Good Knife for cutting lots and lots of vegetables.
I'm looking to by a new knife, looking at a carbon steel knife this one in particular
At work we cut about 10Kg of carrots, 2 boxes of cabbage about 32 I think.
But just want a good all rounder for vegetables.
Won't be using it for filleting, boning.
The knifes we use at work are the cheap stainless steel ones from Nisbets
Also looking a getting a whetstone, was thinking originally to just getting a whetstone to sharpen the knifes I have, and the ones at work but maybe starting with a good knife would help :)
Feel free to ask me more questions, and thanks for your replies.
I would get he whetstone first and get real comfortable sharpening the cheap blades.
I would think with all of that cutting you'd be doing your hands a favor if you learned how to keep a blade sharp.
Well, for vegetables, I feel straight edge knives have a certain advantages because they make wider board contacts. Of particular, I am thinking about a nakiri or a Chinese thin blade cleaver.
As for whetstones, there are some really cheap $2 dollars stones which work well for cheap knives. For decent knives, I would go for at least a 20-30 waterstone at 1000 grit range. For example, something like this (I have not used this particular one, but it looks fine):
The knife pictured is a general purpose cook's knife. My experience is that a nakiri-style shape is better for vegetables. I have a good cook's knife, but I always use either my Chinese vegetable knife, which is an 8" carbon steel knife similar in shape to a nakiri, or my lightweight cleaver.
I have been using a inexpensive carbon steel Nikiri with the round wooden handle you see in the Chinatowns every where that used to retail for maybe $12.00 back in the day. I picked up a Henckels Mikado 61/2 inch Nikiri several years ago and have been using it with great success for the heavy jobs ever since. Chinese made but German steel,well balanced, it holds an great edge and the handle is very comfortable especially if you choke it and have to go through the tough stuff like carrots and squash.
Not sure if the line is still produced but well worth the search IMHO.
One consideration is that for whacking up a lot of cabbage, you probably would want a longer knife. If you did choose a nakiri, most are 6.5 inches, which is probably too short. For an occasional cabbage it doesn't matter, but if you process it by the case, you want the most efficient size.
When I worked in a restaurant decades ago, I would chop up a case of lettuce at a time using a 10" or 12" cooks knife similar to the one pictured, so that was the typical way of doing it then.
Simon, in the past I have worked in a Prep Room for a busy Corporate Cafe (2-3K meals/day).. case after case of product all day long.
Among the Prep Cooks, the tool of chioce was a 10 inch Chef's knife ... it's the F-150 of knives that is versatile to do most anything. Forschners and Dexter Russells were mostly used.
A couple of issues with the knife in the link. One it is Carbon which requires extra care compared to stainless. In a busy kitchen many times there is not much time to baby a knife. Second I believe the bolster goes all the way to the blade making the blade area near the bolster difficult to sharpen.
As an upgrade to the Forschners/Dexters are the Japanese profile knives.
At a lower price point are..
Kai Seki http://www.chefsresource.com/kai-4000...
and Mercer Renaissance (euro steel/style) http://www.chefsresource.com/10-chefs...
Regarding stones ...
I have no experience with water stones but started on oil stones about 20 years ago.
I've gone from oil stones>belt sander>back to oil stones.
I have mostly Euro quality knives and one VG-10 steel J knife... a Petty which I don't use much so my kit is now as follows;
Norton India Course 8x3x1/2 $20~
Norton India Fine 8x3x1/2 $20~
Razor Edge Systems Ultra Fine 8x3x1 $40~
Followed by white stropping compound and/or swipes on a fine steel produces a decent working but arm hair shaveable edge.
I use the oil stones dry but clean/wash after each use.
The 8x3 India stones come in plastic cases that double as stone holders.
If I didn't already have the Razor Edge Ultra Fine I would probably have a 8x3x1/2 Halls Hard Arkansas. $47~
In general I follow Chad Ward's sequence of about a 20/15 relief/cutting edge.
For a first Oil Stone the Norton IB-8 Combo at $20 is a decent affordable starting point.
Review of it is here:
I'm mainly a user of gyutos myself, and a decent one will work well for just about anything.
That said, if you're especially interested in mowing through vegetables, the CCK thin bladed Chinese cleaver is a great knife that compares well to more expensive blades, functionally speaking.
Takes a great edge, capable of holding a fairly low angle quite well, lots of board contact, carbon core but not particularly high maintenance, extremely low resistance while cutting, long enough for bigger vegetables, and can be used very efficiently as a scoop to move cut veg around.
As for sharpening stones -
Oil stones are cheaper. They don't require presoaking or periodic flattening.
Synthetic Japanese waterstones cost more. They require more prep and maintenance. But they also sharpen faster in use. And they offer more options for higher grits and a more refined edge (which you may or may not find you like). They aren't as prone to clogging as oil stones. Generally speaking, the harder and more wear-resistant the steel your knives are made of, the more benefit you'll see from using waterstones over oil stones. For softer knives that are very quick to sharpen, it doesn't matter as much.
