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Jun 15, 2011 06:49 AM

The knife rack goes high end

Interesting article in the NYT

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  1. Thanks, petek.This strikes me as another nano-trend amidst the larger cookware/kitchen design fetish thing that's making so much moolah for hi-end retallers and suppliers. The co-branded Kramer blades tell all: not enough scratch for a custom Kramer? Relax, let Zwilling help you out! Call me cynical but this is just more of the "cookware as decor" conceit and amounts to conspicuous consumption. Friends buy this stuff only to have bragging rights--it reflects less knowledge than affluence--among cronies who axiomatically equate goodness with price. Sadly, we know that hi-end blades are also hi-maintenance and few newcomers realize their performance depends on knowing how to keep them sharp. Reminds me also of friends' audio rigs: crazed music collectors with wonderful troves of recordings played on so-so equipment and audiophiles with cherry-picked, boring demo discs and LPs designed to showcase equipment, not musical performance.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Kagemusha

      Hi Kag,

      Your response is very close to what I may have been thinking when I first read this post, (well, without the audio analogy, as that is not my thing). However, I have been cooking for nearly 40 years, and I started out in my first apartment with decent, cheap stuff that looked a little better than what my mother and grandmother used, mostly because it was new. It was purchased without much knowledge of construction, materials, etc. What I can say is this: Cheap knives are often frustrating. They often end up being difficult to use because they don't hold an edge well. Their handles are often crap. My cooking life changed radically when I got rid of my initial cheap set, which had a pseudo-German name and came in a cool knifeblock, and started buying decent German and French knives. I did these one at a time, as they were much more expensive than what I had. Imagine spending $100 or more on a chef's knife when the old set cost that much just a few years earlier -- it was hard to do.

      However, it sure was worth it. Twenty or even thirty years later, I still have those knives. And while I have occasionally added a new toy to my collection, such as a Japanese blade or a historical carbon steel forging, the knives I use for most tasks are those replacement models I started buying when I got tired of using junk. It was practically a revolution in my kitchen.

      Could I have gotten by with cheap, food service quality knives with white handles? Probably, but when a friend of mine, who formerly owned a restaurant, recently came to my home to cook with me in my kitchen, he was in love with my knives. His kitchen was still populated by the cheap restaurant leftovers he took home when he closed his restaurant. It does make the experience better when you don't have to work so hard to breakdown a large brisket or cut up pounds and pounds of potatoes.

      Do I think you need to spend $300+ for a knife? No, of course not, And I have yet to reach that number. I am currently looking at dimpled Japanese blades like Glestain, but mostly because I would love to be able to cut certain food and not have it stick to the blades. When you do spend money for esthetics, like a dragon logo or a beautiful handle, it is an investment in decor for many, but not for all. After considering this a bit, the only people I feel any cynicism for are those who don't use the stuff - like your friends with the expensive audio equipment. They are buying decor and not function.

      1. re: Kagemusha

        Does anyone really need a Ferrari or Bentley? A Corolla can get you from point A to B cheaper and with less maintenance. You just won't be doing it with the same speed and panache. If it was free, I'd take the Ferrari every time.

        1. re: Kagemusha

          Call me naive,but it looks like Bob Kramer is 100% really into this new venture with S la T and Zwilling.It also looks like he's trying to educate the unwashed masses on the joys and maintenance of carbon steel(check out the Sur la Table website for his instructional videos).From all accounts I have read,his clones are getting good reviews from some of the knife knuts on the various forums.

          Bragging rights? For sure there's going to be a percentage of people buying them for that reason,but there's also people with some knife knowledge who would like to see firsthand(kinda) what a real Kramer is all about.

          Hopefully this will be good for all the other custom knife makers that are relatively unheard of outside the world of knife "aficionados".Look how fast Joel Bukiewicz from CutBrooklyn got to jump on the bandwagon.

          1. re: petek

            "knife knuts" - I like it! :-D

            1. re: petek

              "Bragging rights? For sure there's going to be a percentage of people buying them for that reason,but there's also people with some knife knowledge who would like to see firsthand(kinda) what a real Kramer is all about."

