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pjackso

The Ultimate Knife...

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I've got a set of Wusthofs I've been using for around 5 years, which I like a lot. I was given a Shun classic 8" chef's knife recently and it's really nice, especially for something that is the same price (if not a tad less) as a Wusthof chef's knife. As far as feel, I've been going back and forth with them to try and decide which one I like better and I can't; they both seem to have their advantages. Like everyone says though, the German knives definitely have more heft. The Shun feels lighter, and also feels a lot more balanced. I like the Shun better now, but I think that may be because it's new. I've got to admit though, for a mass produced knife, it's very nice to look at. My wife made fun of me earlier because she caught me pulling it out of the block just to look at it.

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For all you cats who want vintage Sabatiers, the folks at a cookery shop near me sell new Sabatiers in both carbon, and stainless, steels, in nearly every size imaginable up to 13 or 14 inches.  The brand is not one I find a lot of (Sabatier 69 ring a bell with anyone?), but I'm astounded by the quality of the ones I have.  They're far better than the carbon-steel Sabatier I picked up on Amazon.com.

how do they differ from the amazon.com ones (i think that must be the "au carbone" brand)?

Sorry, just saw this post today.

The Sabatier 69 I have just seems better balanced, less "clunky" and all around better crafted than the au carbone I got from Amazon. I suspect I'm lacking the technical vocabulary to be as descriptive as I like, but I'll try to be more clear.

I should note first I'm comparing a 10" Sabatier 69 to a 12" au carbone, so that alone may account for some of the differences I've found. And, as always, tastes differ, so Your Mileage May Vary.

That said, the 69 is way better balanced: my 12" is blade heavy, and needs to be held with two fingers on the blade with two, rather than the usual three, fingers on the handle to steady the knife; I can balance the 10" Sabatier 69 on my index finer right at the bolster.

Also, the handle is less boxy -- where the au carbone handle is square, tapering to a thinner rounded bit at the bolster, the Sabatier 69 has a more comforable (to me), smaller handle -- there's not such a great disparity between the size of the handle and the girth of the bolster, which feels less awkward in the hand. Folks with bigger hands might disagree, but I'd be surprised.

Last, I didn't have to regrind the edge of the Sabatier 69 when I got it; my au carbone arrived with an edge curving down to the bolser, slightly. In other words, it came straight out of the box with that spot near the bolster where the blade doesn't meet the cutting board, which annoyed me no end.

Don't get me wrong, I've come to like both knives just fine, but the Sabatier 69 just feels a hell of a lot more fluid in my hand, while the au carbone felt like a square peg in a round hole until I monkeyed with it a bit. If I had to do it all over again, I'd have kept the $40 I paid amazon for the clunker, and paid the laidies at La Cuisine twice that for a sleeker knife. Seeing as how I've gone ahead and broken the au carbone in, though, I'm not so disappointed in it that I'm willing to just fling it on the dust heap. Call me cheap. Or frugal. Or sensible.

Hell, call me bloody minded.

Now, whether you want to spent ~$100 plus shipping on a knife that feels more "fluid" to some guy on the Internet? That's your call. :raz:

edit: ME TYPE GUDDER!


Edited by fimbul (log)

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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fimbul, thanks for your response. as you say, it's difficult to compare the two sizes. i've got an ancient 12" sabatier "jeune" which is rather blade heavy, too. i think it's supposed to be that way, really. the heavy, broad, end may work as a cleaver, and you can cut/slice/chop with the slighter part, pulling the knife towards yourself instead of pushing. only guessing, though, as i haven't used it that way...

anyway, one way to find out if your 10" "69" is lighter than my 10" "lion" is to simply weigh it. i'll weigh mine tonight (if i'll remember it...).


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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I have a few <a href="http://www.greatfrenchknives.com/">Thiers-Issard Sabatier stainless knives</a> which I then got sharpened by <a href="http://www.bladesmiths.com/">Bob Kramer</a>. I am very happy with them. They cut extremely well and are comfortable in my hands, which are not large. The professional sharpening is not at all expensive and not required very frequently.


