HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
What's your latest food quest? Tell us about it
TELL US

Chips in Japanese Knives

b
bkling Mar 5, 2012 09:01 AM

Over the last couple of years I replaced my Western knives with good Japanese knives (various makes) and like many things about them. But in spite of my efforts to use the right knife for the right task (e.g. don't use a nakiri for anything but veggies) small chips still appear regularly on my edges. I sharpen on water stones without excessive pressure (have done that for years), and hone on a fine black ceramic rod, being sure not to hit the blade against the shaft but make gentle contact. I use end grain bamboo cutting boards. Still the chips appear now and then, and it seems I'll eventually have a collection of serrated Japanese knives.

So my question is, for those of you using Japanese knives, is this experience typical? Do you just put up with the chips as a fact of life, or am I missing something here? If the knives are really this delicate I'm beginning to question whether they're really good kitchen tools for a home cook like me. They are very slightly sharper than my Western knives but that advantage is more than offset if I have to be so delicate with them all the time.

  1. b
    bkling Apr 23, 2012 10:34 AM

    Update -- several weeks later...

    After this helpful discussion I decided to improve my cutting technique and see if that would fix the problem. I resharpened the chipped knives to remove the chips. I also got an end-grain cherry wood cutting board (tho I still sometimes use my bamboo boards because they're a convenient size). When cutting I've focused on a lighter touch and on strokes that lift the knife prior to any lateral movement. No new chips so far, with one minor exception.

    The exception is my Usuba hocho, which is ground to such a slght angle that I can push on the side of the edge with a fingernail and see the edge deform slightly. I made the mistake of cutting through the not-very-hard stem of a green pepper with this knife and it chipped slightly. But this is (I'm told) a very specialized knife and it seems to be meant only for thinly slicing soft vegetables. All my other knives are fine and I'm happy to be enjoying their incredible sharpness.

    Thanks to all of you who helped!

    27 Replies
    1. re: bkling
      Chemicalkinetics Apr 23, 2012 10:48 AM

      <The exception is my Usuba hocho, which is ground to such a slght angle that I can push on the side of the edge with a fingernail and see the edge deform slightly>

      The usuba bocho is a completely different beast all together. A professional knife which requires much skill to use. Yes, I have noticed the same thing you did. It is normal. It does require a different kind of sharpening. We should put at least two bevels on it.

      <But this is (I'm told) a very specialized knife and it seems to be meant only for thinly slicing soft vegetables.>

      It is very specialized, but I don't think it is only for very thinly slicing. We will need to sharpen it differently. It is not the same as sharpening a double bevel knife like a Chef's or Santoku.

      http://i695.photobucket.com/albums/vv...

      1. re: bkling
        TraderJoe Apr 23, 2012 11:38 AM

        But this is (I'm told) a very specialized knife and it seems to be meant only for thinly slicing soft vegetables.

        -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        The Usaba is not just meant for soft vegetables but it is a VERY specialized knife designed for katsuramuki. Here's an example;

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC7EUa...

        Unfortunately many think it's like a Chinese cleaver or Nakiri just based on the shape. It takes mucho skill to use one properly.

        TJ

        1. re: TraderJoe
          Chemicalkinetics Apr 23, 2012 12:44 PM

          Mucho skill to use and mucho skill to maintain/sharpen.

          1. re: TraderJoe
            b
            bkling Apr 23, 2012 01:36 PM

            Right, I bought it thinking it was the one-sided equivalent of a nakiri.

            But I have been able to get it incredibly sharp just by sharpening the primary bevel and the flat back. Used a 400 grit to remove chips, then 1000, 5000 and 8000. Sharper than anything else I have. No doubt additional bevel would make it a bit tougher. Some day I'll learn how to use it...

            1. re: bkling
              Chemicalkinetics Apr 23, 2012 02:22 PM

              <Sharper than anything else I have>

              Agree. Of course, it is only true because the steel can support such a low angle and form an edge.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                s
                shezmu Apr 25, 2012 09:04 PM

                Thanks guys for further convincing me to not buy a Usuba. I had been looking into buying one for a couple of days also thinking that a usuba was just a single-beveled nakiri in intended use. The frequent warnings about the knife being hard to use didn't phase me. What did was the knife being hard to use AND limited in the
                *vegetables* you can cut with it AND that it's not head and shoulders better than a gyuto.

                I guess I'll just have to settle for a Konosuke HD. :p

                1. re: shezmu
                  Chemicalkinetics Apr 25, 2012 09:59 PM

                  <a usuba was just a single-beveled nakiri in intended use>

                  To professional Japanese chefs, they indeed use an usuba in place of a nakiri. However, an usuba requires a certain level to use and to maintain. One cannot sharpen it like any double bevel knives (i.e. nakiri), and there certainly isn't any electric sharpener for it. So to use an usuba, the user really have to be unique sharpening skill and unique knife skills.

                  <it's not head and shoulders better than a gyuto.>

                  It is supposed to be head and shoulder better than a gyuto in some areas.

                  <I'll just have to settle for a Konosuke HD>

                  Petek loves that thing. :)

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    s
                    shezmu Apr 26, 2012 10:46 AM

                    "To professional Japanese chefs, they indeed use an usuba in place of a nakiri. However, an usuba requires a certain level to use and to maintain. One cannot sharpen it like any double bevel knives (i.e. nakiri), and there certainly isn't any electric sharpener for it. So to use an usuba, the user really have to be unique sharpening skill and unique knife skills."

                    Don't nakiris have more tasks they can do than usubas? Like mincing for instance.

                    "It is supposed to be head and shoulder better than a gyuto in some areas"

                    Okay, I should have said that from my research, the ratio of level of effort needed to use a usuba and the gain one gets from using one is not convincingly high relative to the same ratio for a gyuto.

                    "Petek loves that thing. :)"

                    That seems to be everyone's view on the thing, hence me planning to buy it.

                    1. re: shezmu
                      cowboyardee Apr 26, 2012 11:40 AM

                      "Don't nakiris have more tasks they can do than usubas? Like mincing for instance."
                      _______
                      Nakiris are slightly more versatile, and a good deal easier to use. But with practice and proper sharpening, a usuba can handle tasks like mincing. No offense to the OP, but his usuba is extra fragile because he is sharpening the primary bevel all the way to the edge without including a more obtuse edge bevel. With more standard geometry, the usuba is still more specialized and fragile than a nakiri, but it can handle tasks like mincing if you've got a very well controlled cutting motion.

                      "Okay, I should have said that from my research, the ratio of level of effort needed to use a usuba and the gain one gets from using one is not convincingly high relative to the same ratio for a gyuto."
                      ______
                      I'd say that unless you're really into traditional kaiseki cuisine and other Japanese cooking that is traditionally done in a restaurant setting, there is no 'need' for a usuba. It's admittedly a niche knife, though a rather interesting one.

                      "That seems to be everyone's view on the thing, hence me planning to buy it."
                      ________
                      My go-to knife is not the Konosuke, but it has pretty much the same geometry. Mine is a Yusuke gyuto, which is a very similar knife using a different steel (white #2) - and TBH I probably would have bought the Konosuke HD instead, except when I was looking for a knife, it was before the Konosuke had dropped its price to be competitive with the Yusuke. You can add me to the list of people who really like that style. It doesn't have some of the advantages of food release and sturdiness compared to some of the heavier gyutos, but it's top notch in terms of low resistance in cutting and speed in straight-up-and-down chopping and mincing.

                      1. re: cowboyardee
                        Chemicalkinetics Apr 26, 2012 05:19 PM

                        cowboyardee (and to some extend to petek).

                        I will raise this point again. Do you two see any issue for a new comer to thin blade gyuto? At the least, is there any thing which the person should be mindful of?

                        Shezmu,

                        I didn't get to ask you this. Have you had a chance to use some thin blade Japanese hard steel knives?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          petek Apr 26, 2012 05:47 PM

                          <I will raise this point again. Do you two see any issue for a new comer to thin blade gyuto? At the least, is there any thing which the person should be mindful of?>
                          I agree with CBAD about the advantages(little to no wedging,gliding through food) and disadvantages(food release,not as robust) of a laser.
                          I think at first,a gentler touch is needed and maybe tweaking your overall technique(these things are super light and take some getting used to)but after a while you'll never look back.
                          today at work,I breezed through almost 30lbs of onions,for caramelizing,on a crappy poly board,and she was still sharp as a bastard.Just a quick stropping tonite on some balsa wood and she's ready for another day..

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            cowboyardee Apr 26, 2012 06:35 PM

                            The biggest things I'd worry about for a newcomer to Japanese knives using a 'laser' are mostly to do with sharpening. Don't get me wrong - in practice, it's actually a very easy knife to sharpen, since the edge bevels are so small that barely any work is needed to take it from dull to razor sharp. But if you're not used to finding bevels by feel, a laser doesn't give you a whole lot of visual confirmation to work with. Sharpening behind the edge a little bit will also be important so as not to thicken the knife over time - this is always the case, but you'll notice it more quickly with a laser. Also, it wouldn't take a whole lot of time to mess up the geometry of the knife if you were to sharpen it badly for a while.

