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Starter Chef Knife for my daughter---loves Damascus

My daughter is going off to med school and getting her own apartment. She's a very decent cook, but has no equipment. Rather than getting a silly knife block with tons of things she doesn't much use, she'd rather have a good Chef's knife. She just got back from Japan and was salivating over knives, but also really likes a Damascus style. I was thinking about the Shun Premier 8" chef's knife, which I can get for ~ $150. Thoughts? I like the fact that Shun will sharpen it for her at will. Any other recommendations in that price range?

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  1. "My daughter is going off to med school and getting her own apartment"

    Great

    "Rather than getting a silly knife block with tons of things she doesn't much use, she'd rather have a good Chef's knife"

    Smart.

    "I like the fact that Shun will sharpen it for her at will. "

    Not anymore. The free sharpening service has been discontinued this year. You can find that information on Shun website.

    "Any other recommendations in that price range?"

    So you are looking for Japanese influenced Chef knives with a Damascus patter, right? I will also assume you are looking for a stainless steel knife and not a carbon steel knife. Shun Premier as you said is a good choice. There are a few other choices.

    Hattori HD 210 mm gyuto for $172. It is a VG-10 steel core knife:

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/HDS...

    Shiki Tsuchime Damascus Twinkle 210 mm Gyuto for $150. It is VG-10 steel core knife:

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SHI...

    In fact, Shiki offers several series of different Damascus knives:

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SHI...

    Rysen Tsuchime Damascus Gyuto 210 mm for $159. It is a VG-10 core steel knife:

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/Ryu...

    JCK Gekko 210 mm Gyuto for $112. It is also made with VG-10. You will need scroll down the page.

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SPE...

    Shipping will probably add another $10-15 from the above website.

    24 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thank you! I'll look over them and see if any seem more attractive than the Shun. I am steering towards stainless as I'm not sure how meticulous she'd be with carbon steel.
      On another note, thanks for all the advice you gave me on another thread regarding sharpening. I've been using my EdgePro like a fiend, and my knives now push cut paper, to my great glee. Also, it's a great excuse for hiding in the garage when conversations get boring.

      1. re: strangemd

        "I've been using my EdgePro like a fiend, and my knives now push cut paper"

        Awesome. I am really glad to help. So the idea is that your daugther will bring her knives back every vacation for you to sharpen them on EdgePro. :)

        I cannot remember who anymore, but there was a regular knife poster who mentioned that he sharpened his daugther's knives every time she comes back from college.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I think that was Scubadoo; remember something about him using his daughter's knife to shave off his arm hairs.

          1. re: wattacetti

            :) Is that right? We will just have to verify with him later. I remember it being a very "warm and fuzzy" dad-and-daugther story.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              LOL!! Wow what great memories you people have. I need to watch what I say. Yeah my daughter will bring her knives home to be sharpened. Not as often as I would like. She knows this brings me joy so will only give me a little at a time.

              Strangemd, there is a lot of great information here. Good J-knives don't have to be too expensive. I would suggest a good stainless knife that is not too hard so it will handle a little abuse without chipping but hard enough to stay sharp. The Togiharu recommended by smkit or the Gekko recommended by Chemicalkinetics are good candidates within those parameters. Both have Damascus and Hammered Damascus for interesting looks that won't break the bank.

              Lots more out there. Chem and others are a wealth of knowledge.

              Maybe if she gets into sharp edges she may be interested in surgery

      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Also, if possible, try to find a shop that would let her test drive a variety of knives for type of handle, balance etc.

        1. re: Zydecopapa

          Yeah, in the case that testing driving a knife is important, then probably Shun knives are the most realistic option.... unless the person lives close to a specialized knife store like NY Korin...etc

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I'd love to get her to Korin (I live in NY), but she got back from traveling 2 weeks ago and is off to med school in one week, so there's not much free time for shopping. Most time spent doing student loan forms. But those Shiki's look beautiful. And I will indeed be doing her sharpening. Meanwhile, a KitchenAid mixer seems to be her only other must have kitchen tool.

            1. re: strangemd

              How about the Togiharu from Korin. They still have their 15% off sale until the end of July and It has that cool hammered/damascus look similar to the shikis. The 210 costs $150 before discount. It will probably be a wash with shipping.

              http://korin.com/Togiharu-Hammered-Da...

              1. re: smkit

                Actually this one off of eBay is probably the same knife as the Shiki and Togiharu for only $105.

                http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-sushi-ch...

                Or you could go the Santoku+Petty route from the same seller.

                http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-Sushi-ch...

                1. re: smkit

                  "the same knife as the Shiki and Togiharu for only $105"

                  Are you saying that the Shiki and the Togiharu knives are the same? They look slightly different to me on the photo. Moreover, the Togiharu is listed with a 58HRC and Shiki is 60 HRC.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    They sure look similar. As far as 2 pt difference in HRC, I'd say don't believe everything you read. Who knows what the HRC is on what we buy. We have to trust the maker or dealer to supply us with the best info

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Scubadoo,

                      Crap, that would be a problem for strangemd then -- if Shiki and Togiharu are the same knife. Because strangemd didn't like the Togiharu fit and finish, yet he and his daugther has just ordered the Shiki knife. They look different to me in the handle and in then blade polish, but that could just be a camera or lighting effect.

                      Strangemd, do you have time to cancel your order? Scubadoo believes they are the same knives.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Hold on Chem, I didn't say they were the same but the do look very similar. I was just pointing out that we can't believe everything we read as far as materials and HRC.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Well, but if you think they are the same (even 70-80% sure), then shoulnd't strangmd cancel his order? I mean he can always order later if it is not the case.

                          Oh, I did read an old post by Saltdog that the Togiharu Tsuchime is the essentially same as Gekko Tsuchime. I can see that:

                          http://korin.com/Togiharu-Hammered-Da...

                          http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SPE...

                          Scroll down to "GE-4M Gyuto 210mm (Mahogany Wood Handle)"

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Yeah Chem I remember that there was speculation that they were the same maker. Again it's hard to tell by pictures alone. Bottom line is fit and finish are important, but the overall performance of the knife is not weighing in the balance.

                            I use some really cheap blue steel iron clad Japanese knives that are very good performers but the handles are crap. I bought them as beater knives but they perform very well for regular use.

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Scubadoo,

                              Absolutely agree. Fit and finish are important, but they are not everything. However, strangemd is buying this as a gift for his daugther, so I would feel bad that he avoided one poorly polished knife in exchange for another poorly polished knife. Now that strangemd knows about this possibility, I will let him talk over with Koki. As menioned, if Koki tells him that the Shiki has a much better finish than Gekko, then I think it is safe to buy Shiki. If Koko tells him that they are equally good and the photos are misleading, then strangemd may want to reconsider. I do hope they are different for strangemd's daugther sake, but the truth is the truth.

                              "I use some really cheap blue steel iron clad Japanese knives that are very good performers but the handles are crap."

                              :) Like my Tanaka knife? Relatively inexpensive, blue steel, cladded,... the handle is not that bad though.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Not that it matters much, but they don't look like the same knives to me. *Similar* yes, but then, most of the Tsuchime finishes look pretty similar IMO.

                          To me, the Shiki line looks much more nicely finished than the Togiharus. If I didn't already have my Kanetsune, my first choice would be a Shiki damascus gyuto.

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        From what I understand, you can have slightly different handles, pins, and even blade finish and still have the original blade manufacturer the same. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't say a knife is the same or different based upon the handle traits along.

                        1. re: smkit

                          "you can have slightly different handles, pins, and even blade finish and still have the original blade manufacturer the same"

                          I think you have misunderstood my main concern here. The concern I have is not that if the these brands (Shiki, Togiharu, Gekko) are made by the same manufacturer or not. The bottomline is the finish. For whatever reasons they may be, strangemd didn't like the finish of the Togiharu knives, so I was concern if Shiki has the same finish. It matters not if they made by the same manufacturer. What it matters is if they both have rough finish. If they are exactly the same knife, then they will, by default, have the same finish.

                          "I wouldn't say a knife is the same or different based upon the handle traits along."

                          True, but it goes to my original point. It really depends why strangemad did not like the Togiharu. If he does not like the finish on the Togiharu handle, then it does matter if Shiki has the same handle. Having a very similar looking handle DIRECTLY increases the odd that the handles are indeed the same. If strangemd does not like finish on the blade, then it is a different story. Nevertheless, it still matters if these knives have the same handle. If they have the same exact handle, then it INDIRECTLY increases the chance of them have the same blade. Again, not a proof, but it increases the odd.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I was just making the point that the cutting performance would likely be the same (or similar). I am definitely a fan of nicer handles as I like to get my knives rehandled, so a better handle is a selling point for me. I'm not such a fan of the mirror finish though. There might be some performance issues (food sticking) and scratches/surface rubs become more apparent with a shiny finish. Sticking probably wouldn't be a big issue with a pounded blade though, and a little water might lube things up to prevent food from sticking.

                            1. re: smkit

                              I agree with scubadoo97 and you on this point. Scubadoo also bought up the same point above. He wrote: "Bottom line is fit and finish are important, but the overall performance of the knife is not weighing in the balance"

                              You may have missed some of the conversation. I don't think the cutting performance will be different between theses knives. I was just concern because this is a gift for strangemd's daugther.

                              I am also not a big fan for mirro finish, but then again I am just thinking for strangemd's daugther. It seems to me that she likes it. Anyway, we will see how strangemd and his daugther will like the Shiki knife when it arrives. I think that will be the "true and final test".

                  2. re: strangemd

                    A stand mixer is kind of a monument unless she bakes a lot - heavy and tough to store. It perhaps can wait - for $250, there's a lot of other equipment that would come higher on my outfit-the-new-kitchen list. At a restaurant supply house, that would go a long way - good jelly roll pans, mise en place bowls, large cutting board, etc. There's lot of threads on this on the site..

            2. One that Chem forgot to mention- the Kanetsune 210 mm gyuto for $159. Also has a VG-10 core.
              http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kagy21....

              Nice to see you've taken to the Edge Pro. It's a great sharpener.

              131 Replies
              1. re: cowboyardee

                Hi, cowboy:

                Onto every campfire, a little Kaleo must fall...

                The knives folks are talking about here don't seem to me to really be Damascus. I'd say they're functionally just a hard steel core laminated between softer outer leaves, a dressed-up version of what the Swedes have been putting out for a long time now. That there is a Damascus *look* to the blade seems beside the point, unless the point is the look.