              Whether aesthetes, cooks or knife knuts(good one, petek, equal to my Bluto pix), the hardcores are pre-sold. The grail is turning knives into an aspirational object for a broader market. As it stands, Kramer's custom blades are like Birkin bags. The Kramer-Zwilling merch is equal to designer pret-a-porter: accessible to consumers smart and flush enough to know what they're buying. You'll know this strategy's winning when Kramer-like knock-offs start showing up. Hope it works out for the small guys.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                "Hope it works out for the small guys " Agree.

                Hopefully all this media will turn consumers onto some of the fine Japanese blade smiths out there as well.

                And as much as I'd like to take credit for the term "knife knut" sadly I cannot.I usurped the name from one of the knife forums.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I was amused to see the nakiri featured - we're ahead of the curve once again...

              1. re: buttertart

                :) I know, butter. The article predicts that Nakiri will be the next big thing. Originally, there was only the Chef knife for an all purpuse knife among Americans. The choice was only between German style vs French style. Then, the Santoku was introduced to US and gained a lot of popularity due to its smaller and nimbler size. Recently, the Japanese gyuto is gaining something, but I don't think it will do what the Santoku did.

                I always thought Nakiri will be the next big thing -- if there is one. The reason is that Nakiri is a good all-purpose knife and, in Japan, it is the knife which rivals Santoku.

                P.S.: Have you gotten hold a Nakiri you like? I remember you were looking for an authnetic Nakiri a few months ago.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I thought of you the second I saw that. I haven't bought one yet. I'd like one with the Japanese handle - do you have brand recommendations? Would like as long a blade as possible. Thanks, ck!

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Feel free to make a separate post for a Nakiri recommendation. I know many people here knows a lot about Nakiri. I have a Nakiri, but it is carbon steel. I remember you like a stainless steel, right?

                    For a stainless steel Nakiri with a traditional Wa-wood handle and for a relatively inexpensive price, I think Tojiro is a good choice.


                    I don't have a Tojiro Nakiri, but I have a Tojiro gyuto, so I know its steel quality is sound. The blade is not long though.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      That looks like what I'm after, ck. Thank you very much.
                      Am I correct in thinking they come with a longer blade, though?

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Hi butter,

                        There are longer blade Nakiri from different vendors, but I don't think Tojiro offers longer.

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Chem:I doubt I could break down a case of whole chickens, clean a case of tenderloins then peel and dice a box of butternut squash with a nakiri.But I could with my gyuto or santoku.How's that for a versatile knife? :D

                    1. re: petek

                      It's not for the versatility, I just want it. Have a couple of santokus, a gyuto is also on the want list.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        I was just breaking Chems balls a bit..It's like me wanting a single bevel deba.Versatile? hardly.But i still want one :)

                        1. re: petek

                          I know, and I know I'm waaaaay in the deep end of the pool here with the Olympic swimmers, but I have a thing for knives.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Although there are a few Olympic swimmers here on CH(I'm still a tadpole),might I suggest you dive into the waters over at Kitchen Knife Forums and swim with the sharks for a bit.You don't have to post,you can just lurk if you want to.But the information one can gain on the world of knives is astonishing,if not a little overwhelming..

                            1. re: petek

                              A daunting prospect. I'm already enslaved to this board...

                          2. re: petek

                            "I was just breaking Chems balls a bit"

                            What are you talking about? There is no a little bit of pregnant, and I don't know if there is a little bit of breaking my balls. Ok, maybe there is. :P Just kidding.

                            Kidding aside, why do you think a nakiri cannot do what a santoku can do? A nakiri has a straighter profile, but many nakiri also has a pointy/corner tip, like your Moritaka brand:


                            It is my understanding that Chinese Chefs have used Chinese chef's knives (better known as Chinese cleavers) to do all kinds of things, so I imagine that a smaller and narrower Nakiri can achieve that as well.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              ck, your performance judgement based on type of steel makes a lot of sense to me. Just sayin'.

