Jump to content


eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Chad

  1. Sorry for the slow reply. It can indeed be done. In fact, the lovey (and very expensive) kitchen knives by Canadian chef/knifemaker Thomas Haslinger are built exactly this way. There is a very strong distal taper so the tip is very thin. The heel, however, is left thick for power wedging through joints and butternut squashes and the like. I haven't attempted it myself because I tend to either use a guided system (Edge Pro Apex), where changing angles for various sections of the blade is impractical, or I hand sharpen with Japanese waterstones. When hand sharpening, I don't think I'm focused enough to continuously alter the edge angle from heel to tip, at least not and stay as consistent from stroke to stroke as I like to be. With practice I'm sure I could master it, but it's easier to switch knives when I've got heavy duty cutting to do. I have a Tojiro western deba for that sort of work. It's shaped like a western chef's knife but is about double the thickness and weight. I use it as my barbecue chopping knife, but I would not feel at all uncomfortable cutting an impromptu sunroof in a Buick with the thing. Chad
  2. Great! I hope you enjoy the book. If you are used to the two penny/three penny method, it will also work on the Glestain. The factory bevel is just a slightly more extreme version of that, anyway. I don't claim to be an expert on convex edges. They're great for sporting and outdoor knives but I don't see the advantage in the kitchen. If you'd like to maintain the factory edge, the mousepad trick would work for the front. I know that there are people who do convex edges by hand on stones by using a very slight rolling motion when passing the edge down the stone -- starting with the edge hitting the stone a little above the shoulder of the bevel and rotating the wrist a little so that they'r right at the edge by the end of the stroke. I have a hard enough time not unintentionally introducing convexity that I'm not too keen on trying to do it deliberately . I suspect that hand sharpening is always going to lead to a little convexity simply due to the stroke-to-stroke variation that is inevitable in any kind of hand work. Hope this helps. Chad
  3. I wouldn't use an electric sharpener on good knives. If you already have one, just use the final stage and pretend the first stage doesn't even exist. I'm all for learning to sharpen your own knives. If the price tag doesn't scare you off, the Edge Pro Apex is a great system. For a smaller outlay the Spyderco Sharpmaker 204 is hard to beat. It comes with slots for 15 and 20 degree (per side) angles, which matches up nicely with most commercially available knives. Shuns, Macs, Globals, et al, come from the factory with 15-16 degree edge angles, so the Sharpmaker will work just fine on them. Even less expensive (and more rewarding) is learning to sharpen by hand. It really isn't that hard. It just takes a little practice. A good starting point is the King 1000/6000 combination stone. Oh, and a good book that covers sharpening might be nice, too If you are interested in maintaining your own knives, start with the sharpening gear and learn on your Forschners. The results may surprise you. You might find that you don't lust after the high dollar stuff quite so much. And if you do eventually get a Mac, you'll have the sharpening experience to take good care of it. Take care, Chad
  4. What is a "super slicer"? Is that just a slicer you nicknamed? Don't understand why you would use a slicer if a serrated is needed.. ← Might be referring to one of these: WÜSTHOF Super Slicer ← The Wusthof Super Slicer is pretty great. It is very similar to the Mac SB105 Bread Knife/Slicer. Both have scalloped edges rather than serrated edges. I prefer them to serrated knives. A scalloped edge is like a reversed serrated edge. Serrated edges have little pointy teeth with half-moon shaped concave grooves in-between. Scalloped edges have convex half-moons for the cutting edge with narrow, triangular grooves in between. A serrated edge will be more aggressive, but the scalloped edge will cut more smoothly and is more versatile. "Cooks Illustrated" didn't like the Mac bread knife I recommend because it didn't bite well enough for them. True. A scalloped edge will skate a little on a hard crust before biting in. However it won't rip the crumb the way a serrated edge will. Try cutting pound cake with a serrated edge, much less getting double duty out of it as a ham slicer. The serrated edge will shred both. A scalloped edge won't. Scalloped edge, Granton edge, Serrated edge Take care, Chad
