaaf gets used more for the heavy cutting. The best thing I can say about the Hiromoto is that it makes prep work fun. Time will tell if this is still the case after the New Toy Mania wears off.

I would heartily recommend this knife, but only to someone willing to invest in learning to sharpen and maintain it. And it's a big investment, in both time and tools, compared with what you need for a softer, thicker knife. The advantage of the Japanese blade lies partly in its geometry, but largely in its ability to take and hold whatever edge that you give it. This advantage is lost if you're not playing an active role in its tuning and upkeep. These are sports cars, not family sedans. Choose acording to your disposition!

Before I stop rambling, I want to mention the other two knives I bought. One is a Mac 270mm bread knife. This thing is wonderful. For $60, it's the first good bread knife I've ever used. It cuts the bread, rather than crushing it or sawing it into a pile of crumbs. When it needs sharpening, though, I'll have to send it to a pro. Luckily It's not getting hammered on every day. The other is a 3" Al Mar chef series paring knife. This is the first paring knife I've ever liked. I had a Schaaf, but unlike the Schaaf chef's knife I never cared for the parer. It didn't fit right in my hand, and I could never get it razor sharp the way I want a paring knife to be. The Al Mar, in spite of being from their inexpensive line, takes a sharp edge easily. I put a very thin, very asymetrical bevel on it, and it holds up fine ... not surprising, since a paring knife spends little time banging into a cutting board. This knife was $50 well spent.

#73 budrichard

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 03:10 PM

Your Hiromoto AS gyuto is not of Japanese traditional sandwich construction and blade profile. A traditional Japanese blade has only a single bevel and there are some cutting techniques that cannot be performed without this style of blade. Your blade is western style and of single material construction from the on-line source i looked at.
I am currently using this source http://www.shop.niim...en/index_e.html and have four of his blades at the present. Takeda comes to the Chicago Custom Knife Show each year and brings what i order. BTW, His sharpening system is the best i have ever used.

Posted Image

I started with a commercial Yanagi of sandwich construction which is very sharp. As time progressed, i ordered, using Murray Carter as a broker when he resided in Japan, a Honyaki from a top Japanese smith, forged of Hitachi # 1 white steel with ebony/ivory with silver inlay, it is the pinnacle of Japanese blade making but its price precludes me from ordering another!

Posted Image

I had Takeda make me a similar blade and the performnce is about the same.
Your Schaff from the information I could locate is stainless steel(actually think it is Hi carbon Stainless) which yield very sharp blades but are really no match for traditional Japanese blades.
If you want to try traditional Japanese style knives, i think you will find them the sharpest of all blades available as i have.-Dick

Edited by budrichard, 20 November 2007 - 03:19 PM.


#74 paulraphael

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 03:21 PM

Hiromoto AS Tenmi-Jyuraku series:
http://japanesechefs.....HEIGHT: 187px

It's a sandwich of Hitachi Aogami Super steel, clad with soft stainless steel.

You're right that it's not a traditional Japanese knife. This wasn't meant as a review of those, since they're intended primarily for Japanese style cooking. I don't have much use for a single bevel knife and am not interested in the traditional handle style.

The Hiromoto is considered a "western style" Japanese knife, which is confusing, because what they really mean is a western-inspired shape with Japanese refinements, made with Japanese steel and blade geometry. It is different in a number of ways from a European style knife: The blade is thinner, the belly is shallower, the bevel angles are more acute, the bevel is asymetrical (though still two-sided) and the steel is harder. It can be made as sharp as any double bevel knife; the limit is how much edge fragility you're willing to suffer.

Edited by paulraphael, 21 November 2007 - 10:42 AM.


#75 logicalmind

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 04:02 PM

I have had a similar experience to you with japanese knives. I had used victorinox chef's knives for a long time and had them sent out to be sharpened. But when I finally broke down to buy a japanese knife (a MAC btw) I also decided to buy sharpening stones and learn to do the sharpening myself(with help from the korin dvd). Luckily I was able to initially practice on my victorinox knives, which need much more frequent sharpenings. I'm really glad I took the plunge and got a japanese knive and learned to sharpen it myself.

#76 jsmith

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 08:10 AM

Just to add to the confusion some Western style Japanese knives don't use Japanese steel. My Misono (Minoso?) uses Swedish steel if I remember correctly.