                              1. re: buttertart

                                Thanks Butter, but you have to admit that those conversations are very funny. :)

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    "You men!"
                                    Some of the best ball breakers I know are women,all of them Chefs naturally.
                                    It's environmental not gender based . :D

                                    1. re: petek

                                      "Some of the best ball breakers I know are women"

                                      No kidding, but there is good reason for that. They don't treasure what we treasure.

                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Ever tried cleaning a tenderloin with a nakiri??

                                1. re: petek

                                  Nope. Chicken tenderloin, yes, but I am doubt that you are not talking about chicken. Can you explain to me a bit why a gyuto or a santoku is better than a nakiri? Is it the curved blade or is it the pointy tip? Just curious. Thanks.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    "Can you explain to me a bit why a gyuto or a santoku is better than a nakiri?"

                                    They're not better,just more versatile in my opinion.Especially in a pro kitchen.I could use my gyuto or santoku exclusively, all day in the kitchen,no matter what the task,I doubt that I could do that with a nakiri.Braking down primal cuts of meat or cleaning silver skin off of beef,pork or bison could be done with either the gyuto or santoku(they wouldn't be my first weapon of choice) with good results.Not so with a nakiri.The pointy tip makes a big difference.
                                    The nakiri is a fine style of knife,just not as versatile as the other 2.

                                    The End....:-D

                                    1. re: petek

                                      Thanks. Just curious if it is the pointy tip or the curved blade.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        In case I wasn't clear, you have answered my question. I meant to say that originally I didn't know if you meant the pointy tip or the curved blade, but now I do know.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Glad to be of any assistance doctore..
                                          I hope you weren't offended by my "The End..." comment. I meant it as a closing to my somewhat long and boring explanation,not an end to our conversation.

                                          1. re: petek

                                            No, I wasn't offended. I think it can be mistaken, but I didn't detect any negative feeling in your writing.

                              3. re: petek

                                Get the deba petek, from what I've heard they are the butchers workhorse.

                                1. re: Dave5440


                                  I'm gonna,just gotta decide which one.Because of my decision to purchase locally (Knife)or domestically(PaulsFinest),my options are fewer than that of our U.S brethren.

                                  1. re: petek

                                    my options are fewer than that of our U.S brethren.

                                    They sure are!

                                    1. re: petek

                                      But what about buying it directly from Japan like what Dave is doing.

                                      As I told you that I talked to a close friend of mine during the last scientific conference, she has moved to Canada and she said that she has seen huge price mark up for scientific equipments between those sold in US and those sold in Canada.

                                      So you could be saving money by buying oversea. Of course, you won't be supporting your local business, but then why support a local business which possibly is trying to take huge advantages of you. I say possibly because I am not entirely sure of the reason of the price mark up. Maybe it is something they cannot control like a high import tax.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        By the way, I still don't know why the prices are higher. I don't know if it is lack of competition or a very high tax rate.

                                        I'd like to know the answer to that to, Our basic stuff is outragous compared to the US, milk 1 gal 1.99 tops in buffalo , my metro 4.99 for 4lL then there's gas 3.55 in buffalo 4.95 for 3.8 L at my local esso

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          Well, if the high prices are due to a high tax rate and transport costs...etc, then I can see the argument for buying local because the local businesses have higher costs and have to sell the goods at higher prices.

                                          If the high prices are due to lack of competitions, then the local vendors are buying at the same price point as the foreigner vendors (say US), and simply decided that they can charge more due to a "strong demand, weak supply" situation. This is all perfectly fine and nothing wrong. It is part of the free market principle. However, in this case, the customers should not feel they have a moral obligation to buy local anymore. The customers should also follow the free market principle just like the vendors do, and buy from the less expensive sources. Just a thought.

                                      2. re: petek

                                        Whatever you buy, at some point you should get a custom blade from Pierre Rodrique. He has very reasonably priced custom knives that are made by a countryman.


