Kitchen Knives

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Manton, Sep 15, 2007.

  1. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    16,118
    Likes Received:
    1,088
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Tombstone
    The Pro S is the same series I've got. Can't go wrong with a classic. (Well, as long as you like how they feel in your hand.)
     


  2. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    41,574
    Likes Received:
    2,814
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Location:
    In Hiding
    If you use the steel properly and often enough, the edge on your knife should last a loooong time.

    Sharpening grinds away metal. Only a little, but still. Do it only when necessary.

    My Shuns have never been sharpened since I took them home, but they get the steel before every use. They are sharper than my Henckels, which need to be sharpened often, I find.

    I agree about Fibrox. For a $40 knife, you cannot do better. However, they are lightweight (not something everybody likes) and the blades are quite flexible, and not at all stiff.
     


  3. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

    Messages:
    12,939
    Likes Received:
    459
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Grand Forks, ND, USA
    I don't know about Shun specifically, but Japanese knives (and chisels and saws) tend to have much harder steel than Western ones. This leads to long edge life, which some people love, but it also makes them much more prone to chipping. It's for this very reason I don't own any ceramic knives: I don't mind sharpening occasionally, and I take care of my cutlery. When I was a line chef, I learned quickly that I had no alternative (two missing fingertip taught me that). Japanese knives cannot generally do things like hack through bone, which Western knives can (and I do all the time with poultry) due to this brittleness. As for sharpness: like I said, all steels can be made equally sharp, and by the same methods. Heck, bronze can be made as sharp as steel...it just doesn't stay that way.

    Are you using an electric griner? I'd say far away from those. First, they don't usually put on a good angle. Second, they remove way too much material, far more than necessary.
     


  4. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    41,574
    Likes Received:
    2,814
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Location:
    In Hiding
    I do use an electric, from Chef's Choice. I never quite mastered the stone. Took me long enough to get the hang of the steel.
     


  5. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

    Messages:
    12,939
    Likes Received:
    459
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Grand Forks, ND, USA
    I do use an electric, from Chef's Choice. I never quite mastered the stone. Took me long enough to get the hang of the steel.

    Yeah, that would be why. Look at their web site and you'll see that the Chef's Choice grinders actually grind a two-angle bevel with a less steep angle. It's not a mistake on their part: it makes the edge sturdier. It does, however, have two drawbacks: first, cutting is less efficient (hence, the knife is not as sharp as it could be); second, it makes it likely that when someone hones the knife, they'll actually draw the blade on the steel along the secondary bevel, not the primary one, which means the person isn't honing the blade at all.
     


  6. Dmax

    Dmax Senior member

    Messages:
    1,302
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Location:
    People's Republic of the Five Boroughs
    I don't know about Shun specifically, but Japanese knives (and chisels and saws) tend to have much harder steel than Western ones. This leads to long edge life, which some people love, but it also makes them much more prone to chipping. It's for this very reason I don't own any ceramic knives: I don't mind sharpening occasionally, and I take care of my cutlery. When I was a line chef, I learned quickly that I had no alternative (two missing fingertip taught me that). Japanese knives cannot generally do things like hack through bone, which Western knives can (and I do all the time with poultry) due to this brittleness. As for sharpness: like I said, all steels can be made equally sharp, and by the same methods. Heck, bronze can be made as sharp as steel...it just doesn't stay that way.
    As you seem to agree, RC60 is very unusual for a European knife. Most current Wusthoff, Henckels, Victorinox, Messermeister, F.Dick, etc.. knives are no harder than RC57. An optimal solution, at least for a knife geek like me, is to have a softer knife or a meat cleaver for chopping and dealing with frozen foods and a harder knife for slicing and dicing. As for sharpness, Japanese knife are sharper out of the box because they can take and keep more acute grind angles than knives made from softer steels. 15 degrees or less per side bevels are fairly common in Japanese knives while European knives usually have 20- 25 degree per side cutting edge. If you attempt to put a too acute edge on soft steel or bronze [​IMG] knife, the edge will fold over itself very quickly. This will require you to steel, sharpen or regrind such knives very frequently. For the record, I have nothing against German knives. I own several Wusthoff Grand Prix and Henckels 5-star knives and I am happy with them. Henckels and Wusthoff have superior fit, finish and maybe even handle comfort when compared to similarily priced Japanese knives. They are pretty good, but they are not the best when considering cutting performance.
     


