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One good knife, recommendations?


Swicks
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If the original poster was looking for a small knife, sure, I would've recommended a Santoku but he's looking for a 8"-10" Chef. I'm not a proponent of small knives anyway because I do 90% of my cutting/slicing needs with a 270mm but I do see the benefits of a smaller knife if you constantly use it for small or more precise cutting jobs. I use the 270mm for mincing garlic to slicing up watermellon. I also have a 210mm that surprised on how much I enjoy using it. That's about as small as I'll go though so a Santoku is still too small for me. The extra 3+ inches is greatly appreciated when it's needed and with Japanese knives, the difference in weight is just a few ounces.

Swicks, let us know what you ultimately decided on.

Cheers

Edited to add...Cool, Greg. Glad you like the knife. After a few sharpenings the true potential will show through and you will be amazed. Yeah, sometimes on these budget lines a little adjustment may be needed as it's hit and miss in the fit and finish department. The handle on mine was fine...a few hairline gaps between the tang and the scales but no big deal at all to me. The blade is what I was after.

Edited by Octaveman (log)

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On a side note but related, someone on a knife forum who's used German knives all her life just received her Tojiro DP the other day and thought people would like to read a first hand impression of her new Japanese Gyuto. This is what she had to say about it (submitted with permission).....

It came today-WOW

This is my first Japanese made knife, western style but in no way acts like anything I've ever used before. I got it on the holiday special from Korin and it finally came today.

So there's lots of experts here, so I'm writing this for the people like me, just curious about these knives but unsure.

Everything about it feels good, I'm a novice who has all German knives so the blade on this thing was startling right from the start. I learned really quick, what the sharp part touches, it cuts. No blood yet but I've had to learn a new way to brush food sticking to the far side of the blade off with my finger.

By standards, considering the price I paid for it, $50+change, this should be a cheap knife, but it's not, within an hour of practice with it, it changed everything I think about a knife used in the kitchen. Simply amazing.

There's lots of people who can tell you stuff that makes better sense, they're the ones who steered me to this knife. Just quickly, the handle is nicely finished and very comfortable, whether your hand is back on it or forward using the pinch method. the 240mm quickly became ideal, coming from an 8" knife. It's not that it really feels bigger, it just feels more efficient and for some reason more accurate, whether chopping with the tip on the board or the other way (okay I don't know the descriptive terms). I seldom did the tip on the board method of chopping with my other knives but noticed I'm doing it a lot now.

With the tip on the board, it is at least twice as easy to use as my 8" chefs knife.

In everything I did, the knife was just easy to use, it was like I didn't have to learn anything or get used to the knife at all, it's almost as if the knife had soul and was teaching me...Wow, I really said that, didn't I.

It slices bread better than my bread knife.

It slices roast beef and a rolled turkey roast better than my slicer.

It cubes potatoes without thinking, onions, etc.

chop, chop, chop, julienning carrots, slicing a fat carrot lengthwise is like slicing celery, it's really smooth.

And thin, oh my God I've never cut food that thin in my life, at least nothing that resembled food LOL...but still haven't figured out what it is I'm supposed to do with thin food

It dices garlic as well as my paring, still think I'd rather do that with a smaller knife but that was the only duty I felt like saying that in regard to this knife.

It balances very comfortably in my hand, regardless of the way I choose to use it..I didn't even notice the knife after only about ten minutes using it, it was just there and I was watching what the blade was doing.

I guess it's light, I thought I really liked heaver knives, now it's not something I think about.

I'm scared, now how do I sharpen it when the time comes. Stones look to cost more than I paid for the knife, I do have the triangle ceramic sticks which have flat sides that I'm pretty good with in the mean time but I kind of got the feeling after only an hour with this knife that it won't be the last one I get.

Hey guess what else. Korin sends their beautiful catalog along with the knife. It's not just a catalog but includes history and a section on sharpening and all of their knives.

One thing I noticed, the catalog has only a few knives we would call paring knives, pretty much everything else they carry is at least 5 inches long.