                            As chips go, the yusuke is actually a little more resilient than I initially thought it would be. I'm sure the same kind of things would chip it that chip other Japanese knives - cutting through bone or ice, opening cans, lots of pressure and/or lateral movement during rock chopping. But it has seemed to me that a vg-10 blade like the Tojiro or Shun microchips more often despite not being as thin or even quite as acutely angled. Petek can speak to this better than I can, but I've heard that the Konosuke HD steel is pretty resilient stuff, and I doubt it chips any more readily than my Yusuke does. A bigger problem than a tendency to chip, IMO, is that IF you take a decent-sized chip out of it, the knife will be difficult to sharpen/reprofile without negatively affecting the geometry, especially if you're not an experienced sharpener.

                            1. re: cowboyardee
                              Chemicalkinetics Apr 26, 2012 06:37 PM

                              Thanks Petek and cowboyardee for the insightful advises.

                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                petek Apr 26, 2012 06:53 PM

                                <But if you're not used to finding bevels by feel, a laser doesn't give you a whole lot of visual confirmation to work with.>

                                I'm looking to buy a 20x jewelers loupe to really see what's going on down there...
                                I'm curious about sharpening/thinning behind the edge.Any good videos out there?

                                1. re: petek
                                  cowboyardee Apr 26, 2012 10:26 PM

                                  "I'm curious about sharpening/thinning behind the edge.Any good videos out there?"
                                  _______
                                  There are a few videos that touch on thinning behind the edge, but none (that I know of) that really go into depth about it. Murray Carter thins behind the edge in his neck knife shaving demonstration (about the 1 minute mark):
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5stV_1...
                                  IIRC Jbroida convexes some knives behind the edge in some of his videos, though that's not quite as useful with a laser as it is with a thicker knife.

                                  Anyway, it's pretty much what it sounds like, and with a little experimentation, you'll find that it's not very hard. That said, here are a few considerations:

                                  - On a particularly asymmetrical knife, you want to to most or all of your thinning on the face (more convex) side of the blade. This helps preserve the geometry a little better, as long as you keep the working edge from migrating away from the back side of the knife. For the yusuke, even though the asymmetry isn't super pronounced, I still thin mainly on the face side of the blade since the back is fairly close to flat ground.

                                  - You can thin in two different ways. One is to lay the knife flat on the stone and then simply push down on the edge, thus thinning the face of the blade. The other way is to raise the spine just a bit, but not as much as if you were sharpening the edge bevel; this thins the 'shoulder' of the edge bevel.

                                  - If you thin at the face of the blade, you'll wind up with markings extending a little bit up the blade - the bottom part of the blade will be shinier, usually. For me this isn't an aesthetic problem since my knives are generally carbon steel a patina covers these markings after a cutting session or two. Since you're using a stainless blade, you'd just have to decide whether this bothers you. Functionally, a little polish low on the blade can be a good thing. And you can always polish the rest of the blade if you want, though I wouldn't use a stone to do it.

                                  - If you thin at the shoulder, there's a little more potential to slowly change the geometry of the blade. Also, since the Konosuke is so thin, you'd actually have to be careful not to thin the shoulder too much because you could either weaken the edge or even just apply a new, lower angle edge bevel. It wouldn't take too much work on a coarse or even medium grit stone to do so.

                                  - Just like you move up in grits while sharpening, you should polish out the scratches from coarser stones while thinning. You don't necessarily need to go to 10k or anything, but you don't want deep scratches from a bester 500 or dmt coarse left in the side of your knife to get rusty or cruddy.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                    petek Apr 27, 2012 03:02 AM

                                    Thanks cowboy! Excellent explanation as always.
                                    I might give it a shot,buy I think I'll practice on some of my older,less used knives. first.

                                    Cheers

                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                s
                                shezmu Apr 26, 2012 11:09 PM

                                @Chemicalkinetics - No, this knife will be my first. I'm not phased by any challenges brought up by the ultra thinness or chippiness inherit to J-knives, as you'd probably gathered from my previous interest in buying a usuba. I know that I should avoid the sub 1k stones for the time being. I'm by no means a bull in a china shop and I, unlike Bobby Flay, know that knives are not can openers. Cookware however, well... let's just say I'm not buying copper pans anytime soon.

                                Also, are you guys trying to sublimely convince me to buy a usuba? :p

                                1. re: shezmu
                                  Chemicalkinetics Apr 27, 2012 11:45 AM

                                  <are you guys trying to sublimely convince me to buy a usuba? :p>

                                  Definitely, not.

                                  I just wasn't sure if a laser (thin blade) Japanese knife should be your very first Japanese knife or if a thicker one should be. The thicker one will still be thinner than most German knives. It seems both cowboy and petek think this should not be a problem, so I do value their opinions a lot, but as you can tell TraderJoe and I are slightly concern -- not a lot, just slightly.

                              3. re: cowboyardee
                                b
                                bkling Apr 30, 2012 08:34 AM

                                "No offense to the OP, but his usuba is extra fragile because he is sharpening the primary bevel all the way to the edge without including a more obtuse edge bevel."

                                I'm the OP, no offense taken. But although I sharpened the Usuba as you described recently to remove chips (no secondary bevel), in the past I sharpened it with a more obtuse secondary bevel and have since restored that. Still it was incredibly easy to chip. Maybe this knife is just extra delicate, though it is said to be a good one. After working hard recently to reform my cutting style, and finding that my other knives (including a very hard carbon nakiri and some V-10s) no longer chip, the Usuba chips with the slightest use. It is very delicate. This is the only Usuba I've used so I can't generalize but this one is very far from being a slightly delicate nakiri.

                                1. re: bkling
                                  Chemicalkinetics Apr 30, 2012 08:43 AM

                                  <in the past I sharpened it with a more obtuse secondary bevel and have since restored that. Still it was incredibly easy to chip>

                                  I am sorry to hear that. There is one potential reason for this. Have you sharpened this knife with a very coarse DMT diamond stone? I have noticed that knife edge tends to chip when it was previously sharpened by a XXC DMT stone. In other words, if I sharpen the knife on a DMT diamond XXC stone, then 1000 grit, then 2000 grit,...., then it readily chips. Now, sharpening this same knife again by removing the DMT stone in your workflow will decrease its chance for chipping.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    b
                                    bkling Apr 30, 2012 01:30 PM

                                    No, I used Naniwa stones throughout. I think this is just a very chippy knife and I plan to use it in the future only to learn the cutting techniques for which it is designed. Other Usubas are probably not quite as delicate.

                                    1. re: bkling
                                      Chemicalkinetics Apr 30, 2012 01:35 PM

                                      Sorry to hear this. Keep the knife for awhile. Maybe you will figure how to work around it.

                              4. re: shezmu
                                Chemicalkinetics Apr 26, 2012 05:21 PM

                                <Don't nakiris have more tasks they can do than usubas? Like mincing for instance.>

                                I am very sure that you can use an usuba to mince. Part of the issue has been nicely explained by cowboy. It comes down to the fact that an usuba requires a different sharpening strategy than any double bevel knives (like nakiri). So when an usuba is sharpened in an not-so-optimal way, then the usuba will naturally behave badly.

                              5. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                TraderJoe Apr 27, 2012 07:49 AM

                                To professional Japanese chefs, they indeed use an usuba in place of a nakiri.

                                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                I think that's a bit of a yes and no. From my understanding there are regions in Japan where Chef's who use a Usuba use it almost exclusively of other knives. There is also more than one type of Usuba.

                                Sharpening skills are paramount for a Usuba, even more so than other single bevel Japanese knives.

                                A laser of any brand is probably not the best choice for a noob simply because they are more delicate and require skill not only in use but in sharpening.
                                I wouldn't let my lasers any where near a 500 grit stone. Even the thought of 1,000 makes me cringe. New sharpeners can do far more harm than good with coarse stones. If you buy a laser think about just maintaining the profile with a 3-5K stone until you ease into your new knife and skill set.
                                I've never found VG-10 to be chippy. Chips are usually the result of improper heat treatment in knife/steel construction or abuse.

                                TJ

                                1. re: TraderJoe
                                  cowboyardee Apr 27, 2012 12:18 PM

                                  "I've never found VG-10 to be chippy. Chips are usually the result of improper heat treatment in knife/steel construction or abuse."
                                  _______
                                  The point is that some steels are more prone to chipping than others given the heat treatment and hardness that they're most typically found at in kitchen knives. That's not to say that chips are unavoidable or anything; just that over time, you're more likely to see more chips/microchips using one steel than another. It's all relative.