                With a thick, centered core and few "folds" in the "Damascus", those alternating layers aren't getting anywhere near the cutting edge. Calling these Damascus seems to me a little like etching a fake temper line in the blade to make it look like clay was applied in tempering.

                On a different note, have you noticed that VG-10 takes longer to sharpen? It is hell on belts, totally taking the curve out of using partially worn belts for finer work.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  "Onto every campfire, a little Kaleo must fall..."

                  And a liitle Chemical must fall to every Kaleo (just kidding).

                  "The knives folks are talking about here don't seem to me to really be Damascus"

                  True, but real Damascus knives are not going to be in that price range. :P

                  "That there is a Damascus *look* to the blade seems beside the point, unless the point is the look."

                  In this case, I think the look IS the point

                  "On a different note, have you noticed that VG-10 takes longer to sharpen? "

                  Longer to sharpen compared to what other steels? I find VG-10 among the easier steels to sharpen by hands.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Hi, Chem:

                    Compared to O1, D2, ATS-34, 5160, 52100, good 'ole 1095. Whatever your other blades are.

                    What steel do you find takes you the longest to sharpen?

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      " have you noticed that VG-10 takes longer to sharpen?"

                      +1. My VG-10's take way longer to sharpen than my aogami #2's

                      1. re: petek

                        You guys are comparing stainless steels to carbon steels. Most carbon steel knives are easier to sharpen. I think I agree to that. However, a more interesting comparison would be a typical VG-10 knife (which is your brand?) to a Henckels or a Wusthof (X50CrMoV15). In my experience, my VG-10 knife is pretty easy to sharpen.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I have to agree with Chem. I don't mind sharpening my VG-10, but I must say that sharpening my SG-2 feels a bit funky.

                          1. re: smkit

                            I don't disagree with Chem,I was just comparing my VG-10's(Kasumi) to the Aogami #2's that I own,not all SS knives.I realise it's not a fair comparison,just sayin'.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Hi, Chem:

                            I didn't ask what was easy, for all things sharpening must come easy to you. I asked if it takes longer to sharpen your VG-10 blades.

                            Perhaps if you're not removing huge amounts of stock to profile the barstock into a blade, or grinding the primary bevels down to pre- heat-treat thicknesses, its abrasion resistance is not so noticeable. But throwing 72,000+ square inches per minute of aggressive belt at it, it's a monster.

                            X50CrMoV15. Dang, now *that* sounds proprietary. I bet it's--coincidentally, of course--expensive, too.

                            Does anyone here have knives made of humble steels, like D2? How would anyone here be able to distinguish them from the same knives done in VG-10?

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              "I didn't ask what was easy, for all things sharpening must come easy to you. I asked if it takes longer to sharpen your VG-10 blades."

                              You are not in a bad mood, are you? Anyway, if I was confusing, then I will make it clear. My experience with VG-10 is that it is eas-ier to sharpen than other steels. My definition of "ease-of-sharpening" is more than stock removal, but also including the ability for the steel to form an edge which is easy to recognize, and to able to remove the burr easily and cleanly. Let's take an extreme example: it is pretty easy to remove material from a plastic knife, but I won't say a plastic knife is easy to sharpen. Personally, I find it easier to sharpen a VG-10 knife than a standard Henckels or Wusthof knife.

                              "Perhaps if you're not removing huge amounts of stock to profile the barstock into a blade, or grinding the primary bevels down to pre- heat-treat thicknesses, its abrasion resistance is not so noticeable."

                              Perhaps, as I have never removed a huge amount of stock to form a blade like what you do as a knife maker. For an average home cook like me, we will probably only need to sharpen a finished product, and the chance for huge amount of stock removal is minimal.

                              It is my understanding that strangemd is just trying to buy an attractive Damascus pattern knife as a celebration gift for his daughter entering medical school. Reading between the lines, I am sure he knows that the Damascus pattern does not really bring in extra power aside from its look. While I understand your reason for arguing against the worthiness of these Damascus pattern knives, these knives also serve as attractive gifts items. Moreover, strangemd wrote that his daughter likes the the Damascus pattern. I don't think it is such a bad thing that daddy wants to buy his little girl a nice looking gift before she leaves home.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Hi, Chem:

                                Nope, not in a bad mood at all. Garrulous, in fact.

                                What prompted me to start questioning aloud whether these finishes are really Damascus is that that's what a lot of newcomers are being marketeered to think Damascus is. The manufacturers throw the term around a lot, puffing for blades that have very few layers, and the term keeps getting diluted to the point of very little meaning. If "Damascus" comes to mean automatically press-scabbing decorative bookends on a core that mimics a 256-, 512- and up billet, don't you think that's a little deceptive?

                                I am sorta with Bob Kramer insofar as I'm not sure that a Damascus *edge* surpasses an edge of one layer of one good steel, properly formed into a knife. Personally, I've never handled a Damascus blade that I thought was clearly superior, all things other being equal. So I'm not "arguing against the worthiness" of these postiche Damascus blades.

                                I initially keyed into this thread off the title, which frankly read to me like:"Starter Car for My Daughter--Loves Porsches". If the OP thought a kit car WAS a Bathtub Porsche, ought not we to gently correct? Personally, I think it would diminish both the knife- and carmaker's arts if we skipped over this kind of issue.

                                Let me ask you this: For the same $150 target price, can you (IYO) suggest better-performing mono blade knives than the Shun Premier 8" chef? Do any of them come with the tsuchime finish? Perhaps that is all the OP's daughter wants.

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  "If "Damascus" comes to mean automatically press-scabbing decorative bookends on a core that mimics a 256-, 512- and up billet, don't you think that's a little deceptive?"

                                  You are concern of the broad usage of the word "Damascus" will dilutes the true meaning of Damascus steel.

                                  "I am sorta with Bob Kramer insofar as I'm not sure that a Damascus *edge* surpasses an edge of one layer of one good steel, properly formed into a knife."

                                  I think most people will agree to your above statement.

                                  "If the OP thought a kit car WAS a Bathtub Porsche, ought not we to gently correct?"

                                  True, but I am under the impression that strangemd knows it is just a surface pattern, and that his daughter likes the look of it. Either way, I am very sure that the OP knows it by now if he didn't.

                                  "For the same $150 target price, can you (IYO) suggest better-performing mono blade knives than the Shun Premier 8" chef?"

                                  Yes. A Damascus pattern knife adds about at least $50 to an otherwise plain looking knife.

                                  "Do any of them come with the tsuchime finish? Perhaps that is all the OP's daughter wants."

                                  That I don't know. I guess there is this Tojiro carbon steel knife (SK-5), but the carbon steel isn't the best:

                                  http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro-...

                                  http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-TOJIRO-H...

                                  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tohawa2...

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    My 2 cents even though this was directed to chem. IMO I thought that the OP was saying the person liked the look of damascus blades and wasn't commenting on the cutting performance of such blades. And by damascus I mean the now rather common pattern/forge-weldged blades not to original wootz crucible steel that was a lost art for so long and now is rarely made into a kitchen knife.

                                    Who knows, maybe there is some 'mystique' holdover from real damascus steel as people wrongly associate it with the legendary swords hundreds of years ago in the middle east and india, but nowadays I think it is just looks that attract people to them. And I must admit that Hattori KD is one beautiful looking blade.

                                    Deven Thomas makes beautiful damascus (pattern-welded) steel, but I think he would even admit that he could make a better performing knife by just using 52100 (like Kramer's new line at SLT). In fact Devin's damascus knives are noted for some 'drag' which might not be optimal for a kitchen knife.

                                    But then again, I am sure there are a handful of woods that are really great for knife handles too, but I still see people using fossilized mammoth tooth and exotic woods that are much more fickle just because it is unique and lends the knife some character.

                                    My first good knife was a Mr. Tanaka santoku (given as a gift) and it has a beautiful 'damascus' blade. It cuts really well, is still one of my favorites, and it is probably my most beautiful knife. I think there is something to be said about emotional attachment over utility.

                                    But that's just me....and that first knife has led to all sorts of unhealthy addictions and late night rambling forum posts. Maybe I should have just bought Forschners?

                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                  "Does anyone here have knives made of humble steels, like D2?

                                  Kaleo,

                                  Here is a 'humble' D2 blade.
                                  http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sho...

                                  Of course it is not a humble knife by any measure.

                                  1. re: smkit

                                    smkit: any idea of how much $ a beauty like this would cost?

                                    Never mind saw a few on CKTG.Very reasonable for a custom of this caliber..

                                    1. re: petek

                                      Well, the one on CKTG was $700, and I know that Mark at CKTG has to mark them up, so it is usually cheaper to deal directly with the knife maker. That handle wouldn't have been cheap, but in the end it depends upon the agreement with the maker. It would be my guess it would have been around $700-800.

                                      1. re: smkit

                                        Well, that is a strange model. Usually, you want your distributors (in this case Mark) to sell at a lower price point than the manufacturer. This way, the manufacturers focus on the producing the products and do not directly compete with its distributors.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Chem;
                                          these are 1 off custom pieces,CKTG probably gets only a few of these knives in a year so he's not dealing in volume,which would make your argument more realistic.

                                        2. re: smkit

                                          Not a humble knife but any account. A nice link, smkit. Thanks.

                                      2. re: smkit

                                        Well, maybe "sort of" humble? It's PM D2 after all, rather than regular (CR) D2. About 2x the raw mat'l cost over standard D2, which a maker would then bump up accordingly. Presumably better properties for a personal blade (as opposed to an industrial blade), but even then standard D2 has its fans.

                                        1. re: smkit

                                          Hi, smkit:

                                          This is *exactly* what I'm talking about in the new thread. Humble steel, (seemingly) top-notch knife. Probably could be approximated in mass production at a low cost, but would such an "old" steel sell?

                                          Thanks for sharing that; the profile is exquisite.

                                          Aloha,
                                          Kaleo

                                      3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        chem>Wusthof (X50CrMoV15). In my experience, my VG-10 knife is pretty easy to sharpen.
                                        Have you sharpened a X50CrMoV15 , they are so soft they mirror up in minutes, at least my furi's did rc52

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          There's a lot of x50CrMoV15 out there. The Germans are using it. Global uses either that formulation or something very similar to it. It's even popular with some comparatively cheap knives you might find at a Walmart.