  5. Jason, you don't mind jumping into the deep end, do you? That Masamoto is very nice. Usubas are generally restaurant style knives. They have very thick spines and are single beveled (kataba), as you already know. The usuba is especially well suited for katsuramuki technique. Home cooks usually use a nakiri, which is thinner and is double beveled (ryoba). In this image, the top knife is a Korin shiro-ko honkasumi usuba. The bottom knife is a Murray Carter SFGZ nakiri. If the point is to learn to use and sharpen a Japanese single beveled knife, you might be going overboard with the Masamoto. The Korin branded honkasumi knives are made by Suisin, a highly respected knife manufacturer. The Korin shiro-ko honkasumi kamagata usuba in the same length will save you about $100. As you can tell from the photo, I had that model in the blunt-tipped style. I enjoyed it very much, but at 210mm it was a little too long. I think your choice of 195mm makes a lot more sense. Korin actually recommends their shiro-ko kasumi knives as an introduction to traditional Japanese knives. I don't know who makes this series for Korin, but the kamagata usuba is under $100. Note the lack of hon in the description. Kasumi is the style of forging and manufacture. Hon (true) generally indicates a higher quality level. So this would be Korin's bargain brand. By the way, all of these knives are hand forged in the kasumi style rather than being machined. Let us know how it turns out! Chad
  6. Thanks! Happy to keep answering questions for a bit. Sam, I hope you and kitchenmage don't mind me combining questions. While the santoku is relatively new to western markets, the blade style itself has been around for a while. Wusthof (among others) may claim to have introduced the knife known as a santoku, but the Japanese wabocho has been around for centuries in a variety of very similar blade shapes. In a culture that chops a lot of vegetables -- and has a much longer knife dedicated to proteins -- a short, wide blade like the santoku can make a lot of sense. In the Japanese kitchen, fish duty goes to the long, narrow yanagiba, a highly specialized knife* with a lot more reach than the santoku. In my opinion, both parts of that equation have to be true for the santoku/wabocho shape to be really useful. In tight quarters and small kitchens, the shorter blade can be an asset, and the width of the blade is great for smashing garlic and scooping your freshly cut veggies. Note the tall, squarish shape of the Chinese cleaver as an extreme example of the point I'm making. In a western kitchen, however, we don't have the same level of specialization. And we eat a lot more meat. A longer knife generally works better. If your knife won't reach all the way across a pot roast, for example, dinner preparation becomes a lot more work than it should be. Most santokus don't pass that test. In my opinion they make great backup knives to a good chef's knife but rarely have the versatility to be the primary knife in your kitchen. A good chef's knife, or (even better) a good gyuto is a much effective and useful choice. In short, I share your "meh" attitude. I gave away or sold all of the santokus I collected for the book. For a vegetarian, however, or someone who does a lot of Asian cooking, a santoku might be perfect. A nakiri or Chinese cleaver might be even more perfect. Chad *Please note, I'm generalizing like crazy here. I cannot capture the breadth of Asian cuisine, cooking styles, and cutlery history in a couple of paragraphs.
  7. I'm glad the recipes work. That's always a good thing (and not always a certainty). I don't believe, however, that dougal's criticism was in any way a rant. He (or she) offered a fair, thorough critique of the book as an "advanced" text from the point of view of a an "advanced" amateur baker. And I found the critique informative and valuable. Will it it preclude me from buying the book? Certainly not. Will it make me give the book a more jaundiced peruse than I might have otherwise? Absolutely. And I thank him (her) for it. Too many books hit the shelves without a serious review. I am concerned about trans fats. I am concerned about bromates and whether they have a place in the non-industrial kitchen. Whether or not recipes work is one thing. Whether or not those recipes contribute to a downward spiral of industrial shortcuts and dubious ingredients is entirely another. I, for one, want to know both. That is the only way a consumer can make an informed decision. I'm not condemning the book. It's in my Amazon shopping cart as we speak. But we can't condemn it its critics for pointing out its shortcomings, either. Especially if those shortcomings involve questionable ingredients and processes. That's just good reviewing. Chad
  8. Good point on the Hiromoto AS. I should have mentioned that. Thanks for catching it. As for Gingami (Ginsanko), I haven't tried the Hiromoto version personally, but I've owned knives with Gingami steel in the past. They sharpen fairly easily, hold up well and cut pretty well. No, they're not on par with carbon knives, but that's to be expected. As for how they stack up to the $50 Tojiro, that would be an interesting head-to-head comparison. I might just have to give that a try. Chad