M. Thomas

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anyway, one way to find out if your 10" "69" is lighter than my 10" "lion" is to simply weigh it. i'll weigh mine tonight (if i'll remember it...).

I'm in. Assuming I can remember myself. My mind, at best, is cabbage, and my memory is positively goldfishian. :rolleyes:

Edit: Update.

Done! I weighed -and, for a lark, measured- both my 10" Sabatier 69, and my 12" Sabatier Au Carbone.

My 10" 69, which is actually 9.75", weighs in at 8oz, about 230 grams.

My 12" Au Carbone, really 11.5", comes in at 13oz, roughly 375 grams.


Edited by fimbul (log)

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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Recently bought a 4" paring from Shun (w/Alton's Angle). So far, I like it--it's much easier for me to use than my Wusthof classic paring knife. (I am right-handed with small, but not tiny, hands.)

I like the angle quite a bit. Interesting that my friend was over for dinner tonight and helped with the cutting--she is a lefty, but had no issue with the D-shaped handle.

When I was at Sur La Table, I also "handled" some Shun chef's knives, but unfortunately, they didn't feel right in my hands--they were too long for me to be able to comfortably handle, and they were too heavy for me. (I had explained upthread that I have a repetitive stress injury and my Wushtof's have become unweildly!).

Right now, here are my choices:

A Global Santouko that I felt at Sur La Table that felt pretty good to me (nice and light).

A Sabatier 69 Chef's from that store in Virginia mentioned upthread.

MAC--I don't know much about them, but their angled handles look nifty and discussions about this knife upthread have me interested in them. (I like how their angles look offset just like my Shun).

But I know nothing about MAC--anyone care to chime in with their thoughts?

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anyway, one way to find out if your 10" "69" is lighter than my 10" "lion" is to simply weigh it. i'll weigh mine tonight (if i'll remember it...).

I'm in. Assuming I can remember myself. My mind, at best, is cabbage, and my memory is positively goldfishian. :rolleyes:

Edit: Update.

Done! I weighed -and, for a lark, measured- both my 10" Sabatier 69, and my 12" Sabatier Au Carbone.

My 10" 69, which is actually 9.75", weighs in at 8oz, about 230 grams.

My 12" Au Carbone, really 11.5", comes in at 13oz, roughly 375 grams.

didn't weigh the 12", but the 10" was c. 240 grams. not much difference, actually. i think the nogent knives are a good deal lighter than the newer knives - or at least my 8" is.

i'll try weighing the 12" tonight.


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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i think the nogent knives are a good deal lighter than the newer knives - or at least my 8" is.

I believe many nogent knives have "rat tail" tangs, rather than the full tang with riveted handle. If I'm right about that, it might account for the lighter weight.


A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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i think the nogent knives are a good deal lighter than the newer knives - or at least my 8" is.

I believe many nogent knives have "rat tail" tangs, rather than the full tang with riveted handle. If I'm right about that, it might account for the lighter weight.

ok, so i weighed the 12": 360 g. - slightly lighter than yours, but as it was a bit hollowed when i got it, i had to partially put a new edge on it. that inevitably involves some loss of weight, so i guess they basically are similar in shape etc.

i wish they still made knives like my old french nogent. a 10" would be a wonderful thing to use. i'm still on the outlook on ebay.


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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I must be really out of step, knife-wise.

I have all Chicago Cutlery knives, bought individually and stored in a knife block. Chicago Cutlery was what I first learned to use when I worked in restaurants in high school, and I like mine. My knives are about 20 years old, and I use a steel and a stone.

Looks like I'm the only one who uses these.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

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Cynthia,

I suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome off and on for about three years. I made some changes and haven't had any symptoms in over a year. I do remember quite well what it was like. It was pure hell. The way I've avoided a relapse is by trying to keep my wrists neutral when possible while typing and doing other repetitive tasks. Applying that idea to using a knife in the kitchen, here are a couple things you might want to consider.

1. Adjust the height of your cutting surface

I'm 5'10". If I hold my chef's knife with the blade vertically against my standard height countertop, my wrist is arched. If I were to chop at that height, my wrist would keep bending upward which is exactly what you don't want. I have a chopping block that raises the cutting surface four inches above the countertop. If I hold my blade against that surface, my wrist begins the chop in a nearly neutral position.