                                          Like most steels, heat treatment seems to determine just as much as the formulation. It seems like this formulation is most often tempered up to 56-58 hrc, but I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions. In my experience, the extra vanadium makes a steel pretty abrasion-resistant, which in turn leads to slow sharpening. But if it's tempered soft enough, then it should grind pretty quickly regardless of its vanadium content.

                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                            Dave,

                                            I have a Wusthof Ikon paring knife. Like most Wusthof knives, it is a X50CrMoV15 blade hardened to about 57-58 HRC. They are pretty soft to sharpen and some may even call it gummy. It glided on my waterstone so smoothly that I often wonder if it is properly sharpened like my other knives. I find it a bit more challenging to sharpen it. My Wusthof paring knife also does not seem to form an easily recognizable burr.

                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                    At this point, I think it's safe to assume when someone says they want a damascus knife that they're talking about a laminated blade with damascus cladding. Anyone who wants a true damascus blade will probably specify.

                                    "That there is a Damascus *look* to the blade seems beside the point, unless the point is the look."
                                    ________
                                    The look is the biggest draw, Some people do claim that damascus clad knives like the one I listed release food better than other knives - I haven't used one enough to say for sure, though I've played with em enough to say that if there is any benefit, it's subtle and a good deal less important than the knife's geometry.

                                    "On a different note, have you noticed that VG-10 takes longer to sharpen?"
                                    _______
                                    I actually find it one of the easier of the hard stainless steals to sharpen. That's the rub though - it's still hard (usually), and it's still stainless. Both factors tend to make sharpening take longer. Also some steels seem to react better on specific abrasives for reasons I don't quite understand. Could be in part a matter of the abrasives you're using. I haven't taken a VG 10 blade to a belt sander in quite a while.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      Hi, cowboy:

                                      Re: "release the food better..." This effect isn't a function of Damascus or lamination, but a function of the faux hammering or sculpted surface on the primary bevels. Educate me: Are these surfaces (I always forget the Japanese word for this) hammer-forged into the steel, or drop-forged, laser or CNC machined? At the $150 asking price for the average knife Chem listed, I think I know the answer.

                                      One dumb question (mine) begets another. Is there any *functional* reason why a kitchen knife (as opposed to blades that cleave or are subjected to serious torsional work) should be laminated as opposed to having a mono construction and differential temper?

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        We don't disagree much in terms of food release. I'm firmly in the camp that edge geometry is the big factor. But you've held one of these damascus clad knives, right? They're textured. It's more or less the same argument as grantons - that an uneven surface further up the knife makes food stick a little less. Which in turn can make a knife feel - maybe - a little more effortless when cutting potatoes. Or squash. You get the idea. I always hear that it 'breaks the surface tension' but that strikes me as probably a very imprecise description. Unfortunately, I can't improve on it much.

                                        As to how the cladding is attached - I'm sure it depends on the damascus clad knife in question. These knives come from the Kasumi tradition, but few (maybe none) are actually produced in the traditional manner. The ones we're discussing on this thread - I'm not positive, but I can tell you they aren't hammered or drop forged. The layers are made very thin and then combined 'with heat and pressure' according to Shun. That translates to what? CNC machined? Sounds about right to me. I assume other makers like Kanetsune use a similar process.

                                        The big question - why bother with a laminated knife? It seems you understand the basic reasons - a softer, more flexible outer layer makes the knife less fragile but still capable of taking an edge that will last; in the case of a carbon steel core, it can provide corrosion resistance over most of the knife's surface while still offering a carbon steel edge - one benefit some of these knives can have over a mono construction. But the big reason (and I'm going to have to speculate since I know a lot more using and sharpening knives than about producing them industrially) - I suspect you can mass produce a laminated knife a lot more cheaply than you can a mono construction with a differential temper. The latter process involves no small amount of skill. The former process can be largely automatized. Or at least it's probably easier to automatize. And a laminated knife can still be an excellent blade - it's nothing to sniff at.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          You guys are a riot. Asking a knife question here is like throwing a rock in the water and seeing how far and long the ripples proceed.
                                          I certainly understand that my use of the term "Damascus" is in its ornamental sense. That's what she wants. I fenced saber in college and have occasionally held true Damascus blades, but I think that's going a bit far for a "starter" knife.
                                          I convinced her to come to Korin with me this weekend, so she'll have a chance to hold some of the knives you folks mentioned. Thanks!

                                          1. re: strangemd

                                            Going to Korin is a great idea.I like being able to handle the knives before I make a decision.Plus,you can always treat yourself to a little something.
                                            Have fun!

                                            1. re: strangemd

                                              "You guys are a riot."

                                              Yeah, we can be a bit crazy here

                                              "I certainly understand that my use of the term "Damascus" is in its ornamental sense. "

                                              As long as you know what you are getting at, I think it is fine. I think Kaleo is just concern that you are being mislead into buying a false Damascus knife

                                              "I fenced saber in college and have occasionally held true Damascus blades, but I think that's going a bit far for a "starter" knife."

                                              So it is ok for you to use a true Damascus blade to fence, but it is not ok for her to have a real Damascus knife to cook? :)

                                              "I convinced her to come to Korin with me this weekend, so she'll have a chance to hold some of the knives you folks mentioned."

                                              Great. Plus, I am sure there are tons of stuffs to do in that area. It looks like there are the suggested Togiharu Gyuto and the Itttosai Gyuto from the Korin website, and hopefully more from the real store. According to the spec, Togiharu is a softer knife than the Ittosai (58 HRC vs 63 HRC). I am slightly surprised that the Ittosai is so hard at 63 HRC....

                                              http://korin.com/Togiharu-Hammered-Da...

                                              http://korin.com/HOT-GY?sc=22&cat...

                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                              A point of clairification, CNC is "computer numerical control" and is a machining process not a process where by one could laminate thin layers with heat and pressure. The blades may be cut to shape with a CNC machine. All this means is that the milling machine that is doing the work is operating from a computer and not an individual turning cranks during the machining process.

                                              Laminating thin layers with heat and pressure, sounds to me like some sort of forging process. At this price point, probably not hand forged, but some type of machine (automated) forging.

                                              1. re: mikie

                                                Thanks for the clarification Mikie. As I said above, I know very little about industrial manufacturing processes. I just know enough about forging to say that these blades were probably not forged with a hammer.

                                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                                Hi, cowboy:

                                                Industrial presses can join up "all" these layers. Heck, they may now be able to just roll out continuous lengths of prelaminated sheets/coils.

                                                I think we are talking about two different textures vis-a-vis food release. I was focusing on the grosser hammered texture (tsuchime?), and I think you've been talking about the finer, usually raggedy texture that's associated with Damascus. I think the former is done industrially by drop forging, laser or CNC machining. And the latter I believe is done by acid etching, but someone may have figured out how to do it with bead blasting. The hammered texture might conceivably release food better; I'm cynical about the etched texture doing much.

                                                Depending on what the alternating layers are (but commonly nickel), the acid treatment and the final poilishing, the "Damascus" texture can be pronounced or subtle. In fact, it can be invisible. I served jury duty once with a guy who does fancy true Damascus billets. He gave me a piece of 1,024-layer out of nickel and 1095 (which combo gives a high contrast), trued up and Blanchard-ground, that looks like a plain chunk of barstock. I was underwhelmed until I found out what it really was--a lot of Borax and Little Giant went into that chunk of Damascus.

                                                I'm not disparaging laminated blades at all. What works, works.

                                                And I'm not intending to romanticize Damascus here at all, either. FWIW, I don't think Damascus takes wootz and crucibles, and lost formulae and gravity-severed silk scarves. I just think cladding a core for cosmetic reasons is a little disingenuous. Who knows, maybe there is some company out there that has already managed to make a cheap mono blade look just like Damascus that goes for $200/inch. I'd just cringe if that's what such an unscrupulous person called it. Then again, I haven't watched The Knife Channel for awhile!

                                                As for differential tempering, I'm not so sure. There are many variables. Since this thread is mostly about the visuality of things, the manufacturers may not be able to attain a high-contrast temper line with the alloys in which they invest their magical powers. All I know is that oil- and brine-hardening steels are pretty easy to differentially temper and a little acid wash brings out a good line.

                                                Thanks for the conversatin'

                                                Kaleo

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  " I was focusing on the grosser hammered texture (tsuchime?), and I think you've been talking about the finer, usually raggedy texture that's associated with Damascus. I think the former is done industrially by drop forging, laser or CNC machining. And the latter I believe is done by acid etching, but someone may have figured out how to do it with bead blasting."
                                                  _____
                                                  Shun claims they use bead blasting to finish their damascus effect. They actually do many layers of steel, but I don't know whether they add one layer of folded steel to each side (obviously it doesn't need to be worked in the same way as pattern damascus because the damascus pattern doesn't have to have properties that are conducive to edge taking and edge folding); or whether they just add multiple very thin layers and then finish the effect with bead blasting. It seems they only use one type of steel for the cladding, not two or more folded together. I assume that other damascus clad knives like the ones recommended in this thread are made using the same or a similar process.

                                                  Just offhand, I think wootz damascus is a different type of beast than any of the types we're talking about - there, the pattern came not from folding the steel but from reputedly beneficial impurities in the steel. If you want to buy a wootz damascus blade, your best bet is to offer a museum a small fortune (or a large one).

                                                  Out of curiosity, have you taken a look at Devin Thomas' knives. His damascus patterns are from real folded steel and are impressively elaborate and high-contrast. One of those $XXX/inch damascus guys.
                                                  http://www.devinthomas.com/photoGalle...

                                                  Again, I'm not claiming any major functional benefit from the damascus. But they sure are purty.

                                                  Aloha Kaleo

                                                  - StangeMD, I hope you will read this discussion bemusedly rather than with annoyance. Sometimes I just have to nerd it up.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    Cowboy,

                                                    Yeah, that wootz is something different, but when people use the term "real damascus," wootz is technically what is referred to. I have a real wootz blade made by Al Pendray, who with John Verhoeven is credited with rediscovering how real damascus steel was made. Now there are several makers who do traditional wootz and make knives out of it. Ric Furrer out of WI has a lot of good info on his site about the process and even cut into an old wootz sword to examine it and test hardness. Ouch.

                                                    http://doorcountyforgeworks.com/Welco...

                                                    It is just that there are so many types of damascus now that the term gets thrown around a bit. Different steels, number of layers etc. and there is that Swedish damasteel process too that is sort of technical and confusing. And then on the lower end some knives are just laser etched damascus looking knives.