  9. Alas, as faithful viewers no doubt noticed I did get bumped. The Emmy nominations were that morning. Just as I was about to start my segment we got word to hold off. They had Neil Patrick Harris on the phone to talk about his nomination. I was bumped for Doogie Houser. That smarts. We taped the segment just a little later. We were out on the plaza, and the producer wanted to make sure the crowd was still there for the spot. Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez were a lot of fun. Maggie in particular seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing and stuck around later to ask more questions. I demonstrated the Onion Quarter Trick and roll cutting a pepper, which is always a great visual. The segment will probably run some time next week. I'll post the times and dates for the various appearances. Thanks again to everyone for participating in this Q&A. You've been great. Take care, Chad
  10. Not to be a complete shill but I'm doing the CBS Early Show tomorrow morning. The plan is to show Harry Smith (and maybe Maggie Rodiguez) basic knife skills -- the Pinch & Claw, dicing an onion, and maybe roll cutting a pepper if time permits. I think it's a little ambitious for three minutes, but what the hell. It should be a lot of fun. Look for me toward the end of the show, 8:30 - 8:40 or so. Things are a little loose because the Emmy nominations are tomorrow, so they have to same room for live interviews with the nominees. Tomorrow afternoon I'll be in Philadelphia taping an episode of WHYY's A Chef's Table with Jim Coleman. I've also taped a segment with Lynne Rossetto Kasper for The Splendid Table. She's just as warm and personable on the phone as she is on the air. My bit will run some time toward the end of the month. I'll post actual air dates for both radio shows when I know them. Depending on how much room my knife kit takes in my overnight bag, I might be able to drag my laptop along. If so, I'll try to post about the experience. If not, I'll post Friday morning and we can wrap up the Q&A with what it's like to do a national TV spot. Wish me luck! Chad
  11. You would be hard pressed to go wrong with any of them. I've owned both the Glestain and the Misono UX10 (gyutos, not santokus). Both sharpen up easily. I don't know much about the Kikuichi except that in general they make very fine knives. The Glestain is going to feel much like the Misono, i.e. a little handle-heavy. The deep dimples on the Glestains actually do work to keep moist foods from sticking to the blade. Their slicers (sujihikis) are particularly nice for that reason. The effect isn't going to be as noticeable on something like a santoku, where the wide blade presents plenty of surface area outside the dimples for the food to adhere. From the factory the Misono has something like a 70/30 asymmetrical bevel. The Glestain has an unusual convex front and nearly flat back bevel. I'm reasonably certain the Kikuichi will be asymmetrical as well. Many western-style, Japanese-made knives are. It's really no big deal. If you sharpen by hand, the bevel is going to adapt to your sharpening technique anyway. I wouldn't worry about it. Buy the one that fits your hands and budget best. You've got a great pool of candidates. There is no "best" here. Report back and let us know what you end up with. Take care, Chad
  12. I'm glad you're enjoying it! Of course when you combine maniacal laughter with a remote location, sharp knives and a book on cutting things up read by the eerie glow of a flickering fire, you've got the makings of a low budget horror movie. Your family probably thought you were working yourself up to "The Halifax Ulu Massacre." Peter, I don't deal with that style of knife in the book. I probably should in future editions. The ulu and the mezzaluna are specialty knives, so fell outside the scope of what I was going for. Though I do bake pizza often enough that I'm seriously considering a full size pizza knife. Those little wheel on a stick things drive me nuts. I'll have to figure out how to sharpen it, which should translate to ulu and mezzaluna style knives. I'll keep you posted. Chad
  13. Oh sure, blame me I understand exactly what you mean. That is one of the reasons I've moved more toward the fine ceramic. There is more tactile response. Lately I've been impressed with the microfine grooved steels and borosilicate (Pyrex®) rods from HandAmerican. Forum member Dave Martell (of D&R Sharpening and its sister site JapaneseKnifeSharpening.com) carries them as well as the fine ceramic rods. A ceramic rod will remove a microscopic amount of metal where a smooth steel won't. That might make a difference in the very long term, but the ceramic rod is removing weakened metal that will fold or roll anyway. With either style of rod, the knife will "skate" if your angle of attack is too shallow and you're just riding on the shoulder of the bevel. You will feel and hear when you are working the actual edge. It is harder to feel if your angle of attack is too steep. My feeling, though, is that because you are realigning the edge & removing weakened metal, doing so at the very edge rather than the full width of the bevel won't do any harm. It would take repeated steelings at a steep angle to even introduce a micro-bevel, in my opinion. Hope this helps. Chad