                                  Is vg10 tempered to 61 hrc more chip-prone than 440c tempered to 57? Undoubtedly, and that alone doesn't imply that the vg10 is tempered badly. Is vg10 tempered to 61 hrc more chip prone than white #2 tempered to hrc 61? Yes, in my experience.

                                  There may be ways to temper vg10 to bring it to the same hardness with less chippiness - I've heard arguments both ways about Hattori's vg10 - but some of the most common vg10 knives on the market (shun classic, tojiro DP) seem to be a little more chip-prone than other knives with similarly acute edges and similar hardness (again, IME). Which isn't to say that they're defective or bad knives. It's just one trade-off of many.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                    TraderJoe Apr 27, 2012 05:00 PM

                                    Good and valid points about VG-10. I think that VG-10 really got a bit of a bad rap when Hattori over tempered a run a few years back. I really see that as a manufacturing defect and not a behavior of the steel. I'm usually thinking in terms of VG-10 Vs Vg-10. IIR the Kagayaki is Hrc 60 and the bad run of Hattori's was over Hrc63.
                                    I had a less than favorible view of VG-10 prior to owning the Kagayaki. I wouldn't want to own all VG-10 but some of the knives in VG-10 represent an excellent value and after three years with the Kagayaki I've had no problems with chips.
                                    I've not owned a Tojo DP but they seem very popular.

                                    TJ

                                  2. re: TraderJoe
                                    cowboyardee Apr 27, 2012 01:04 PM

                                    "I wouldn't let my lasers any where near a 500 grit stone. Even the thought of 1,000 makes me cringe."
                                    ________
                                    This is a good point - I most often start off on a 2k grit stone when fully resharpening a laser, or 5k or 8k grit if just touching up the knife. I have gone as low as 800 grit, but that's just a few swipes to quickly reset the bevels and do a minute's worth of thinning to the face of the blade above the edge; and I'm a fairly experienced sharpener who knows when enough is enough. Less experienced sharpeners are best off with a very conservative hand when sharpening a laser, or even starting off with another Japanese knife until their sharpening skill is honed.

                                    Like I said above, my biggest concern with a newcomer using a laser isn't abuse during use (they're so light that it's kind of obvious that they're not good for rough treatment, and sloppy vigorous rock chopping 'feels' wrong - there's a lot of feedback with a knife so thin); it's sharpening. I don't know offhand how much experience shezmu has as a sharpener.

                      2. Candy Mar 8, 2012 12:53 PM

                        I was given a Shun Alton's Angle paring knife. We rarely used it for anything other cheese, occasionally salami. I noticed that it was looking micro-serrated. I was able to bring it back in to good shape with a bit of work and since I've had no problems.

                        1. b
                          bkling Mar 6, 2012 09:07 AM

                          Thanks, this has been a very useful discussion. For me the upshot is that I would need to change my cutting style (lighter strokes, no lateral pressure, etc) and perhaps sharpen at a steeper angle. I just got out an 8" Wusthof Ikon and I'm going to use it a while to see if the sharpness advantage of Japanese knives really makes much difference to me in practice. If not, they're more trouble than they're worth to me. If so, I'll resharpen the Japanese knives and try again.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bkling
                            Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 10:50 AM

                            I have Wusthof Ikon, and I must say that I am a lot happier with the Japanese knives than with Wusthof Ikon.

                          2. j
                            JustyBear Mar 6, 2012 05:08 AM

                            If you have good japanese knives (not westernized ones...like the ones I use), I wouldn't hone them. The edge tends to be brittle and very hard- the hone will eat it up. If anything, to touch it up you should be making a couple light passes on a stone to keep it razor sharp.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JustyBear
                              Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 06:51 AM

                              Agree

                            2. Chemicalkinetics Mar 5, 2012 10:13 PM

                              "hone on a fine black ceramic rod"

                              Aside from some of the good suggestions, you probably also want to avoid using a ceramic rod if you don't have to. This is especially for someone like you who have been sharpening for years.

                              1. h
                                honeybea Mar 5, 2012 07:47 PM

                                There was some talk a while back about chipping being caused by the magnetic strip some people use (including me) to store their knives. Putting and pulling the knives on and off stressed the steel or something. You didn't mention how you store yours. Could this be a part of the problem?

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: honeybea
                                  d
                                  Dave5440 Mar 5, 2012 08:11 PM

                                  Yes that is a plausible cause as dragging over a magnet reorientes the molecules in the steel, but I never have and never will use a mag storage device. In my case it really is the steel very high carbon and very hard with a suspect grain structure (large)

                                  1. re: Dave5440
                                    g
                                    GH1618 Mar 5, 2012 09:07 PM

                                    Magnets do not reorient the molecules, they reorient the unpaired electrons that give atoms a magnetic moment.

                                  2. re: honeybea
                                    cowboyardee Mar 5, 2012 08:33 PM

                                    I use a magnetic strip with Japanese knives with acute edge angles. No chipping problems. Significantly, magnetic strips are also popular among the knife forum guys, most of whom use Japanese knives.

                                    OTOH, I can see how you could easily chip a knife when putting it on or taking it off the strip if you're not careful not to ding the edge, at least if you use the bare metal strips like I do (the wooden ones are admittedly nice, and don't scratch a knife's sides either).

                                    1. re: cowboyardee
                                      d
                                      Dave5440 Mar 5, 2012 08:44 PM

                                      In reality I don't use them because of the pets, there are people that live in my house that can't remember to turn off a light let alone make sure the knives are secure, but a magnet will change the structure of a knife

                                      1. re: Dave5440
                                        Chemicalkinetics Mar 5, 2012 09:00 PM

                                        How do pet alter the situation? If a person forget to put the knives back to the magentic strip, then he/she is just as likely forget to put the knives back into a traditional knife block.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          d
                                          Dave5440 Mar 6, 2012 07:58 PM

                                          If for some reason it falls onto said pet. I really don't want to come home to a screaming dying cat or dog or a blood trail all over my house. Yes I realise they are secure and the chances of it happening are slim, but it could happen.I never thought my sheperd would jump onto the kitchen counter and eat an entire pizza then close the box when he was done but the @@#$ did , so I'd worry if he repeats his performance he'd knock one off or cut himself up there. Then there is the break-in or home invasion possibilities , I know where my knives are I don't need to hand an intruder one when they walk through the door.

                                          1. re: Dave5440
                                            Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 08:01 PM

                                            "but it could happen.I never thought my sheperd would jump onto the kitchen counter and eat an entire pizza then close the box when he was done but the @@#$ did "

                                            I love your shepherd already. :D

                                            Now, I see what you mean. You don't mean that some guests forget to put knives back to the magnetic strip. You mean that the dogs knock off the knives from the magnetic strip. Good point.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              d
                                              Dave5440 Mar 6, 2012 08:47 PM

                                              I never kid proofed anything , but I keep an eye out for the pets. I tend to think ahead, same reason I HAVE to wear shoes when I cook and prep.

                                            2. re: Dave5440
                                              k
                                              kaleokahu Mar 6, 2012 08:57 PM

                                              Hi, Dave5440:

                                              The idea is for the Shepherd to tie up the intruder long enough for you to grab the Mossberg pump from ITS magnetic rack... ;)

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                d
                                                Dave5440 Mar 6, 2012 09:09 PM

                                                Only with the slobber getting in the intruders eyes
                                                Oh I miss my guns, I got rid of them(I stopped hunting) when the fiberals introduced the long gun registry,, but pent up rage would carry me for a while

                                              2. re: Dave5440
                                                s
                                                steakwit Apr 1, 2012 10:28 PM

                                                Did he wash the dished too?

                                            3. re: Dave5440
                                              cowboyardee Mar 5, 2012 09:29 PM

                                              "but a magnet will change the structure of a knife"
                                              _______
                                              I'm sure it does in some small way. But it doesn't seem to cause chipping or performance issues for me or for quite a few other online knife nerds who like thin edges and mag strips.

                                              1. re: Dave5440
                                                g
                                                GH1618 Mar 6, 2012 04:03 PM

                                                "... but a magnet will change the structure of a knife."

                                                Only if you bash them together with sufficient force.

                                          2. cowboyardee Mar 5, 2012 06:09 PM

                                            Some Japanese knives chip a good deal with an edge set at 32 degrees included. Many Japanese knives do not chip very much at that angle. Most of my knives don't chip often with normal use, and most of my knives are sharpened well below 16 degrees/side* Though they are inherently MORE prone to chipping than Western knives, that doesn't mean that chipping on a regular basis is something that you should just come to expect from Japanese knives. In other words, something is off in your case.

                                            Your most likely problems (one, some, or all may apply):

                                            - Your cutting motion applies too much lateral pressure to the edge. Probably because you're rocking the knife while cutting AND applying a lot of pressure in your cutting stroke as you might
                                            with a Western knife. The fix: practice push cutting; practice using a very smooth motion without much wiggle; ease up on the cutting pressure.

