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My first Japanese-made knife: need help

Hello to all,

This is my first post on Chowhound. I currently have two Henckels' chef knives (the longest one is about 30 years old, given to me by my mother, and the shorter one is 10 years old) and a Sanelli chef's knife (which is now a little beat). Both Henckels' are pretty good. The older one is clearly showing its age and it is getting tough to sharpen; the bolster is getting in the way. I am all set in terms of knives otherwise: a heavy no-name cleaver that I bought cheap, a few pairing knives (including one from the dollar store that still works amazingly well) and a pretty good bread knife. So, I think I need a new chef's knife with a longer blade. I cook every day - I use my knives every day - and I have developed my kitchen prep skills through the years; I think I am a bon vivant and a gourmet also.

I like to put emphasis on performance over aesthetics. They are both important of course, but how much depends on the application; I think a built space has more potential for being poetic than a knife, and so here function outweighs looks. I have not spent a lot of money on cutlery so far and do not intend to now. My budget is about $100, not including S&H. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions (see below).

I am not going to buy a European knife this time. I would like a Japanese knife. I used my friend's Global knife and did a little testing of others at a high end Japanese knife store, and I decided that a light knife would be good for me. Besides, the Wusthof Ikon Classic I examined at another store is nice but too expensive at $190. I did not like the feel of the handle on the Global.

I read a few posts here on Chowhound, gone thru online shopping sites, studied information on knives and steel on other sites for a while now. Of course, even after all that I think I have little knowledge about Japanese knives and it is limited to theory. I have made a short list (they are all 210 Gyuto/u and in US$):

- Fujiwara FKM Series ($68.00 @ JCK) of "Molybdenum Vanadium Stainless Steel"
- Misono Molybdenum (±$70.00 @ JCK and Korin) of "High carbon 13 Chrome Stainless
Molybdenum Steel"
- Misono Swedish Carbon Steel (±$94.00 @ JCK and Korin and CKTG) of Swedish Carbon
Steel
- Suisin High-Carbon Steel ($77.00 @ Korin) of "High-Carbon Steel"
- Togiharu Inox Steel ($99.40 @ Korin) of "Inox Stain-Resistant Steel"
- Togiharu Molybdenum ($69.30 @ Korin) of "Molybdenum Steel"
- Tojiro DP ($79.95 @ JCK and Korin) of "Stain-Resistant Steel" (I know it is a 3-ply)

I visited Paul's Finest (Canada) and the knives are more expensive even with S&H.

[Here are the exceptions I mentioned: a MAC Professional MBK-85 ($119.95 @ CKTG) which gets very good reviews generally but out of budget and maybe not for me yet; and a Hiro knife "École de cuisine" ($102.00 @ JCK) of VG-10, whose steel is pretty good (right?) and, to me, looks attractive.]

I guess I would like an SS knife (the Sanelli is but not the Henckels), but either way I will take care of it. From comments and information I have gathered so far I am leaning to the Tojiro, a good beginning I think. The Molyb's seem to be good for intermediates; the others for more advanced users. So say the shopping sites.

I would very much like to read someone else's opinion on these; have a little discussion. What is your experience with these knives? Which would you recommend, given that way-long description above?

Merci beaucoup,

Dean

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  1. If your goal is "performance above appearance," with "best Japanese value" in the mix, then the only answer has to be the MAC Mighty chef's knife.

    http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar...

    With the knives you're considering, I'd also add the Kanetsugu Pro-M PM-05 ($91) to the list. Good value, with no additional cost for improved ergonomics.
    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/KAN...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Eiron

      I just got a Kanetsugu Pro-M and I love it. At first it seemed a little light, but it's so easy to move around and extremely sharp.You can do lots of delicate cutting with it, yet it's tough. I did the 210mm blade length.

      I got mine at http://www.prochefknife.com

    2. Dean,

      First, I won't get Global after all the bad experience I have read, so it is good that you didn't include Global. Tojiro is considered a very good value knife. I also think Fujiwara is a good choice. Suisin is not stainless right? Yes, VG-10 is considered a good stainless steel. It has a lot of strength and usually can go up to HRC 60-62 and it is easy to sharpen. You can also look at:

      japan-blades.com
      their exclusive knives are good deals, here:

      http://japan-blades.com/chef-knives/2...

      9 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I've heard bad things about global too, but I'm very happy with mine; however mine is drop forged, heavier, more expensive, and the handle is a much more comfortable shape than the G series.

        I take excellent care of it, but I've not been disappointed in any way.

        I also like my Porsche designed Chroma knives, but they lose their sharpness far quicker, they're very comfortable, and they were a steal at about £20 for both a pairing knife and santoku.