A word of warning - you shouldn't just buy the cheapest knife you can find to practice sharpening, because you want to learn to sharpen with a knife that you KNOW will take a very sharp edge. Some cheap knives just plain don't sharpen well, and that can make it very difficult to gauge your progress. There are cheap knives that take good edges (victorinox, dexter, kiwi, etc) and these are fine, as may be some of the knives you already own or have access to. Honestly, even learning to sharpen using something like the CCK cleaver or a slightly more expensive gyuto or chefs knife is usually fine - any damage you do or early mistakes you make can be undone as you get better. Just find some good instruction (I can make suggestions if you like) and don't give up if your first few attempts take a while and/or don't produce ideal results.
Thanks everybody who has replied, I've read every post as there were made.
I think I would feel more comfortable with a knife like
as I not think I would be keen to use the cleaver type knife. So I'm deciding on those two knifes unless people have more suggestions. That site chefknifestogo do they ship to England, should have put that in my original post.
Regarding oilstone/whetone the Norton IB-8 would be a good choice? I don't know anything about them, apart form a higher grit is a finer edge and lower takes of more metal I think? Ha.
I think Mark (Chefknivestogo) does ship out of US, but you should shot him an email:
Another great site to look around is the Japanesechefsknife:
It has a flat $7 shipping fee (anywhere in the world). I live in the US, and I have bought several items from Japanesechefknife, and it has always been very fast. No more slower than when I bought mine from any US site.
I have not used the Norton oil stone, but I am not very excited to pay $25 US dollar for an oil stone, when I can get a waterstone at that price.
Yes, higher grit is finer, and lower grit is more rougher and more aggressive. The rule of thumb is that ~1000 grit is most versatile for most people. As it is aggressive enough to handle most demands, and refine enough that the finishing edge can be used without a higher grit.
Generally speaking, I'd prefer to have waterstones over oilstones if I were sharpening a knife like the Richmond Artifex you linked to. That said, Norton generally makes decent sharpening stones, and the size is fine. The grits are both fairly coarse (translating to roughly 100 and 500 grit on the Japanese grit scale, assuming the Norton stone is graded on the American grit system). As Chem pointed out, that stone is more expensive than most oil stones, so if you do buy an oil stone, you might save money just looking in a local hardware store.
You can find a decent 2-grit waterstone for a similar price.
This stone requires soaking in water for a minute or two before use, and will require flattening once in a while. But it will also avoid some of the problems of clogging and losing grinding ability with age that oil stones have. And it gives you a finer finish to experiment with.
Thanks to everybody's replies I have got my knife:
Oreded from http://japanesechefsknife.com/
I ordered it on Friday and it had came by Monday, all the way from Japan, I've brought stuff from Jersey (Channel Island) and its took longer ha.
The knife its self is great, cut a little U shape on my pinky nail, but its great recommend that site to anybody $7 international shipping too.
Regarding whetstones the one linked above its going to cost me $103 (shipping etc) about £63 pound for a $24 whetstone, I searched on Amazon.co.uk for the same stone and came to this:
Either of those knives are solid choices.
Regarding stones ... you are going to get differing opinions on what is the best route.
Remember you are cutting cases of veggies not shaving your stubble, so a highly polished edge finish at a high grit may not be critical and probably not ideal as it may not hold up as long.
With either stone choice you will want a smooth steel to use between sharpening and if getting the waterstones you will need a stone flattener of some sort. The oil stones don't dish much like waterstones. My extra fine is going on 20 years.
I use the oil stones because that is what I learned on ... so they work for me and I don't want to deal with soaking and flattening. . The Norton IB-8 is an entry two sided stone. With most of your sharpening done on the IB-8s fine side it can benefit from another higher grit stone to polish it up some. But as you can see in the link, the IB-8 (+stropping) can produce a decent edge.
With that said Cowboyardee's waterstone link is a really good price for a waterstone, I just prefer 3 inch wide stones.
A few minor quibbles.
- A smooth steel is nice to have, but I wouldn't consider it a necessity at this point.
- I made my case for waterstones above, and i do feel that a harder knife like the Richmond Artifex benefits from the more aggressive action of a waterstone. But I did not mean for that to be the main point of my argument. I'm not opposed to either oil stones or reasonably coarse edges. Instead, I was trying to point out that the Norton stone the OP linked to is VERY coarse. Not just by waterstone standards, but even by oil stone standards. For comparison, the Arkansas tri-stone - one of the most popular oil stones on the market for kitchen knives - tops off at 1000 grit American, which is the equivalent of a 2000 grit waterstone.
Finer than the waterstone I recommended above.