                                            - You're sharpening at lower angle than you thought. The fix: you can make a 16 degree angle guide just to check if that's the angle you're actually using.

                                            - The bamboo cutting board (already not the easiest material on knife edges) has more grit in it than most. The fix: an end grain wooden board will help. These can be bought cheaply at Target, Walmart, etc if you don't want to buy a very nice but more expensive custom board. Switching from a bamboo board to end grain wood made a big difference in chippy-ness for a friend who uses a Tojiro DP gyuto (which is notably chip-prone). I should know since I do his sharpening.

                                            - Your particular knives all just happen to be the very chippy sort. This is sort of unlikely, but it's possible. You never did mention which knives you actually have, right? What are they? The fix: sharpen at a steeper angle or try out other Japanese knives that are more chip-resistant.

                                            *I said above that my knives are sharpened at a lower angle than 16 deg/side, and for the most part that's true. However, I do include a fairly steep microbevel on one side of my edges for most knives. I'm talking maybe 30 degrees, applied only with a few strokes of my 8k stone once the knife is fully sharpened to a much lower angle. This may be a good strategy for you too, because it allows the knife to still perform like a thin, acute edged Japanese knife, but seems to provide some real resistance to microchipping. Consider it, regardless of what your main problem might be.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: cowboyardee
                                              Chemicalkinetics Mar 5, 2012 06:27 PM

                                              "that doesn't mean that chipping on a regular basis is something that you should just come to expect from Japanese knives."

                                              Agree.

                                              "Your cutting motion applies too much lateral pressure to the edge"

                                              That is a real possibly since many people who use rock chopping also use a lateral motion to move the knife around the cutting board.

                                              bkling,

                                              As cowboy has asked, are your knives from the same brand or different brands? What are they? Sometime, the factory edge can be slightly chippy, but since you have sharpened them, the edge will no longer be as chippy.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                d
                                                Dave5440 Mar 5, 2012 07:43 PM

                                                Do you remember that ceramic knife video that the blade ended up looking like a bread knife? The same thing will happen to steel on a smaller scale if subjected to the same abuse. The heat treat is most likely the cause of the chippyness, carbon steels at a slightly lower RC are tougher. I suspect this is why myiabi dropped the rc from 66 to 62(I think it was 62)

                                              2. re: cowboyardee
                                                cannibal Mar 6, 2012 07:37 AM

                                                "lateral pressure to the edge"

                                                That's what I was trying to say in an above post but I couldn't really express it clearly. For being my primary language, I really don't english well before breakfast :P

                                              3. k
                                                knifesavers Mar 5, 2012 01:25 PM

                                                Personally I don't use them and based on the number of chipped ones I see I don't think I would own one. I'll stick with old American carbon steel and German stainless.

                                                Jim

                                                1. scubadoo97 Mar 5, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                  Some steels are prone to chipping more than others. My Tojiro DP gyuto chips more than any other knife I own. They are small micro chips but chips they are. Doesn't interfere with most cutting tasks but bothers me just the same.

                                                  My carbon steel knives never seem to chip.

                                                  The chips are easy to sharpen out. A micro bevel will help reduce them but may not eliminate them.

                                                  1. k
                                                    kaleokahu Mar 5, 2012 10:47 AM

                                                    Hi, bkling: "If the knives are really this delicate I'm beginning to question whether they're really good kitchen tools for a home cook like me. They are very slightly sharper than my Western knives but that advantage is more than offset if I have to be so delicate with them all the time."

                                                    Welcome to reality. Harder heat-treat + lower edge angles + thinner blades + sharp-as-you-can-get-it generally equates with an increased propensity to chip. There are other specific variables at work too, which can vary all the way down from maker to specific blades. Frankly, I find it more surprising that the problem is not worse.

                                                    What you might want to try is to get a very knowledgeable pro sharpener to put a *convex* edge on one of your Japanese blades, and see if the same thing happens.

                                                    Aloha,
                                                    Kaleo

                                                    37 Replies
                                                    1. re: kaleokahu
                                                      cowboyardee Mar 5, 2012 06:18 PM

                                                      The convex edge isn't a bad idea, though if the OP is half decent at hand sharpening knives, there's no reason he can't do it himself.

                                                      As to the rest of your post, here's the thing: In theory, you are correct that chipping is more likely given a lot of the attributes of Japanese knives. But in practice, a lot of people use J-knives just fine without any major chipping issues. Any knife that a person sharpens himself can be adjusted to an ideal mix of performance (acuity of edge, basically) and durability. That may vary person to person. But if a knife chips too much, you can always just sharpen it more obtusely, use a microbevel, convex the edge, etc. Unless you're going to abuse your knives (the obvious stuff - hacking through bones and ice, opening cans, banging it around in a drawer), you just don't need a knife that is as resistant to chipping as the Western style blade. So why not use something that performs better and dial the edge to your personal ideal?

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                        k
                                                        kaleokahu Mar 5, 2012 06:59 PM

                                                        Hi, cowboy: "Unless you're going to abuse your knives (the obvious stuff - hacking through bones and ice, opening cans, banging it around in a drawer), you just don't need a knife that is as resistant to chipping..."

                                                        I understand what you're saying, but that sort of begs the question asked by the OP. I mean 'abuse' is in the eye of the beholder to a fair degree, and your quoted statement amounts basically to a caution not to do things that will chip chippable knives.

                                                        The segment of the population (and I'd wager here on CH) who will trouble themselves to fine-tune an ideal mix of performance and durability, and change things up in a factory knife is tiny. Most of us just want a knife that is sharp, stays reasonably sharp, and holds up under most conditions (including minor "abuse"); if it's not that way pretty much out of the box or home from the sharpener, that'll be the end of the effort. More's the pity, but it's the truth.

                                                        Aloha,
                                                        Kaleo

                                                        1. re: kaleokahu
                                                          cowboyardee Mar 5, 2012 08:24 PM

                                                          "The segment of the population (and I'd wager here on CH) who will trouble themselves to fine-tune an ideal mix of performance and durability, and change things up in a factory knife is tiny."
                                                          ________
                                                          Agreed. I'm not trying to push Japanese knives on anybody and everybody who's looking to buy a kitchen knife. Western knives make sense for plenty of people.

                                                          But the important consideration in this particular case is that the OP has made it clear that [s]he's already willing to put the work in. If you already sharpen by hand on waterstones, there's no reason to toss your hat in on Japanese knives when just a little tweaking of your sharpening technique and/or cutting technique will suffice.

                                                          No one ever mentions it, but there's no reason why a person who hand sharpens can't just put a 40-45 degree included edge on a Japanese knife just like those on Western knives and then use it for anything shy of meat-cleavering. No chips, still less resistance in cutting than Western knives due to the overall grind, and better edge retention to boot. My experience with Japanese knives leads me to believe that such an obtuse edge just isn't necessary to avoid chipping, but the point is that inherent chippy-ness doesn't need to be taken as a given.

                                                          "I mean 'abuse' is in the eye of the beholder to a fair degree, and your quoted statement amounts basically to a caution not to do things that will chip chippable knives."
                                                          ________
                                                          My quoted statement wasn't quite that arbitrary. For one, it was all practices that the OP seems willing to avoid. For another, they were also all practices that will quickly dull the crap out of a Western knife. If someone is not willing to avoid that kind of 'abuse' (as I see it), then the issue of Western vs Japanese knives becomes a matter of picking your poison: do you want to put up with chips or do you want to put up with knives that are never sharp? Really, if someone refuses to avoid the practices I listed, they're probably best off either using serrated knives as their primary weapons of choice, or else just buying cheap non-serrated knives and aggressively using a grooved steel before each cutting session. Which is fine, if that's what someone wants to do. But I don't think the OP falls into that category.

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee
                                                            k
                                                            kaleokahu Mar 5, 2012 08:51 PM

                                                            Hi, cowboy: "If someone is not willing to avoid that kind of 'abuse' (as I see it), then the issue of Western vs Japanese knives becomes a matter of picking your poison: do you want to put up with chips or do you want to put up with knives that are never sharp?"

                                                            How did we get to "never sharp"? I never was talking about gratuitous or intentional abuse. But knives take knocks, and it's not simply a matter of refusing to take care. A Western blade at 59-60 is generally going to handle the knocks more gracefully, and needn't be "never sharp".

                                                            Perhaps the OP, having drank the 'thin-n-hard' Kool Aid, was considering a change?

                                                            Aloha,
                                                            Kaleo

                                                            1. re: kaleokahu
                                                              cowboyardee Mar 5, 2012 09:26 PM

                                                              We got to 'never sharp' because I was positing that this kind of (hypothetical) treatment is a regular thing.

