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Dec 25, 2011 01:50 PM

Seeking Carbon Steel Knife

After some intensive lurking around these knife forums, I've decided I really want a carbon steel knife for home use. I've been considering selling a perfectly good large block set of Wustof Ikons in order to justify starting a new collection of knives that I love. I'm guessing I could get $400 or so for the set that was originally valued at over $800 full retail. I would immediately need/want a chefs and a nakiri and I'd want one to be carbon steel.

So, what are some good brands and types of carbon steel? Any pointers for things to look for or avoid? I'm mainly interested in Japanese steel and am really comfortable with d-shaped handles. I'm leaning towards getting a a high carbon stainless chefs and a carbon steel nakiri. Is this a good idea? I'm new to the world of knife geekery, so any and all info is welcome! Tips on how to care for the carbon steel (on top of wiping during use and cleaning and drying immediately after use) would also be greatly appreciated.

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  1. One line is Tojiro that I'm slightly familiar with very nice fit&finish and resonably priced.
    Miyabi I also have but I don't think I would pay that much again , fine and beutiful knives but too mass market for me and hard to find. There is a lot to chose from out there and the Knuts have just about all of them for reviews and recomendations.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Dave5440

      I know what you mean. I've handled the Miyabi Birchwood and they seem really nice. I work for a store that carries them and can get a significant discount. I was thinking of getting a six inch Birchwood chefs and maybe an 8 inch Tojiro or other brand. Some of the knives on CKTG being so reasonable, there would be some splurge possibilities too.

      1. re: MelissaMachete

        It's a geat sie to buy from, fast and cheap shipping, the birchwood is very nice looking but a 6 inch I think is too small

        1. re: Dave5440

          I like the size. In my knife roll for work I have a 6 inch Shun classic that I for small jobs or fine mincing. I cook professionally and I often have to do large volumes of small and perfect cuts. I can work much faster with more control from a smaller blade. At home I cook just for two, so it's a perfect size for chopping up a few piles of veg and herbs for salad or whatever. I use the 5.5 inch Santoku for that, but I find I just don't really like using them.

          1. re: MelissaMachete

            I like the size. In my knife roll for work I have a 6 inch Shun classic that I for small jobs or fine mincing. I cook professionally
            Well that certainly trumps my opinion !!! You would know best.

            1. re: Dave5440

              It's all about what you're comfortable with. Obviously you guys know your blades! I just know which tools tend to work best for me.

        2. re: MelissaMachete

          IMO, the Miyabi Birchwood line is one of the better values for materials and construction. And that's at the retail price. If you have the ability to get them at "a significant discount," then I wouldn't hesitate to grab whichever knives you're interested in! I tried out the 8" chef knife & felt it would easily be my first purchase in a J-knife if I were just starting out again.

          1. re: Eiron

            I just noticed the prices of the miyabis have come down to resonable levels, but up here in canada availability is pretty slim

            1. re: Eiron

              Miyabi Kaizen 8" Chef's knife looks very affordable. VG-10 core steel with all the Damascus pattern under $100. Not bad, huh?



              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Yup it wasn't that long ago that was 200 plus, The Morimoto line is still pricey though. The last time I asked about the MC/MCD lines the Can distributor dropped them both.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                  Yeah, that looks like a decent deal. But if Melissa can get the Birchwood line at any kind of a discount, then I think the better materials (SG2 core, 100 layer cladding, Birchwood handle) are well worth any additional cost. Even more so, since she's ready to dump her complete set of Wusthof Ikons for for two new J-knives! It'll be money well-spent, IMO.

                  1. re: Eiron


                    Agree. If Melissa can get a good discount for Birchwood, then it does has a pretty cool steel. :D

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I just got my parents each a Kaizen for Christmas. They both now have band-aids on their fingers. They had dull knives for so long they didn't realize the blade would cut them! The value is excellent, for sure.

                    1. re: MelissaMachete

                      And I do think I'll get the Birchwood. Like Eiron said, the making of the knife seems worth the extra dough especially at a discount. I like the idea of having a mix of traditional J-blades and more mass market but quality knives.

                      1. re: MelissaMachete

                        "I just got my parents each a Kaizen for Christmas."