        *edit* I'd also like to point out that many of the hounds posting in this thread so far were an invaluable help to me when choosing my knives, as were the guys at knifeforums

        1. re: Soop

          Soop,

          Yeah, I have never had a Global, so it is just the number of compliants I heard. Apparently, some people experience their Global knives cracked at the handle. That being said, many people love the Global edge because it convex ground, so the factory edge last a very long time -- (I think it was Cowboy who first told me that).

          Yes, a paring knife and a Santoku at £20 is a very good deal. Usually, you cannot get a decent Santoku at that price. I remember you are a Che'f knife man, not a Santoku man, right? But it is not bad to just have one around.

          Yes, I also learn much from people at this website. I have not joined the knifeforums yet, but I have read many threads there.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I prefer the chefs knife, but the Santoku is my "vegetable knife". I don't think it's as good as the Global in any respect in reality, but it gives me an excuse to use them both. I'm not big on the chopping action yet however, so this may be a factor.

            That's another point, a convex ground edge will be very hard for me to sharpen.

            1. re: Soop

              Soop,

              IFrench chef's is particular great for rock chop because you can put the tip of the knife at the cutting board and use the tip as a hinge like a paper cutter.

              http://officesuppliesdubai.com/catalo...

              However, if you are not into rock chop and more into push cutting, then a straighter blade like Santoku, Nakiri, Usuba, Chinese chef knife can be better.

              Yes, it will be nearly impossible for you to reproduce a convex ground edge. You will just have to put a flat ground and a compound ground at best.
              .

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Yeah, The French Geometry doesn't appeal to me at all. Probably because of what I'm used to, but I think aesthetically, it looks awful.

                Do people use the Santoku for the Chinese cleaver style chopping? Like chopping hard from a height. I wouldn't use the global for that.

                1. re: Soop

                  Soop,

                  I guess the word "chopping" can mean different things to different people. If you are talking about lifing the knife up to you shoulder/ear height and swinging it downward to cutting board, then Santoku definifely cannot do it. Santoku has a thinner blade than a French chef's knife. You also probably cannot do it for most Chinese chef's knives either, but some you can. Chinese chef's knives come in different thickness. Most Chinese chef's knives you see in department stores are actually used in the "push cutting" mode similar to Nakiri, Usuba, Santoku.

                  Just to give you a few example,
                  http://www.chanchikee.com/ChineseKniv...

                  The KF1101-1103, KF1301-1303 are very thin blade slicer and cannot be used as a chopper. The KF1501-1503 are chopper which you see in typical Chinese BBQ shops. They are thicker. KF1601-1603 are even thicker choppers which can handle small bones. Now, KF1201-1203 are medium thickness which work well as both a slicer and a chopper, but not great at either.

                  1. re: Soop

                    Ok. Here is a video.
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rUoxx...

                    The first cutting technique demonstrated is what I meant by push-cut. The knife slides forward while coming down, thus push-cut. A straight-er knife edge is better for push cutting.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                For what it's worth, my Globals have served me well for years. I am starting to notice some tiny irregularities in the blades so I will pick up a stone to sharpen and polish them. No big deal.

                1. re: tzakiel

                  I am sure most Global knives are not defected, but there are many complaints of Global G series knives snapped at the handles. As for Global edge, it is convex by standard definition. I don't know why you accuse me for spreading misinformation.

                  Here:
                  (1) "...Global knives are given a convex edge by hand right out of the factory..."
                  http://www.knivesandtools.com/en/ct/g...

                  (2) "...The Global knife edge has a convex cross-sectional shape..."
                  http://www.metrokitchen.com/about-glo...

                  (3) "...Light,agile and well balanced the convex edge..."
                  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/chefskn...

                  (***) Most importantly, this one from Yoshikin (manufacturer): "The GLOBAL knife edge has a convex cross-sectional shape. From the ridge to the point of the blade, the edge is not a straight line, but rather forms a gradual curve."
                  http://www.yoshikin.co.jp/w/craftsman...

                  Now, what make you think Global edge being convex is a misinformation?

          2. If you only want stainless, you can rule out the misono swedish carbon and the Suisin.

            As the other choices go, I only have first-hand experience with the togiharu molybdenum and the Tojiro (and also some MACs, though I forget which line they were). Both of those are excellent choices. The Tojiro especially sharpens up beautifully and performs very well for a knife under $100. I can almost promise you won't be disappointed with a Tojiro DP. I like the Tojiro's handle, but I've heard some complain about them. And it probably has the best steel out of the stainless knives you've mentioned.

            MACs are excellent knives, but I think their prices have increased to the point at which there are better options for the money. For example, a Tojiro compares well against a MAC, especially after you've sharpened each of em, and it costs less.

            Most everything else I could tell you is based on hearsay. The fujiwara is starting to get some buzz as a good entry to Japanese chef knives- I've heard people like its geometry especially. The togiharu INOX was largely ignored over at knifeforums in favor of the Togiharu molybdenum, but I'm not sure why.

            You might want to check out the kitchen section of knifeforums.com. There are people there who have first hand experience with each of these knives.