2. Think about using a longer knife

Here's my theory. When you're using a shorter chef's knife and pivoting it on its point, you need to lift the handle pretty high to fit a large item underneath. Your wrist can remain relatively neutral only part way through that motion. With a longer knife, the necessary range of motion is less for the same item. You can avoid this problem by switching to a push cut with larger items but having a longer knife lessens the need to do this. In any case, let the muscles in your shoulder and upper arm do the work rather than your wrist.

Edited to add: I re-read your message and see your problem is in the elbow rather than the wrist. My #2 may not apply to you but I'll leave it there anyway.

Ed,

So sorry it has been so long for me to write in to thank you for your advice. I have been digesting all this info over the past several months (while I focused on upgrading my pots and pans first) and, having read Chad's knife sharpening course and many threads on knives here on eGullet, I am finally ready to revisit the knife question.

Indeed, a longer knife makes a lot of sense. It would make sense even if I didn't have repetitive stress issues--I realized that clearly the other day when mincing something and wishing for a longer blade. My Wusthof Dreizwerk (sp?) 8" chef is 250g, and I have really begun to "get" that a longer blade, either Japanese or vintage Sabatier, that would probably weigh the same or less as my Wusthof.

A longtime eBay seller of vintage European cutlery suggested that if I get a Sabatier, I strongly consider a Nogent-style instead of the "regular" style to reduce the weight even more. He sell both kinds, so I feel reasonably okay that he is not telling me this just to buy from him. No matter what I purchase from him, if I don't like the feel of it once I get it in the mail, he said I can return it to him--no problem, he will refund my money less shipping.

The other option that seems to remain is a Japanese Gyutou.

From what I have read, here is what I understand to be the pros/cons of each style:

Vintage Nogent-style Sabatier

PRO

*even lighter than "regular" Sabatier due to rat-tail tang

*takes a really sharp edge

CON

*will need more frequent re-sharpening

*carbon steel is higher maintenance than stainless

Japanese Gyutou

PRO

*steel alloys allows for thinner/sharper/harder blade that Euro stainless

*stays sharper longer than Euros b/c steel is harder (assuming not carbon steel)

*lack of guard (bolster bulge) at heel allows for sharpening along entire length of blade

CON

*need to be more careful around bones to prevent chipping than with a Sabatier

*lack of guard (bolster bulge) at heel may mean I will have to get used to a different "feel" since I have only used Euro knives thus far

Is it reasonable to assume that a vintage Sabatier Nogent will be lighter than most Japanese Gyutous (of the same length) due to the former's lack of a full tang?

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My Group:

<image snipped>

Pic I

From left to right:

Pointing down: the Nogents

Pointing up: The Sabatiers

Pointing down the Wüsthofs Chefs are 8, 10 (notice rare vintage French style 10 inch)and 12 inch

Pic II:

From Left to right:

Truffle knife

Two good knives from Ikea

Sap (Italian) Ham knife

Sap Salmon knife

Victorinox fork

Chinese cleaver

S/S cleaver

SWISS_CHEF - I hope I never run into you in a dark alley! You've got some dangerous weapons there! :raz:


*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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I must be really out of step, knife-wise. 

I have all Chicago Cutlery knives, bought individually and stored in a knife block.  Chicago Cutlery was what I first learned to use when I worked in restaurants in high school, and I like mine.  My knives are about 20 years old, and I use a steel and a stone.

Looks like I'm the only one who uses these.

Don't feel bad about Chicago Cutlery. The older knives were pretty good (I have a few acquired as a wedding gift, about 22 years ago). In fact I took the boning knife with me to Knife Skills class and the CIA and the teacher thought it was pretty good. Today's Chicago Cutlery isn't worth a dime, in my opinion.

They are not as superb as some of the other knives mentioned here so you may want to branch out and try something new.

Here are some of my favorites (picture coming soon!)