Holding, looking at and using this knife, I bought it to just try out and then if I liked it I would probably buy a "good" knife, but I really can't imagine what more I would want in a Gyutou at any cost, without getting into really pretty knives, but really, this is a very nice looking knife.

Sorry about all the words, I'm just kind of blown into the wind with this one.

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I'd like to weigh in on Santuko knives in light of the original quest of Swicks.

Hey all, I currently have an ok set of knives that get the job done for the most part but I am thinking about investing in one high quality knife as well.

Any reccommendations? My thinking is probably around an 8 or 10 inch chefs knife?

I love my Santuko for veggie prep, However, is is useless for such basic tasks as cutting up a whole chicken. I damaged the blade of mine on bone. So if Swicks is looking for ONE good knife I still would opt for a quality chef's knife.

I've paid attention lately to the order in which I chose to use my knives and have noticed the following pattern of choice:

10" Chef's Knife

8" Chef's Knife

3" Paring Knife

7" Santuko

My slicers and filet knives don't get used much at all.

My cooking: I cook more with chicken and pork than with beef. I rarely do fish - my wife and I love fish but my young adult daughters don't care for it. My cooking is fundamentally western European (German, Italian(Tuscan-influence mostly), basic French, occasional Greek, others as desired for specific ethnic-themed dinners).

This is my opinion only and not meant to put down other's views.

Porthos Potwatcher

The Unrelenting Carnivore

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Hehe, yeah, a santoku or gyuto shouldn't get near bones. The Honesuki is a great boning knife with plenty of knuckle clearance to easily get through joints and taking meat off the bones. Nice, thick, beefy, fun to use. Ever get your knife repaired? Did you chip it or fold the edge over?

It doesn't surprise me that the 10" chef was your most used knife. Larger knives can just do more than shorter ones. A 240mm (9 1/2") is a great knife for the average user. I prefer the 270mm because when using a pinch grip, it still gives me 240mm of comfortable, usable edge.

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Hehe, yeah, a santoku or gyuto shouldn't get near bones.  The Honesuki is a great boning knife with plenty of knuckle clearance to easily get through joints and taking meat off the bones.  Nice, thick, beefy, fun to use.  Ever get your knife repaired?  Did you chip it or fold the edge over?

I folded it over. I got interested in knife sharpening in '06 after reading Chad Ward's article here. I was able to use what I learned to straighten the fold as best I could, then put a new edge on it. I'd take a picture to show the results but the knife "disappeared" the last day I was using it in a volunteer kitchen. Fortunately, it wasn't a very expensive knife - it was my fisrt try at owning one and I didn't want to spend a bundle of money on an "unknown to me" style of knife.

I don't want to hijack this topic so please tell me where to post this question I do have about cleaning fish. I fish for trout in the eastern Sierras. For years I have used a basic fisherman's filet knife to clean the fish including cutting off the head (removal of the head at my wife's request). I struggle to keep an edge on the knife after cleaning the day's catch for my family. It dawned on my that maybe I should be using something more like a chef's knife for the head removal and the filet knife for the balance of the cleaning. Is this rational thinking or should I expect the filet knife to hold up against the fish bones. I typically clean 15 or so trout in a session.

Porthos Potwatcher

The Unrelenting Carnivore

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Thanks to this thread, I just discovered Korin in NYC.

I plan to go down there when I have a few more coins jingling in my pocket.

Right now I'm quite happy with my heavy 8" german chef's knife, so I'd be mostly interested in something to supplement it, probably for slicing delicate things. Would this be a good use for a santoku, or should I consider some other style?

Notes from the underbelly

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Damn, I hate to hear stories of peoples knives being ripped off even if the knife wasn't that good to begin with.