            PS: If you are still willing to consider carbon steel (like the suisin) AND spending around $120 (like the MAC), might I gently urge you to consider the Hiromoto:
            http://www.chefknivestogo.com/higy21....
            Top-notch carbon steel that is almost as easy to maintain as stainless. Excellent geometry for an all-around gyuto. I think its the best deal in chefs knives. Enter the promotion code: knifeforumsdiscount and you'll get 5% off and free shipping, bringing the cost down to the same level as the MAC.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cowboyardee

              I agree with cowboyardee. I too have experience with both the Tojiro DP and the Togiharu moly. I own a 240mm Toji DP and it's a great knife for the money. They have gone up in price from when I bought mine since Heston Blumenthal began his endorsement of these knives. At the time you were paying for performance not name. I purchased a Togi moly for a friend and had a chance to use it. It's an excellent knife for the money and with a little softer steel may be less inclined to chip. I have never used a MAC but they are good knives no doubt but they are a known brand and as such you are paying for some extra for the MAC name. I agree a stainless is a good knife to own. You can and should branch out and add a high carbon knife to your arsenal but I would personally not want only carbons. Stainless has its place in both the home and professional kitchen. I use my 8" Henckle Chef for tasks that might be too hard on my J-knives. Examples; cutting chicken breasts in half that still have the ribs attached and smashing and making garlic paste with salt as an abrasive. I spend a lot less time on sharpening my Henckle since it doesn't warrant the extra care I give the J-knives.

            2. To Eiron:
              Thanks for the recommendation on the Kanestugu. The steel sounds good, but the handle seems too rounded. I'll study it against the others. I had read the CFE's test and I feel that it could give a good general picture with certain caveats. It is nice to see that the knives I am considering are higher in ranking but I am not completely convinced. Look at me, I'm such a nerd. Maybe I have it wrong. I really like the site anyway.

              To Chemicalkinetics:
              Right, the Suisin is not an SS knife. Cowboyardee mentioned that I can rule them out, and I guess I forgot. In and of themselves they seemed pretty good knives, but do not meet my criteria. Like you, I also think the Fujiwara could be a contender. I like that form of handle, the fell of the grip both longitudinally and laterally. It is very similar to the MAC and Tojiro: slightly rounded and practically flat at the bottom. One thing bothers me a little though. To me, it does not impress me that they describe some history about making swords. A modern kitchen knife is not made with the same considerations and circumstances as a bloody sword. No? Pardon the tangent here. I will take a look at the Japan-blades site. Thanks for your advice.

              To Cowboyardee:
              First, great, great user name. I will definitely check out Knifeforums soon, thanks. I have not gotten around to searching its vast postings. Am I right, do we have to pay to subscribe to it?

              I had a couple of Hiromoto's on my long list, including the one you mention. I disqualified it because I was not impressed with the 420 SS cladding, but fine with the aogami super core though. And it is out of my price range. Thanks for mentioning it though.

              Thanks for your opinion on the Tojiro, MAC and Togiharu. I somehow feel like I should not get the MAC; as if I should get something not so professional, and the price is at my limit. Then again, I was very tempted this week to buy that Hiro with the Corian handle. I'm being careful about it.

              On sharpening: I never sharpened a knife myself. I have a steel honing rod and I guess now I should get a ceramic one like the knife store owner I talked to advised. I also called the professional knife sharpening company (which does sharpening for restaurants too) and they said it would not be a problem given the hardness of the blade. I do not want my purchase of a knife to require spending lots of money on accessories. What your thought on all that?

              To scubadoo97:
              That Tojiro is looking better and better. I agree that the Molybs can be a very good value. They are stain-resistant and compared to say the Togiharu Inox, the latter might be even higher in carbon and chromium, which may not make it appreciably better for my level or personality. Ahhh, but those MACs... And I also agree with you on having varied weight knives. I would not dream of making garlic paste with a Japanese-made knife, I do use my old mama-given-German for that (not my new German), and for larger bones the cleaver comes in and puts its weight down. Thanks for the support.

              Bonne journée!

              45 Replies
              1. re: deanpike

                deanpike, before venturing into this world of J-knives I strongly urge you to think about how you will keep them in shape so they are performing at their best otherwise you will have just another dull knife and an expensive one at that. Like getting a high end espresso machine and not wanting to get an espresso quality grinder. These things go together. Unless you plan on sending them out to a professional, not the people at WS or the local hardware store, you had better either bite the bullet and consider an EdgePro or learn freehand sharpening. I touch up my knives often. Most often just strop them before use but when a few passes on the strop doesn't get them as sharp as I want then they go back to the stones for a quicky touch up. Doesn't take long, not rocket science but is essential to good knife performance.