  7. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

    Messages:
    12,939
    Likes Received:
    459
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Grand Forks, ND, USA
    Yes, and this brings me back around to my point on two subjects. First, Japanese knives are extremely hard. But that makes them prone to chipping, and sharpening them is a serious pain in the ass. They either have to be machine-ground (like surgical stainless) or specialized stones need to be used. Also, I would contend that while in theory they are sharper, in practice there is no noticable difference. It's like the difference between a 400hp engine and a 405hp one. I've used plenty of Japanese knives (friends' and other cook's knives), and sure they cut nicely, but so do any other well-sharpened and well-honed knives. When I can shave my arm with no effort, how much sharper do I need it to be?
     


  8. Dragon

    Dragon Senior member

    Messages:
    3,192
    Likes Received:
    35
    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Yes, and this brings me back around to my point on two subjects. First, Japanese knives are extremely hard. But that makes them prone to chipping, and sharpening them is a serious pain in the ass. They either have to be machine-ground (like surgical stainless) or specialized stones need to be used. Also, I would contend that while in theory they are sharper, in practice there is no noticable difference. It's like the difference between a 400hp engine and a 405hp one. I've used plenty of Japanese knives (friends' and other cook's knives), and sure they cut nicely, but so do any other well-sharpened and well-honed knives. When I can shave my arm with no effort, how much sharper do I need it to be?

    You don`t want to use a universal knife for everything if you are using a Japanese knife. You need vegetable, sashimi, beef, small and large deba (for cutting into bones and hard things.) Use the debas for the bone stuff to prevent your knives from chipping (they are thick and heavy)

    Just by watching my wife, I imagine they are a pain in the ass to maintain. You have to sharpen them regularly to keep the sharpness and prevent from rust, etc.
     


  9. hisroadside

    hisroadside Senior member

    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Location:
    Luxembourg
    personally a good set of Wusdorff (however it is spelled) work great but for the most part when I need cutting power without risking a fairly expensive knife (at least to my standards) I use an Opinel EffilÃ[​IMG] which I sharpen to quite an acceptable level. And i really dont care about them because they cost around 10 euros. I also enjoy the carbon bladed original Opinels, ( I am Savoian therefore biased) but the rust seems to scare most people away.
     


  10. Dmax

    Dmax Senior member

    Messages:
    1,302
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Location:
    People's Republic of the Five Boroughs
    Yes, and this brings me back around to my point on two subjects. First, Japanese knives are extremely hard. But that makes them prone to chipping, and sharpening them is a serious pain in the ass. They either have to be machine-ground (like surgical stainless) or specialized stones need to be used. Also, I would contend that while in theory they are sharper, in practice there is no noticable difference. It's like the difference between a 400hp engine and a 405hp one. I've used plenty of Japanese knives (friends' and other cook's knives), and sure they cut nicely, but so do any other well-sharpened and well-honed knives. When I can shave my arm with no effort, how much sharper do I need it to be?
    A lot of mid-range japanese knives are hardened to RC60 which means they are no harder than your "vintage" Henckels RC60 and are no more difficult to sharpen I never had problems with chipping, but I heard of some people dropping their japanese knives *cough*GQGeek*cough* and damaging them. "Surgical stainless" is a meaningless marketing term. Unless you reprofiled your Henckels to narrow the cutting edge a similary sharpened typical japanese knife will cut with less effort due to a thinner, more acute edge geometry. I do respect that for some people the trade-off in edge durability may not be worth the extra cutting power. I heard of people shaving with an axe, I would prefer to shave with a straight razor or a DE.
     


  11. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

    Messages:
    12,939
    Likes Received:
    459
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Grand Forks, ND, USA
    "Surgical stainless" is a meaningless marketing term.