#77 paulraphael

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 08:28 AM

Just to add to the confusion some Western style Japanese knives don't use Japanese steel.  My Misono (Minoso?) uses Swedish steel if I remember correctly.

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Good point ... the swedes seem to know something too. Quite a few of the Japanese makers use some flavor of Swedish steel.

#78 Octaveman

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 10:42 AM

Paul, great review of the entire process you went through before and after buying your knives. I would beg to differ on the cost of stones to keep your knives going though. While some stones are better than others, there are a few good brands that are reasonably priced. Of course, the terms "expensive" and "reasonable" are relative to the individual but one has to keep in mind that the stones will last many many years. I've had my stones now for two years and they show little signs of wear. For an average home cook, I can honestly say stones will last more than 10 years. Your choice of knives too are excellent choices: the AS, the Al Mar and the MAC roast slicer are all great knives. You are also very correct in your assessments of how a truely sharp edge affects the quality of the food being cut. Good read.

Bud, very very nice knives. Is the Yanagiba and Deba in the first pic Takeda's too? If so, I think you're the only one I've seen who has them. What do you think of them? Also, your honyaki is stunning. Is that a Suisin? Tadatsuna? Beautiful. I'm sure it's a pure joy to use. As Paul said, most (not all) western styled Japanese knives are clad. Doesn't matter if it's a production knife or hand made.

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#79 paulraphael

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 11:03 AM

I don't mean to suggest that the stones are unreasonably priced. I've found some Norton combo stones that I might get someday if the abrassive paper routine starts to feel cumbersome.

But I do think the maintenance gear for these knives is expensive ... stones, papers, strops, compounds, educational materials, etc. etc.. I base this on the price relative to the price of the thing being maintained. It would be very easy to spend more on the tool kit than I spent on my most expensive knife, and this is a knife that cost double what many cooks are willing to spend!

The economics are going to make sense to someone who's really into knives, or at least into knife-intensive cooking, but probably not so much to someone who just needs a cutting tool. In fact, if I was moving to a desert island and could only bring one knife, it would be the German one, no question about it. If you can only have one car, you take the sedan, not the Ferrari, even if leaving the Ferari behind makes you weep!

#80 budrichard

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 12:45 PM

Bud, very very nice knives.  Is the Yanagiba and Deba in the first pic Takeda's too?  If so, I think you're the only one I've seen who has them.  What do you think of them?  Also, your honyaki is stunning.  Is that a Suisin?  Tadatsuna?  Beautiful.  I'm sure it's a pure joy to use.  As Paul said, most (not all) western styled Japanese knives are clad.  Doesn't matter if it's a production knife or hand made.

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All the knives in the first picture are made by Takeda. He is quite a charachter and is continualy sharpening knives as you talk to him. His hand sharpening tool pictured is the easiest way I have found to sharpen these knives. Takeda's knives are as sharp as any I have and although the final finishing is not as fine as the honyaki, the price differential is large. I also prefer purchasing from a custom maker rather than a factory knife but that comes from 35 years of custom knife collecting.
The honyaki as said was brokered for me by Murray Carter http://www.cartercutlery.com/ .
Murray actually apprenticed in Japan to learn Japanese blade making. While in Japan I asked him to procure this type of knife from the best Japanese bladesmith. The maker is Kenichi Shiraki who is an independant knife maker not working for any of the Japanese manufactures.
Typically a sushi chef will procure one of these and use for the rest of his career eventually reducing the length from 33cm. This one is 27cm long as I don't think i will ever use it enough to worry about the blade shortening. The one Takeda made for me is 30cm as my knife skills have improved to where I could handle the longer blade. My first commercial blade was 23cm long. Murray is a fine maker of traditional Japanese blades in his own right and my next blade will be from Murray.-Dick

Edited by weinoo, 27 November 2007 - 07:26 AM.


