Kyocera Ceramic Knives -- Do I Want One?
Was visiting my mom in her winter condo in Fort Myers and she showed me her new Kyocera ceramic knives -- I saw a small chef-like knife and a small one, a bit bigger than a paring knife, that I used as a steak knife (went through a pork chop beautifully). She says she has one more that is larger.
She has offered to buy me one. I have two questions: What do you do to hone them? I have two santokus, a carbon-steel chef's knife, and a few others in a block I rarely use. I use a steel to hone these between uses. Mom says the ceramic knives do not need any honing.
Second, would a ceramic knife provide any benefits over the santokus and be worth the care they require due to their fragility?
A very belated reply but after owning and using the Kyocera 'revolution' series 4.5 in utility and 5.5 santoku knives for over a year now I've found them to be useful but highly specialised tools. They're not as versatile as my steel Wüsthof classic series knives but they're absolutely brilliant for cutting soft, fresh fruits and vegetables such as figs, fruits and vegetables (apple and lettuce come to mind) that can discolor when entering into contact with steel and the likes. The quality and precision of the cut is sublime and I honestly think they outshine steel by a wide margin for that. For general kitchen work I've found them to be of rather limited use and I tend to use my steel knives. A good friend of mine also swears that the 'Kyotop' sashimi knife is superior to steel for its application. Haven't used it myself but he generally knows what he's talking about and I trust his judgement (also because he's been trained in Japan and in charge of the sashimi/sushi section of a renowned restaurant of course).
Drawbacks are, as was said, the fact that their razor edge is brittle and not easy to restore by yourself, they're not magnetic, which is a pain for me as all my other knives are wall-mounted on a magnetic rail as well as the lack of heft which I consider a disadvantage. I also understood that there's ceramics and not so good ceramics brands. You get what you pay for. Kyocera is supposed to be very good.
Would I recommend someone to purchase them? Yes, provided you already own a good range of conventional steel knives and are looking for something that is inert and provides a superior cut with delicately textured fruits and vegetables. It's a niche product.
I've used the Kyocers knives for over a year now ( started with the Santoku/paring knife set, now have the chef knife and nakiri as well ). The pros, light, stay sharp a long time. The cons, I am more careful with using these than steel.
They are not as fragile as what some of the comments seem to make them. I do take care to cut always on wood or plastic cutting boards.
Cutting vegetables, boneless meat and fish is very easy. I tend to cut garlic more than smash flat ( I don't think the ceramic blade can survive that ). Know the limitations, don't try to keep them perfect ( you can't do that with steel if you really use them either ). and they'll work out well.
As for sharpening when they get dull, I haven't gotten to that stage yet. But I plan to try sharpening them myself first. Kyocrea has a battery powered electric sharpener that I plan to use to get any nicks out, and the base edge put in. I'll then try using diamond paste. If it doesn't work, send them off to California.
I have a couple of Kyocera knives and used to sell them. My favorite is my micro-serrated knife. It slices through ripe soft fruits like butter.
The drawback is that they are breakable. I have known Kyocera to replace a broken knife. Also, if and when your knife (ves) need sharpening, if you will send them (it) back to them in Calif. They will sharpen them for free and send them back to you at no cost.
they would need a diamond stone to sharpen on and the edge wont get that fine on that. cheap ceramic knives ive had have always been less sharp than properly sharpened steel ones.
the main benefit of ceramic is you dont have to sharpen it so often, however the edge is brittle and will be prone to chipping the edge even on hard cheese rinds so ive read. if you dont want to sharpen often get a knife in zdp-189 with a rockell of 64-67.
I also once worked Under a vegan chef who only used kyoceras, and she babied those! Once she chipped her big knife while breaking down a kabocha squash and had a huge fit about it.
They are very fragile and cannot withstand things like bones, chips every time you drop em. You usually send them to Kyocera for sharpening, which is rare.
Ceramic blades are impervious to rust, don't impart flavors, and can hold an edge much longer than a metal blade. However, they are more fragile / brittle. If you whack a metal blade hard enough, it will dent or chip...whereas a ceramic may crack or shatter. Also, they need to be honed or sharpened with diamond abrasives ( they are harder than regular, softer abrasives) and IMO don't get as sharp as a metal blade.
Fwiw, I had one and won't ever touch one again.
I agree with almost everything JavaBean reported. I own a black Kyocera santoku. Following are my observations:
- Very lightweight. This is a good thing and a bad thing. I tend to like a bit of heft, but on the flip side sometimes it feels more agile than a steel blade.
- Very brittle. A houseguest put the first chip in the blade, chopping something right on my granite countertop. (Arrghh! Houseguests who don't know anything about knives! Stay away! But if it had been a steel blade, it would have been virtually no harm done.) Later, after I repaired it, I dropped it and put a HUGE chip in the blade (probably 1/8" in from the edge). I repaired that too. Now the knife looks a bit different than it did before.
- Difficult to sharpen but -- and here's where I disagree with JavaBean -- you do not need diamond abrasives. I do in fact own two diamond plates (DMT), and the 250 grit plate was quite handy in helping me grind out the huge chip when it happened, but after that I used my normal wetstones (mostly Shapton) and they cut the ceramic just fine; the only caveat to that is that it takes probably 5x more strokes to have the same effect. So those repairs I mentioned were an exercise in patience and lots and lots of time. (For the big chip, I'd find a half hour here ore there, work on it, and then put it away -- it took me 3 months to completely repair it.)
- Doesn't get as sharp as a steel blade, BUT if you modify the blade angles a bit you can get it pretty damn sharp. Unfortunately now the brittle nature of the material REALLY kicks in. If I make the edge too acute I get lots of micro chips unless I'm really careful. So there is some balance required.
Would I recommend one? Hell no. It's expensive, high maintenance, doesn't live up to the hype, and doesn't perform all that well. Since going through that big repair process I use mine more than ever before -- because I feel like I should -- but if I drop it again it's going straight in the bin.
Fwiw, I had and have only worked on the 1st generation Kyoceras. Personally, I got nowhere with them on stones and went to diamonds. I had a very hard time getting them arm hair sharp or more without micro chipping. Mine just snapped one day. IMO, they're a pita and provide more cons than pros.
< What do you do to hone them?>
If you mean like using a honing steel, then the answer is a "No, you don't"
<Mom says the ceramic knives do not need any honing.>
She is correct.
<would a ceramic knife provide any benefits over the santokus>
Well, a ceramic knife can be a ceramic santoku too, so what you asked are not mutually exclusive.
In my view, a ceramic paring knife is not a horrible idea, but a ceramic Chef's knife or ceramic Santoku are probably very limited. I don't recommend ceramic knives for general purpose works.