                1. re: deanpike

                  Deanpike,

                  I have to agree with Scubadoo. A good knife only remain good if you can keep it sharp, so you may need to either learn free hand sharpening or get an EdgePro Apex or other alternatives. As you know, most Japanese knives are sharpened to an more acute edge angle because their harder steel allows it. So you have to make that your professional knife sharpener not only can sharpen your Japanese knives, but also sharpen them at the correct angle. By the way, if you are planning to sharpen your own knives, expect to spend at the $50-$150 for sharpening equipment. In addition, make sure you get a decent cutting board, preferably an end grain wood cutting board. Do not use glass or marble or any really hard surface as cutting board.

                  420 SS is not an impressive steel for edge, but as you mentioned, it is used as a cladding surface. In that sense, 420 is a very good choice. Aogami (blue steel) can take on a real sharp edge and it usually hardened to a very high HRC. As such, it can fracture/chip under high impacts, so the tough 420 will help absorb any shock impact. Needless to say, the corrosion resistance 420 makes life much easier on an otherwise pure Aogami knife. In short, 420 compensates Aogami's weakness quiet well. However, if it is out of your price range, then it is out of your price range.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I agree with these guys, although I've not actually sharpened mine yet. I missed a deal on the whetstone I wanted for £22, and now they're out of stock.

                    And obviously I'm **** scared of altering my global.

                    1. re: Soop

                      Soop,

                      How old is your Global? If you are worry, then try to sharpen it using the highest girt stone you can get by. Sort of a reverse thinking here. By using the highest grit first, you know you won't take off more metal than necessary. Let's say you have 1000, 2000, 6000 grits stones. Start your knife with the 6000 if nothing happens, then more to 2000, and if the knife get sharpened, then just go back to 6000 to polish out the blade, no need to go to 1000.

                      If you are scared, you can always practice on your cheapest knife.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Yeah, I practiced on the pairing knife, and did ok on one size, not so good on the other...

                        1. re: Soop

                          Soop,

                          What do you mean by "not so good"? Just curious. I have scratch the surface of my blade, but that is very normal for us beginners. The low the angle, the less control I have in holding the angle.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Sorry, I meant "one side". One side was pretty much perfect, the other, the blade edge wasn't even.

                            1. re: Soop

                              If you mean the width of the bevel, well you've got company. It takes time to acquire freehand skills. I remember how bad mine looked after my first few tries. More depressing because I had been using an EdgePro and was use to seeing factory straight edges. As you do more your bevel widths will become more even, you will hold a more constant angle, but it is near impossible to hold a steady angle like you would get on jig like the EdgePro. You may actually get some convexing of the bevel as your unsteady hand applies multiple angles and you smooth out the junctions between them. Not a bad thing really.

                              Also get some type of loop so you can inspect the edge. It maybe hard to stomach the flaws you will inflict but it gets better and you need to be able to see little defects like microchips as you use your knife so you know what to fix. Believe me it gets better. Just practice on some old knives. Sharpen your friends and families knives for practice. Most will have crappy knives that are dull anyway so even if your not doing a perfect job you will return sharper knives and they'll be happy and you will have gained some experience.

                              1. re: Soop

                                Soop,

                                The true bevel may actually be even. It is possible that those are just scratch marks. I did that really bad recently when reprofiling my Dexter-Russell Chinese chef's knife at 10o back bevel. Your blade may still be 15 or 20o or what ever degree you put on, but a few strokes on a lower angle will make the bevel looks wider. For example, if you sharpened your edge at a 20o for the entire edge length for 50 strokes, but you accidentally lower your angle to 15o at the tip of your knife for 3 strokes, then your bevel at the tip will look wider, but that is just scratch mark, your practical bevel at the tip is still 20o. I know it looks bad and I have yet to learn to completely ignore it, but really these scratch marks have no real impact to the knife performance.

                                If the bevel width is truly wrong, you can always fine tune your bevel wide.

                                I have to agree with scubadoo. A slightly unsteady hand (which we all do to different degree) will actually produce a convex ground bevel, which is not a bad thing.

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Scubadoo97 and Chemicalkinetics. Sure, they have to be taken care off. I was thinking of taking it to the commercial sharpener (see above), but I will have to verify with them again because I did not mention the angle of the edge. There is also a new sharpener near my place - he's the one whose store I tried some Japanese knives - and he specifically sharpens Japanese knives on stones. I will check with him about cost, he had said it usually only takes a half hour. BTW the least expensive knife he had was more than twice my budget. He seems like a sympathetic guy. To be honest, right now I do not have the interest or the desire to sharpen my own knives, even though I'm pretty sure I will find it fun. I should get a ceramic honing rod, which is not expensive; because I'm sure I will use it every few days, like for my other knives. For right now, I will be fine and glad to let someone do the sharpening for me, as before. I sharpened my knives every few months; it was at a reasonable price. I saw the EdgePro, and dudes, I do not think I will be getting that. I will see how it goes with the professional sharpeners and then see into acquiring stones, which do not look like an unreasonable purchase. As for the cutting board, dudes I am lucky, my friend and I had divided a large butcher block an old client did not want anymore after a renovation job. Thanks for the concern guys. How often or how many times a year should I consider sharpening my knives? Like I said I use them every-day, but the short Henckels and the Sanelli more often than the rest I would say.