#81 pizzajoe62

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Posted 23 November 2007 - 03:22 AM

hello everyone,

this is my 1st post...
i got here because of my interest in japanese cutlery...been following the various threads and glad to discover the wealth of information on the said topic.
my 1st japanese knives experience was with my brother several years back.
he is a professional chef & i am just an avid cook.
mine was the mac 9.5 chef pro series & he got the masamoto virgin steel from korin, same type & size.
we generally did not like the rust prone carbon steel at 1st coz it looked unsanitary.
as to sharpness, well, if ever there was an edge to the carbon steel, it was not significant.
however, the masamoto did sharpen easier.
this is why i plan to get a 2nd japanese knife w/ carbon steel & the patina on the kumagoro knives has that more "sanitary" look.
also the hammered finish might be more functional than just aesthetics.
the 1 thing i hate about my mac is the sticking of stuff on the blade since it is a bit taller compared to the masamoto.
i would love to hear more about the kumagoro knives...they have blue steel core and from what i gather, blue steel is a premium grade carbon steel.

joe

#82 Octaveman

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 08:40 PM

Yes, Bud, I'm very familiar with Carter and Takeda. I'm also familiar with Hattori, Kikuichimonji, Nenox and Suisin. I recently got a Carter that is an incredible piece of cutlery. I've gone from buying production knives to buying purely hand-made knives over the years and don't regret buying any knife along the way. I've settled on a handful of knives I use regularly. Below is a recent Carter purchase and below that are the three amigos. I have others knives of course but these are my main prep knives I rotate. I'm interested in your thoughts regarding Takeda's single beveled knives. Are subcontracted out or did Takeda make them? Why the drastically different kanji?


Carter 280mm white steel kurouchi
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Kikuichimonji Honyaki 270mm
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#83 mrsadm

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 07:01 AM

After a mind-numbing amount of research and discussion with the sociopaths at knifeforums.com, .....

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HEY! I resemble that remark! :laugh:

Seriously you've gotten me interested now in trying a few knives that I have no experience with so far. My knife collection (which is in my profile at knifeforums) needs some new friends!

I'm glad you are enjoying the Japanese knives.
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#84 KLwood

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 10:51 AM



After a mind-numbing amount of research and discussion with the sociopaths at knifeforums.com, .....

View Post


HEY! I resemble that remark! :laugh:

Seriously you've gotten me interested now in trying a few knives that I have no experience with so far. My knife collection (which is in my profile at knifeforums) needs some new friends!

I'm glad you are enjoying the Japanese knives.

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Im in the same boat ... although I also went into the odd realm of woodworkers forums in order to gain a better understanding of the subtle properties of Blue vs. White steel... :wacko:

In the end, I settled on the same Hiromoto AS Gyuto, altouugh I opted for an Edge Pro sharpening system and Im also using a strop instead of a traditional Steel for maintenance.
..so it seems that the research tends to lead the demanding cook or chef to the same conclusions with regards to Japanese cutlery... now, Onto the next obsession :blink:
" No, Starvin' Marvin ! Thats MY turkey pot pie "
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#85 budrichard

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 03:47 PM

"I'm interested in your thoughts regarding Takeda's single beveled knives. Are subcontracted out or did Takeda make them? Why the drastically different kanji?"

If your worried about Knifeforums.com, then don't register for this site http://usualsuspect.net/ . A group of us Tactical Knife collectors got fed up with the unregulated atmosphere on both Knife and BladeForums and started this Forum about 5 years ago. It is now the premier knife forum on the web but you can't partake until your registration is validated.

Anyway to answer your questions, single bevel knives are traditional Japanese and for many reasons I am quite a traditionalist. I much prefer working directly with a maker rather than purchasing Custom Knives thourgh a purveyor so since Takeda comes to Chicago once per year, makes very nice customs at much more affordable price than top Japanese forgers, he is who is making my knives now. Because of cost, limited availablity and I'm not sure if the Japanese really think we are deserving on thier knives, the top knives rarely make it out of Japan. Murray being there at the time was just luck.
As far as I know Takeda makes all his own work.
Since I can't read kanji, I don't know.

If you come over to the 'Dark Side' and register on the Usual Suspects Network, I am sure we can help you obtain many more knives.-Dick

Edited by budrichard, 27 November 2007 - 03:48 PM.


#86 Octaveman

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 04:47 PM

"I'm interested in your thoughts regarding Takeda's single beveled knives. Are subcontracted out or did Takeda make them? Why the drastically different kanji?"

If your worried about Knifeforums.com, then don't register for this site http://usualsuspect.net/ . A group of us Tactical Knife collectors got fed up with the unregulated atmosphere on both Knife and BladeForums and started this Forum about 5 years ago. It is now the premier knife forum on the web but you can't partake until your registration is validated.

okay, um, I'm going out on a limb here...why would I be worried about KF.com?