1. 10 inch carbon Chef's knife from Sabatier Thiers-Issard. The "Thiers-Issard" part is important; having done some research they are considered one of the better if not best Sabatiers being made today. Watch out for junk Sabatier knives, they are everywhere. This knife sharpens beautifully and quickly. They aren't easy to find in the US but I know of two sources; PM me if interested.

2. MAC Pro Santoku with granton edge, Hattori HD Santoku (beautiful Damascus steel), and a Kikuichi carbon Santoku (I know who needs 3 of these? But I love them all).

3. Kasumi boning knife. Works like a charm.

4. RyuSen paring knife, 4 inches.


*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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Don't feel bad about Chicago Cutlery.  The older knives were pretty good (I have  a few acquired as a wedding gift, about 22 years ago).  In fact I took the boning knife with me to Knife Skills class and the CIA and the teacher thought it was pretty good.  Today's Chicago Cutlery isn't worth a dime, in my opinion.

I've still got my Chicago Cutlery 8-chef, a wedding gift from '83. It holds its edge beautifully. (My fish chef at the CIA, Chef Clark, worked with a CC boning knife. Now THAT was a knife with character.)

Mine --

-MAC Santoku, granton-edge.

-Kershaw Shun 8-chef

-Really old Henckels 12-chef

-Global 6" serrated

-Global 5" vegetable knife

-Wusthof serrated paring knife (2)


"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office

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The Ultimate one... For me it's Hattory HD, just about any of them - I use HD-5 Santoku as my everyday knife and very happy with it.

As for the others

For "larger" work - 10" Masahiro MVB chef's...

For poultry and fish with bones and such: Fujiwara FKM Deba

And for nice fish slicing - Masahiro 270mm yanagiba

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So for my birthday, 4 of my friends are going to chip in and buy me an "uber knife" less than $150.

At that price range, I'm looking at:

Hattori 210mm Gyuto

Tojiro Pro 210mm Gyuto

Watanabe 195mm Deba

Shun 8" Chefs Knife

Mac professional series knife

Now I know that knives are very personal and you should try them for comfort but I don't know where I can go to actually see all of these knives side by side. For reference, I love my Furi handle and chose it over the much more expensive wustofs and henckels for the feel of the handle alone. I can't stand the handle of the Globals and I don't mind Wustofs although I think the weight is a little excessive. I like the handle of the Shun I tried once but I didn't try using it for an extended period of time. Anybody care to weight in on the pros and cons of the knives listed above?


PS: I am a guy.

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Shalmanese: I recently obtained a Hattori HD 270 mm gyuto, an Ittosai Koetsu 210 mm gyuto, and a Tojiro DP 150 mm boning knife. I love the Hattori HD already. The knife is beautiful, and nicely rounded handle is very comfortable to hold. The blade is wonderfully sharp out of the box, and makes light work of everything from onions and garlic to tomatoes and steak.

The Ittosai Koetsu has a Damascus-style blade like the Hattori HD, but the cutting edge is supposed to be a bit harder. Time will tell whether the difference is noticeable. The handle is less rounded that that of the Hattori HD, but it feels comfortable. I haven’t used it for any marathon prep sessions, though.

FWIW, the Tojiro Powdered Steel blades are supposed to be amazing, and the cost is comparable to the Tojiro Pro knives. If you can, try to handle one of the Tojiro knives before you make a purchase. Tojiro’s handles are much less rounded compared with Hattori HD’s handles.

Watanabe, Shun, and Mac have their admirers, but I have never used them.

Good luck!

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So for my birthday, 4 of my friends are going to chip in and buy me an "uber knife" less than $150.

At that price range, I'm looking at:

Hattori 210mm Gyuto

Tojiro Pro 210mm Gyuto

Watanabe 195mm Deba

Shun 8" Chefs Knife

Mac professional series knife

Now I know that knives are very personal and you should try them for comfort but I don't know where I can go to actually see all of these knives side by side. For reference, I love my Furi handle and chose it over the much more expensive wustofs and henckels for the feel of the handle alone. I can't stand the handle of the Globals and I don't mind Wustofs although I think the weight is a little excessive. I like the handle of the Shun I tried once but I didn't try using it for an extended period of time. Anybody care to weight in on the pros and cons of the knives listed above?