                                                    But with that said, the Devin folded stuff is gorgeous. I also have a nice Pierre one coming in the mail one of these days.

                                                    1. re: smkit

                                                      You're lucky to have that Pierre blade coming in. I hope you find time to review a few of these glorious knives you've been getting.

                                                      Re: laser etching - would that be the kind of 'damascus' pattern on, say, one of the Calphalon katana knives or the Ikea blades? They seem to be using a different effect than the midpriced Shuns and Hattoris and Kanetsunes and such.

                                                      "when people use the term "real damascus," wootz is technically what is referred to."
                                                      _________
                                                      Frankly, IME most people use the term 'real damascus' without necessarily knowing the difference between wootz damascus, folded damascus, and damascus cladding. That's changing, But I suspect there's probably still more people who think of folded damascus as 'real damascus,' even though that's not historically accurate. I suspect that much of Bob Kramer's fanbase applies. I guess as long as you don't wind up paying folded damascus prices for a clad knife or wootz prices for a folded damascus blade, it's not a huge issue.

                                                      I knew that the formula for wootz had been more or less rediscovered, but I didn't know people were currently making new blades from it, so thanks for the link. I'm sure they're not cheap, but how do they compare to a pattern damascus blade?

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        You know I am not sure which knife brands laser etch nowadays. I used to think Shun did, but that isn't the case as it is folded apparently.

                                                        And you are correct, cowboy, that I didn't mean to say most people think damascus = wootz damascus. IMO almost none do, but for me 'real damascus' is wootz. Modern damascus, on the other hand, is the pattern/forge welded steel where the knifemaker welds together different steels and manipulates them into those beautiful waves and patterns.

                                                        Wootz patterns are much more stubtle as it is one billet of steel made in a crucible and then formed into a knife.

                                                        I attached some pictures below.

                                                        Modern knifemakers get to chose their steels and often do so to maximize contrast and bring out patterns. So you will see a lot of them use nickel in the laminate layers because it contrasts nicely against the core steel once it is chemically etched to bring out the layers.

                                                        As for wootz being good for kitchen knives, it isn't the best. Though I do use mine to slice up large roasts. It is a hunter knife and better suited to that task.

                                                        Btw, I thought this article i the New Yorker about Kramer was interesting. It talks about his beginnings and some of the Pendray influence, but better yet discuses damascus steel about mid way through.

                                                        http://kramerknives.com/nyer-art.htm

                                                         
                                                      2. re: smkit

                                                        I thought the real Damascus is a lost art anyway. Yes, I think today most people refer Wootz blade as the real one.

                                                      3. re: cowboyardee

                                                        "- StangeMD, I hope you will read this discussion bemusedly rather than with annoyance. Sometimes I just have to nerd it up."

                                                        Not annoyed at all. I find the discussion quite interesting. Any knife topic on this forum tends to lead to a bit of free association and well-informed babble. And my original question was dealt with quite well. I will admit I really liked the Shiki Damascus Twinkle Gyoto that Chemicalkinetics linked.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          Hi, cowboy:

                                                          I confess I was keying off the knives that Chem suggested and hadn't looked at the Shun.

                                                          What a strange knife. Judging only from the photos, there really isn't any Damscus *look* there. There's the x-tremely unsubtle hammered finish on the flats, and what appears to be a fake temper line back a bit from the edge. Is THAT the Damascus? Or are they subtly concealing many layers in giving it that finish? Unless I'm missing something, this is a straightforward 3-layer knife that's been decoratively worked, s'all. What's next, bead-blasting copper ferrules and calling them mokume?

                                                          Yes, I've seen Devin's work--quite beautiful. I'm not sure it's his work, but my favorite over-the-top mosaic Damascus pattern was the waving American flag with all 50 stars, sliced, diced and repeated all along the billet. Just wait, that caliber of smiths will eventually find a way to do holograms in steel.

                                                          Cheers,
                                                          Kaleo

                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                            Kaleo, this is no hologram, but there is some pretty interesting glassy damascus in this photo album. It is pretty amazing stuff, though I cant say it is my cup of tea for a knife.

                                                            Go to picture 78.

                                                            http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?se...

                                                            1. re: smkit

                                                              Hi, smkit:

                                                              Thanks. There are two photos there that have increased my interest in Japanese knives.

                                                              Cheers,
                                                              Kaleo

                                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                Btw, that is JBroida's facebook photoset. He was at the gathering where all this juicy knife stuff was happening.

                                                            2. re: kaleokahu

                                                              Man, I can tell you really dislike Shun knife, but think about it in a different way. A typical German Chef knife is about the same price range, so you aren't really pay a lot more for that decoration.

                                                              P.S.: I actually really bought that action figure in my avatar icon. The Darth Revan toy. Is it really useful beside decoration? Not really, but it is kinda of inexpensive and it is cool to look at when I am tired of works.

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                Hi, Chem:

                                                                No, I don't dislike the Shun knife. And I actually like the tsuchime finish, I'm just not sure it has a function. This Shun just doesn't fit within my understanding of Damascus steel, is all.

                                                                Cheers to you and Darth Revan,
                                                                Kaleo

                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                  "I'm just not sure it has a function"

                                                                  I seriously doubt it is functional. Come to think of it, there are many things about knives which you may also considered "Not Functional". Here, please click on the Chefknivestogo website on CCK knife.

                                                                  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckclea...

                                                                  The original CCK 1303 knife is sold for $40. The same knife with a modified handle is $100. What about Damascus spoon? What function does a damascus spoon serves?

                                                                  http://www.devinthomas.com/spoons.cfm

                                                                  "Shun just doesn't fit within my understanding of Damascus steel, is all."

                                                                  Yeah, but even the so called real (more real Damascus) are not really more functional.

                                                                  "Cheers to you and Darth Revan"

                                                                  I am Darth Revan.

                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    Hey, don't knock the spoons. It's just like a Gray Kunz sauce spoon but way cooler (and more $$). Function it has; cost effectiveness it doesn't.

                                                                    http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen...

                                                                    1. re: smkit

                                                                      :) Don't get me wrong. That Devin Damascus spoon is a very beautiful spoon: great presentation and great art. However, since Kaleo and I were talking about functionality, I cannot see how the pattern of Damascus spoon makes it more functional as a dinning/kitchen tool. I believe Kaleo was questioning the functional purpose of the Damascus process of a kitchen knife. I suppose he is correct in his position. I cannot honesty say a Damascus knife works better as a cutting tool, and I don't think many can or will. The only thing I wanted to say is that kitchen knives are far from the only kitchen tools which have non-core-function feature. Spoons as well.

                                                                      I am sure Devin can make exactly the same spoon without the Damascus process, don't you think? In that case, what would a Damascus spoon different from a non-Damascus spoon. I am talking about the same material, same dimension...etc.

                                                                      If we are simply looking at the spoon as a tool, I cannot see the Damascus pattern improves its scooping ability. Again, I am not knocking it off. I am just trying to say that there are plenty kitchen tools which combine functionality and beauty.

                                                                      While at it, why do we need mirror polished on the exterior surface of a pan? We don't need it at all. In fact, these mirror polished surface never last long.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        Chem, I was just joking actually. With that said THE Devin spoon from CKTG showed up at my house once for a party. It is huge btw and can scoop out an avocado in one swoop.

                                                                        I am sure it isn't more functional by being damascus, but I also believe that when the beauty and feel of an object is such that a person uses it more, then it becomes more functional by default. Just as a beautiful heavy end-grain cutting board can be useful or useless -- depending upon if it is actually used or not.

                                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      Hi, Chem:

                                                                      Where to start? The tsuchime finish and the "Damascus" (and they are two separate things) on the Shun are, IMO, designed at least in part to mimic the appearance of a hand-forged knife. Reasonable nerds can differ over whether Damascus edges really offer better performance than monocore blades. but the *purpose* of putting large numbers of layers at the edge and cutting bevels is not really an open debate. Before knife fashion trends started trumping function (I lay this at the feet of Global), the Damascus aesthetic was *incidental*, albeit a very good indicator of overall quality. A buyer could justify shelling out more for a Damascus blade because if the maker (an actual human being) spent an entire workweek getting the steel right, chances are she'd get the rest of it right by sweating all the details.

                                                                      Now the appearance is nearly everything, and unwitting buyers can easily be duped (more accurately, mis-educated). You yourself effectively said earlier this $150 knife is really a $50 knife. We now live in a knife world of pricepoints and marketshare, and some MBA must have decided they'd rather deceive by calling some of this stuff Damascus.

                                                                      The functionality of a handle or spoon is what it is. A fancier wood or Damascus steel isn't going to serve any function per se. Those are cases of adding beauty to elemental function. Putting a really nice paint job on a good car. Sticking postiche Damascus on the sides (*way* up the sides) of a laminated knife is to me more like mounting up a kit body on a VW and calling it a Bathtub Porsche.

                                                                      I know you are figuratively him, but if someone was peddling knockoffs off your Star Wars 30th Anniversary Wave 5 Toyfare Fan Choice Darth Revan Action Figure, you wouldn't want them calling them that, would you, Dark One?

                                                                      Aloha,
                                                                      Kaleo

                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                        In the world of hunter, folder and neck knives they have been adding non-functional bling for some time and prices are out of this world. I'd rather have some (kit car) bling added to a kitchen knife that is used daily. But that is just me.

                                                                        1. re: smkit

                                                                          Hi, smkit:

                                                                          LOL, you're right to call it bling. Bejewelled William Henry linerlocks and all that.

                                                                          If you're a hunter, you need my custom Kramer. The only bling is Bob's pinstock.

                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                            Was that back when Bob wasn't making money -- just a living? Kidding aside, I love the classic look on his new SLT carbon line. Just one three-circled pin in the middle.

                                                                        2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                          kaleokahu

                                                                          "Before knife fashion trends started trumping function (I lay this at the feet of Global)"

                                                                          Global?! Not sure if Global really looks that good.

                                                                          "A buyer could justify shelling out more for a Damascus blade ...chances are she'd get the rest of it right by sweating all the details."

                                                                          A good point.

                                                                          "You yourself effectively said earlier this $150 knife is really a $50 knife."

                                                                          I think I meant to say it is $50 in premium, that is you can get a equivalent knife for $100 (subtract $50 from $150). That is the details. Your main point stands. Still think of it as some ornaments.