Paul, most people who have a heavy German chef's knife say they're happy with it because they've never tried a Japanese blade. Of course, there are some that have and still prefer their German knives but for the life of me, I don't know why. :raz:

You have an opportunity with Korin to hold some of the best knives available and it would be a shame if you didn't at least fondle the Gyuto's there. Unfortunately though, I don't think they'll let you whip out a couple of carrots and an onion to test them. So they are just going to feel like you're holding a lighter knife than yours...kind of tough to take a leap of faith and buy it just based on a few minutes of holding it. One has to see for themselves I guess during actual usage how these knives perform to believe what I'm sayin here. Check out the Ryusen Damascus (exactly the same as the Hattori HD), the Misono UX10, the Misono Swedish Steel and the Tojiro DP and of course, the uber knives they have. Plan at least a couple of hours there. They will let you hold any knife they have.

While you're there, buy a 240mm Tojiro DP gyuto. Take it home and give it a try. If you don't like it, put it on ebay where it will be gauranteed to sell. If you just don't want to give it a try, then to answer your direct question, sure a Santoku would be fine if you want a shorter knife than your current chef's. A Santoku is typically thinner than a gyuto and would be good. There might be a better choice depending on what "things" you're referring to. A Nakiri could be an option. What things do you need a new knife for?

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

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What things do you need a new knife for?

"need" is such a buzzkill of a word, isn't it? honestly, I don't need anything. I use my chef's knife for 99% of everything and love it. I just think these Japanese things are pretty and cool, and love the idea of an obscenely sharp blade for some more delicate cutting.

I'll definitely take your advice and spend some time at Korin. I think I can learn a lot from how a knife feels and balances in my hand. It's what I love about my current chef's knife ... I knew it would work for me before it ever touched food.

Notes from the underbelly

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So...anyone take the plunge yet? :biggrin:

Not quite. I went to Korin yesterday and drooled over a few knives. Had a long chat with one of their knife guys.

I think I'd be interested in a japanese santoku knife for the light duty stuff ... a Misono, or Ittosai perhaps. I'm going to stick with my goldhamster for an all purpose chef's knife though. Partly because I love it, but mostly for maintenance reasons. The man at Korin told me I wouldn't get too far maintaining the Japanese knives on a steel, and that they need regular maintenance on water stones (they might hold their edge for several times longer than the german knife can go between steelings, but then the sharpening is a lot more serious--skill and labor intensive).

My goldhamster still has the factory edge on it, and it's been my only chef's knife for the last five years. steeling has kept it sharp enough to shave with. I think there's an advantage to the softer steel in this regard. But I think when I have some extra cash I'll get the santoku ... it will see lighter use, probably be a joy to slip through carots and onions, and will probably go a couple of months at a time between sharpenings.

Notes from the underbelly

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Many people on knife forums I frequent have bought knives ranging from the $50 Tojiro DP's to the $1,500 Murray Carter customs and they all do their own sharpening. They use whetstones or they use various sharpening devices but they all do their own sharpening. Why? Because it's not hard to learn. All you need is a few single stones or a few combo stones (double sided with different grits) and the video that Korin sells. That's how I got started and that's really all it takes. Well, that and the desire to learn a new skill.

Maintenance of these knives on the whetstones with everyday use involves about 10-15 minutes of time every few weeks. This would be basically light honing on your higher grit stones versus an all out sharpening. For the newbie sharpener, it may take up to 30 minutes because it's new and you want to go slow to get it right. But it won't take long to get proficient. I actually enjoy working on my stones and I get into this zen like mode where I'm concentrating on what I'm doing and I rarely hear anything beyond the sound of the blade going back and forth on the stone. Not even the kids or the TV. It's quite relaxing actually. This light honeing that's done is not a whole lot different from a technique standpoint than doing a full sharpening. Just a different goal. I don't know who you talked to at Korn...maybe Mr. Sugai, their resident sharpener which BTW will give free sharpening lessons if you make an appointment, but it's not all that labor intensive. You could sharpen you Goldhamster on them and even if you think it still has a factory edge after 5 years, I can gaurantee it will get significantly sharper.

A steel as I'm sure you already know is not supposed to be a sharpening device. It's used to realign your edge to straight. You can use a steel with Japanese knives but the glass smooth steel sold at www.handamerican.com is what is recommended. Even then it should be used with very little pressure.

Anyway, Korin sure is cool and glad you got the chance to go. My wallet and my wife are both greatful for living 2,791 miles away.