I realize that some of us waterstone enthusiasts often talk about using very fine stones (6000 grit and above) - BUT I'm not actually recommending that to the OP at this point. A 1000 grit waterstone is still pretty utilitarian - you definitely wouldn't want to shave your face without going a little higher ;). Meanwhile, both sides of the Norton stone the OP is considering are so coarse that I would mainly use them for repairs or completely resetting a knife's bevels. Even a finer oil stone would likely be an improvement.
- I also prefer wider stones. But if money is a concern, buying a 2 inch wide stone isn't a bad compromise to make in order to keep an eye on the bottom line. At any rate, the Norton stone is a similar size.
Agree the smooth or ceramic steel may not be critical but ... some cooks (especially Prep Cooks) have knifes in their hand 2-6 hours a day cutting products. So the knife can get as much use in a day as a home kitchen knife will get in a month or more. Steeling should help the knife get one through a day's worth of work but unfortunatly most pro kitchens only have the aggressive steels that can have the potential to damage the fine edge of an Artifex
Agree on the use of the IB-8,, it will benefit from something higher grit to help polish it up (Arkansas hard, Translucent etc.), and finish with stropping... which is acceptable for my Euro steel knives ... with harder steel I'd probably still use the same process but only because that's what I already have..maybe just moving the process up the stone progression.. Fine India for repairs, Extra Fine for touch ups,,, add another to polish.
If I didn't have any stones and bought my first hard steel knife I may lean towards the water stones ... 500/1K/3K-5K seems to be the standard.
Single beveled Japanese knives (yanagiba, usuba, deba, etc) should not be steeled.
Double beveled Japanese knives (gyuto, nakiri, etc) can be steeled, but it doesn't typically provide as much benefit as steeling does for softer western knives since the edge doesn't warp as much. A smooth steel or a glass 'steel' or a fine ceramic rod is preferred, and grooved steels are generally not a good idea due to the risk of chipping - how much of a risk depends on your specific knife.
As a home cook, I don't use a steel at all. In between sharpenings, I do maintain with a homemade (read: dirt cheap) strop loaded with abrasive compound. For a professional, the right kind of steel can provide enough of a benefit for on-the-job touch-ups to make it worthwhile, even using Japanese knives. Even for a professional, a strop can be a viable at-work alternative - it just takes up more space typically. This also depends on sharpening strategy - the longer you go in between actual sharpenings, the more useful a steel can be.
I personally don't strop every time I pick up a knife, but you certainly could. I probably do it a couple times a week, but there's no consistent pattern - I stop when I feel like stropping or else when the edge starts to fade just a bit and i'm undecided as to whether I should touch up on the stones.
I'm a bit of an odd case though - for one, I have some elaborate theories about sharpening wherein I try to preserve a little toothiness or bite in the edge, and I worry about over-stropping or over-polishing causing that to fade quicker than I'd like. If you sharpen more thoroughly to a high polish than I do, then you might strop more often.
For another, even at their dullest, my knives are still what most people would consider very sharp - they'll still cleanly shave the wispy hairs off my knuckles right before I sharpen em up again. I realize that might sound like I'm bragging, but I'm well aware that it's almost into the territory of a psychological disorder. Normal people might have different routines that work well for them.
A chef's knife' versatility and efficiency across various tasks - including veggies makes it my multi-tasking champion. However, when I'm doing stir fry dishes or sustained veggie cutting, I'll switched to an Asian cleaver ( like the CCC-1303 mentioned above). It's broad blade may takes a little time to get use to, but it really makes chopping & scooping foods away from the cutting board much faster.
A chef's knife is more than fine, but an Asian cleaver is a veggie processing beast. BTW, Asian cleavers come in different sizes. The veggie slicers are significant thinner than the general purpose, bone hackers and western meat cleavers.
Don't bother with stones. An Accusharp tool and knife sharpener will take care of any blade that requires a 22 degree angle. I am a butcher and i have access to oilstones and a belt sander at work. The accusharp puts the right edge on my knives every time, costs @ $10, is light, portable, and doesn't require trained hands to use it correctly.
Also it doesn't work on some especially hard knives. Just to see what would happen, I once took a carbide style sharpener to a knife made of white steel tempered to hrc 63 - the edge actually splintered, chipping out a long, thin, and very sharp shard of metal along several inches of edge.
It's effective for softer knives, but I wouldn't use it on a Japanese style knife for several reasons (incorrect edge angle and much better sharpening potential from other methods being the other reasons).
No one will get me to part with my Shun Ken Onion knives. I have an 8" and 10". The way the handle is designed, very ergonomic, means less fatigue for me. My husband and I always reach for one of those over other knives. I do have a bunch of Wusthof Classic Ikon and I like the way those feel in my hand too.
Unfortunately Shun has decided to retire the Ken Onion knives. The 10" retails at about $299.00, Ive seen them on clearance for $159.00.
In commercial kitchen you may want to consider a longer knife which will cut more product at the same time. Where a 240mm gyuto is very common in the home kitchen a 270-300mm may be more useful in the commercial kitchen doing lots of vegetable prep.