                                                              If we're just talking about one-time occurrences, that doesn't much change my point. Whether you chip a Japanese knife hacking through frozen spinach or dull a Western knife doing the same, the fix is no different: sharpen the knife.

                                                              It would be another matter if the OP were talking about big, nasty chips that are hard to sharpen out. But the problem here is presumably micro-chipping.

                                                              The OP can do as he or she wishes. My point was that the fix is probably nothing much beyond what he or she is already doing, so vomiting up the Kool Aid seems a tad premature.

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                k
                                                                kaleokahu Mar 5, 2012 10:04 PM

                                                                Hi, cowboy:

                                                                I didn't get the impression the OP is dealing with microchips, given her/his comment that "[I]t seems I'll eventually have a collection of serrated Japanese knives." Why do you think it's just microchipping?

                                                                You more than most understand that taking a blade back to good after even a modest chip is orders of magnitude more difficult and involved than simply touching up an edge. Doing it right is beyond the ability of the vast majority. Depth is lost, thickness changes, all the bevels need adjustment, it ends up a different knife. And after it chips a second or third time after the "fix", well, I can understand the OP's frustration.

                                                                Aloha,
                                                                Kaleo

                                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                  cowboyardee Mar 5, 2012 10:14 PM

                                                                  I'll agree that sharpening out moderate to large sized chips is a real PITA. Microchips OTOH come out quickly on a coarse stone, and don't absolutely demand an immediate sharpening anyway.

                                                                  My assumption that the OP is dealing with micro-chipping comes mainly from the fact that he says they have been appearing regularly. Normally, big chips don't occur regularly unless there is something seriously wrong with the knife or how you use it. And 'appearing' also makes me think we're talking microchips since usually when you chip a big piece out of an edge, you know exactly when and how it got there.

                                                                  That said, I'm speculating based on my experience, and unless the OP chimes in, I couldn't say for sure what he's experiencing.

                                                                  But yes, moderate to big chips regularly coming out of an edge are a more serious problem that indicate more than just a small adjustment is needed.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                    b
                                                                    bkling Mar 6, 2012 08:59 AM

                                                                    Thanks for the interesting discussion, I haven't been back on the board since it started so let me clarify a couple of points.

                                                                    It's not microchipping that concerns me but larger chips in the 2-4mm range.

                                                                    I don't do any of the obviously abusive things mentioned (storing in drawers, using like a cleaver, etc.) Perhaps I just bear down on the knife a bit more than some people, make small sideways movements at the bottom of a cut when the razon-sharp knife is slightly embedded in the fibers of the cutting board...must be something like that because I'm not doing the obviously abusive things mentioned. Must be a relatively subtle (to me...) matter of cutting style. I imagine that people having fewer chips must have trained themselves to cut more gently, never scrape the pieces off the board with the knife, etc etc. When I get in a hurry I guess I forget those things. At least that's what I'm thinking.

                                                                    I do hear what some are saying about changing the angle, but with a steeper angle one begins to lose the sharpness advantage of the harder steel.

                                                                    Also -- I wonder if the stainless V10 knives chip less readily than the white and blue Japanese carbon steel knives I've mostly used.

                                                                    1. re: bkling
                                                                      cowboyardee Mar 6, 2012 09:19 AM

                                                                      those larger chips are a bigger problem. To be honest, I'm not sure why you would regularly experience such large chips - I've been using quite a few low angle Japanese knives for the better part of a decade, and I've had only one large chip - that was chopping through a bone with a backswing. I do scrape pieces off the board with the knife edge sometimes, and never had large chips result from that.

                                                                      A question: how far do these chips extend into the knife's edge? Are they shallow chips just at the edge that are 2-4 mm long? Or are they as deep as they are long?

                                                                      If I had to guess, I'd say that your cutting motion is the most likely problem. Lots of pressure, lots of wiggle. Especially if your chips are the shallow but long kind - that would sound like you've just never adjusted your technique from Western style rock chopping with a lot of pressure. But that's only a guess. If your chips are also deep, I'm more at a loss as to what's causing the problem.

                                                                      Try a microbevel first before you do anything drastic. You'll probably be surprised how little it affects cutting performance if you do it right.

                                                                      Generally, vg10 chips MORE easily than white and blue carbon steel. But it all depends on how a given blade is tempered,

                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                        b
                                                                        bkling Mar 6, 2012 09:53 AM

                                                                        Cow, I think you've diagnosed the problem correctly -- too much lateral motion and too much pressure. The chips occur at several places along the blade, and not within an inch of either end. They tend to be approximately equilateral triangles -- like saw teeth -- not long shallow chips. I just have to decide whether I care enough to change decades long habits or just relax and do what feels right. Never had any problem keeping good western knives nice and sharp and chipless.

                                                                        I do find it a bit irritating when people refer to western knife practices as bad, sloppy, etc. Or to eastern practices as cleaner. Might just as well refer to these chippy Japanese knives as dirty weak blades, or delicate flowers unable to stand up to real world conditions. Neither set of terms makes sense, they're just different.

                                                                        1. re: bkling
                                                                          Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                                          "Never had any problem keeping good western knives nice and sharp and chipless."

                                                                          Western knives like Wusthof and Henckels go dull much faster than Japanese blue steel white steel knives. One rolls out easier and one chips easier. They both go dull.

                                                                          "I do find it a bit irritating when people refer to western knife practices as bad, sloppy, etc. "

                                                                          To be technically correct, it isn't that western knife practice is bad. It is more correct to say that western knives can lead some people to develop bad practices -- two different things. For example, a twisting lateral motion on a cutting board is just bad. Bad for Western knives and bad for Japanese knives. However, the damage is more visible for Japanese knives. As such, it is easier to develop bad knife habits with a Western soft steel knives than a Japanese hard steel knives.

                                                                          The way I see is that one will vastly improve the knife skills by removing some of these bad knife practices -- which is beneficial for any Western or Japanese knives.

                                                                          1. re: bkling
                                                                            k
                                                                            kaleokahu Mar 6, 2012 11:26 AM

                                                                            Hi, bkling:

                                                                            Obviously, you should not feel a need to apologize for not babying your knives. You probably wouldn't apologize for a high-performance car that was so tempermental that you couldn't keep it on the road. For God's sake, don't hit any potholes!

                                                                            Aloha,
                                                                            Kaleo

                                                                            1. re: bkling
                                                                              cowboyardee Mar 6, 2012 11:51 AM

                                                                              You can still try adding a microbevel, but if your chips are deep enough, I'm less confident that it would help.

                                                                              Also, you've never mentioned exactly what knives you're using. There are Japanese knives that are less prone to chipping than most blue and white carbon steel. Something like the Fujiwara FKM has a Japanese grind but similar hardness and chip-resistance to Western knives. The edge is more prone to folding, but chips shouldn't be a big issue. Likewise, some blue and white steel blades are more prone to chipping than others.

                                                                              Honestly, you might be someone who is better off with Western knives. Nothing wrong with that, if it's the case. The fact that you sharpen opens up a lot of options, but if you already have a very efficient and habitual cutting style with Western knives, then the transition to Japanese knives might just not be worth messing with your cutting style. That said, it's not like rock chopping automatically causes chips with J knives. Many people rock chop without experiencing frequent large chips. How much of an adjustment to your cutting style would be necessary is impossible for me to say without seeing you in action. Your cutting board might be exacerbating the problem, but that is also hard to say for certain.

                                                                              I don't think anyone here said that Western cutting practices are inherently bad. They're not. But they're not ideal for using Japanese knives. Plus, as chem pointed out, a lot of wiggle in a rock-chopping motion is sub-ideal whether you use Japanese knives or Western - it's just that you can get away with it more easily with Western knives.

                                                                              You actually can refer to Japanese blades as weak or chippy - in a comparative sense, that's true (though I don't know where 'dirty' came from). In exchange for that trade-off, they offer less cutting resistance, more precision in cutting, and better edge retention (chipping aside). Whether that trade-off is a good one for you personally, only you can decide.

                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 12:10 PM

                                                                                "That said, it's not like rock chopping automatically causes chips with J knives"

                                                                                Agree. I don't think a pure rock chop motion will causes chips. I have intentionally rock chopped with my Japanese knives before. Again, I do know it is very natural for people who rock chop to twist their knives during the rock chop motion, so it is the lateral twisting motion which I worry.

                                                                                "it's just that you can get away with it more easily with Western knives."

                                                                                Nicely put. Even then, it is not ideal for a Western knife. These motions roll the edge of a Western softer steel knife much faster than otherwise.