Cheers

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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My wallet and my wife are both greatful for living 2,791 miles away.

ha! I was telling my best friend about the place, and the $3000 sashimi knives in the glass cases... he's a cook and a bit of a knife fetishist.

he said the same thing you did. I asked if he was afraid he'd walk out of there with a sashimi knife. he said, "I'm afraid I'd walk out of there with a sashimi LIFESTYLE--I'd buy the knife, for sure, but I'd have to figure out how to rearrange all my priorities in order to justify having it."

Notes from the underbelly

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My wallet and my wife are both greatful for living 2,791 miles away.

ha! I was telling my best friend about the place, and the $3000 sashimi knives in the glass cases... he's a cook and a bit of a knife fetishist.

he said the same thing you did. I asked if he was afraid he'd walk out of there with a sashimi knife. he said, "I'm afraid I'd walk out of there with a sashimi LIFESTYLE--I'd buy the knife, for sure, but I'd have to figure out how to rearrange all my priorities in order to justify having it."

A very good knife line to consider is the Anolon Advanced Series.

Good heft, great balance (balances on one finger right behind the blade) extremely sharp, and a great ergonomic non-slip handle that makes cutting a breeze.

Their 8" Chef's costs abut $50.

Check them out here: http://www.anolon.com/actad.html

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I've been pining for a new knife for the last year. I have a perfectly fine Victorinox Fibrox 8" chef's knife, which is at the shop getting sharpened, and a Henckel's Santoku, which I loathe. It's uncomfortable in my hand (my wrist kills me after only a few minutes of slicing), and for the type of cutting I do, it's totally inappropriate for me. I also have assorted cleavers, boning knives, and poultry shears for the heavy duty kitchen work. I really rely on my Victorinox for the bulk of my prep work, though. It's been sorely missed.

Since I've had to rely on the horrid Santoku over the last week, I was vulnerable to Octaveman's sweet talkin' :biggrin: on the Tojiro DP gyuto. I took the plunge and ordered the 240mm from Japanese Chefs Knives on Friday. The price was similar to Korin (a .10 difference) but shipping was $12.00 with Korin, versus the $7 flat fee from JCK. Plus, I read here (or somewhere else) that the shipping from Japan was amazingly fast.

And amazingly fast it was. The knife arrived in Boston this a.m. and I've already put it through its paces for lunchtime prep. I just glided my way through a pound of carrots for a soup and salad recipe. I'm not especially fast or skilled with a knife, but I ended up getting a nice pile of matchstick carrots in a few short minutes. Only a very little pressure required, even with some of the bigger, tougher carrots. The knife was longer than I expected, but I know I'll appreciate the length once my 8" Victorinox comes back. Next up: eggplant and peppers for a recipe development project I'm working on.

So Octaveman, I and my wrist thank you! :wub:

Edited by ninetofive (log)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

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That's great Diana. It's always good to hear of people's enjoyment with Japanese knives. :biggrin: See, I wasn't kidding about JCK's shipping was I? Another good thing is that it's $7 to ship one knife or five knives. Yes, the length will become your friend soon enough. I find that I use my gyuto's for practically everything from mincing garlic to slicing up heads of lettuce or cabbage.

Glad you really like the knife.

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Octaveman,

Thanks so much for your recommendations.

Ordered the Tojira 240 mm Gyotu from the Powdered High Speed Tool Series from JapaneseChefKnives.com and received it in 4 days. I have used it almost daily for a week and just love it. Seems no pressure at all is needed to get through any vegie that I use it on.

I have some older Sabatier carbon steel knives, a Sabatier chef knife, but use mostly Wustoff knives (a chef knife and a santuko) and think that this new Tojira will be the one I pick up most often.

That site is really great, BTW!!!!

Thanks again (I think?!?!?!.....now I'm getting obsessed with buying more knives......transferring from my obsession in buying cookbooks!)

Donna

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Woo Hoo!!! Another one!!! The Tojiro powdered steel series is a really good series...a tough, workhorse of a knife. Koki at JCK.com is really good with the customer and making sure he/she is happy. Getting knives out the door quickly is the first thing he can do for us and he does it very well.