                                        1. re: smkit

                                          Sorry. I am saving my money for the possible Eiron's knives. :P

                                          1. re: smkit

                                            "Whatever you buy, at some point you should get a custom blade from Pierre Rodrique"

                                            I'm slowly but surely working my way up to the world of customs,and Pierre's knives are beautiful and very reasonably priced.
                                            I'm still a bit paranoid about bringing such a nice piece of steel into a pro kitchen,although I know more than a few KKF members use their customs at work.
                                            smkit: Do you own any Rodrique knives? And if so,what do you think of them?

                                            1. re: petek

                                              Not yet, but I have 2 on the way and possibly one more. I wouldn't probably use them in pro kitchen either.

                                              1. re: petek

                                                Just FYI. Here is a little gallery of some of Pierre's recent work from KKF.


                            2. nice looking knives...curious how they feel

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                Which ones,the Kramers? If you're down in the States pop into a Sur la Table and check one out and then report back to us A.S.A.P :D

                                1. re: petek

                                  yeah, the kramers...they look very curvy and flowing, like the feel of a lady's hips when dancing with her. Not to say a fine german or japanese blade isn't a pleasure to use and hold, but the kramer looks more, say, "sensuale" instead of "achtung!" I will have to handle it myself (the knife) to verify

                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                    Ha! Well said. Who doesn't love a sexy knife?

                              2. Thanks for the article, Petek.

                                Like others, I wonder which consumers are really driving this trend in expensive kitchen knives. Certainly there seem to be more of us knife Knuts than there used to be. More and more of the professional cooks I see (and almost all of the successful professional chefs on television) use Japanese knives.

                                On the other hand, if the article is right and the Cronidur is selling well at ~$300, we can safely assume there is an element of conspicuous consumption by people who don't know too much about knives (yeah, I'm a big damn biased snob and I hate the German profile), I wonder how the whetstones are selling at SLT and Williams Sonoma - that would tell us something (WS only has two, and they're not well chosen or well priced - doesn't bode well).

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  "the Cronidur is selling well at ~$300, we can safely assume there is an element of conspicuous consumption by people who don't know too much about knives"

                                  I agree. Either people who bought these don't know too much about knives or they have really different priority than you and I.

                                  "I wonder how the whetstones are selling at SLT and Williams Sonoma - that would tell us something"

                                  Actually, I have to agree with you. I think the sale of waterstone is a better indicator of knowledgeable knife users. Unfortunately,as you have suggested, a knowledgeable knife owner would probably buy the waterstones elsewhere.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    "a knowledgeable knife owner would probably buy the waterstones elsewhere."
                                    Good point. Not much sense in dropping $225 for a michel bras whetstone (1k/3k combo) at WS when there are plenty of online retailers with much better options... and prices - have you ever seen a 3k synthetic go for $200+? FFS, a Chosera 3k is only $120. How awesome could that combo stone actually be? Jeebus.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      "Not much sense in dropping $225 for a michel bras whetstone (1k/3k combo) at WS"

                                      Oh man, I didn't even check the price out... that expensive huh? In that case, the sale volume of waterstone in WS would actually point the other way. The more knowledgeable the customers, the less likely they will buy the stones from WS. Consequently, the sale volume of the WS waterstone should be inverse of the knowledgeable customer population.

                                2. A question for all of you: which 6" or 8" carbon steel chef's knife, steel, and stone would you recommend? I know enough to keep the knife clean and dry, and though I currently think of myself as being not particularly good at sharpening knives, I would love to learn to do it right. I'd prefer not to spend as much as one of these Kramer/Henckels knives cost, and have seen some Sabatier knives that look nice on The Best Things.

                                  However, I have another concern: the knife callous on my right index finger, formed by my Wusthof knives, hurts now after doing only a little cutting, which was not the case years ago. I wonder if using a Japanese knife would help take the pressure off.

                                  33 Replies
                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    How much are you looking to spend in total? If you're getting into stones I think you can skip buying a steel.

