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Suggestions for an Usuba Bocho (single bevel)?

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I am thinking about getting an Usuba. I do not need it, but like to have one. I don't expect I will use it alot, so I need something which is functional, but not too expensive. I do prefer a traditional Japanese wood handle.

On Japanesechefknife, I really liked the Fugiwara FKV Nakiri with traditional handle and VG (probably VG-1) stainless steel, but it is a Nakiri -- 50/50 double bevel. JCK customer service suggests me to shop for a forged Mizuno Tanrenjo Usuba instead, but those cost more than what I want to pay (>$200).

On Japan Blades, there is the G-16 Kanemasa Honso Usuba 165mm.

http://japan-blades.com/chef-knives/1...

On BluewayJapan on EBay, I see the SAKAI Carbon steel Usuba -- inexpensive and great sharp. It states it is made of "carbon steel", but I have no idea what kind of carbon steel. It may be good or it may not.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-SAKAI-Ca...

Or what about the Hon Kasumi Usuba here from Epocirean Edge (EE)?

http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd....

Or should I just get a Shun Pro Nakiri just to be safe? Although it is stated as a Nakiri, I believe all Shun Pro knives are single bevel.

http://www.amazon.com/Shun-Pro-2-Inch...

Let me know if you have any suggestion or an Usuba. Thanks.

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  1. Let me rephrase my question: Any suggestion for an Usuba or a Nakiri bocho? Or what to look for? Thanks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I have a Watanabe 180mm pro nakiri- it's like the Hiromoto AS line in that it's blue steel wrapped in stainless. The Watanabe has the kurouchi finish (blackened), however. Since I'm a lefty and my wife isn't, it's good to have 50/50 instead of single bevel. I like it a lot and it's about the sharpest knife I own.

      http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/...

    2. Check with Kevin at Knifewear in Calgary. The website is knifewear.com. He carries a line of Masahiro single bevel blades that includes a 165mm and 180 mm usuba. Both are roughly CA$ 100.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Richard L

        Thanks Richard L and Ted,

        I will check out the websites a bit more. Thanks again.

      2. I searched and am interested in this one:

        http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd....

        It is a single bevel 180 mm awase usuba, white carbon steel edge jacketed with iron, traditional (Wa) handle.

        No idea who is the maker since "Hon Kasumi" is really a method and not a person. Is this a knife I should go for? Thanks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I finally figure out that knife from EE:

          http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd....

          This usuba above is the same knife as the one sold on Japanwoodworker.com

          http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produc...

          They have exactly the same Kanji.

        2. All really nice choices. I have not used a Usuba so can't give feedback on it's use. Don't play it safe with another double beveled knife. The Usuba will bring something new to the cutting board.

          1 Reply
          1. re: scubadoo97

            Scubadoo,

            Thanks. That is what I am thinking too. I want a very different knife. I already have a double bevel Chinese chef's knife. As you know, Nakiri and Chinese chef's knife share a common root, which is why they are both called "vegetable knife" in their respective languages. If I get a double-bevel nakiri, it may not be too similar.

            At this point, I am leaning toward:

            http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd....

            and

            http://cgi.ebay.com/HIDEMUNE-Professi...

            The epicurean edge one will be my conservative choice. The ebay Hidemune looks great on paper, as it is cheaper and it is made of the more expensive blue carbon steel (as opposed to white carbon steel). Problem is that eBay picture does not tell much and last time I contacted the seller, he/she does not seem to know too much about this knife either. I am always slightly worry about eBay purchase.

            If I have a good experience with my usuba, then I will upgrade, but I do not feel like spending over too much for my first usuba.

          2. My Tojiro Usuba has arrived. For awhile, I thought it was lost in the mail. Very excited for receiving it today. I will update more.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Congrats, let us know how it's working for you

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Scuba,

                Thanks. SO far, I only use it once. It is pretty good out of the box. It has a fairly straight edge. It is dead straight for 4.5" from the heel. The blade is 1/8". Edge is sharpened at 15o, single bevel of course. The flat side of the blade is slightly hallowed out -- as in uraoshi.

                As expected, there is some drifting when cutting large item. This is a right-handed knife, so it drifts toward left as I cut. Now, I tend to cut at the opposite angle to counter that. It discolored to yellowish after the first cutting session. I tried to wipe it down as fast as I can, but it still discolored very quicly. I also tried to use Bar Keeper's Friend (acidic) to remove the tarnished color (patina), but I only managed to lighten the discoloration. I am not able to remove it. This is different from my carbon steel CCK Chinese chef's knife. For the Chinese CCK knife, I can easily remove the patina if I want to. I don't, but if I want to, it is very easy.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  If it's not rust I would leave it. The patina shoud be protective.

                  The Tojiro is white steel, correct?

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Scubadoo,

                    Yes, I am very picky. :) I like patina, but some time patina development is more uniform and sometime it is more spotty. I like a more uniform patina development, so sometime I like to clean off the spots. I don't know if this makes any sense. Anyway, yes, it is white cabron steel and the discoloration is not rust as far as I can tell. It is very smooth, yellowish/brownish color. On my CCK Chinese chef's knife, I also get brownish patina, but usually with a bluish at the edge. Vert beautiful. I like blue. I wonder if I can control that.