Keep in mind that even while sharp out of the box, it is NOT as sharp as it could be because the Japanese don't typically sharpen every knife to it's fullest. Also keep in mind that unless you're willing to learn how to sharpen the knives yourself, there's just a couple of places I recommend sending the knife to be resharpened. See up thread for links to those places. They are the only places that I would trust with my knives and can make any knife screaming sharp...which is a good thing. :biggrin:

Glad people are in love with their knives but it's no surprise to me. :laugh:

p.s. The knives/brands I've recommended are just the tip of the iceberg and are the most recommended knives at their price point. Feel free to let me help you spend your money on more knives if you want to fill your block.

Cheers

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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  • 3 weeks later...
I don't want to hijack this topic so please tell me where to post this question I do have about cleaning fish.  I fish for trout in the eastern Sierras... It dawned on my that maybe I should be using something more like a chef's knife for the head removal and the filet knife for the balance of the cleaning.  Is this rational thinking or should I expect the filet knife to hold up against the fish bones.  I typically clean 15 or so trout in a session.

Porthos Potwatcher

The Unrelenting Carnivore

One of my student holiday jobs was in the factory attached to a trout farm. We'd put a ton or so of fish through daily, and the morning began with (1) cut heads off; (2) feed bodies through automatic filleter; (3) inspect fillets individually, put right what the machine missed and remove pectoral fin & its underpinnings.

We used big knives with plenty of heft for the heads, and fine, flexible-blade knives for the follow-up. The knives were sharpened first thing and we'd each (two or three of us) regularly use more than one of the head-cutters in a session.

Be nice to your fillet knife :smile:

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Octaveman, would you mind talking a bit about what sharpening stones / other devices you think are reasonable to have for maintaining Japanese knives?

I'm curious to know if there's a way to do it for less than the prices I saw at Korin (where I'd be spending about double the price of any knives I get on a set of water stones and a how-to DVD!)

Notes from the underbelly

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Sure, no problem.

First, I would definately recommend Korin's DVD. It's one thing to read about it and see pictures but it's another to see it in action. Their prices are typically on the high side and there are lesser expensive choices of brands that would work just fine.

Second, I've always used stones and have never tried anything else so I'm a bit biased when it comes to the stones versus other devices discussion although I have heard that the Apex Edge Pro is very good. With the help of the DVD, it didn't take me long to learn how to sharpen my knives. You must go slow at first to get the motions, muscle memory and concepts down but it won't take long before you're up to speed. The only trick is to keep your angle consistant as you work back and forth on the stone and practice, practice, practice.

Good brands to consider are Shapton Pro, King, Norton, Bester and Naniwa. Shapton Pro's are the best you can buy IMHO for most all grits. They are ceramic stones and do NOT need soaking before use. A little water on top and you're good to go. They are harder than other brands but they cut really well. King and Norton are good stones for the price but they DO need soaking. They will make more of a mess than Shapton but are good stones. Bester has similar characteristics to King and Norton but some prefer it over the others. The Naniwa I have is a polsihing stone. Very soft but great for polishing Japanese blades because the old saying goes "hard knife, soft stone" when it comes to polishing.

For the newbie, I recommend a 1000 grit (or close to it) single stone and a 4000/8000 combo stone (or close to it) although you could get away with a single 4k instead of the combo. The reason for the single stone for the 1k is that it will wear faster and it's thicker and would last longer. If you got a 1k/4k combo, the 1k side would wear down faster than the 4k but it would take a while for that to happen. If you need to repair chips a lower grit around 220-400 is ideal. You can repair chips with the 1k grit but it will just take a long time.

Now that grits are out of the way the brands are the next step. Here is what I would suggest and you can pick and choose what you like given your budget. Keep in mind that a good stone is important and will last a very long time. Some initial investment in good stones would be a wise thing to do. It amazes me that people will spend all this money on knives then get the cheapest stones they can and wonder why they don't do a great job or they disintegrate before their eyes.