I have used all of the brands you mention except the Watanabe.

I noticed all your choices are Chef's Knives or Gyuto's, but the Watanabe is a Deba. If you want an all-around kitchen knife, do not get a Deba. It is a very thick knife designed primarily for chopping off fish heads. It isn't an all-around type of knife.

If I had to choose between the MAC and the Hattori, I'd have a difficult time. They are both wonderful. Get the Hattori if you like the beauty of Damascus steel with the most amazing thin cutting edge. MAC's are a little more forgiving (less thin of an edge) but still not a knife for abuse.

The Tojiro is the best value for money. I love my Tojiro DP Gyuto, but it doesn't have the "soul" of the Hattori.

The Shun handle is unique with a little bump (I think they call it a d-shape). I ordered one of those online and was able to return it, not being fond of the different shape.

In general I think you can say that most Japanese knives are lighter than German ones, although I'm sure there are exceptions.

One important consideration for you to think about is sharpening. Is there anyone in your neighborhood who can sharpen Japanese knives? You can learn yourself - I did so with a DVD from korin.com, after buying a waterstone - and it's not difficult - but you DO NOT want to take your precious Japanese knife to someone with a bench grinder who does carpenter's chisels on the side.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!


*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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I'd recommend the Hiromoto AS 210 gyuto. It is a blue super carbon steel core surrounded by stainless steel. It is one of my favorites in my block because the steel is awesome...takes a great edge.

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/TenmiJyurakuSeries.html

Also consider the Misono UX10. Very nice knife.

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/UX10Series.html

Also consider the Ryusen Blazen. Great powdered steel blade and very comfortable handle.

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

I would honestly take any of the above three over what you listed. Agreed, the Deba is not an everyday knife.


My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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has anyone used the alton's angle line from shun?

i have large hands, and after reading that the impetus for these was that his hands were hitting the cutting board with the regular/classic shun, these seem like these might be just the ticket. however, i haven't been able to find many reviews of them.

what's the word, people?

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i wish they still made knives like my old french nogent. a 10" would be a wonderful thing to use. i'm still on the outlook on ebay.

so, i actually found one i could afford on ebay. must be from the -30'ies or -40'ies, i guess, as its details are not quite as refined as the very old knife i own. and how is it, then?

well, it's quite flexible. it's light. it's wonderfully balanced. it needs to be honed quite often, as the steel is rather soft. and it actually cuts the carrots, instead of crushing its way through them. it immediately became my knife of preference.


christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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The keys for me are light weight, handle material (wood or plastic, no metal) and a carbon steel blade. The smoothness of cut, ease of sharpening and duration of carbon steel far outweigh the time required to keep it from rusting. Metal handles just don't feel right in my hand :blink:

My 2c

Jorge

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I have a large set of these old carbon sabatier knives.  I keep them in a very large wood and plexi-glass Sabatier retail store display case I found on ebay.

WHAT? NO PICTURES?

Sorry. I don't have a digital camera. My knives look like yours though.

Finally got a cheap digital camera, but no flash and the room is small and dark. The case is too heavy to move to a brighter area!

Forgive my horrible photos, but you will get the point.

Photo004.jpg

Photo003.jpg

Photo002.jpg

Photo001.jpg

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I have a large set of these old carbon sabatier knives.  I keep them in a very large wood and plexi-glass Sabatier retail store display case I found on ebay.

WHAT? NO PICTURES?

Sorry. I don't have a digital camera. My knives look like yours though.

Finally got a cheap digital camera, but no flash and the room is small and dark. The case is too heavy to move to a brighter area!

Forgive my horrible photos, but you will get the point.

Photo004.jpg

Photo003.jpg

Photo002.jpg

Photo001.jpg

Very nice. Are they all from the "Professional" line or a mix? Love the case by the way......

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Thanks!

They are a mix of different Sabatier carbon steel knives from various eras and various lines.

I thought the case was very appropriate for the knives....... I just had to have it, so I paid about $100 bucks for it on Ebay. :rolleyes:

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