Originally Posted by Dmax
A couple of points:
Yes, traditional hones are too coarse for japanese knives.
No, that's not right. First, it's called a steel
is the verb. Second, the coarseness has nothing to do with it. It's how hard the steel is. A steel must be a few degrees Rockwell harder than the edge it is honing or it won't work. The only time a steel need be basically smooth is when it is used for a card scraper.
When a typical German knife encounters a kitchen counter, a bone or something else hard it tends to roll it's edge.
This happens to all steel edges, not just German ones. That's what the steel is for.
Japanese made western style knives are lighter, have a thinner edge profile, made with better, higher carbon content steel, and are hardened to a higher RC number for superior edge retention.
Uh...no. It is certainly not better
; it is different. Nowadays, it is not always higher in carbon, but often chromium and/or molybdenum. (Japanese chisel edges, on the other hand, are
higher in carbon.) Besides, as I've brought up more than once, higher carbon content always
has one glaringly negative side effect: brittle edges. That's why modern Western edge steels actually have lower carbon contents than edge steels of old. And yes, it is hardened more, but your use of the word "superior" needs qualification. If you mean that it it will take more soft-use wear and tear, then yes, it is superior. If you are talking about hard abuse, however, it is most definitely inferior to Western steels, which are far less brittle.
Each alloy has its strengths and weaknesses, and one should know what they are when going into knife buying. Just because something is harder does not make it overall superior. There are pros and cons to each aspect. For example, would you recommend making kitchen knives from S53 steel? Hard and tough as it is, I would never, ever recommend such a thing. It just has too many drawbacks for the home cook.