For chip repairs and/or re-establishing your bevel angles

The Pink Brick 220 grit Great coarse stone that gets great reviews. All stones at this grit level will wear fast but this one wears the least. Used for serious repairs. DO NOT buy Norton's 220 grit stone as it will need to be flattened within minutes.

Bester 700 grit This stone is a good intermediate stone to remove the scratches left by the 220 grit stone. Used for minor chip repair.

Stones to start with for initial sharpening when noticably dull

Shapton Pro 1000 grit The best stone to go with. Fast cutting and will last a longer time due to it's construction. Can start with this one or the Shapton Pro 2000 grit. Either one are great stones to start the sharpening process with.

Bester 1200 grit A good stone to start your sharpening with.

Shapton Pro 2000 grit Can be used instead of the Shapton Pro 1k.

Stones to use for light touch-ups and further sharpening from prior stones

King F1 4000 grit single stone Great stone that would give you a nicely sharpened and polished edge. With this stone, there's no need for a higher stone right now. Can invest in one later if you'd like.

Shapton Pro 5000 grit Great polishing stone that does a very good job at refining your edge further.

Norton combo stones to be considered in place of the above single stones

Norton Combo Stones all grits This place can give you an idea as to what Norton offers. A 1k/4k can do a good job to get your feet wet with sharpening without spending a lot of money. Eventually though you will probably want to branch out.

It's my opinion and experience that one should stock up on lower grits and have just a few higher grits. The reasoning is that the lower grit stones vary greatly in partical size from one grit to the next while the higher grits vary at extremely small intervals. This means that to get really nice scratch removal as you move up the grit scale, it's important to make sure the prior grits scratches are properly removed to end up with a superior edge and polsihed mirrored bevels. This is done by making sure the gaps in grit sizes are not so big that the higher grit stone is too fine to remove the lower grits scratches. For example, a jump from a 1k to an 8k is too big of a jump whereas the jump from a 1k to 4k is not so big and is doable. Does that make sense?

To give you an idea what I mean, my stones are 325, 600, 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k, 10k. There is more concentration on the lower grits with only two higher grits and am extremely happy with the results. The partical size with each grit is cut in half with each step to the next higher grit. You won't need to get all these to get started so don't freak out. I spent a year or so getting all these because as I got more proficient with sharpening, I demanded higher quality edges/bevels for myself. You don't need to do this unless you want to and have the funds to expand.

One final note, these stones like all stones will need to be flattened periodically depending on the stone and how often you use them. A dished stone cannot properly sharpen a blade and must remain flat. There are flattening stones out there. The one from Norton would be fine and is fairly cheap.

Hope this helps and that I just didn't confuse things. Feel free to ask if you have any more questions. Chad I'm sure can add plenty to this discussion so hope he sees this too. Glad to help.

Cheers

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Octaveman,I am real close to ordering the Hiromoto AS Gyuto that you recommend. Your sharpening instructions are pushing me closer. One more question if you will...

Are water stones required for the japanese knives? Or will a good set of oil stones suffice?

"Be a simple kind of man. - ronnie vanzant

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They're not required. I've never worked with oil stones and almost all of the people I'm aware of use wetstones or devices like the Apex. I vaguely remember this subject coming up in discussions before but can't remember the actual discussion. I can't imagine it being a problem. The bigger issue would be proper grit progression and technique over the medium used for lubrication. If good oil stones are used then should be fine. Just don't get a water stone and use oil with it. That would be bad. Chad is around here somewhere. I'm sure he could answer this question better than I. Good choice with the AS by the way. At least a 240mm but 270mm is quite versatile. What's another inch anyway, right?

Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I did a little digging amongst people that I thought may have used both oil and water stones and the consensus was that oil stones are inferior for a couple of reasons. First, they don't cut as fast as waterstones. Second, the oil stones don't create a true slurry which aids in polishing. The specs of metal that are created do more damage than good knocking down the edge which retards the process. Third, oil stones tend to clog up a lot faster reducing the efficiency. Fourth, oil stones don't get into as fine of grits as waterstones. So, you can use them but the results will be much better with waterstones.

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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