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Nov 1, 2006 07:31 PM

Hida Tool's knives

I got a gift certificate to Hida Tool and bought a chef's knife recently. A very nice knife--very light compared to my other knives. What's the difference between a japanese knife and some of the german ones, like Wusthof--or is it just a brand difference? Also should I have it sharpened there? Not that I mind as I really like to have coffee at Cafe Fanny when I come to town.

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  1. Japanese knives are usually harder steel than German style knives. This comes with advantages and disadvantages. On the bright side, the knife will sharpen sharper, and hold the edge longer. On the down side, it's more brittle than a German style, and won't tolerate abuse like hacking at bones and frozen food. Because the steel is harder, sharpening is a little more difficult. There are several sites on the web with pictorial instructions and videos of Japanese knife sharpening, but it's usually done with water stones. If you have some time to practice, it's really not that difficult to pick up. With regard to edge maintenance, there's a debate going on about whether a steel will help a Japanese style knife. First the knife is often harder than the steel. Second, the edge on a German style knife tends to roll as it dulls. A steel does a great job of straightening out a rolled edge. Because the steel is harder, a Japanese style blade does not roll, and using a steel doesn't accomplish anything. Most suggest using a leather hone to refresh/maintain a Japanese style knife.
    Lastly, most German style knives are stainless steel. Some Japanese knives are not, and need yet another level of care in that you have to make sure to clean them off and dry them after use. You're generally rewarded with even better yet sharpness and longer edge retention.
    If you don't want to wander into the "city", there are mail order sharpening services. I highly recommend Dave at . He'll return your knife within 24 hours of receipt, and really understands Japanese knives.

    1. Thanx for the info--wow you seem to have a lot of knowledge on the subject. You know I didn't know about mail order sharpening but that suits me since a live in a very remote area. I notice that a lot of chowhounds recommend Shun or Global if you are going to buy something new.

      1. Out local butcher shop sharpens knives once a week. Take them in on Tuesday, get them back on Thursday and they do a great job so you might check your local butcher shop.

        I've switched to all Japanese knives and couldn't be happier. I don't know about them being more "brittle" but then again I normally use a Chinese cleaver if I'm hacking bones. Have Shun and Global and both perform outstanding.

        1. The butcher shop is a great idea, PROVIDED they use stones instead of a grinding wheel or some kind of electric sharpener. I have several Globals, and a couple Shuns, but they are still mass produced knives with a big markup. If you check out a shop that sells Japanese knives like I suggested, you'll get more knife for your dollar.

          BTW, thanks for the compliment, but I'm just a beginner, and repeating what I've learned at the knife forum, Great place to visit, tons of info, and many members willing to help.

          4 Replies
          1. re: UnConundrum

            I like the idea of the local butcher shop too, and not just for sharpening knives! It's ironic, but out here in rural california your more likely to find Wal-Mart than a local butcher. I'll check out the knifeforums site.

            1. re: Emily Ford

              Don't worry, it's not quite that dire. If you're talking Sonoma County, there are at least 5 times more local butchers than Walmarts. (g)

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Actually I live in Lake County and there are no butchers here (well unless the ones in Safeway qualify) except a few old timers that will come on your property and take care of some pig or goat. Maybe they would be the best for knife sharpening!

                1. re: Emily Ford

                  You may ask the Safeway butchers who sharpens their knives.
                  Here in Napa Co. there is a truck that services the restaurants and butchers - I think it is "Perfect Edge"...and it stops at the better kitchenware shops.