                        Is this why you want to get some Japanese influenced knives for yourself? You noticed that their Miyabi knives exhibit qualities which you are looking for?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I wanted to try some different steel and styles of knife making. I use Shuns for work (catering) and figured why not try out what else is out there. All the pros I know have Shuns or German steel. After trying out the Miyabis and seeing some of the blades talked about around here, my interest was piqued. Since I don't love the Wusthof and I've got my work Shuns to supplement until I can build a nice collection again, I figure why not? I got the Wusthof from a friend who worked at WS, so I didn't pay full price for those either. If I can get $400 or $500 I'd actually be making money! It seems like a win-win and I'll get to own some truly handmade knives. I also really want to learn more, possibly start sharpening my own knives. As a cook, I feel I should know more and as the daughter of an engineer I guess it's just inevitable :)

              2. "I'm mainly interested in Japanese steel and am really comfortable with d-shaped handles."

                Great. A few of us have experience with good Japanese carbon steel knives. May I ask if you are left or right handed? Also how much you like to spend on each?

                "I'm leaning towards getting a a high carbon stainless chefs and a carbon steel nakiri. Is this a good idea?"

                Sound very good to me.

                Like my friend Dave5440 said, Tojiro is an excellent brand. It is cost effective and good performance knives.

                For a stainless steel Chef's knife, Tojiro DP gyuto ($80) is a good choice. I have one. Here are two different handles:


                JCK VG-10 looks very impressive and has good reputation ($108). Unlike Tojiro, this is a knife made of solid VG-10:


                For a carbon steel Nakiri, here are my suggestion.
                Tanaka Kurouchi Nakiri for $50. It is made of Japanese blue steel -- an excellent steel and is more corrosion resistance than the white steel. The only downside of this knife is that it takes some knife sharpening to get the full potential out of the knife, but I think that is pretty much true for any ~$50 knives.


                18 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Hey chem I had a chance to use the Tojiro DP gyuto today after I gave it to the son (he loved it and started practicing on some tomatoes/potatoes right away) it wasn't as sharp as it could be right out of the box, it wouldn't push cut paper but it would slice perfect, I could get it to cut a tomato with it's own weight if I pulled it back to cut the skin. I stropped it for a few min with 60k before he left with it and I'll decide what to do with it when he brings it back.

                  1. re: Dave5440

                    Hey Dave,

                    Sounds good. I had tried to put a 10 degree bevel on the Tojiro DP. Although it can form the edge, it does not last long for real kitchen tasks. By the way, yours has a wa wood style handle, right? Is the handle porous? Or has it been sealed with some plastic/polymers? Thanks.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Hey chem did you have a good X-mas , I made out like a bandit I guess the pay it forward came back around to me this year.
                      Is your dp the SS clad vg10 or the carbon version? If it where mine I would try 10deg but not for my step son, his technique will need some work, I may have to go up to 15~20 to make the edge last untill I can get rid of his bad habits.
                      The handle is wood but it appears to be sealed, but not plastic maybe shellac I can still feel the grain, could be a minwax type sealent.

                      1. re: Dave5440


                        I slept a lot during the last few days, which is awesome.

                        My Tojiro gyuto is the Tojiro DP with VG-10 core with the western handle. It is good to hear that the wood handle is somewhat sealed. It sure is much easier for your son to take care of it.

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I'm right handed and I saw that nakiri earlier today! Bummer that it's sold out right now. I'll keep an eye on it. I'm a bit intimidated by sharpening myself, but a friend sharpens his Shuns and there's a professional I trust who gives me a deal. Would it be okay to trust someone whose never sharpened carbon steel before? As for price, I would be comfortable spending around $150 for a knife. Anyone else you'd recommend besides the Tojiros? Just to have other options and designs? The Moritakas looked nice, I just don't really have any frame of reference. The only Japanese knives I've owned have been Shun Classics.

                    1. re: MelissaMachete

                      :P Opps. I gave you a link to a sold out knife. It should be in stock within a month if you want to wait for it.

                      "Would it be okay to trust someone whose never sharpened carbon steel before? "

                      It should be fine as long as the person has sharpened a knife. Tanaka nakiri is sharp out of the box. It is just that you can push the sharpness limit by further sharpening.

                      "Anyone else you'd recommend besides the Tojiros?"

                      I have not used this, but I have heard good things about the 210 mm JCK VG-10 gyuto ($108). Unlike Shun Chef's knife and Tojiro DP gyuto, this JCK VG-10 is made of one solid piece of VG-10 steel (you will need to scroll down):


                      If you want something with a pattern, then Shiki Tsuchime Damascus 210 mm gyuto ($150) is flashy (scroll almost to the bottom):


                      For the carbon steel nakiri, Moritaka has somewhat a mix review on the internet. Most people love them. Few are unhappy with the knife grind.