    While I agree this is a marketing term, it is far from meaningless. It denotes a steel with an extremely high chromium content. Such steels are virtually rust proof (unlike the "high-carbon stainless" knives, like the ones we're discussing) and extremely tough, but they are also very, very difficult to sharpen.

    I don't think you understood my point. While you are correct in theory, the practical effect is so slight that it's virtually nonexistent. And yes, I've used several Japanese knives many, many times, in both professional and home settings. Therefore, I wouldn't use this as a reason someone should choose Japanese knive. On the other hand, the different feel of Japanese knives would be a reason to use them.
     


  12. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

    Messages:
    29,119
    Likes Received:
    1,303
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Texas
    Okay, I've been reading this and a thread on another board, and I'm hankering after a Japanese knife - well, I have been for a while now. My Forschners do a fine job and I am very fond of them, but I'm also looking at a Tojiro that's not a whole lot more expensive. Would I be making a mistake in going to a Japanese knife or two? Worth the hassle? Stick with the Forschners?

    What say you?
     


  13. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

    Messages:
    7,735
    Likes Received:
    468
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Okay, I've been reading this and a thread on another board, and I'm hankering after a Japanese knife - well, I have been for a while now. My Forschners do a fine job and I am very fond of them, but I'm also looking at a Tojiro that's not a whole lot more expensive. Would I be making a mistake in going to a Japanese knife or two? Worth the hassle? Stick with the Forschners? What say you?
    The question you have to ask is "Why do you want one?" As you doubtless know, a Japanese knife is not going to revolutionize your cooking experience if stepping up from decent German knives that are well-maintained. If you like knives and appreciate the effort and craft embedded in a handmade knife and place value on those aspects, then you have a good reason to purchase one. Like Doc, I use Henckles Pro S near exclusively, except for my one Hiroo Itou slicer (which I typically use just for fish, and is stunning in that capacity, noticeably better than the Henckles). But the Itou is far more beautiful and I enjoy using it and simply holding it in my hand -- that's where the real value is (and philosophically, from contributing to humanity by purchasing something that the creation of is a part of someone's life and a component of his self-worth). I want another one. [​IMG]
     


  14. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

    Messages:
    12,939
    Likes Received:
    459
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Grand Forks, ND, USA
    Okay, I've been reading this and a thread on another board, and I'm hankering after a Japanese knife - well, I have been for a while now. My Forschners do a fine job and I am very fond of them, but I'm also looking at a Tojiro that's not a whole lot more expensive. Would I be making a mistake in going to a Japanese knife or two? Worth the hassle? Stick with the Forschners?

    What say you?


    Why would it be a mistake? If you have any friends who have some Japanese knives, see if you can borrow one or two, or maybe just go to their places and use them a bit. See if you like the feel of them. If you do, then get some.
     


  15. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

    Messages:
    29,119
    Likes Received:
    1,303
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Texas
    The question you have to ask is "Why do you want one?" As you doubtless know, a Japanese knife is not going to revolutionize your cooking experience if stepping up from decent German knives that are well-maintained. If you like knives and appreciate the effort and craft embedded in a handmade knife and place value on those aspects, then you have a good reason to purchase one.

    Like Doc, I use Henckles Pro S near exclusively, except for my one Hiroo Itou slicer (which I typically use just for fish, and is stunning in that capacity, noticeably better than the Henckles). But the Itou is far more beautiful and I enjoy using it and simply holding it in my hand -- that's where the real value is (and philosophically, from contributing to humanity by purchasing something that the creation of is a part of someone's life and a component of his self-worth).

    I want another one.

    [​IMG]


    Christ almighty that is gorgeous.

    Why would it be a mistake? If you have any friends who have some Japanese knives, see if you can borrow one or two, or maybe just go to their places and use them a bit. See if you like the feel of them. If you do, then get some.

    ...my only friends who cook worth a damn use the cheapest things you have ever seen. Late-night informercial-type stuff, off-brand Ginzu-type knives she finds at garage sales. It's a bit unsettling to watch her use a large paring knife where I would use an 8" chef's knife, but she's the best cook of all our friends, and don't think for a minute that I don't recognize the irony in this situation.
     


Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by