  14. Great! As you've discovered, a fine ceramic honing rod does a much better job than most grooved steels. The dark streaks are indeed bits of weakened metal that have come off the edge of your knife. The easiest way to clean them off is with Barkeepers Friend, Comet, Soft Scrub or some other abrasive cleanser and a green ScotchBrite pad. It'll take about a minute, and your honing rod will be like new. I clean mine when A) there isn't much unloaded area left, or B) I'm using an abrasive cleanser for something else and already have some on a cloth or ScotchBrite pad. This is definitely a "when you get to it" sort of job. The rod will work even if it is fairly loaded up. Take care, Chad
  15. Hi, Genny. Thanks! To you and your husband both. I'm glad you're enjoying the results of his efforts. The Edge Pro Apex is a great sharpening device, and one of the easiest ways to create repeatable, high performance edges. I'm thrilled that your husband has tried rounding the spines of your knives as well. It makes a world of difference. Happy I was able to point y'all in the right direction. Take care, Chad
  16. Luckily there is a good photo of this very position in Marsha Lynch's excellent Basic Knife Skills eGCI class. That might make things a bit clearer. In fact, if you have no interest in knife buying or sharpening, save yourself the $23 and just follow along with the eGCI class. It's a good one. Chad
  17. Ah, gotcha. I know exactly what you mean. Unfortunately it's hard to show on camera. With narrow items and smaller foods (garlic, for instance), the forefinger and pinkie stack up behind the second and third fingers respectively. Not directly behind. Slightly fanned out, but definitely behind. The thumb goes in the center, behind all of them. Think about how you would make a sock puppet, squeezing your fingers together for the upper portion of the "face" with your thumb behind/underneath for the lower jaw. That's the position you want your guide hand in. Chad
  18. Kitchen shears are great. If it works for you, go for it. I sometimes use mine instead of a pizza cutter. Here's the basic Claw position with the fingertips curled under and the thumb tucked safely away behind the cage of the fingers. The knife rides up and down on the flat between the first and second knuckles. As you cut your food you need to slide your fingers backwards to make room for the next cut. A lot of chefs simply move the whole hand back as a unit, but I find that awkward. Moving my thumb as well as my fingers means that I don't have an anchor and don't feel as in control of the product. The solution (and this isn't my invention, a lot of places teach it) is to plant your thumb a little farther back and use it as an anchor. It holds things steady, freeing your fingers from having to press down as hard. As you slice, you glide your fingertips backwards, keeping them tucked under, using your thumb to pull them back, collapsing your hand. When your fingers move all the way back to your thumb, you reset your thumb farther back and start again. Does this help? Chad
  19. Chris, is this the technique you're talking about? The guide hand is doing the Flying Hand Trick rather than the standard Claw. It's a little less scary for some people because it gets your fingers up and out of the way. I do start near the heel of the knife and make a smooth draw stroke to create my horizontal cuts. Now that I think about it, that works best with a knife that is not only sharp, but also thin (like the Japanese knives I prefer). A thicker, more German-style knife would probably work better using the section closer to the tip. That's going to be a lot thinner than the area down near the heel and cause less wedging. Nice catch. I'll make a note of it for the paperback version. Chad
  20. Hi, Anna. There are a couple of things that really made me stop and think. I was already working on the theory that much of what we are taught about kitchen knives is outdated when I started delving into metallurgy. I had an in-depth interview with ABS Mastersmith Kevin Cashen, an expert in the metallurgy of knives. That conversation led to the epiphany about forged versus machined knives. He has a detailed article, The Lowdown on Forging, for anyone interested in the science behind this, but the basic idea is that forging, even traditional hand forging, does not impart all of the wondrous attributes (refined grain structure, greater toughness, etc.) that the marketing folks at Wusthof, Henckels, et al, would have us believe. In fact, in a modern manufacturing facility there is no quality difference between a forged