                        Merci!

                        1. re: deanpike

                          Deanpike,

                          When a person said "I fly on jets", he did not mean just jet-jet, he meant private jet. Scubadoo and Cowboyardee are knife enthusiasts, so when they say taking care of knives, they meant a bit more than just a ceramic rod.

                          I know you mentioned commercial sharpeners. A good commercial sharpener is a good alternative, just make sure he knows your knives. I think we are talking about $15-25 a chef knife. As you mentioned, Japanese knives are made of harder steel. As such, their edges do not roll easily, but they can chip. In short, they handle small impacts better than German knives, but they do not handle strong impacts as well. You will find your Japanese knife holds its edge longer and requires less frequent sharpening -- assuming you do not whack it. You are a home cook, right? You probably need sharpening once a year.

                          Have you considered a Shun chef knife? The reason I did not bring it up until now is that Shun knives are slightly more expensive than other Japanese knives just because its name.

                          http://www.amazon.com/Shun-Classic-8-...

                          However, you get lifetime free knife sharpening service for your Shun knives. You only pay for shipping the knives to Kai (Shun manufacturer) and they will even ship your knives back to you for free. I think if you can get even 3 knife sharpening service out of it, which worth at least $45, then Shun is a good deal. Now, Kai will not customize your Shun knives. They will simply restore to the factory 16 degree edge angle, so if you somehow want something cute like 15 degree at the knife tip and 18 degree at the heel -- forget it. You just have to find an independent sharpener in those cases or do them yourself.

                          1. re: deanpike

                            The reason I mention some type of home sharpening is that to send them off to a professional sharpener gets expensive and you lose the use of your knife while it's away. A knife needs some touch up on a regular basis. At least once a week if you use your knives as much as I do. Not full blown sharpening but some type of non aggresive honing like a leather strop. A ceramic will keep them sharp but you are cutting in a micro bevel each time you steel on one.

                            If you send your knife out you will be very please when it returns. Lets hope. You should have that rewarding feeling of a very sharp knife every day it's used instead of 4-6 times a year and the rest of the time have an average knife that looks pretty

                            Yes I look at this differently than the average user. Same with my espresso set up. I have a top notch espresso grinder and an average semi automatic machine. The grinder is more important. Here as well the method to remain sharp is more important than the knife. Well it is to me because the whole reason to have these knives is performance.

                            1. re: deanpike

                              Yes, I cook everyday and use some knife a couple of times a day. I need to sharpen my knives a few times a year, each one a couple of times about. I won't give the new Japanese one to someone who I do not trust. The guy with the new sharpening shop seems all right. Both he and the commercial sharpener have not replied to my latest email, but they are my best bets so far and I will see who gets first crack at it when I actually get one. I do not think it gets expensive, $15 a knife every few months; I am ok with that for now. And yes I have tried out the Shun Classic, and I actually did not like the feel of the handle after all. And I also do not prefer the damascus style. Thanks for the suggestion. Scubadoo97, you suggest a strop instead of a rod? I did not think a ceramic rod would do such "damage". Does a steel rod do the same with carbon steel knives? I agree that the reason for having a Japanese knife is a question of performance, not only of the quality of the object, but how you perform with it. I am excited to try one out. When I felt how light they were, pinching it and going thru the slicing motions at the store, it felt very good; it did not feel like I was holding on to something, but just sort of reaching out to do some work.

                              1. re: deanpike

                                Deanpike, the ceramic rod doesn't do so much "damage" but it is like lightly running your edge over a 1200 grit stone. It will cut in a bevel if you are holding the knife at a higher angle. Although micro bevels can be used to increase the strength of a thin single beveled edge. With the strop you can find the angle quickly and strop at the correct angle each time. No guess work. If you are using a compound like chromium oxide it will polish the edge as well since the grit size is like 30k. It will correct minor flaws, realign the edge, polish the edge and can be done daily without causing harm. Quite a lot out of a piece of leather and compound. You can use the strop on all knives stainless or carbon. If you do get a carbon just remember that you must clean and dry directly after use. Most will start to show some rust in less than 30 min of being left wet.

                                You will love the performance of a thin Japanese knife. It really brings a thrill to board work to be able to cut so well. Here is a tip; if you want to preserve your edges you need to rethink the basic chopping techniques that are commonly used. Even strong steel will not hold up to hard chopping on your board. The acute angles do make the edge more delicate and prone to chipping. Most chips you get will be hard to see with the naked eye.