                      There are two nakiri to look for as well. Dojo Nakiri ($80). It is made of a blue steel core cladded with stainless steel on both sides:


                      JCK Fu Rin Ka Zan Nakiri ($150). A hand made forged knife made from white steel. Very traditional (scroll all the way down):


                      There is a blue steel Damascus nakiri, but it is $164:


                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Thank you so much! Because I'm still pretty ignorant about knife making, could you explain what the grind is and how it affects the quality of the knife? I'm guessing it's different than the angle of the blade because that can be made to your liking with sharpening. Also, what are the advantages of the solid vg-10? I'm guessing upkeep will be slightly more tempermental because it is a harder steel?

                        1. re: MelissaMachete


                          Hi. Sorry, I wasn't being clear about what I meant by grind -- since it can mean so many things. Let me be clear about two things. First, most people love their Moritaka knives. They are made with excellent steel, thin blade, with a good deal of hand-on processes. Our friend Petek has several Moritaka and he has nothing but the best things to say about them. Second, because Moritaka knives are made with a deal of manual (hand) processes, each knife is slightly different. There are a few people who got unlucky and received knives which are overground. The problem exacerbates when the knife are sharpened for the first time. A picture worth a thousand words. This is what I mean. Look closely at the knife edges.



                          *If you want to read about the compliant, you can read it here:


                          I think for their high quality steel, the partial hand made processes, kurouchi finish, affordable prices... Moritaka knives are really a good buy. If you decide to get one, then I would contact the seller and ask him to double check the knife before sending to you.

                          One more thing about Moritaka knives is that they are have relatively narrow blade. This is a preference. Some people love a narrower knife.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            No apologies necessary, you probably encounter people regularly who know what it is. This is great advice on the Moritakas. I'm getting very excited about my new knife prospects! This exactly what I needed to get some more info to take a bit of a risk with some new steel.

                            1. re: MelissaMachete

                              I will add one one more interjection, you need to try a traditional wa or wood handle it does make a difference

                              1. re: Dave5440

                                I don't feel like it worth a new post... almost.

                                Anyway, this is to you all. What do you think of this Shun sharpener?


                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Just watched the video on the page. It looks promising, but shouldn't there be multiple grits available for the knives? Plus, there are only two options for angles. I like it loads better than a typical electric knife sharpener, but for less money it seems that the Edgepro would be more versatile and probably easier to use..

                                  1. re: MelissaMachete

                                    You know your stuff MelissaMachete!!!

                                    1. re: MelissaMachete

                                      EdgePro does provide significantly more option in term of grits and angles. However, I am thinking about something that goes fast. Something which can help me to speed through a reprofiling job from hour to minutes -- I do freehand sharpening.

                                      It is true that this Shun sharpener cannot do it because it is only a 1000 grit (I think). If only it offer a few more lower grits like 500grit ..etc, then it is pretty cool. The angle thing is less annoying to me.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        It is a pretty cool gaget, but that's it it's still a gaget for the same money as an EP with chosera stones, EP wins hands down. I haven't done a major reprofile on a softer knife it sure motors through them when sharpening , the soaking takes longer on the stones than the job does. I found another one power sharpener that looks kinda cool too

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          The link took me to a very generic site.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            It takes me to a VeritasĀ® Mk.II power sharpening system at lee valley, maybe it's the cross border thing

                    2. Here is a site that sells carbon steel knives from France. I hope this helps.


                      1. I have a few good knives, but the one I use all the time is carbon steel.

                        The Lee Valley Peasant Chef's Knife is extremely comfortable & efficient with a well-shaped high-carbon steel blade and razor-sharp edge. LV also sell an industrial-grade carbide edge sharpener that keeps the knife touched up & keen to go in a few strokes. (combo is under 50 dollars)

                        The design evolved from generations of French culinary use as the 'one knife that does it all.' I just love how fast & safe it is to use - talk about control! (just use common sense cutting near your fingers, especially if you are used to stainless - you will soon get used to the extreme sharp blade that sails through anything.)


                        - oh yeah - and I am OVER fancy prestige knives in an expensive set that look pretty. That's the point of one 30-dollar knife that does a lot.