knife and a machined knife. It's all marketing hype. That completely changes how people can and should decide which knives to buy when faced with yards of glittering steel down at the Towels 'n' Such. The "drop forged, full tang & bolster" sales pitch is almost completely false. Knowing that opens the field up to a wide variety of modern knives that will outperform just about anything ever made. That's why I sometimes come across as such an evangelist. People need to know this stuff! Another, albeit more esoteric, epiphany was the realization that steel, with its crystal structure, is just like making ice cream or granita. The smaller you can keep the crystals, the better the final product. Oh, there was also the depressing discovery that self-help books haven't changed in hundreds of years. They all prey on our fear of looking less sophisticated than our peers. Wynken de Worde's "The Boke of Kervynge" was a runaway bestseller in 1508 because carving meat at the table was such a source of anxiety. Chad
  21. Project, if you are interested, the Japanese gyuto is virtually identical in blade shape to a traditional French chef's knife. They come in 210mm, 240mm, 270mm and 300mm lengths generally. A 270mm is a little over 10" Most places that sell them (Epicurean Edge, Korin Japanese Trading, and JapaneseChefsKnife.com, for example) offer steel composition and hardness data for all of their knives. That's why I like them so much. Sharpening is covered in detail in the book (as is the basic metallurgy of kitchen knives, by the way). My eGCI Knife Maintenance & Sharpening class is a little dated at this point, and I have learned a lot in the intervening years, but the basics still hold true. Take care, Chad
  22. This is not a debate, and I have no interest in turning it into one. I'm happy that you enjoy your Tramontina knives. There are people perfectly content to drive to work in a Yugo. I understand that you want in-depth specifics on the mechanical, metallurgical and physical properties of kitchen knives. The general public doesn't. If I were to start discussing isothermal transfer curves, carbide distribution in martensitic stainless steel or the trigonometry of sharpening, people's eyes would glaze over immediately. I wouldn't blame them a bit. That's why I wrote the book -- so that people looking to: A) make smart buying decisions about kitchen knives; B) learn basic knife skills; and C) learn to sharpen their knives, would have a place to turn that gives them the ability to do all of those things with confidence. All of the scientific background is in the book, but it is not a textbook, which is exactly why it succeeds (to the extent that it does). However, let's take a look at your Tramontinas. Perhaps they can serve as a springboard to understanding why some knives work better than others. If you like the plastic NSF handles, great! Handles are one of the most overlooked aspects of a good knife. The most expensive knife in the block won't do you much good if it is uncomfortable to use. My tastes have evolved so that I now prefer the simplest handles possible, either traditional Japanese oval or octagon handles or slim, French Nogent style handles. "Ergonomic" handles that force your hand into a single position are uncomfortable to use over time because you can't shift your grip. The steel in those Tramontina knives is most likely 1.4021 (AISI 420), the most common steel used in that type of cutlery, according to the European Stainless Steel Development Association. That steel contains .15 to .3 percent carbon and 12 to 14 percent chromium. The low carbon content means that it can only be hardened to about 54 on the Rockwell C scale (HRC). I doubt if it is that high. When you add heavy carbide formers like chromium you need better than .8 percent carbon to reach full hardness. The chromium locks up carbon, keeping it from hardening with the iron matrix. Your knives are probably in the 48-52HRC range. Tests done by knife maker Wayne Goddard and heat treatment guru Paul Bos show up to a 20 percent decrease in edge holding for each two point drop in Rockwell hardness. In my experience 58-62HRC is the ideal range for kitchen knives. For reference, Wusthof lists their knives at 56HRC. On the plus side, the steel will be very wear resistant and stain resistant. It will also be very tough, i.e. resistant to chipping. It will bend rather than break. On the minus side, steel that soft will not take or hold a high performance edge. Because the edge of the soft steel is prone to rolling, manufacturers put a thick edge on their knives -- usually 22 to 25 degrees per side for an included angle of 44 to 50 degrees. That creates a thick wedge that splits food rather than cutting it. Ideally, the blade should taper to about .02"/.5mm measured a quarter of an inch behind the cutting edge, a measurement first put forth by John Juranitch's "Razor Edge Book of Sharpening" and, if I remember correctly, confirmed