                                Judge how often you would need to send your knife or knives out for sharpening. I know shapening isn't very one's cup of tea but I think you would recoop the cost of an EdgePro in a couple of years if not sooner. The only reason I harp on the EdgePro is because of the low learning curve and it is the best jig set up out there. A novice can do a pretty good job on their first try. As an example I took my gear over to my aunts house to sharpen her knives. A few of my cousins were there and I set up the EP and told them what to do and let them at it while I worked some of the other knives on my stones. They did a fine job on their first try and had never sharpened a knife before.

                                You can spend less on stones or you can spend a lot more than the EdgePro on stones. I ended up spending more on stones than I did on my EdgePro but I really wanted to learn free hand and wanted good stones that didn't need soaking. Shapton glass stones are not cheap and I bought a lot of them.

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Scubadoo,

                                  Free hand sharpening is a badge of honor. :) Or it help establish pecking order.

                                  I told my friend that I got some sharpening stones and want to practice on his knife. He gave me a chef's knife with a broken tip and two chips on the edge. I smoothed them out (which took some time) and gave it to him. He was quiet impressive. But he was really impressive when he found out a week later that I used flat stones -- guess he wasn't listening. Somehow he thought I got something like an Chef's Choice electric sharpener. You should see his eyes widened.

                                  I have nothing against ceramic rod, but you are right. If you put an angle too wide, then you will be ground the bevel/blade section without doing anything. If you put an angle too narrow, then you can start putting a micro bevel on the edge. That being said, a ceramic rod is faster when put to an edge has very tiny chips.

                                2. re: deanpike

                                  "I am excited to try one out"

                                  deanpike, here are a couple of videos that may get you excited. Watch your fingers!

                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWclj-...
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g_drm...

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    Please tell me that you are not Saltydog.

                                    Edit: Actually, I don't think you are.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I'm not, but his vids are sure to excite and show the use of J-knives in use in a professional kitchen.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        Scubadoo,

                                        At first, I thought you are SaltyDog, and then I realize you cannot be, not that you are not great in your knife skill, but because he and I wrote to each other, read here:
                                        http://www.youtube.com/comment_servle...

                                        and there is no way you, Scubadoo, would have pretended not to know me if you are him. Anyway, he spends a quite a bit of money on knife as you can tell.

                                        Yeah, what I really like about him is not his great knife skill and awesome knife, but the fact he shows that fancy knife is not to be put inside a cupboard. He shows how to use J-knife in professional heavy working environments.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          His vids on sharpening a double beveled knife is exactly how I sharpen

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_jcRt...

                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                            Right, and that is the same video where I talked to him. Read the comments. That is why later I thought you cannot be him. I were like: "Dude, what are you doing with this 10o angle" and he said "Dude, shut up."

                                            Oh yes, his sharpening method is more popular among Japanese. I just cannot gauge my knife-to-stone angle this way. It is much easier for me when the spine is facing me. This way, I know I need to maintain a certain spine to stone distance -- a height distance.

                                            *Edit* Although for an existing low angle bevel, you can lock the bevel to the stone since the bevel is so wide.

                                    2. re: scubadoo97

                                      Oh, dude! Those videos are very cool. Thanks for that. and I don't chop like that. I tend to rock. He's pretty fast!

                                      1. re: deanpike

                                        Rocking is good for horses, chair and German knives. Oh and rock and roll. You will miss the extra belly that is missing from J-knives with the exception of Shun and a few others that copy the typical German Chef knife. You will miss it for just a little while then you will relearn and use Japanese knife skills and be happy again as well as improving your knife skills by leaps and bounds.

                              2. re: deanpike

                                You do not have to pay for knife forums. Blade forums, you have to pay for, and that's mainly for people interested in knife making.

                                The 420 ss cladding on a Hiromoto doesn't negatively affect the performance of a hiromoto in the least. However, it is still one of my (very few) minor gripes with the knife -- the cladding is so soft that it scratches if you look at it funny, making it easier than most to scuff up the side of the blade while sharpening or using. On the other hand, the aesthetic appeal of the Hiromoto works on the same basic levels as Edward James Olmos' face - attractive, in its own way, but definitely not here for a tea party. As such, scratched cladding isn't the end of the world. Sorry it's out of your price range though.

                                I'd rather use well sharpened Farberware ($8) than a poorly maintained Kramer ($4000). It's that important. Spending good money on a knife without a way to sharpen it is something I'd suggest you rethink. Sharpening doesn't have to be expensive. I'd recommend you skip the ceramic honing rod unless you're a professional cook who needs to be able to sharpen up fast and on the go. They are mostly overpriced, inefficient, and often ineffective at sharpening. There are better and cheaper options for the home cook.

