Smith And Wesson Forums banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
After I retired a few years ago, got bored and started looking for another hobby (my son says I collect hobbies) so I decided to learn how to cook. Bought some cooking videos and dove in. At that time my main kitchen knife was an eight inch Chicago Cutlery chef's knife. It was okay but I've always been a little OCD when it comes to sharpness and that one just didn't quite "cut" it ... please excuse the pun.

After doing some research I decided a carbon steel (not stainless) would be the way to go, and the best carbon steel knives come from Japan. The reason they are as good as they are is that the Japanese are masters at heat treating and have been for centuries.

The reason the heat treat is so important is that the carbon steel can be much harder than stainless steel. This means they can be ground thinner without the edge folding over. There are pros and cons to hard vs softer steels. Harder steels, ground thinner can be much sharper and will retain that edge longer. However they may be prone to chipping because they are more brittle, and the usual steel honing rods do not work on them so they need to be hand sharpened on stones. Not many people are up to the hand sharpening task, although ceramic honing rod do work fairly well. They also require a lot more care to prevent rusting.

Nevertheless, I was cool with all the cons of carbon steel as a trade off for the pros.

I found a vendor in California and bought a Masahiro 210 mm carbon mono steel knife with a western style micarta handle. When it arrived and I took it out of the package, my first reaction was, "This makes my Chicago Cutlery knife feel like an oar."

I was hooked. Much like any hobby the more you get, the more have to have, so now I have a small but effective collection.

Here they are in order of acquisition from left to right.

P1020805.JPG

The first is the 210 gyuto (chef's knife).

Next is a Frederick Dick (German) that I bought at the same time as the gyuto. It's a high quality paring knife, but I found it to be a little too delicate for my stubby fingers, so it doesn't get used much.

Next is a honesuke or boning knife. This one is from the Tojiro color series line, which appears to have been discontinued. Too bad. It's good knife at an affordable price. Although stainless steel it takes and holds a really good edge. Rockwell hardness is around 58 or 59. Great for trimming fat off of raw protein. The tip is like a scalpel.

The forth is another carbon mono steel knife. This one is a 270 mm sujihiki from Fujiwara. Notice the protein patina. Carbon steel is supposed to patina and this one started on the first slice of meat. It's very thin - especially toward the tip. The way it goes through raw protein is absolutely sublime. Great slicer.

Second from the right is my go-to knife ... a 240 mm gyuto from Kohetsu. That blade is a three layer sandwich made up of softer stainless steel wrapped around a core cutting steel of Aogomi Super Steel. The core steel has a Rockwell hardness of 64 which is very hard. It's also a carbon steel so the core has all the attendant pros and cons of carbon, but only on the exposed core which is not protected by the stainless cladding. The thing gets stupid sharp, it's easy to maintain that edge, and it stays sharp for weeks of regular use.

The last one on the right is another Tojiro Color Series knife. Just a basic little utility (petty) knife that I picked up on clearance. Easy to sharpen and holds a good edge just like the boning knife.

Those are the knives. Don't ask to see the sharpening kit. ;)

Hector
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,996 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,170 Posts
As a sharpener, I get to handle a variety of knives each day, week and month. Folks often ask, “What is the best brand to buy?” My stock answer is the one that feels most comfortable in your hand.

i am am constantly amazed that the Japanese made knives have the most comfortable handles. The steel is incredible and does take and hold an edge. Don’t discount the Japanese stainless steels, they are also excellent.

By by the way, as you may or may not know, the steel is used to straighten the edge of the blade.

Kevin
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
As a sharpener, I get to handle a variety of knives each day, week and month. Folks often ask, “What is the best brand to buy?” My stock answer is the one that feels most comfortable in your hand.

i am am constantly amazed that the Japanese made knives have the most comfortable handles. The steel is incredible and does take and hold an edge. Don’t discount the Japanese stainless steels, they are also excellent.

By by the way, as you may or may not know, the steel is used to straighten the edge of the blade.



Kevin
Regarding the steel straightening the blade, it's my experience that (at least with AS blades) the knife steel is so much harder than the sharping steel the edge does not fold like most western knives so the steel actually does more harm than good. 64 Rockwell steel ground thin will chip before it folds but you are absolutely correct that the steel straightens the edge. It does not actually "sharpen" the knife.

There is a difference in philosophies here. Western stainless steel knives are designed to be "tough" ... meaning they don't chip, but instead the edge will fold over during use. They are still sharp but the cutting edge is not aligned with the rest of the knife. The sharpening steel re-aligns the edge with the rest of the knife, restoring its cutting ability. The trade off is that those blades cannot be ground as thin, so the sharpness is limited.

The Japanese sacrifice the toughness for hardness, so blades can be ground thinner and sharper. The downside is that they must be sharpened on stones with maybe a quick touch-up with a ceramic honing rod.

Yes, Japanese stainless is excellent and my boning knife and petty are both stainless. What's really exciting is the powdered steel they are starting to use in knives. Look for HAP40, ZDP189, and R2 blades. Takamura makes a 210 gyuto that's 1.6 mm thick at the spine with a 62-63 Rockwell hardness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=271&v=gx1pP1JHhCA

Here's how the top of the line Japanese knives are made along with a cutting demo. Takada uses only Aogomi Super Steel (AS) clad in iron or stainless steel. The hot bath in which he has his blades is, I believe, molten salt. His knives are highly regarded with a 50/50 grind, and the best food release I know of. Enjoy! :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBRuA91Bw2k

Here's how Wusthof knives are made.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSZRx4eXM60&t=258s

I kinda lean toward an artisan vs a robot, but that means my 240 gyuto costs about the same as an entire set of Wusthof knives.

Hector
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,170 Posts
Hector,

You are correct, traditional Japanese knives are a much different knife than a Western knife. They require a new thought process for use and sharpening.

I do not use a steel when sharpening, nor do I recommend one to owners of Japanese knives.

Kevin
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,134 Posts
I have a Chicago Cutlery set my wife and I bought when we were first married. Now I’m alone and don’t often go to extremes to prepare meals. I use one of the Chicago Cutlery set almost exclusively, from cutting tomatoes for sandwiches to cutting up a roast my sister will bring over once a week. It sharpens quickly and seems to hold an edge well for an 8” knife.
I’m sure there are far better but needs and use don’t justify my purchase of them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
428 Posts
Very nice. For Xmas my wife bought me a Wusthof set. Is our first foray into more expensive knives. Make a world of difference


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
That's what my wife uses. She has arthritis in both her hands and the Wusthof were the most comfortable for her. She did look at a sets of Japanese knives, I shuddered on seeing the price, but she didn't find a set with handles that she could use for any length of time. She did love the blades however. If she could have found a set that she could handle I think that would have been her choice. I lucked out there.

I'm a sharp knife fanatic. I do an okay job of sharpening but I'm not an expert at it. It's an art really. I have about every sharpening device ever made short of a belt sharpener and one of those is in my future. I like sharpening with stones. I find it very relaxing but it does take time to do it correctly.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top