                                    A 6" "chef knife" is what's called a petty/utility knife,great for some jobs,but I'd go with an 8"-10" chef/gyuto.Much more versatile(unless you have small hands)

                                    What kind of grip do you use(pinch grip,hammer grip)? That might be causing the painful callous more than the type or make of knife you use.And sometimes,no matter what,a painful callous can't be avoided.

                                    1. re: petek

                                      "If you're getting into stones I think you can skip buying a steel."

                                      Really? I hone with steel/ceramic before every use and whetstone 3-4 times a year.

                                      1. re: pabboy

                                        It depends on the hardness of steel.Softer steels will benefit from honing on a steel,harder ones,not so much.

                                        What kind of knives do you use pabboy?

                                        1. re: petek

                                          Not to mention if you're taking a blade to a high-grit stone (8K+) then your ceramic rod is putting a coarser finish on your edge than your stone (actually I'd say closer to 4-5K is still finer than most ceramic rods). In that case (and this is what I do) you touch your knife up on the high-grit stone once a week, or every two weeks to keep the edge keen, rather than using a rod.

                                          1. re: mateo21

                                            +1 A few passes on my highest grit stone(6

                                            ) or some light stropping and she's good to go.I hear glass rods are great for harder steel,but they're pretty spendy.

                                            1. re: mateo21

                                              ...have there been any threads here about steels& stones for SS knives that might be illuminating to novices?

                                              I have Henkels knives that I try to keep sharp since hunny passed away. I use an old oil whetstone (don't know the hardness, probably medium) about twice a year, and a metal steel after every use. Am I doing anything right? Gram was a butcher in London but she died before I was old enough to learn anything from her. I do remember her lightneing-fast flashing blades when steeling, though.


                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                That's a fine way to sharpen an old Henckels. But the real question is whether the results are sharp enough for you.

                                                Don't try to imitate Gram's lightening fast swipes though - most people will get better results going slower and carefully.

                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                  no, I can't swipe as fast, nor want to, but do follow her technique, steel held facing up and out, knife blade at about 15 degrees, edge moving lightly down the top side, then down pressed up against the bottom side, about 6 times. I've been told any more is overkill.

                                                  I find my knives feel sharp enough for a month or two (my test is a red pepper skin) then it is sharp enough for most anything else for several more months.

                                                  I have gotten pretty good at not rolling the blade when sharpening. At first it gave me fits. But since I taught myself how to sharpen my Felco pruning shears by holding the file angle still, I just reversed it for knives, holding the blade at the same angle through the swipe. Because I could see it on the larger scale, I could maintain the eye-muscle coordination with the smaller knife blade.

                                                  I just cleaned and sharpened all my late hubby's pocket knives. It was highly satisfying, though cutting sisal twine is sharp enough for me, no hair-splitting needed.

                                              2. re: mateo21

                                                Agree, mateo. I think most ceramic rods are about 1K or even lower.

                                              3. re: petek

                                                Mostly Global & Henkel Pro S. I use Henkel TWIN Stone Pro (250/1000) and Finishing Stone Pro (3000/8000).

                                            2. re: petek

                                              I see the Sabatier 8" for $100, and the stone Bob Kramer was using cost $60 on the SLT website. Those are acceptable prices for me.

                                              I don't know the difference between the "pinch" and "hammer" grips, actually. My index finger goes under the handle. I don't extend it over the knife, the way you sometimes see on TV and in the movies. I don't know if that's the answer to your question or not.

                                              My grip hasn't changed any, however, in the last 20 years, and I think this callous is about that old. But I'm not sure. I only noticed it a few years ago, when it became painful.

                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                Jay F:
                                                Here's a picture of someone using a pinch grip.
                                                A hammer grip is exactly how you would hold a hammer(sorry no picture)

                                                1. re: petek

                                                  Thanks, Pete. I am a pinch gripper.

                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                    Then cowboy's recommendation to round the spine is an excellent idea.

                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                      I agree with both Cowboy and Petek. Round your knife spine using a sharpening stone.

                                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                      I don't think I ever hold my knife that way. Should I?

                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        You should hold your knife whatever way feels most comfortable for you.