                                With the money you save, you could buy wet to dry sandpaper and hand sharpen on any flat surface (most glass panes). Just as cheap after the initial investment is buying one or two dual sided stones. There are cheap oilstones in most hardware stores, though these are a hassle to use with the hard steel in most Japanese knives. Or take a look at King brand Japanese waterstones for good quality at low price. For far more money but with less learning curve, you could buy an Edgepro, as Scubadoo mentioned.

                                The point is that a whole bunch of accessories is not needed. But one reliable method of sharpening absolutely is. I'd prioritize that ahead of getting a nicer knife.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  You only have to pay for Bladeforums if you want certain features (search, adding photos, selling). You do have to register to browse I think.

                                  1. re: Shann

                                    Good to know, thanks for the correction.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      Yes I'm registered at bladeforum and it's free

                                      The 3 websites I go to for knife info are
                                      foodieforums
                                      knifeforums
                                      bladeforums

                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                    Cowboyardee, you are right about Knifeforums, I landed on the "subscribe" and did not see the "register". On Korin, the stones looked reasonable in price. But I delved a little deeper into sharpening accessories on the knife shopping sites and it looks like there is a lot for me to examine. Frankly I do not know which grit I would need. Which grit(s) would you all recommend? How much should I spend on one?

                                    So you say skip the honing rod. A wet-dry sandpaper would be easy enough to get. I will look into that.

                                    I do not mind a learning curb at all; I prefer little money and lots of knowledge. But right now, I can easily get my knives to a professional sharpener.

                                    1. re: deanpike

                                      At the very least you need a ~1000 grit stone.

                                      1. re: deanpike

                                        It sounds like you're leaning away from hand sharpening, but just in case you change your mind, or for anyone else interested:

                                        You could get by on just a 1000 grit stone, though I suspect you'll eventually find that to be enough of a pain in the ass that you'd get others to supplement anyway,

                                        A good basic all around set up in Japanese waterstones would be a coarse stone (240-500 grit), a medium (1000 - 2000 grit) and a semi fine stone (4000-8000 grit). King makes good cheap stones. Lots of options for dual sided stones as well. Japanwoodworker carries them.
                                        Bester makes a wonderful but slightly more expensive 500 grit stone. http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produc...
                                        Naniwa superstones are excellent but a bit more expensive. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/superst...
                                        Suehiro makes an affordable 6000 grit stone that I like for the money but others seem to have really hated. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...

                                        There's nothing wrong with paying a pro sharpener - the hard part is finding one who is competent with Japanese knives. Sounds like you know one already. Because of the extra time it takes to hand-sharpen, he'll likely cost a bit more than the standard sharpener would charge you to run a wusthof across a belt sander.

                                        You should sharpen whenever the knife feels unpleasantly dull to you. This is one of the problems with Japanese knives - even though they hold an edge longer than softer knives, they also get you acclimated to a very high degree of sharpness so your knives feel dull when they are in fact still sharper than your old knives ever were. If you do buy a ceramic rod though, you should be able to keep a pretty sharp edge for a good while. Just keep in mind that a ceramic rod and a medium or fine stone do essentially the same thing - the stone just makes it easier to control your results at the expense of having to wet it first.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          How long does it take to top up a knife on waterstones? And if possible, how many strokes average? We're assuming no nicks or other damage, just a little blunt.

                                          And obviously my global has a convex edge, so it might need re-profiling - how long would that take?

                                          1. re: Soop

                                            If you're just using a fine waterstone the way you'd use a rod or a strop, not very long. A half dozen strokes per side would be more than enough as long as you're hitting the edge. To be honest though, I use a strop for that kind of maintenance and only bust out the stones for bigger jobs. I can get a lot of these slightly bigger jobs done with good results in 15 minutes or so using multiple stones, but I'm a lot faster than I used to be. Major reprofiling jobs take longer.

                                            For the global - depends on how you reprofile it. I'm assuming you mean to create a flat bevel (though you can keep the convex geometry with sandpaper on fairly stiff leather). Unfortunately Globals seem to resist abrasion more than you would expect. On a good coarse stone, I would expect to be grinding for at least half an hour to get a good flat bevel. Quite possibly two or three times that long depending on your stone and your consistency in holding an angle and how acute a bevel you're trying to create. Once you have the bevel, you could move up through higher grits quickly enough.

                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                              So I could keep my precious convex bevel? Sounds like maybe I don't need to think about stones yet at all...

                                              I'm assuming I should just make my own strop with an old belt and some glue and sandpaper. I haven't read up much about it though. I guess whetstones are pushed on you by the knife manufacturers...

                                              1. re: Soop

                                                Soop,

                                                You can make your own strop from flat and large leather glued to a board. Or you can just strop on a leather belt. I don't think you need sandpaper for a strop.

                                                Whetstones are for more major works. For daily or weekly maintance, a strop will do, but at some time you will put your knives on a whetstone. Like your smooth honing rod, you cannot just hone your knife for forever. At some point, you will need to sharpen your knives.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  Correct. I strop before delicate board work or cutting fish or anytime I've lost that super sharp edge. I inspect my edges with a loop and anytime they show microchips or I can't get what I want from stropping they go back to the stones for a quick session. It doesn't take long to correct what ever needs to be done.