                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                  b
                                                                                  bkling Mar 6, 2012 01:33 PM

                                                                                  Your comments (and Chemkinetics') on western knives are a bit one-sided. Yes, the lateral motion dulls them, too. But there are two points to be made about that. For one thing, a rolled edge takes a few seconds of honing to correct. Fixing a chip is a much more involved and difficult job. Second, the same qualities that make western knives what they are mean that a single knife can do many things. You don't have to use one knife for veggies, another for cutting the sandwich you just made because your delicate nakiri can't handle the crusty bread, etc. Again, I like both kinds of knives (thus the problem...) but there are definite advantages to western knives regardless of cutting techniques.

                                                                                  Finally, I also like the feel of a razor sharp edge slipping through the food, but I have to admit that a sharp western knife does a pretty good job, too. What's that value of that tiny difference in the force required? Japanese knives are cool! That's a good enough reason to use them if you like them. I think we're really agreeing on most of this and I appreciate all the great comments.

                                                                                  1. re: bkling
                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 02:37 PM

                                                                                    bkling,

                                                                                    Actually, it really depends on how you want to see it. If we are talking about one-sided, then we have to keep this in perspective. You asked in your original post if the chipping is normal. I have to say no. I have personally never seen the kind of chipping (2-4 mm) you described in any of my knives. So for me the fix for a microchipping is not that different from a fix for a rolled edge. As for the kind of big chips you experienced, I cannot be sure what happened. I have cut phone books, scraped bones, and I have never chipped my knives the way you have described.

                                                                                    http://www.chow.com/photos/714200

                                                                                    Second, about the comment that western knives are meant to use one single knife to do many things. Truth is that most Japanese also can use one knife to multitask in their kitchens too. You don't really think an average Japanese has 10 different knives in their kitchens, right? We, Americans, buy multiple Japanese knives because it is interesting. If we have to talk about multiple knives, then we have to understand that the idea of having a knife block with 10+ knives is a much more European concept than a Japanese belief -- the tomato knife, cheese knife, utility knife, bread knife, carving knife, slicing knife...etc. A Nakiri is a very good vegetable knife, but many people (including me) use it to cut meat as well. In term of Chinese cutlery, Chinese are much more famous inline of using one single knife -- the Chinese cleaver to handle everything. So I think the idea that European chef knives are all purpose, and Asian kitchen knives are single task is a misplaced concept.

                                                                                    As cowboyaredee said, Japanese knives are not for everyone. If you have run into bad experience of them, then that is important enough for you. However, again, please do understand that most of us have not run into the kind of problem you have. So, some of your questions do not apply to us. For example, your comment of "For one thing, a rolled edge takes a few seconds of honing to correct. Fixing a chip is a much more involved and difficult job" does not really apply to me. I rarely develop a chip blade and if I did, the chips are barely visible. Another example, your comment about nakiri that "You don't have to use one knife for veggies, another for cutting the sandwich you just made because your delicate nakiri can't handle the crusty bread, etc." also does not apply. I have cut my bread with my nakiri. I certainly do not think my nakiri being too delicate for bread. Bone maybe a problem, but not bread. You can even argue that a serrated bread knife is more effective than a nakiri for cutting bread, but again that is not because the nakiri is too delicate. It is not going to break if I cut bread with it.

                                                                                    So, my Japanese hard steel knives actually require less time to maintain than my German knives because the edge on my Japanese knives last much longer. Again, this is my experience, which is different from yours.

                                                                                    Based on cowboy's comment, I also don't think he see large chipping on a regular basis. Petek and Dave can comment their experience, but my understanding is that they do not.

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                      b
                                                                                      bkling Mar 6, 2012 02:59 PM

                                                                                      Do you know if Chinese style cleavers typically use steel that's hardened to the same degree as typical Japanese knives?

                                                                                      1. re: bkling
                                                                                        Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 03:10 PM

                                                                                        Exactly what Japanese knives you have? Maybe I missed it. I think a few of us have asked you about this, so you may have answered somewhere I didn't see.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                          b
                                                                                          bkling Mar 6, 2012 03:39 PM

                                                                                          Not at home so can't give you all the details, but here are a couple specifics:

                                                                                          Nashiji Nakiri
                                                                                          http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=85682

                                                                                          Kumagoro Usuba Hocho
                                                                                          http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd....

                                                                                          Others I have (sashimi, deba) are about the same quality and cost as the usuba hocho. I also have a few really cheap rustic knives used rarely.

                                                                                          So these aren't top of the line but if I'm not mistaken they're decent knives.

                                                                                          1. re: bkling
                                                                                            Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 03:54 PM

                                                                                            I will view it later when I get home. I cannot view them now. I do know epicureanedge does not sell cheap knives, but that is what I am trying to imply. I am just curious if these knives have a reputation of poor factory edge.

                                                                                            I don't know your intention of your original post. If you are trying to vent your disappointments, then we feel your pain. If you are trying to look for a solution to your current problems, then we tried to provide the best answers we believe.

                                                                                            I know some of us may come off as criticizing your knife technique, but the fact of the matter is that something is seriously wrong if you are getting 2-4 mm chips on a regular basis. I have several Japanese knives and I have not experienced this with any of them. Assuming there is nothing weird about your knives, then something else must not be right.

                                                                                            Although rock chopping is not ideal of using Japanese knives, I have not developed chips using the rock chopping motion. I do know twisting a knife in lateral motion can chip a knife edge. Knife twisting is not a Western knife technique. It is just a habit which some people pick up while using the Western knife techniques. It is an artifact. So if you think you can remove these knife habits, then you can give the Japanese knives another try. If you don't think you can change the way you use your knives, then it is just easier to switch back to Western knives. As cowboy has suggested, you have to make that decision.

                                                                                            Please do understand that most of us do not develop chips on a regular basis and do not baby sit our knives. So for us, the Japanese knives offer very clear advantages without many drawbacks. Now, if I had experienced what you have, then I probably would feel the same way as you do, but such is not the case, so I feel the Japanese knives offer me a lot of advantages.

                                                                                            1. re: bkling
                                                                                              cowboyardee Mar 6, 2012 03:56 PM

                                                                                              Have you been having chipping problems with all of the knives equally or some more than others?

                                                                                              Single bevel knives like the usuba, yanagiba, and deba are a different beast than the nakiri. The nakiri should be usable for most general kitchen tasks, while the others really are much more specialized in both their uses and the cutting techniques you should use with one. Also, if you are sharpening a single beveled knife to 16 degrees and then using it to rock-chop, that pretty well explains the problem right there. Generally, single bevel knives use a micro bevel at the edge at a significantly higher angle than 16 degrees. Also, they are simply not designed for rock chopping and are not analogous to Western knives in the same way that a gyuto or a nakiri would be. They're cool to have, but require a different set of techniques. Rather than the sedan vs sportscar comparison that's been made on this thread, it's more like comparing a family sedan to a motorcycle. The differences are much more pronounced.

                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                b
                                                                                                bkling Mar 6, 2012 04:07 PM

                                                                                                Dear Chem and Cowboyardee, you have both been very generous in sharing your expertise and have been helpful. So Chem, you sound a bit exasperated but I hear what you've been saying and get the fact that my experience is not like yours and many others.. As I said somewhere here, the takehome message for me is that I need to change my technique to work with these knives. I'm pretty sure lateral pressure at the end of a cutting stroke is the main problem. With my nakiri, it is so razor sharp that I think it penetrates the surface of my board a bit (due to my heavier-than-needed pressure) which probably makes the lateral force so damaging. Anyway you have been very helpful.

                                                                                                1. re: bkling
                                                                                                  rosetown Mar 6, 2012 04:16 PM

                                                                                                  " I'm pretty sure lateral pressure at the end of a cutting stroke is the main problem. With my nakiri, it is so razor sharp that I think it penetrates the surface of my board a bit (due to my heavier-than-needed pressure) which probably makes the lateral force so damaging."
                                                                                                  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                  I can feel my J- knives objecting to lateral force. They bite into the board surface, and are not happy with lateral movement. It's most noticeable on my edge grain boards, and less noticeable on my cross grain boards.

                                                                                                  1. re: bkling
                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 07:15 PM

                                                                                                    "So Chem, you sound a bit exasperated but I hear what you've been saying and get the fact that my experience is not like yours and many others.."

                                                                                                    No, not at all. I wasn't angry or upset at all. I was on my way to leave, so maybe I typed in a hurry and the urgency came through. I just wanted you to know that some of what you have experienced are not very normal, which can be a good or bad thing -- depending how you see it. You raised a very good question that what good is the a slightly sharper Japanese knife if it chips so much more often than a German knife. It is a good question for your situation. Indeed, it is not a great trade off and it is something you have to balance. As for me, I have not run into this problem, so my "trade-off" is not the same as yours, so this question actually does not apply very well to some of us. If you can imagine, it is like someone asking me that "why do you study chemistry since it is so boring?" Well, it isn't boring to me, so the premise of the question does not translate.