Anyway to answer your questions, single bevel knives are traditional Japanese and for many reasons I am quite a traditionalist. I much prefer working directly with a maker rather than purchasing Custom Knives thourgh a purveyor so since Takeda comes to Chicago once per year, makes very nice customs at much more affordable price than top Japanese forgers, he is who is making my knives now. Because of cost, limited availablity and I'm not sure if the Japanese really think we are deserving on thier knives, the top knives rarely make it out of Japan. Murray being there at the time was just luck.
As far as I know Takeda makes all his own work.
Since I can't read kanji, I don't know.

I know who Takeda is and sorry but I wasn't asking about what a single-beveled knife is. I own plenty already and I know what they are and what they do. I guess I should have been more specific. What do you think of Takeda's single-beveled knives' quality of craftmasnhip? Performance? Durability? Generally a maker will put his name or have a set signature for all his knives. The kanji on the single-beveled knives are completely different than his kuro-uchi knives. Makes me wonder who actually makes them.


If you come over to the 'Dark Side' and register on the Usual Suspects Network, I am sure we can help you obtain many more knives.-Dick

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Thanks but I already know how and where to get all the knives I want and can afford.

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#87 miles717

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 06:19 PM

The "unsanitary" look you refer to is what we knife knuts like to call patina. :biggrin:

All kidding aside, arguably, carbon steels have some qualities which can be considered advantageous when compared to stainless steels. The carbides tend to be smaller which produces a blade which will tend to sharpen more easily and will tend to be less frangible than most stainless blades at the same rockwell level. That said, there is the maintenance issue, to which you referred. In some cases that can be a significant drawback. It depends on how you will be using it and whether wiping your blade frequently is an inconvenience.

A lot of folks feel that the best of both worlds is a warikomi blade like the Kumagoro, which is a carbon steel core laminated between two layers of soft stainless steel. You get the benefits of the hard carbon steel and the maintenance benefits provided by the stainless. The Kumagoro blades are very well regarded. As long as you're not married to the idea of a western style handle, I think you'll be happy with what the Kumagoro knives bring to the table.
-Mike-

#88 Octaveman

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 11:19 PM

I thought it was the Yoshikane that had the stainless sides. From JWW.com...

The center layer is rust resistant SKD die steel originally designed for cutting metal. The cladding layers are soft SUS-405 stainless steel.


The Kumagoro has the carbon core (blue #2) with hammered carbon cladding.

I've never owned or used either one so I can't make first hand comments but people who have seen both give the Kumagoro a slight edge (no pun) over the Yoshikane. Both knives are very good though and can't go wrong with either one.

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

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#89 miles717

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 12:57 PM

I thought it was the Yoshikane that had the stainless sides.  From JWW.com...

The center layer is rust resistant SKD die steel originally designed for cutting metal. The cladding layers are soft SUS-405 stainless steel.


The Kumagoro has the carbon core (blue #2) with hammered carbon cladding.

I've never owned or used either one so I can't make first hand comments but people who have seen both give the Kumagoro a slight edge (no pun) over the Yoshikane.  Both knives are very good though and can't go wrong with either one.

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You're right, Bob. I stand corrected. The description on EE indicates it's soft carbon steel. I was under the impression that Kumagoro also used SUS405 sides, like the Yoshi, but it looks like they're opposite sides of the coin. One is carbon warikomi the other is stainless warikomi.

I concur with your assessment. There seems to be agreement among those that have used both that the Kumagoro provides a little better performance, but the differences are very slight. Both have good blade geometry and acceptable fit and finish. If you like the style of the knives, the decision really comes down to whether you want stainless or carbon.

Since the Kumagoro is entirely carbon steel, if someone is looking for the combo of stainless sides with carbon steel core, they won't fit the bill. Although they don't feature traditional Japanese wa-handled construction, Kikuichi and Hiromoto both make western style blades with warikomi construction. Both are very well made and readily available. I have knives from both Kikuichi and Hiromoto. I can attest that they're well made and are worth serious consideration.
-Mike-

#90 pizzajoe62

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 03:20 AM

thank you mike & bob.
i actually posted a similar query in another forum...
bob, i was the one that ask you about this same knives & the masahiro at your gallery.
anyway, what draws me to the kumagoro is the black patina & hammer finish.
is the blackened patina less prone to rusting?
w/c stainless nakiri would you guys recommend?
what do you guys think of the mac nakiri?
thanks again.

joe

Edited by pizzajoe62, 30 November 2007 - 03:24 AM.






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