                                                                          "Sticking postiche Damascus on the sides (*way* up the sides) of a laminated knife is to me more like mounting up a kit body on a VW and calling it a Bathtub Porsche."

                                                                          So what you are saying, correct me, is that a nice handle or a nice (real) Damascus improves beauty, whereas Damascus pattern by etching or by laser cutting is just ugly. Am I correct? I think I agree with you 50-60%. I actually think many of these so called Damascus patterns do not look nice to me, but let's face it, many do like these patterns. Isn't that enough? It seems to me that you have some objections over these high-throughout Damascus pattern knives, but I have not able to pinpoint your displeasure. At first, I thought you dislike it because it adds no real function and mislead people otherwise, but now it seems you dislike it because you believe it is infringing the higher quality hand forge (real) Damascus definition and classification.

                                                                          So which one is more annoying/unacceptable to you: (a) the fact that people are willing to spend an additional $50-100 for some patterns on the side of a knife which serves no cutting purpose? or (b) the fact that these printing press-like Damascus pattern water down/diluting the higher quality hand made Damascus knives?

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            Hi, Chem:

                                                                            "So what you are saying, correct me, is that a nice handle or a nice (real) Damascus improves beauty, whereas Damascus pattern by etching or by laser cutting is just ugly. Am I correct?"

                                                                            No. I'm not saying fake Damascus is ugly. It's just fake. I view a better-grade wood scaleset as an honest aesthetic improvement. The same with Devin's spoons.

                                                                            "which one is more annoying/unacceptable to you: (a) the fact that people are willing to spend an additional $50-100 for some patterns on the side of a knife which serves no cutting purpose? or (b) the fact that these printing press-like Damascus pattern water down/diluting the higher quality hand made Damascus knives?"

                                                                            (a) Doesn't annoy met at all, but I think it's unfortunate if the extra $50 could have been better spent on a better knife. (b) Bothers me a little, because it cheapens the term 'Damascus' and the effort required to make it. Both (a) and (b) are not unacceptable.

                                                                            Hope that helps,
                                                                            Kaleo

                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                              "No. I'm not saying fake Damascus is ugly. It's just fake."

                                                                              Man, many things are fake. Why concern of this particular one ?

                                                                              Tofurky is fake. Artificial sweeteners are fake. Laminated wood patterns on wood furniture are fake. Dinosaur bone replica in museum - fake. Women with makes-up fake....

                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                "... most of the people in the bar (of the restaurant where you eat or work) are fake ..."

                                                                                (hey, it's food related!)

                                                                          2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                            "Before knife fashion trends started trumping function (I lay this at the feet of Global), the Damascus aesthetic was *incidental*, albeit a very good indicator of overall quality. A buyer could justify shelling out more for a Damascus blade...

                                                                            Now the appearance is nearly everything, and unwitting buyers can easily be duped (more accurately, mis-educated)."
                                                                            ___________
                                                                            The interesting thing about this conversation: you're right about damascus pattern of the cladding - it is cosmetic rather than functional; it is deliberate rather than incidental; it is a bit misleading; it does raise the cost of the knife for reasons that have nothing to do with function or quality.

                                                                            But you're wrong (IMO) about what it represents. These knives aren't laminated for the sake of applying damascus cladding - rather faux damascus cladding is sometimes applied as a way to make a laminated knife especially attractive. The fact that they have cladding is functional. The choice to make the cladding resemble damascus on some knives - aesthetic. And these laminated knives by and large represent an improvement to the midprice mass-produced knife market. It's kinda hard to buy the argument that this trend is one wherein appearance is nearly everything when this type of knife also solidly outperforms its competitors (though not because of the damascus cladding) and what had been on the mid-priced market.

                                                                            Like Chem pointed out, it tends to be about a $50 upgrade from a plain functional laminated Japanese knife to a very similar one with damascus cladding. That's not money that I personally am interested in paying - none of my knives have damascus cladding - but I wouldn't stop anyone else from doing so. Generally, they're buying a good product with their money (you'll see me bitching about Shuns in other threads, of course), and if that extra $50 makes their favorite tool in the kitchen more attractive to em, it's not even really a bad deal.

                                                                            Of course, your commentary has been useful to anyone imagining that these (mass produced) knives have been painstakingly handcrafted using ancient techniques. But hopefully that's not too many people.

                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                              Hi, cowboy:

                                                                              "These knives aren't laminated for the sake of applying damascus cladding - rather faux damascus cladding is sometimes applied as a way to make a laminated knife especially attractive. The fact that they have cladding is functional..."

                                                                              Well, I get the *theory* as to the functionality of the cladding, I just don't buy the theory lock stock and barrel. In a blade that *needs* edge support/resilience, if the core and cladding thicknesses and the edge geometries are right, this makes sense as a substitute for differential tempering. But the history of these techniques suggests that the blades in need of lamination and/or differential tempering were originally swords, other weapons, and wilderness tools that would prove fatal to their owners if they shattered (or failed to maintain a cutting edge). That live-or-die standard still can be seen in the flexion testing required of ABS Masters candidates' 15-inch Bowies.

                                                                              Most kitchen knives don't have to live up to such a standard. Some might.

                                                                              I submit that the standards now for kitchen knives (and really the only reason for lamination) are edge retention and cost. The focus on high RC readings--which I consider a bit silly--means that mono blades homogenously treated to those hardnesses would be problematically brittle.

                                                                              I therefore view lamination in kitchen knives to be largely a mitigation measure akin to cladding cookware.

                                                                              I'm also puzzled by the seeming exceeding thickness of the central core of many of these knives. They seem as thick as the layers one would expect to see on impact weapons or tools. Cutting thin primary bevels on such a "meaty" sandwich inexorably leads, IMO, to a blade where the edge is really only supported by the same brittle steel that called for supporting initially, i.e.,
                                                                              not supported much at all. The Shun in question here seems to be a good example of this, the Norwegian ""runt" laminates used in Pukko and filet knives seems to me a more functional counterexample.

                                                                              I did not mean to suggest that cladding is merely putting lipstick on a pig. I see that I did a poor job of distinguishing the cladding from the finish. Sometimes they are the same and sometimes not, depending on the cladding.

                                                                              Anyway, today I visited a smith who showed me a Santoku he's making. It's forged out of lowly 1095, edge probably RCs at 59, convex ground, differentially tempered, balanced, beautiful handle, and he's leaving the forge scale on the flats for that "primitive" look. Beautiful knife, and a bargain at $300, too. It might need to be sharpened twice a year instead of once. Should I go for that one or a laminated, bead-blasted factory blade?

                                                                              Cheers,
                                                                              Kaleo

                                                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                ". . . It might need to be sharpened twice a year instead of once . . . "

                                                                                The people this far down in this thread do not sharpen their knives once a year, from all the posts I've read, I'm guessing more like once a week.

                                                                                I get your point, or at least I think I do. The finish on the knife makes it look like something it's not and the something it is, isn't really adding to the functionality of the knife. Which I believe goes back to an earlier point, that is really all about the look and not the function. Kind of like hub caps ;)

                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                  I'm sure you've seen me write before about the upsides of hard steels in kitchen knives. If for some reason you haven't, let me know and I'll rattle em off again. I'll admit they're not the only way to make a good knife. But if you don't buy into their upsides, then you're also probably not going to buy into the upsides of laminated knives either.

                                                                                  "I'm also puzzled by the seeming exceeding thickness of the central core of many of these knives."
                                                                                  _________
                                                                                  I'm not a knifemaker so I don't know exactly why the core layer is the thickness it is rather than thinner (or thicker). I do know that the thick-ish core gives sharpeners some options in terms of reprofiling the blades to their personal preferences without running out of core steel. Also, many of these knives are so thin at their edges that if your bevel consists of a lot of the cladding, there's a serious problem. I suspect that the softer cladding is not to protect the edge from chipping with impact during normal use but rather to protect the whole knife from snapping in two when dropped or when some clod uses it to open a can. Supporting the edge is beside the point.

                                                                                  "Anyway, today I visited a smith who showed me a Santoku he's making. It's forged out of lowly 1095, edge probably RCs at 59, convex ground, differentially tempered, balanced, beautiful handle, and he's leaving the forge scale on the flats for that "primitive" look. Beautiful knife, and a bargain at $300, too. It might need to be sharpened twice a year instead of once. Should I go for that one or a laminated, bead-blasted factory blade?"
                                                                                  ________
                                                                                  She sounds lovely. And a good price for a handmade blade. But whether you should go for that knife or a laminated santoku is also a question of if you're looking to spend $300 or ~$100.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    Hi, cowboy:

                                                                                    I think I remember most of the reasons you favor harder steels. I just don't see much difference, in a well-maintained knife, between RC 58 and 62. As mikie has guesstimated, knife people, here especially, tend to sharpen relatively frequently anyway, and develop a decreasing tolerance for edges that aren't near tip-top.

                                                                                    I'm saying that the high RC kitchen edges that arguably need supporting with lamination are put there so they'll stay sharper longer (which I acknowledge that they do, somewhat). But if you're sharpening fortnightly *anyway*, unless you're working in a meat or fish market or cutting 100s of sushi servings a night, your 58 RC edges are generally going to be`and stay very good--and support themselves. To me, the very hard steels, like ceramics, make more sense for cooks who don't or rarely sharpen; and once you commit to going very hard, you need to mitigate the downsides.

                                                                                    I don't know the whys and wherefores of the core thicknesses, either. But I know from the Norwegian runt steel I've fooled with that the hard cores in that barstock are quite thin (maybe .02), and therefore the softer cladding supports out close to the very edge when the bevels are ground or forged. The Shun Elite pictured looks to me like they used a very thick core, and then treated the core/cladding margins to look like a temper line--'way up the blade.

                                                                                    You're an accomplished knife person, so pardon my ignorance in asking this, but how can one run out of core steel re-profiling the blade if the core runs dead-center down the vertical axis of the blade? Or are the knives we're talking about asymmetrical, so that re-profiling pushes the core off the resulting center? If this is the case, the industry is further along with outsmarting itself than I feared.

                                                                                    It would be interesting to try an apple-to-apple (as much as is possible) performance test between a $300 handmade "simple steel" mono knife and one of a similarly-priced laminated knife. This is the only site I visit that deals with these issues, so perhaps there is exhaustive treatment of it elsewhere.