                                                        I use a pinch grip most of the time,but will occasionally switch to a hammer grip when I'm prepping a ton of onions.Whatever feels right for you.

                                                        1. re: petek

                                                          I'll have to try that. Thanks, Pete.

                                                2. re: Jay F

                                                  JayF - here's the good news: you don't have to spend $300 to get a very nice carbon knife.
                                                  The bad news - there are too many good carbon steel knives to even start recommending things without more information.

                                                  ?s for you:

                                                  -Price range
                                                  -Do you want some insurance against rust and stains, like maybe a cladded knife or a less-reactive carbon one? Or do you not care?
                                                  -Do you rock chop when cutting?
                                                  -Do you want to use a chefs knife to cut through chicken bones, frozen food and such, or are you willing to switch to another knife for iffy tasks?
                                                  -Any preference in terms of handle? Big hands, small hands, prefer contoured, like it simple?
                                                  -How do you feel about a thin, slightly more delicate knife that cuts exceptionally well? This might help your callous since you won't have to apply much pressure at all while cutting.
                                                  -Any experience, positive or negative, with Japanese knives?

                                                  Here's a little tip for you BTW - if that callous is bothering you, take a look at the spine on your Wusthof. Chances are, the spine is square with relatively sharp corners. It will be much more comfortable for you to use if you rounded the spine, which is surprisingly easy to do. There are a lot of ways to do it, but here is one. Get some wet/dry sandpaper from an autoparts store, maybe 80 or 150 grit. Clamp the knife in a vice, or even just between the pages of a phone book that you prop up or hold between your knees, with the edge down and the spine up. Grab the ends of the sandpaper with each hand and rub it over the spine in a shoe shine motion. Continue until the spine is rounded. It will take about 10 minutes. You can pretty it up if you like using higher grit sandpaper afterward.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      Cowboy, here goes:

                                                      PRICE RANGE: I see the Sabatier 8" for $100, and that the stone Bob Kramer was using in the YouTube videos costs $60 on the SLT website. These are good prices for me.



                                                      RUST AND STAINS: Not an issue. My first knife was carbon steel and I was pretty compulsive about keeping it clean and dry.

                                                      ROCK CHOP: Yes

                                                      CUT THROUGH CHICKEN BONES AND FROZEN: Not necessary. I have a lot of stainless knives already (Wusthof), and frankly, I don't freeze much food.

                                                      HANDLE PREFERENCE: I don't know. I have used Wusthof knives exclusively since the early '80s. They're really all I know. I don't have big hands, that's for sure. Not small, either, though.

                                                      THIN, MORE DELICATE KNIFE THAT CUTS EXCEPTIONALLY WELL: That's certainly something I'd like to feel in my hands, and maybe cut an onion and a tomato with.

                                                      I have never used a Japanese knife. Never even held one in my hand. When I was buying knives, the choices seemed to be between Wusthof and Henckels, or Sabatier if you wanted carbon steel, though actually, carbon steel seemed terribly out of fashion in '83 (I bought mine in 1979).

                                                      I only became aware that there was something out there besides German knives a couple of years ago. I keep my knives sharp, so I've never perceived a problem with them, but it's hard not to pay attention to all the choices that now exist.

                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        The intersection of easy to rock chop and thin, high performance blade is probably the Shun Classic. It's not carbon steel (though vg-10 offers 98% of the sharpening performance of carbon steel if you take care not to chip it) and it's not the best deal IMO at $140 for an 8 incher. But it's the only major Japanese blade with a lot of curve to it.
                                                        The SLT down at the South Side works would have em (you're in Pgh, right?


                                                        The Sabatiers have curve for rock chopping as well and are a bit cheaper, but can't compete with the Japanese in terms of edge retention, cutting performance, or edge taking (can't go as acute without the edge quickly folding over anyway). They have a pleasant feel to em that many traditionalists love and won't be a huge transition from your Wusthof. The full length bolster presents problems with sharpening and will eventually need to be ground down. One problem is that a lot of the 8 inch Sabatiers have so little knuckle clearance that they feel almost more like long utility knives than chefs knives - most people who use them use 10 or 12 inchers, and those are more costly. I think these are also as SLT.