                                                                                                    I don't know for sure if the lateral twisting is the main reason. Hopefully it is and we can resolve it. The other thing I mentioned is that you should try to not hone your knives. It is possible that the honing process actually damaged the knife. These hard steel Japanese knives do not need honing anyway, as they do not roll their edges. So honing a Japanese knife can only do damages without benefits.

                                                                                                    Now, I see you have a nakiri and an usuba. The angle of an usuba is much sharper, so I can see there may be chipping, but 2-4 mm is still kind of large.

                                                                                                2. re: bkling
                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                  JavaBean Mar 8, 2012 12:39 PM

                                                                                                  Hi,
                                                                                                  I was able to eliminate the 1st time with a Japanese knife, non-accidental chips by switching from the German (rock-chopping with a lot of downward force) to the Japanese (push cutting with little to no downward force). The push cutting motion is much more friendlier on hard edges and works as well or better than rocking on most things. I only use the rocking motion for herbs, now and really try not to grind or walk the blade from side to side as twisting the edge while its’ embedded in the board will cause chipping. Try altering your cutting style and / or using a more robust edge (more obtuse angle, plus micro bevel), and changing your bamboo cutting board for something softer.

                                                                                                  Afaik, an Usuba is brutally unforgiving knife that has to be used in a very specific way and only on soft veggies. Its’ very fragile, dead flat, single bevel edge needs to land gently and squarely to the cutting board on each and every stroke. If you come down too hard, sideways, tip or heel first or look at it funny it will chip. It supposedly takes months of practice, just to become decent. If you don’t have a pressing need to do the type of things that an Usuba does, put it aside until you get the hang of a double beveled Japanese knife.

                                                                                                  1. re: JavaBean
                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                    bkling Mar 8, 2012 02:59 PM

                                                                                                    Thanks for the good suggestions. I'm also going to stop using my fine black ceramic rod (though I tried to use it gently) and use only stones, just in case that was causing part of the problem. After all the useful feedback I decided not to give up on Japanese knives and see if I can change my cutting practices. The J-knives are just so sharp...

                                                                                                    1. re: bkling
                                                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Mar 8, 2012 03:01 PM

                                                                                                      Hey bkling,

                                                                                                      Did you ever happened to use diamond stones to sharpen your knives? In other words, what do you use to sharpen your knives?

                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                        bkling Mar 8, 2012 04:50 PM

                                                                                                        I've used diamond stones for Western knives but for my J knives I usually use water stones. Most often over the last year I've used the black ceramic rod (which, I'm told, is about the equivalent of a 4000 grit stone) to touch up blades, and rarely got out the stones. As you've suggested, I'm putting the rod away and going back to stones for J knives.

                                                                                                        1. re: bkling
                                                                                                          Chemicalkinetics Mar 8, 2012 04:56 PM

                                                                                                          The reason I asked is that some people believe diamond stones have a tendency to weaken the blade. As such, the blade looks intact after sharpening, but easily chip during usage. I just wanted to make sure.

                                                                                                          "As you've suggested, I'm putting the rod away and going back to stones for J knives."

                                                                                                          I cannot be sure it is the cause, but let's hide away your rod (for now), and see if a combination of (a) not using rod, (b) move from rock chop to push cutting will reduce your problem.

                                                                                                          Technically speaking, rock chop is fine for Japanese knives. I have done it many times. Again, it is just that it is easier to twist the knife using the rock chop motion. However, feel free to go back to rock chopping later when you are more comfortable.

                                                                                                          I wrote it above, but I will reiterate again. The usuba takes a bit more skill to use and control, and because it has an extremely low angle (~15 degree inclusion) compared to a Nakiri (~30 degree inclusion), it takes more skill to wield one.

                                                                                                          Usuba is really a professional Japanese chef knife, whereas a nakiri is a home cook, everyday, average person knife.

                                                                                                          Good luck

                                                                                                          1. re: bkling
                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                            JavaBean Mar 11, 2012 08:38 PM

                                                                                                            Hi, I’m glad you’ve decided not to give up on j-knives.
                                                                                                            Is the ceramic rod smooth or grooved? Grooved ones are supposedly no-no with j-knives.
                                                                                                            There’s a chance that your edges may be failing from fatigue. You’ve been using your honing rod to touch up, rejuvenate the same edge over and over…doing so excessively is going to produce a straight, but weak edge. Plus, your honing rod is abrading away some amount of metal and weakening the edge on each stroke. You might be pass due for a fresh edge, just create a big enough burr to remove the old edge.

                                                                                                            1. re: JavaBean
                                                                                                              b
                                                                                                              bkling Mar 12, 2012 03:20 PM

                                                                                                              It's a smooth ceramic rod purchased from Epicurean Edge, whose owner told me it is about the equivalent of a 4000 or 5000 grit water stone in roughness. Obviously it does a little bit of sharpening (not just honing in the sense of repositioning a bent-over edge on a wester knife). But it is difficult to see how it would have the effects you mentioned any more than a similar little bit of sharpening on a stone -- provided the pressure is light.

                                                                                                              Also, the proprieter at Epi Edge recommended it for touching up J knives and he knows more about them than most of us put together. So now that I've thought about it a bit longer I'm not giving up on that rod (because it works so well for me to produce that last bit of sharpness) but I AM working to change my cutting style to use less pressure and no lateral stress on the blade. So far so good.

                                                                                                              1. re: bkling
                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                JavaBean Mar 13, 2012 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                Hi,
                                                                                                                It’s great that you have access to a shop that is knowledgably enough to suggest a rod meant for j-knives. I was just checking and hope I didn’t come across wrongly. I know a bunch of questions and suggestions from a complete stranger may seem stupid and insulting.

                                                                                                                I think those 2-4mm chips w/o doing something obvious like hitting something hard or prying may be the result of a structurally compromised edge. Your comment above…”Most often over the last year I've used the black ceramic rod (which, I'm told, is about the equivalent of a 4000 grit stone) to touch up blades, and rarely got out the stones” maybe a problem. Honing with a rod or in my case a charged strop recycles or extends the usability of an edge, but doesn’t form a burr (remove the old and form a new edge) as with stones and only works a certain number of times. In the past, I made the mistake of doing too many light touch-ups, not removing the worn metal and eventually ended with a structurally compromised edge that appeared normal, but failed for no apparent reason. My chips were smaller than yours, but nevertheless wouldn’t have occurred at all with a fresh edge.

                                                                                                                I’m glad your cutting technique adjustments are going well. If I can do it after many years with a german knife, anyone can.

                                                                                                                1. re: bkling
                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                  kaleokahu Mar 13, 2012 11:14 AM

                                                                                                                  Hi, bkling:

                                                                                                                  There was a time (before hardness and thinness ruled the world) when a thorough test of a fine blade included assessing edge *deflection* when pushed against a brass rod. This is a lot tougher test than you moving your edge laterally on the cutting board. The pressure at the tiny area where the convex of the rod meets the plane intersection of the blade's edge can be a high psi number (because the "si" is so minuscule). That's why you shouldn't slap-steel a blade, and that' also why some uber zealots recommend against steels and ceramic rods.

                                                                                                                  In any event, if the brass rod test chipped out the edge (at all), or the edge was left with a deformation, your heat-treat was bad, and you flunked. But hey, that was those backward know-nothing judges at the American Bladesmith Society.

                                                                                                                  IMO the problem is not your ceramic rod, and I'm doubtful it's even really any of your techniques. I think the problem is your knife--the particular blade, the batch of heat-treat, or the maker's execution of parameters for that model's metallurgy and geometry. Has your guru at Epi Edge Rockwell-tested your knife and are you *sure* you know the alloy's composition?

                                                                                                                  To me, this just points up how far afield "sharpness" has taken things.

                                                                                                                  Aloha,
                                                                                                                  Kaleo

                                                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                    cowboyardee Mar 13, 2012 12:03 PM

                                                                                                                    I also doubt that the ceramic rod is the cause of the problem. It is, of course, possible to use it very roughly and chip or crack a hard steel during honing, but this is pretty obvious. Don't be like Gordon Ramsay.
                                                                                                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syvvxx...

                                                                                                                    If you use it carefully, OTOH, I don't think that it should lead to fatigued steel that would be more likely to chip. For one, fatigued steel is more likely to fold than to chip in the first place. For another, 2-4 mm deep are pretty big chips affecting more than the extreme edge of the blade. But the biggest reason I think this is because there are a decent number of guys using ceramic rods over at knife forums with thin edges and hard steels, and have been doing so for years - if this was a likely problem, we'd probably have heard reports of it already.

                                                                                                                    I will say that I don't recommend using a honing rod on a single beveled edge - for these, it's just much easier to keep a flat bevel and avoid damaging an edge with a flat waterstone than a honing rod, and honing the ura (back) side of the knife is problematic from an edge geometry standpoint.