                                                                                    Aloha,
                                                                                    Kaleo

                                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                      In some cases, high HrC may be the difference between sharpening fortnightly and sharpening every other day. If you work a line, it may be the difference between a knife that can make it through a few shifts and a knife that doesn't perform the way you want it to partway through your shift. Yeah, softer knives can be steeled. But that is only good for maintaining knives up to a certain standard of sharpness - that's the main reason I prefer harder steels for my knives, to a point.

                                                                                      Also, for some knives, high HRC allows a knife to take a very acute edge but still be practical for use on a cutting board - softer steel would fold immediately.

                                                                                      "how can one run out of core steel re-profiling the blade if the core runs dead-center down the vertical axis of the blade? Or are the knives we're talking about asymmetrical, so that re-profiling pushes the core off the resulting center?"
                                                                                      __________
                                                                                      To some small extent, these knives actually are ground and forged asymmetrically (not just the edge) - which has some really interesting advantages and disadvantages for kitchen knives - but that's not what I was talking about. I'm talking about sharpening to an asymmetrical edge, or even something like what Dave5440 did, sharpening all the way to a single bevel. These knives, like all good knives, taper from their spine to their edges. Because of this taper, the cladding, as you noticed, doesn't extend down to the bevels - it tends to end anywhere from 1/4" to 1" from the edge. That is what allows you to sharpen asymmetrically without moving the edge all the way into the cladding. If you thin behind the edge properly over time, you'll always keep the edge in the core steel despite extreme asymmetry of the edge itself.

                                                                                      "It would be interesting to try an apple-to-apple (as much as is possible) performance test between a $300 handmade "simple steel" mono knife and one of a similarly-priced laminated knife."
                                                                                      _______
                                                                                      Obviously, there are a lot of ways to measure performance in a knife - ease of cutting, edge retention, sharpenability, efficiency in use, sturdiness, etc. That said, my experience has been that you really get to diminishing returns in terms of knife performance (however you define it) around the $200-$250 mark for 8-9 inch chef knives/gyutos. Above that price, knives get prettier, more specialized, more unique. Sometimes you can even find a steel you can't get in sub $250 knives. But just in terms of use, these fairly affordable Japanese knives seem to offer performance roughly on par with very expensive custom knives. Of course, my experience with custom knives is limited.

                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                        kaleo,

                                                                                        To reinterate two points. First, many people like to custom their bevel angle and bevel center, so it is very possible that the person run sideway from the core steel. Second, the whole cladding business has been the Japanese knife tradition for single bevel knives. I think that is where the philosophy and technique come from:

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

                                                                                        The core steel has always been thick as it has been always been so -- for the single bevel traditional knives. Cladded knives (better known as kasumi or awase knives) are actually considered the more affordable and lower grade knives for traditional single bevel knives. The mono-steel construction (what you spoke of) does exist in Japan traditional knife making, but those knives are much more expensive. A typical awase (cladded) yanagiba is between $150-400, I think (give or take). A honyaki yanagiba is probably about $800-2000 a knife. So what you said is not untrue -- that is a great mono-metal knife is considered better. However, it is not cheaper and most people do not have the skill to take care of one. So lack of (1) financial ability and/or the (b) sharpening skill are the reason why most Japanese knives you see are cladded versions.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          Hi, Chem:

                                                                                          I've been thinking of this reply all weekend.

                                                                                          Thanks to you and cowboy, I now (sort of) get the appeal of an asymmetrical bevel and edge setup, and why that *might* make a thicker core advantageous. But thi sjust raises more questions.

                                                                                          If the edge is anywhere from 1/4 to 1" from the cladding (which it would be if the core was centered and the bevels were cut symmetrically), there isn't any real edge support going on. However chip-prone the edge steel is, it's about the same as it would be with a mono knife that was hardened all the way through, file brittle.

                                                                                          Next, at the pricepoint of these clad knives, how realistic is it to expect more than a few consumers, like dave5440, to completely convert and reprofile one of these knives to a chisel edge? Is the Shun the OP was considering even capable of being reground without "running out" of the hard stuff?

                                                                                          If the whole idea of cladding is to allow/promote asymmetrical regrinding, are the laminated blades offered with different L/R cladding thickness? Why, for example would not a knife company sell knives with cladding on only the *one* flat side of chisel-ground edges, so that one would *never* "run out"?

                                                                                          This takes me back to my earliest knifemaking days, this search for the "best" or the "hardest" or the "finest grain structure" steels. Someone claims to come up with something better (either "new" or a throwback), writes about it, and everyone has to have it, and if you *don't* have it, you're making (or buying) substandard blades. Talk about moral judgments! VG10 is a great example of this. The truth that arrives if you do this long enough is that theare are many, many good toolsteels not only suitable for knives, but that make excellent mono knives.

                                                                                          I'm going to start a thread on this, based in part on this issue and in part on my weekend project. Probably belongs in a new thread anyway...

                                                                                          Hope strangemd's daughter enjoys her new knife. A very nice apartment warming gift!

                                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                            kaleo,

                                                                                            No, I didn't mean the core steel is made thick just for the purpose of custom reprofiling like Dave5440. What I said is that this has its root from the traditional Japanese awase knives.

                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                              A late reply:

                                                                                              "If the edge is anywhere from 1/4 to 1" from the cladding... there isn't any real edge support going on."
                                                                                              _______
                                                                                              I believe you're correct. These knives are often a little chippy at the edges. The rationale is that kitchen knives that aren't used like meat cleavers only have to be so tough. Like I said in my post above, I believe that the cladding is there for other reasons than edge support. I must speculate a bit, but I believe these reasons to be one or more of the following:
                                                                                              - To provide resistance against the entire knife snapping in half when dropped or abused
                                                                                              - For the sake of 'good looks' in some of the faux damascus clad knives
                                                                                              - To provide some stain resistance in the case of a knife with a carbon steel core
                                                                                              - It may actually be cheaper to clad with a soft stainless steel than to just buy bigger hunks of the core steel
                                                                                              - It's also probably cheaper and easier to clad a mass-produced knife with soft steel than it is to temper them differentially.
                                                                                              - It may also be easier to grind and polish the cladding

                                                                                              "Next, at the pricepoint of these clad knives, how realistic is it to expect more than a few consumers, like dave5440, to completely convert and reprofile one of these knives to a chisel edge? "
                                                                                              ______
                                                                                              It's more common among knife nerds, professional cooks, and I believe also among Japanese users. Keep in mind that the biggest market for Japanese laminated knives is probably Japan.

                                                                                              "Is the Shun the OP was considering even capable of being reground without "running out" of the hard stuff?"
                                                                                              ________
                                                                                              Yep.

                                                                                              "If the whole idea of cladding is to allow/promote asymmetrical regrinding, are the laminated blades offered with different L/R cladding thickness? Why, for example would not a knife company sell knives with cladding on only the *one* flat side of chisel-ground edges, so that one would *never* "run out"?"
                                                                                              ________
                                                                                              I don't believe that's the whole idea so much as it is one of the reasons the core steel is proportionally as thick as it is. But I believe that most of the knives with an asymmetrical grind actually do have slightly thicker cladding on one side than the other. To my knowledge, there is nothing keeping a maker from cladding one side only. But keep in mind that for knives that aren't single beveled, the overall asymmetrical grind is a subtle thing - so subtle many users don't realize their knives are asymmetrical. Grinding a double beveled knife all the way to a single bevel as Dave5440 did is sort of an extreme example - usually the point of an asymmetrical grind is to allow for a natural flow toward a slightly asymmetrical edge grind and also to improve the knife's food release while still keeping the blade and edge thin and precise.

                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                cowboy,

                                                                                                "- To provide resistance against the entire knife snapping in half when dropped or abused"

                                                                                                Agree. It also prevents the crack or chip going in too deep.

                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                    Cowboy,

                                                                                                    Now that you have the knife you are happy with. Are you planning to ever get a Honyaki gyuto or something along that line?

                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      No immediate plans. Never is a long time though. There are a lot of non--honyaki (read: more affordable) knives still to explore.

                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                        "There are a lot of non--honyaki (read: more affordable) knives still to explore."

                                                                                                        For me, maybe. For you, I would think that you pretty much have experienced much of what an awase (kasumi) knife has to offer. My rough estimate is that 3 good awase knife should give you a decent honyaki knife. So you just have to skip your next two awase knives.

                                                                                                        Do you have any knife next in your list? I know you don't really because you are very happy with your last Saki gyuto, but maybe you have something unusal in your list maybe a Soba Kiri or something unusual?

                                                                                                        http://www.google.com/search?q=soba+k...

                                                                                                        I think mine will probably be an usuba. I thought about a deba because of Dave and Petek, but I just don't butch/fillet a fish enough to justify it. Of course, one may aruge that a deba bocho will encourage me to do so, but....

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          I've tried a lot of gyutos and santokus and such, but still haven't messed around with actually using single beveled knives (the left handed thing), though I've sharpened some. Honyaki would make knives that are already very expensive for a lefty even pricier. And I'm not a professional cook - the little bit of extra edge retention and artistry that honyaki construction can bring is appreciated by not strictly necessary in my case.

                                                                                                          Also, I still want to get a sujihiki and try using that as a main knife for a little while. That's probably my next big purchase.

                                                                                                          I don't make soba noodles so I don't suppose I can easily justify a Soba Kiri. I might try a kiritsuke sometime though.

                                                                                                          Finally - I just recently bought a 12 inch carbon steel vintage Dexter chef knife. It needs some work - the heel needs to be ground down significantly, and I will also thin it a good deal behind its edge. But it's a cool old blade. I'll make a post about it once I've fixed it up.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            i'm pretty sure you're misusing the term "awase" here

                                                                                                            1. re: JBroida

                                                                                                              JBroida,

                                                                                                              Thanks Jon. Doesn't awase point to Japanese cladded knives between soft iron/steel and hard steel, where Kasumi points to the usual appearance of the misty look of the knives? In other words, Kasumi is just one description of an awase knife. Let me know.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                you can say something like awase tanzo bocho referring to the construction of the knife (as in awase kouzo), but across the board, people will refer to that kind of knife as kasumi (for single bevel), sanmai (double bevel), or warikomi (double bevel).

                                                                                                                1. re: JBroida

                                                                                                                  Interesting. I always thought of sanmai and warikomi as the specific construction of the cladding, and awase as the more general term. In other words, sanmai knives and warikomi knives are awase knives, but an awase knives are not necessary san-mai knives. As for "kasumi", I always thoughthat is a popular term, but technically incorrect because it refers to the appearance and not the actual construction like sanmai does.