                                                        With a bit of practice, you can still rock chop with most Japanese gyuto style chef knives, though it requires a bit more control (and should you choose to go this route, I still recommend push cutting for the most part, if you can learn it). This opens up a lot of doors. I have no problem at all rock chopping with my Hiromoto gyuto, since it still has a bit of gentle curve for most of its length - an 8 inch is $140, while a shorter santoku is $109. It's cladded with stainless to make it easier to take care of, but the carbon steel at the edge is seriously amazing stuff - takes an absurd edge, holds it very well, forms a non-reactive and cool-looking patina very quickly with use, easy to sharpen. You probably won't be able to demo one though.

                                                        For more of a budget knife, there is the Dojo 7.5 inch gyuto (even though it looks more like a santoku). Great steel for the money, sharpens very well with excellent edge retention - I have their paring knife. Fit and finish is mediocre. Not positive how the grind is, but it is doubtless thinner than the Sabatier and Wusthof. Not a lot of curve, so it would be an adjustment to learn to rock chop with one. Also wouldn't get to demo one. Hard to complain under $70 though.

                                                        There are doubtless many other options I'm leaving out.

                                                        Stones are a whole nother can of worms. I refer you to this thread:
                                                        ...starting with the permalinked post

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          Is push cutting inherently easier than rock chopping? Is it hard to learn, or more a matter of unlearning what I am already so used to? At this point, my hand gets so tired when I rock chop (I have arthritis as well as the callous), learning something new could be a great relief.

                                                          Also, what do you think of this knife?

                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                            It's not 'easier' unless you have a very flat edged knife like a lot of Japanese knives are. It is, however, easier on the knife edge, which is one of the reasons to use it with finer-edged knives.

                                                            The knife you linked to is probably quite comparable in performance to other shun knives. More curve than most Japanese knives, less than German knives. Same core steel (VG-10), which will perform very well, though it can get chippy if you're not careful with it. It costs even more per inch than the other Shun knives though, so be aware you're paying extra for novelty and looks. A 5 incher is probably too small for most adults to use as their main chefs knife.

                                                            Also, just so you know, the shun knives mostly have d-shaped handles which can be a minor PITA for left handed people.

                                                          2. re: cowboyardee

                                                            "But it's the only major Japanese blade with a lot of curve to it.

                                                            Hey, that's my knife. I love it.

                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                              +1 on the full bolster problem.I have a 10" sabatier slicer,and it;s a P.I.T.A to sharpen on stones.

                                                              1. re: petek

                                                                My utility knife (6") has that kind of an indentation from my using a Chef's Choice too frequently some years back.

                                                          3. re: cowboyardee

                                                            "Do you want to use a chefs knife to cut through chicken bones, frozen food and such, or are you willing to switch to another knife for iffy tasks?"


                                                            Great Question.

                                                            As a sort of addendum, it always makes me cringe when I see people on TV using nice knives and they cut onto a porcelain/ceramic plate.

                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                              My cutting boards are butcher block and soft-ish plastic.

                                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                                              cowboyardee: "if that callous is bothering you, take a look at the spine on your Wusthof. Chances are, the spine is square with relatively sharp corners."

                                                              Yes, it is a 90-degree angle. I'm going to try the sanding procedure. Thanks for that suggestion. I've kind of fantasized about a slope at times as I've cut stuff over the past few years. Is one sheet of the 80 or 150 grit wet/dry sandpaper enough?

                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                Depends on how far you want to go. First off, cut it in long strips just 2 or 3 inches wide to make it easier to use and to get more out of it. Even one sheet will take the extreme sharpness off those angles and make it more comfortable. That said, I've bought a knife that was very well finished by the maker and it had a completely round smooth edge. That is very nice to cut with. But it would take a while and a good bit of sandpaper. Though power tools would make even that pretty easy and quick.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  I think I'll try the sandpaper before I buy a new knife. Thanks.