                                                                                              2. re: bkling
                                                                                                cowboyardee Mar 6, 2012 03:29 PM

                                                                                                "For one thing, a rolled edge takes a few seconds of honing to correct. Fixing a chip is a much more involved and difficult job."
                                                                                                _________
                                                                                                Very true. At least a large chip. I don't think I've said anything to the contrary. Lateral motion in rock chopping isn't ideal technique either way is all.

                                                                                                "Second, the same qualities that make western knives what they are mean that a single knife can do many things."
                                                                                                ________
                                                                                                A gyuto is a better comparison than a nakiri. Most gyutos can handle crusty bread and veggies at the same time (actually, so can my nakiri, but then again, my nakiri is one of the thicker nakiris you'll find). It is an all-purpose knife. The one thing it can't usually handle is meat-cleaver duty. Whether that's a major disadvantage depends on how you like to use a chefs knife. But a gyuto isn't really that specialized of a blade. I agree that it can be nice to use a German style chefs knife without much regard for damaging the knife.

                                                                                                "Finally, I also like the feel of a razor sharp edge slipping through the food, but I have to admit that a sharp western knife does a pretty good job, too. What's that value of that tiny difference in the force required?"
                                                                                                ___________
                                                                                                A Gyuto's Virtues:
                                                                                                - Less frequent sharpening to maintain the same degree of sharpness
                                                                                                - Significantly easier to cut through foods that are highly prone to wedging - winter squashes, celery root, etc. Of course, you can take swinging chops at said foods with western knives, or tap the spine with a mallet or just lean on em hard. But an especially thin knife does indeed make it easier.
                                                                                                - Less curve means more functional edge length. This makes a gyuto double as a slicer better than a Western chefs knife does - it works better for meat and (usually) bread. This also allows one to chop in a straight up-and-down manner without leaving accordion cuts on large produce items. This is an extremely fast and efficient cutting motion, though it requires some practice.
                                                                                                - The sharper edges also aid in that kind of extremely fast cutting motion.
                                                                                                - Especially well-made Japanese knives have edge geometry that makes food fall away from the edge, also improving efficiency in cutting. Western makers generally haven't caught on to this.
                                                                                                - Lack of full-length bolsters aids in sharpening
                                                                                                - Light weight makes a longer knife easier to control.
                                                                                                - Can cut a tiny bit cleaner (when that matters, for things like sashimi) and a tiny bit thinner (for certain garnishes, certain meats) due to sharpness and edge geometry

                                                                                                Disadvantages:
                                                                                                - Easier to chip
                                                                                                - Don't function well as meat cleavers, heavy duty boning knives, or general kitchen crowbars
                                                                                                - Handles are generally not as well designed for comfort
                                                                                                - Less weight increases perceived resistance in cutting (though not to the point of the average Western knife, usually)
                                                                                                - Require some users to change their cutting technique
                                                                                                - Don't work well with many of the sharpening contraptions on the market today
                                                                                                - Some pro sharpeners aren't good with em either
                                                                                                - Harder to try out before buying
                                                                                                - Fewer cheap options
                                                                                                - Some rust easily

                                                                                                I don't think I've been one-sided in my considerations of Eastern knives, though I don't try to hide my personal preference. But I don't feel there is anything one-sided about stating their advantages plainly, as long as you admit to their disadvantages. I don't mean any offense, but probably the most contentious thing I've said is that Japanese knives don't have to be chippy just because you use a rocking motion. I realize that may come across as criticism of your technique, but at the same time, understand that I'm just being honest, and giving you advice in the only way that I can. Doesn't mean I'm saying you should necessarily stick with Japanese knives; but make that decision understanding as best you can exactly what the problem is.

                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                  b
                                                                                                  bkling Mar 6, 2012 03:33 PM

                                                                                                  thanks, great comments

                                                                                        2. re: bkling
                                                                                          Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2012 10:54 AM

                                                                                          "It's not microchipping that concerns me but larger chips in the 2-4mm range."

                                                                                          Ok, that is really large. I don't ever recall having chips in that size on any of my Japanese knives. All I can say is that this is not something you should be expecting from any Japanese knives. It is not normal.

                                                                                          " I imagine that people having fewer chips must have trained themselves to cut more gently, never scrape the pieces off the board with the knife, etc etc."

                                                                                          I definitely scrap foods with my knives. I use my knives to transfer food. Now, there is a difference between lightly scraping the knives on a cutting board vs literally twisting the knives on a cutting board.

                                                                                          "V10 knives chip less readily than the white and blue Japanese carbon steel knives"

                                                                                          Not in my experience. In my experience, the blue steel knives I have is less chippy than VG-10. I have never developed chips in the size of 1-2 mm unless I sharpened the knife below 10 degree which I have had done. On a normal 12-20 degree, I have not experienced this in any of my knives. Something is odd about your knives.

                                                                                          Again, what brands are you knives?

                                                                        2. Chemicalkinetics Mar 5, 2012 10:19 AM

                                                                          "So my question is, for those of you using Japanese knives, is this experience typical?"

                                                                          Yes, and no. Yes, I have noticed this in the beginning, and no, I have noticed this for a long time.

                                                                          "Do you just put up with the chips as a fact of life..."

                                                                          No, I don't. Chips bother me, so I would immediate resharpen a chipped knife.

                                                                          1. cannibal Mar 5, 2012 09:23 AM

                                                                            What angle are you sharpening at? If it's too steep it can cause the knives to chip. Japanese knives tend to be harder than western-style knives, and the edge on the japanese knives will tend to chip rather than bend.

                                                                            Also, do you use the knife to pick up ingredients off the board? If so, do you scoop up the ingredients with the knife?
                                                                            I had chipping issues at first, and once I got myself out of the habit of scooping with the knife it greatly reduced the chipping.
                                                                            Now I still use the knife to transfer ingredients...but i hold the knife on the board and use my hand to push the ingredients onto the blade.

                                                                            Which brand and model of knives do you have? Knowing the hardness of the steel might help in this instance.

                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                            1. re: cannibal
                                                                              b
                                                                              bkling Mar 5, 2012 09:26 AM

                                                                              About 16 degrees or a little less.

                                                                              1. re: bkling
                                                                                cannibal Mar 5, 2012 09:29 AM

                                                                                Is that total angle, or per side?
                                                                                Also, i hit save too quick and edited my above note to include everything I was going to say.

                                                                                1. re: cannibal
                                                                                  b
                                                                                  bkling Mar 5, 2012 09:45 AM

                                                                                  Good points. The angle is per side. I'll have to pay attention to how I transfer ingredients, I'm sure I sometimes use the knife. Most of the blades I have are, according to the productd literature, hardened to R61 to 63. They're carbon steel traditional styles, not V10 westernized knives.

                                                                                  1. re: bkling
                                                                                    cannibal Mar 5, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                                    16 per side is good for that hardness. Any micro-bevel?

                                                                                    Another habit I managed to get rid of was to rock the knife to the side to get product off of it. I would make a few chops and then tip the knife on its side so that the sticking product would release off the blade.

                                                                                    Are some of your knives chipping more than the others or is it the same across the board?

                                                                                    1. re: bkling
                                                                                      d
                                                                                      Dave5440 Mar 5, 2012 07:34 PM

                                                                                      I've got my myiabi (rc66) at 20 deg total and I do experience micro chipping at the tip,but then I do hit the bones once in a while while breaking down chicken or bone in pork roasts. when I had it at 10deg total it was brutal for chipping even cutting bread would chip it . What kind of carbon steel are the blades? Most japanese steels aren't chippy at that angle , even my homemade 01 blade at 20deg total won't chip chopping my workbench (maple)

                                                                                      1. re: Dave5440
                                                                                        TeRReT Mar 5, 2012 07:41 PM

                                                                                        hmm i haven't experienced any chipping at all with my miyabi, but i'm at 24 degree total, i might try to get to 20 eventually but not if its going to start micro chipping on me :P

                                                                                        1. re: TeRReT
                                                                                          d
                                                                                          Dave5440 Mar 6, 2012 07:33 PM

                                                                                          Yours is the new softer model isn't it? I'm pretty sure that's the reason why they softened it

                                                                                          1. re: Dave5440
                                                                                            TeRReT Mar 6, 2012 08:15 PM

                                                                                            i am not sure, mine is the 7000mcd, it still is supposed to have a rating of 66, it is supposed to have more layers so maybe that helps. There was one knife my girlfriend found here in japan that is 67 i can't remember if its henckel or miyabi, but it was one I had not seen. I will try to find it later, I can't see the miyabi website with this browser for some reason so I can't check anything :P

                                                                                            1. re: TeRReT
                                                                                              d
                                                                                              Dave5440 Mar 6, 2012 08:39 PM

                                                                                              Oh yes I forgot you have the mcd 66, it must be someone else or someone mentioned the new ones are lower rc. A 67 I have heard of but not by those 2 , their website is very slow in being updated

                                                                              Show Hidden Posts