                                                                                                                  Thanks for the recommendations.

                                                                                                                  Bottomline though, I was trying to say that cowboy has experienced many of these cladded knives that he should consider moving toward a honyaki knife. :)

                                                                                                                  Jon, I see you sell a lot of cladded knives. You have some really nice looking nakiri like this one:

                                                                                                                  http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/k...

                                                                                                                  too bad it looks like a cladded knife (tongue-in-cheek)

                                                                                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      Hi, Chem;

                                                                                                      1/4" or 1" isn't too deep?

                                                                                                      Kaleo

                                                                                              2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                "... knife people, here especially, tend to sharpen relatively frequently anyway, and develop a decreasing tolerance for edges that aren't near tip-top. ... "

                                                                                                "... To me, the very hard steels, like ceramics, make more sense for cooks who don't or rarely sharpen..."

                                                                                                I agree with kaleo on both of these observations. Both of these points play into my preference of harder blades, along with CBAD's comments about more acute angles.

                                                                                            2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                              Kaleo,

                                                                                              Unlike mikie, I am not sure if I entirely understand you. In fact, I am understanding less as times go on. Originally, I thought you worry that the OP will buy a knife with the incorrect notion, but that does not look like the case. I think I understand that you personally dislike these printer-press/bead blasted whatever like pattern knife. I think that is cool. Yet, are you arguing that strangmd (original poster) shouldn't bring these knives for his daughter? The girl likes that pattern. What are you going to do if your daughter asks for something like it.

                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                I suspect this conversation has turned pretty far away from casual advice to the OP and is now more or less about knifemaking theory - obviously a subject I find interesting. I hope no one (you, kaleo, casual readers, StrangeMd) is sweating this little disagreement too much.

                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                  "now more or less about knifemaking theory"

                                                                                                  No, I think it is about the value of knifemaking. Not so much about how to make a cladded knife, but rather should a cladded knife be made. In other words, it starts to read a little bit like a moral discussion.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                    Attack of the knife knerds from outer space!! :-D

                                                                                                    1. re: petek

                                                                                                      "knife knerds from outer space"

                                                                                                      You or me?

                                                                                                      1. re: petek

                                                                                                        I can't stop laughing thinking about this thread. It is a masterful sequence of off-topic commentary mixed in with misunderstanding, clarifications and out right knife nerdery. (Myself included.) The only thing that would make it better is if Staub and Le Creuset came out with a damascus line of dutch ovens.

                                                                                                        1. re: smkit

                                                                                                          "The only thing that would make it better is if Staub and Le Creuset came out with a damascus line of dutch ovens."
                                                                                                          _______
                                                                                                          But.... but...... the rate of thermal expansion for stainless (damascus) steel is problematically high when bonded to a pot made of cast iron and enamel* They wouldn't really do that, right?

                                                                                                          *Sorry - I had to comfort myself with a little more nerdery - a drop in the bucket at this point. I'm not sure if I could bear a new line of 'damascus' Le Creusets. My brain would explode.

                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                            Well,they did just launch a new "Rosemary" line of Le Creuset so who needs Damascus.....

                                                                                                          2. re: smkit

                                                                                                            In all honesty, many people who love Le Cresuet cookware partially love them as cookware, but also as showcase pieces. I remember a previous post (not too long ago) that one of the strong justifications of a Le Cresuet Dutch Oven over a bare cast iron Dutch Oven is that it can go from kitchen to dinning table. That is, they are attractive enough to be use a serveware for guests, while the bare cast iron Dutch Ovens cannot. Personally, I disagree that a bare cast iron cookware cannot.

                                                                                                            That being said, a Damascus pattern Dutch Ovens may not be as ridiculous as I thought. It will be extremely attractive. Something that I think many of the Le Creuset lovers would not mind to see. Look at these patterns:

                                                                                                            http://www.devinthomas.com/damascusSt...

                                                                                                            Imagine them on the exterior surface of a Dutch Oven. Some people will love it. There are two problems though. First, the interior will still have to be enameled porcelain, otherwise it is no different than a stainless steel cladded cast iron pot -- which is worse than a stainless steel cladded aluminum pot. Second, a Damascus surface Dutch Oven will probably cost thousands of dollars if not tens of thousands. A compromise is to produce something like the Shun Classic knives. Not real hard working Damascus, but a pattern surface -- which would be cheaper and easier to do.

                                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          You're right. But I would still consider that knifemaking theory. More or less. I'm making arguments for the advantages of laminated knives and Kaleo is making arguments for their disadvantages.

                                                                                                          It's not that far from discussions about the value of full length bolsters that we've had here before, except that this time there isn't a clear consensus/unanimous opinion.

                                                                                                        3. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                          Hi, cowboy:

                                                                                                          No sweat here. That's the great thing about you guys (gender neutral), this topical subset of this Board where we can speak our minds. I learn things here every time and only hope that I contribute in a positive way.

                                                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                                                        4. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          Hi, Chem:

                                                                                                          To paraphrase Don Henley, the more I explain, the less you understand, so let's give it some time. I stopped having concerns about the OP when s/he said s/he understands that the "Damascus" on the Shun is purely decorative.

                                                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                            You folks realize that in many ways you're rehashing the early 20th century aesthetic argument about whether form must follow function? Or, to use the modernist vocabulary, whether ornamentation by itself is "morally" suspect without it contributing to the function of the object? it's like watching a debate between the late 18th century (late Baroque) and the Bauhaus school of the early 20th.

                                                                                                            1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                              Strangmd,

                                                                                                              I thought that was the case, but apparently it is not a debate between form vs function. Kaleo made it clear that he is ok for form and beauty like the a very nice handle or a real hand made Damascus steel. It is something else which is why I wrote I am not entirely sure, but I think Kaleo's concern is that these mass production Damascus are fake, not real Damascus steel. Yet, so many things are faked in that sense in today market. Like the early examples I mentioned, like the laminated wood pattern on furniture or the worn off jeans from the stores. Those jeans are not really “worn off” or “distressed”, they are brand new.

                                                                                                              1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                Hi, strangemd:

                                                                                                                LOL. Perhaps. Who won that debate? Let us know will you?

                                                                                                                I just think putting a fake Damascus texture on a knife is like putting a gaping hood scoop and big gullwing airdam on a stock Ford Fiesta. No moral overtones intended, just a smiling head shake... Bauhaus or Baroque?

                                                                                                                Aloha,
                                                                                                                Kaleo

                                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                  I don't know whether such a debate can be "won." The purist modernist view (best exemplified in architecture) that all form must be functional has led to some pretty sterile buildings. I'm all for ornament as long as it's beautiful and doesn't actually detract from the function of the object, but I would agree with Kaleo's position that plastered-on ornament, without any real artistic effort, is distasteful. And even deceptive on some level.

                                                                                                                  1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                    "without any real artistic effort, is distasteful. And even deceptive on some level."

                                                                                                                    So have you talked your daughter out of the mass production Damascus knives? I assume you are not buying the hand made $1000 Damascus knife for her?

                                                                                                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                    "No moral overtones intended"

                                                                                                                    Well, com'on. Let's face it. At this point, it is all about moral and value. It is not a factual debate, but rather a pure opinion debate -- which is why it cannot be won.

                                                                                                                    Questions like:

                                                                                                                    What is the hardness of the steel?

                                                                                                                    What is the tension of this rope?

                                                                                                                    When was A. Lincoln born?

                                                                                                                    ...

                                                                                                                    These are factual question for seeking facts.

                                                                                                                    Questions like:

                                                                                                                    Was Lincoln correct in his decision on the Civil Wart?

                                                                                                                    Should a laminated Damascus knife be made, sold and bought?

                                                                                                                    These are about pesonal value and therefore are moral questions.

                                                                                                                    "just a smiling head shake"

                                                                                                                    A disapproval from the moral angle.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                      Hey Chem-
                                                                                                                      I have no problem with making a decision based on "moral" grounds as long as I don't try to impose it on others. One could also argue that all moral arguments are essentially aesthetic---which course of action is more "beautiful" or more in keeping with one's sense of universal harmony.
                                                                                                                      But I aint buying my kid a $1000 knife when I still have to help her with rent. And if she likes a little ornament, that's her call. She was drooling over the Shiki Tsuchime you linked in your first post.

                                                                                                                      1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                        Strangemd,

                                                                                                                        Oh, I don't think there is a problem for decisions on moral ground, and I don't even think there is anything wrong to impose moral values on others in limited cases. For example, we as a society imposes the concept that murder is bad, stealing is bad...etc. We definitely impose that, and I sure hell hope we do. I just think we should impose as little as we can, but I accept that we do have to impose some -- that is the very essence of a society. A group of people living and working together with basically understanding of certain "imposed agreement".

                                                                                                                        There is nothing wrong with what Kaleo said. In fact, I probably side with him more than I disagree with him on his view. I was just trying to be technically correct when I said that whatever we are discussing right now is about "moral" and "value", and there is no reason to say it is not.

                                                                                                                        Oh I fully understand that you are not going to buy her a $1000 knife. Your real choices are to buy her a Damascus pattern looking Japanese knife or a plain looking Japanese knife at the price range of $100-170. Those two are your more realistic choices. I do have to applaud you to buy your daughter a good kitchen knife.

                                                                                                                        I do like the Shiki one too. It is very reasonably priced, no more than Shun. It is made of good VG-10 steel. The shipping will only add like $10-15 and you will get it in 3-4days. The shipping from that store is very fast. I have purchased from it before and many people here did. The only thing is that you cannot test drive it. I know the quality is good, but something some people are very specific about the "feel of a handle". I am not one of them, so I don't mind at all.

                                                                                                                        1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                          "She was drooling over the Shiki Tsuchime you linked in your first post."

                                                                                                                          I though you were taking her to Korin for a little shopping spree?

                                                                                                                            1. re: petek

                                                                                                                              Yes petek, i'm making her wait until tomorrow and go downtown, so she can at least hold some of them before I buy. She grew up using a more curved Western-type knife so I want to make sure she can deal with the straighter blades and different handles of the Japanese knives.

                                                                                                                              1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                Strangemd,

                                                                                                                                There are something to be said for the Shun Premier Chef's knife despite it may not be my own personal choice.