                                                  I have a large piece of bovine leather I got at Woodcraft. http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2004... It's made by Hand American. I have it glued to a wood board, wooden cigar box top actually. It's charged with dry or liquid chromium oxide. This is a great tool that is very inexpensive and easy to use. The worst thing that can happen while stropping is you roll the edge. Outside of that you can't do too much damage. Correct technique is important but it's easy to learn. Most important is don't do it like a barber sharpening a straight edge razor. That will for sure roll the edge.

                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                    Scubadoo,

                                                    I agree. Like you said, the worst in stropping is rolling the edge and we are talking minor rolling, or accidently cut into the leather, but that is another kind of problem. Honing on a steel can nick the knife edge and can roll the knife edge in a much more severe way -- I think.

                                                    I would say "correct technique" on stropping is important, but not as important as for honing on a steel.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      accidently cutting into the leather is something I've done a few times. Small nicks can be sanded out but the big cuts may require replacement. Still a better option than steels. You can find the correct angle using what I call the bite method on the leather. Hard to really know the correct angle when using a steel.

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                        Right, I'll go and look up stropping.

                                                        I use my steel if I see the edge has rolled. I use mine quite carefully.

                                                        1. re: Soop

                                                          Soop,

                                                          Here is a cool experiment for you to do, assuming you have an old plain leather belt. Don't use leather belts with patterns -- just plain flat leather belt. First, test cut your knife on a piece of paper or something. Remember that feeling. Now, tie one end of your belt to a chair or oven handle or a door. Pull on the other end so the belt is relatively straight. Now, strop your Global on it 3-5 times on each side. Now use your knife on the same piece of paper.

                                                          If this stropping thing work, then you can get a real strop. If not, hey, you lost nothing but 3 minute of your time.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            Ok, that's a good idea. I don't think I do have a leather belt anymore, my old one probably got chucked when I got my new one, but the new one is a different kind.

                                          2. re: cowboyardee

                                            I am leaning away for now, but not too far. I'll take a closer look at stones at the knife stores and the links you all have mentioned for sure. The idea of doing it myself still sounds like fun. The grits you mentioned above, to which side would you be more willing to go? More 240 than 500? More 1000 than 2000? More 400 than 8000? And there is nothing wrong with double sided stones? Even philosophically? Scubadoo97 suggested a strop rather than a rod. Which would you recommend, and why?

                                            Going back to the knives though, it looks like the contenders are the Tojiro DP, the Togiharu Molybdenum, the Fujiwara FKM, and maybe the MAC Pro MBK-85. How does that sound? Does anybody have any opinions on the Misono Molybdenum?

                                            As an aside, what do you all think of Kikuichi knives? I ruled them out because of price, but am curious about what is said about them. I was not wowed by them. And I will check Knifeforums for opinions about them all I promise.

                                            More to the side: what would be your knife of desire? Assuming budget was unlimited.

                                            1. re: deanpike

                                              FYI, you probably won't get as many responses from KF, but if you're patient and polite you'll get some responses.

                                              Might have to do some searching.

                                              1. re: Soop

                                                Was I impolite? I didn't think I said something bad.

                                                1. re: deanpike

                                                  Oh no, I'm just saying. You're fine :)

                                                  1. re: Soop

                                                    I did not realize KF meant Knifeforums. Right, then. Thanks for the advice. I will be polite as always and so far the place looks informative and interesting.

                                    2. I have quite a few Japanese knives. Interestingly enough the first one I reach for is a MAC. I have others that are more expensive and very sharp. The MAC is light and holds an edge for a long time. (I sharpen most of my knives myself but send out a few)

                                      The one I have is the one listed in a earlier post on the cooking for engineers site.

                                      8-in. Chef's Knife: Hollow Edge (saw it for just over $100 with free shipping)
                                      by MAC Knives, Professional

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: macbillybob

                                        Macbillybob, tell me a more about your experience using your knives. What are the differences? If you use it more often, how does the MAC compare?

                                        1. re: deanpike

                                          The MAC is light and just the right length for most jobs. I do have a couple of handmade Japanese steel knives that are scary sharp. If I am going to dice alot of vegetables (did the other night for the Super Bowl) I use may Takeda
                                          http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tababu....
                                          It requires extra care but is a slicing machine. The above website is a good place to order from whatever you decide.

                                      2. Here's a website I found helpful by a knife enthusiast who reviews a lot of Japanese knives:

                                        http://www.zknives.com/knives/kitchen...

                                        I'm looking for some Japanese knives as well.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: SouthernHoo

                                          That is an awesome ste. The guy that created the site uses the handle Gator on some of the knife boards. He did a fantastic job putting that together.