            2. Photos of the Tojiro Usuba. The photo which the ususba sits on the cutting block is before sharpening. The photo which it sits on counter is after sharpening. It shows the mist/fog pattern between the iron and the steel. The knife has has a 6.5 inch edge. Of which 4.5 inch is dead straight. The spine is 1/8" thick and flat side is slightly hollowed out with uraoshi.

               
               
              1. I should have seen this coming if I were smarter. I have finally managed to cut myself. I supposed the usuba has such a similar look to a Chinese Chef's knife that I simply translate the technique from one knife to another knife. Afterall, an usuba simply has a narrower blade, right? Yes, and that was exactly my problem. My muscle memory made me lifted the knife higher than I should have. I lifted the edge above my knuckle on the up stroke and sliced into my finger in the down stroke and made a very fine and thin and yet long cut. Ounch.

                Very minor accident, but more blood than I expected from a small wound.

                Maybe I should have waited to sharpen my usuba after I am familiar with the knife. I guess I were just so excited about the knife that I sharpened it right away -- in fact twice.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Love at first bite.

                  If your fingers are curled well enough, the most that will happen is you shave your knuckle. The depth of that shave will depend and it is still possible to get a serious bite but you shouldn't lose a digit.

                  The majority of my knife bites come from touching the heal of the blade.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Scubadoo,

                    That is exactly what happened. It was shaving my finger because the finger was parrallel with the knife. So technically, the cut is not toward the bone, rather slicing my skin, which is why it is not a serious cut but enough blood It is also a very thin paper cut -- not on the vegetable, but on my skin.

                    I cannot believe you call them "bites" I were almost going to cry, not trom the pain, but the embarrassment and anger.

                    Anyway, I patched up the finger and continued the cutting. Again, I almost shaved my finger because my "natural" motion lead me into lifing my knife way too high (bad habit from using Chinese chef's knife). I guess I cannot go fast on this knife yet.

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    It had to happen sooner or later. I haven't fully bonded with a new knife until it's drawn blood.
                    Be glad no trip to the ER was needed.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      No trip to ER, but I feel so stupid. Sure I cut myself, but after I patched myself up, I repeatedly almost cut myself again and again by raising the knife too high. Anyway, just so you guys know I have not truly bonded with my knife yet.

                      I really don't know about this statement of "I haven't fully bonded with a new knife" That sounds very scary.

                  3. Update. Learnt two more things:

                    1) It appears that it is easier to get a burr formed on the usuba when sharpening with the edge facing me than away from me. I kept on sharpening with the edge facing away from me and cannot get a good burr. When I switched to edge trailing, I got the burr. It could be coincidence. I never notice such difference when sharpening on a two side double bevel knife.

                    2) It appears to be very difficult to de-burr on this single bevel usuba. I tried to raising the angle. I tried using lighter touch at the end. I tried leather. At the end, I had to deburr on my wood board. That seems to work, at least worked better.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      If you aren't getting a burr when sharpening with the edge away from you it is most likely that in that direction you are holding the knife at a lower angle. I really shouldn't make a difference.

                      Try getting some rock hard felt to deburr with it should rip it right off. When sharpening I often will use a cork or draw the knife through the wood board that is over the sink with the stone holder on it. It doesn't do it for me. A few passes over the felt pad and there is no burr and the edge will shave even just off a 500 grit stone.

                      http://sharper-knives.com/RockhardFel...

                      http://www.durofelt.com/products.html

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Scubadoo,

                        Thanks. I didn't think the direction matters and always sharpened the knives I felt most comfortable, which is why I kept sharpening it with the edge away from me. However, when I couldn't form a burr, I went back and read my books and the direction is very hard core, gung-ho. Not only I should sharpen my knife with the edge facing me, I have to press the knife downward when pushing the knife away from me, but lift the pressure when bring the knife back, so that the knife only get sharpened in one direction. Anyway.

                        I read about Rockhard, but have never tried it.

                        http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningsto...

                        On the other hand, it is just made of wool, so I am not sure how I felt about getting a piece of wool. Anyway, I will probably get one when I buy my next water stone. My water stone is thinning very fast recently because of the usuba. It was a 1" thick stone when new, and it was 3/4" two weeks ago. Now it is 1/2". My usuba is killing the stone, I tell you.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          If you watch a lot of the videos out there you will see many different techniques.
                          http://www.foodieforums.com/vbulletin...

                          Dave Martell does both sides edge away
                          C-Dawg does the front edge towards him and back side edge away.

                          Both were doing double beveled knives

                          Here is a video you may find interesting. If you haven't already seen it, it's Itasan sharpening first a single beveled knive and then a double

                          http://www.youtube.com/user/itasan18#...

                          I don't think wool is going to do it. The Durofelt site has rock hard felt very cheap. There was a post at FF or KF, I forget about this stie. A bunch of people were ordering their felt from them.