                                                                                                                                From your angle (rather your daughter's angle), the Shun Premier Chef offers (1) possibility of test driving, (2) one of the best warranties, (3) a discount for mail in sharpening (no free sharpening service anymore) -- though Daddy should able to take of this with EdgePro, (4) good resale value, (5) a curved Western knife. Yes, it is thinner than a typical German Chef's knife and made of harder VG-10 steel, but it has similar curvature. Most of what we have suggested are gyutos.

                                                                                                                                Personally, I am more drawn to one of those knives from JapaneseChefsknife, but this isn't about me. It is possible that you may have to go back to the Shun Premier knife.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                  That's why I first looked at the Shuns. But once you start looking at the stuff on JapaneseChefsknife, the saliva starts flowing. Interesting to see how the selection differs from CKTG, where I got my EdgePro. Though i am still coveting the Takeda Gyuto for myself, now that I can sharpen it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                    Well let's look at the reason you were drawn to the Shun in the first place. It is a Western J-knife, VG-10, Damascus (pretty), polished handle, recognized name and at your price point. I think that would be an excellent gift to give your daughter and as a freshman in medical school, cooking may not be high on the list of daily activities. I'm sure you remember those days

                                                                                                                                    The only other one that is close in price and other attributes is the Togiharu Hammered Texture Damascus 210mm gyuto. Western style but with less belly. The Shun may have better fit and finish.

                                                                                                                                    Congrats on your daughters acceptance to medical school.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                      Thank you! She's pretty happy, and so am i. Nice to have someone else in the field who's not doing it for profit. I still think of it as a calling, not a job.
                                                                                                                                      And, actually, cooking a good meal is a nice escape in a hectic day. That's when I started really cooking myself. Before that, it was open can, eat contents. Or dorm food. They have the Togiharus at Korin, so I'll have her look at those tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                        I totally agree with you on handling the knives first,even if you don't buy from Korin.I've yet to purchase a knife from an online e-tailor(that might change one day)because I'm lucky enough to have a few good local retailers in my city.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                          Yeah, that's when I started to cook a lot too. From what I've read the Togiharus may suffer a little in fit and finish so a look at them in person may not be a bad thing plus she can put it in her hand. I remember when I first used a 240mm J-knife. Felt so strange and long but not heavy. Now if I pick up a standard 8" chef knife it feels so heavy and small. I'm all for feeling something before buying but you can't forget that adaptation is a good thing.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                            "but you can't forget that adaptation is a good thing."

                                                                                                                                            I would say that adaptation is not only a good thing, but is underestimated. To paraphrase cowboy, buying the most "most comfortable" will lead you to buy the same style of knife due to familiarity. A person who is used to a heavier German Chef's knife will almost always find a Japanese gyuto or santoku strange the first time. If we are to only buy the "most comfortable" knife, then we will grow out of our familiar zone. Same for cuisines, the first time I tried Indian foods, Jamaican foods and Southern barbecue, they all taste very strange to me. Now, I love them, but I would have never had that opportunity if I had stopped early.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                        "i am still coveting the Takeda Gyuto for myself"

                                                                                                                                        That's right. You have been pondering for that knife. There are some crazy youtube videos on that knife. C-Dawg put a 9.2 degree inclusion angle on that knife (4.6 degree on each side). Yes, I agree with you that cooking a meal can be a nice escape from a busy and stressful day. It truly keeps your mind off and makes you focus on something else -- which is great.

                                                                                                                                        Korin should be a great trip for you two. The bad thing is that you have so many options. The good thing is that you are selecting among very good knives here, so you cannot go wrong here.

                                                                                                                                        And .... you know... you can always get her the Takeda AS gyuto instead. :P

                                                                                                                                        Edited:
                                                                                                                                        By the way, Strangemd, have you ever seen this video? I think you will get a kick out of this. Takeda himself sharpen his knife in a knife show:

                                                                                                                                        http://youtu.be/jM8U3AHvLa4

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                          Very cool video. As soon as I pay first semester tuition for the kid, I'm getting that Takeda.
                                                                                                                                          We did the Korin trip this weekend and she found the 210 Gyutos about right for her hand, though she preferred a little more belly in the knife than the Togiharus (which also are not great in terms of finish--I agree with scubadoo on that one). But she seemed pretty comfortable with the Japanese knives, and we ended up ordering the Shiki tsuchime on line. Prices at Korin, at least in NY, were super high. Thanks for all the advice. Looking forward to the package from Japan.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                            Strangemd,

                                                                                                                                            My intention of putting that youtube link is to show what a "nerdy and goofy"guy that Mr. Takeda comes across. He had this "little kid" look when he was sharpening the knife.

                                                                                                                                            A Takeda gyuto will be really awesome for you, I think. I really like the kurouchi on these traditional knives. Strangemd, you said you have been sharpening your knives with your EdgePro. What knives have you need sharpening until now?

                                                                                                                                            It is great to know that the Togiharus has rougher finish than Shun knives. Eactly what part of fit and finish is rought? Thanks Scubadoo. Thanks strangemd.

                                                                                                                                            "Prices at Korin, at least in NY, were super high"

                                                                                                                                            I agree that Korin knives in general are expensive, but that Togiharus is listed $149 online and I don't expect it to be too different in the store.

                                                                                                                                            "we ended up ordering the Shiki tsuchime on line"

                                                                                                                                            The knife should arrive 3-5 days from now. Please let us know how you feel when you received the Shiki tsuchime gyuto. Thank you in advance.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                              Warning

                                                                                                                                              Strangemd, do you have time to cancel/halt your order? Scubadoo believes Shiki possibly is the same knife as Togiharus -- simply sold under different brand names. Not sure, but a possibility.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                Not that it matters much, but they don't look like the same knives to me. *Similar* yes, but then, most of the Tsuchime finishes look pretty similar IMO.

                                                                                                                                                To me, the Shiki line looks much more nicely finished than the Togiharus. Of course, we're all just comparing pictures to pictures, aren't we?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Eiron

                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I know there are some differences for sure. The Shiki handle has a little red ring between the bolster and the wood handle, a decoration pin in the middle, and its handle is much rounder. Those I know for sure. What I believe from the picture is that the Shiki knives are much more polished (mirror/shinier), but that could be a lighting effect, but they sure do look more polished.

                                                                                                                                                  I know strangemd has issues with the finish of the Togiharu.

                                                                                                                                                  Personally, I think the Gekko series look a lot like the Togiharu Hammered. See the attached photos between Gekko and Togiharu. I think if strangemd can hold on his order and ask Koki Iwahara if the Shiki is a better finished knife than Gekko, then we will resolve this problem. (Koki will not able to answer the comparison to Togiharu)

                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                    I agree with you; I also think the Shiki has a higher polish to the blade.

                                                                                                                                                    I also agree that the Gekko & Togiharu look more similar to each other.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Eiron

                                                                                                                                                      Already ordered and shipped, and actually, my daughter really preferred the rounded handle for feel. I'm sure either one would have been fine, but she's really looking forward to the Shiki. Will post once it gets here. I'm curious to see how much sharpening it will need out of the box.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                                        Pleasse let us know. Really appreciate. I would feel a little bad if it is the same knife as Togiharu. I don't think so, but I would want to know the truth. Thanks in advance.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                          Just got the Shiki Tsuchime Damascus Twinkle 210 mm Gyuto. It's gorgeous. Very light, beautiful finish, with a lovely handle and nice details throughout. Definitely not the same knife as the Togiharu. And the feel is great, with enough belly on the blade to rock easily. Pretty sharp out of the box, and 5 minutes on the EdgePro made it push cut paper with ease. The daughter is delighted.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                                            Congrats! That's a good looking piece of steel.I'm sure she'll enjoy it for many years.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                              "I'm sure she'll enjoy it for many years."

                                                                                                                                                              Petek,

                                                                                                                                                              Probably not. According to strangemd, he will purchase a Takeda AS gyuto soon. You know what will happen when she sees that knife, right? :P

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                I don't think she'll be trading in her Twinkle for a Takeda anytime soon.The Takeda is very rustic, almost brutish looking compared to the Shiki.+ the Takeda gyuto is a pretty big bellied knife.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                                  Good morning, Pete. Yes, Takeda is a very rustic looking knife, but she may change her preference soon. I believe strangemd said his daughter like a knife with bigger/more pronounced belly. Before long.... Takeda will be her knife and the Shiki Twinkle will end up to be strangemd's knife. :D

                                                                                                                                                                  P.S.: Not so long ago, I dislike that kurochi finish. I cannot exactly remember when, but then I started to fall in love with that rustic look. As you may remember I was disappointed when I learn my Watanabe nakiri will lost its kurochi finish due to the thinning customization.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                    You could be right Chem....
                                                                                                                                                                    "strange"-r things have happened.
                                                                                                                                                                    .

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                                              strangemd,

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks god. I was starting to feel slightly guilty because I was the one who recommended that knife. I do want to acknowledge smkit and scubadoo's point that the Togiharu and the Shiki knives will probably perform on the same level. Still, this is a gift for your daughter, so the presentation matter. Moreover, if you are paying the same, then you might as well get both the look and performance, right?

                                                                                                                                                              "The daughter is delighted"

                                                                                                                                                              Great. Somehow I thought she went back to school and you had to mail the knife to her, but I guess she is still around. That is awesome. I mean, she is the final judge, right? Not me, not you, but her. Thanks for letting me know the finish of the Shiki knife.

                                                                                                                                                              P.S.: There is something to be bragged about for a Shiki knife though -- even if it may perform the same as a Shun Premier. None of her friends will likely to have this one. It will be unique, and she can always say "I had this knife mailed directly from Japan" -- which is kinda cool.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                She's off to school in one week, so at the moment the house is full of boxes. And I think my (eventual) Takeda is safe 'cause she keeps looking at herself in the Shiki and laughing. She cut up half the vegetables I had in the fridge last night at 1AM just to practice with it.
                                                                                                                                                                Thanks all you folks for your good advice!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                                                  "she keeps looking at herself in the Shiki and laughing. She cut up half the vegetables I had in the fridge last night at 1AM just to practice with it.
                                                                                                                                                                  "

                                                                                                                                                                  That is so adorable. :)

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: strangemd

                                                                                                                                                                  That was pretty fast turn around time. Glad it all worked out okay. It is a very nice looking knife.

                                                                                                                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                  Ha!
                                                                                                                                  Been drumming to that song 'Heart of the Matter' all week...love love love Don Henley..