by John Verhoeven in his Experiments in Knife Sharpening 2004, an excellent read, by the way. Dr. Verhoeven is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State. His book, "The Fundamentals of Physical Metallurgy is the standard text on the subject. While the edges of the Tramontinas (and most European-style knives) can be taken down to more acute angles, preferably with a back bevel to thin the steel behind the edge, they can't be taken down as far as a harder steel. That is one of the advantages of modern alloys, which I humorously (I thought) refered to as übersteels. They can be sharpened to angles that would cause a softer steel to roll almost immediately. The next problem with soft steel is it's inability to hold a polished edge. Sharpening, by its very nature, creates a pattern of scratches on the edge of the knife. In general, you want the smoothest, most polished edge you can achieve. A toothier edge has its place outdoors -- cutting rope, for example -- but in the kitchen a more refined edge cuts better and lasts longer. It's simple physics. Force equals pressure over area. A knife edge a thousandth of an inch thick with one pound of pressure behind it concentrates 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch at the edge. A rough, microserrated edge is like a series of points. Each of those points is under tremendous pressure and wears or rolls as you cut. That's a formula for edge failure. The more polished the edge, the more you move away from microserrations and toward a continuous edge (or at least a greater number of smaller points). Each point is now under less pressure. ABS Mastersmith Bob Kramer offered the analogy of lying on a bed of nails. Ten nails will really hurt. Distribute your weight over a thousand nails, however, and you can lie comfortably. Professional sharpeners who routinely sharpen hard Japanese and Swedish steels to 8,000 or even 16,000 grit (about 1 micron particle size) won't take a softer steel over 1,000 (15 micron particle size or 600 US sandpaper grit). It's not worth the effort. So low-carbon steel leads to a comparatively coarser, softer edge that doesn't cut as well or last as long as a harder, more acute edge. If someone is happy with a Tramontina, Dexter Russell or the Victorinox I recommend in that price range, that's great. There is nothing wrong with that. We each have our priorities. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that because one person is satisfied with that level of performance that others should be as well. Let's move on to the next question. Chad
  23. I'm very sorry you feel I have nothing to contribute. I'm also very surprised that someone of your scientific bent would infer from a 3,000 word excerpt that a 70,000 word book is of no value. I do, of course, express my opinion. I also back up each and every assertion with hard facts and science. Perhaps not to the depth that you would like, but one must strike a balance between making a point and beating that point into the ground and boring the general public. Of course, having not read the book, you are in no position to determine whether I provide sufficient basis for my "romance novel" claims or not. Tell you what. I won't even ask you to buy the book. Send me your address and I will send you one of my author's copies. If you find it of no value, please send it back. Chad
  24. Dave, I have to admit I don't know much about the Wasabi line. I assume the bead blasting will keep the knife from showing smudges and fingerprints but will probably increase drag slightly. That's just a guess, though. It mimics the traditional Kasumi "mist" found on higher end knives, where the upper portion of the blade is matte while the edge below the shinogi line is polished. The Daido 1K6 steel doesn't show up on any of my steel charts. There is also no information about it on the Kershaw/Kai/Shun website, which is odd because they have pages dedicated to the VG10 and SG2 used in their other lines. Luckily there is a good discussion about the Wasabi line and 1K6 steel from Knifeforums.com's "In the Kitchen" forum. From all accounts they make for good entry level or beater knives. According to one poster, who called the factory, they are hardened to 57-58 HRC, which is respectable. All in all they do look like an inexpensive introduction to single beveled knives. Chad
  25. Kristin, Mac has had a price increase recently. It surprised me, too. I feel bad because I listed street prices in the book, which are now inaccurate. The Mac website always reflects MSRP, i.e. "list price," so it's always going to be significantly higher than you can find the knives at other places. For example, the MTH80 that is my standard recommendation for people wanting to try high performance knives is now listed at $145 on the Mac website. You can find for $119 just about anywhere. That's the new street price. When I bought mine the street price was just under $90. Chad
  • Create New...