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Aug 21, 2013 11:55 AM

Which cheap entry level 240mm Gyuto?

I am a beginner home cook, just ordered a nice end-grain 16x20 cherry board from BoardSmith and need some knives to complement it. :)
I like the wa-gyoto, not sure about the bolster. Oh, and I have small hands.
Every forum I have read seems to recommend these particular gyuto knives. I am still a bit confused, so I would like to put the + & - of each into this thread.
Which one would you pick and why?

Fujiwara FKM:

Tojiro DP WA-gyoto handle:

Tojiro DP western handle:

Tojiro Shirogami ITK Wa-Gyuto:

Richmond Artifex:

JCK Kagayaki CarboNext Gyuto:

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  1. Of these knives, I have handled the Fujiwara and the Tojiro DP 240 gyutos. I have also handled wa-handle gyutos in general, the Carbonext santoku (thanks chem) and sujihiki, and shirogami wa gyutos in general. The only one I can't tell you much from experience (just reputation) is the Richmond Artifex. All of these are decent choices, I believe. You won't go too wrong.

    Fujiwara FKM
    - Softest steel of the above choices.
    - Least edge retention of your options.
    - Least likely to chip.
    - Not bad fit and finish, but typically a bit worse than Tojiro's and Carbonext's offerings
    - Fairly ambidextrous.

    Tojiro DP
    - Good edge retention.
    - Seems to sharpen a bit better than Fujiwara, though the Fujiwara sharpens a bit more quickly.
    - Very respectable fit and finish, especially for a lower cost gyuto. People used to complain about their F&F, but Tojiro seems to have fixed the problem.
    - Some people dislike the handle, describe it as boxy. I like it, though I have moderately large hands.
    - Some righty bias in the grind, but not at all hard for a lefty to use.
    - Can be prone to microchipping, depending on how you use and sharpen it.

    Wa-handle DP
    - Just a matter of preference. If you tend to adjust your grip for different cutting tasks, there is a good chance you'll like wa handles. If you always hold knives with the same grip and have been using western knives for a long time, you might not like em.
    - Wa handles are more easily replaced if broken. OTOH, I wouldn't expect any of these handles to break on you.

    Tojiro Shirogami gyuto
    - Sharpens better than any of the other knives listed.
    - The only non-stainless knife. Can rust if left in water or after cutting acidic ingredients if not wiped off quickly enough. Not hard to take care of, but more work than stainless.
    - Good edge retention. Probably between the Tojiro DP and the carbonext, depending on how you use it.
    - Straightest profile of the knives listed. Will be good at push cutting and straight-up-and-down chopping. Rock chopping will require you to have more control.
    - Likely to have the thinnest grind of the knives listed (though this isn't certain). If so, it will cut with less resistance, though foods may tend to stick to the blade.

    - Likely the best edge retention of the knives listed at its factory edge angles.
    - Doesn't hold very low angle edges quite as well as the various Tojiros (especially the shirogami one) though.
    - Will have some right handed bias. How much? Hard to say. The santoku I used had a little bit, but nothing much. The sujihiki had a huge right handed bias, which made it difficult to use as a lefty. I'd guess that the gyuto is probably more similar to the santoku in its grind, but I couldn't say for certain.
    - Fairly nice fit and finish.
    - Not the thinnest grind of the options available to you. Translates to a tiny bit of extra resistance in cutting, a tiny bit of extra durability, and possibly better food release (would have to use the gyuto to say for certain)
    - I had a tiny bit of trouble removing burrs from the carbonext, though they still weren't too bad to sharpen. Probably tougher than the other options, but still quite manageable.
    - Functionally, it's more or less stainless, but it does have a bit less stain resistance than the Tojiro DPs or the Fujiwara.

    Richmond Artifex
    - I haven't used it.
    - It's made of very good steel for the money.
    - It can be hard to find knowledgeable reviews, since the guy from Chefknivestogo is kind of black listed at the major forum for Japanese knife afficionados (long story).
    - The early versions of the Richmond knives were probably a little problematic in their grind. The newer versions appear to be well made, but again, reliable info is scarce.

    44 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      "- It can be hard to find knowledgeable reviews, since the guy from Chefknivestogo is kind of black listed at the major forum for Japanese knife afficionados (long story). "

      Ok, now you're just torturing us. What is the story? I'm curious because Mark's knives are really well-priced for what you seem to get, but I haven't seen reviews outside his own publicity. I'm kind of tempted by the Richmond Laser myself.

      1. re: strangemd

        <"- It can be hard to find knowledgeable reviews, since the guy from Chefknivestogo is kind of black listed at the major forum for Japanese knife afficionados (long story). ">

        Wow, I must have skipped this part when I read cowboyardee's answer. First, Dave Martell, now Mark Richmond too?

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          You might want to check this site - Dave Martell is posting on it:

          1. re: Zydecopapa

            I cannot find it. What is the title of the post?

        2. re: strangemd

          I just did a google search. I think I know why now. Just google "Mark Richmond banned threads"

          1. re: strangemd

            The background history is there, you just have to hunt for it and draw your own conclusions.  Just know there's lot of bad blood as well shilling going on. 

            AFAIK, the Laser as well as the ones made in Japan seem fine. The ones made in the US by Lamson are the ones that may have issues with the heat treatment and/or blade grind. 

            1. re: strangemd

              Don't get me wrong - Mark's knives are well priced. Good selection. Fast shipping. Good customer service. I've bought from him in the past, and would buy from him again without reservation.

              I'll give a few details, but I'm a little worried I'd get em wrong or needlessly slander somebody.

              When Dave Martell left/got booted from the knifeforums/inthekitchen forum, a few years worth of bad blood spilled all over the place. Mark from CKTG got some flack for 'shilling' in the forum (which wasn't strictly against the rules anyway) and maybe for undercutting several other vendors who had been around longer or who had more knife 'cred.' Also, he had partnered with Ken Schwartz of Precise Sharpening, whom Martell reaaally disliked. So Martell created his own forum - - and allowed only vendors he approved of, excluding CKTG. Eventually, Mark stopped posting much on knifeforums/inthekitchen - couldn't say why for sure. Either his business didn't need it anymore, or he still got too much bad publicity there, or else he just didn't feel like posting.

              The initial reviews for the Richmond knives over at kitchenknifeforums were kind of scathing (primarily for complaints about their grind), but also kind of biased. There may be more reviews out there, or reviews of the newer Richmond knives with their reputedly improved grind, but I haven't searched particularly hard and haven't seen em.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                Thanks. I did some Googling as well. Oh, the drama!
                Well, maybe I'll stick with the Suisin for my potential laser unless i get a recent review of the Richmond knives.

                1. re: strangemd

                  As lasers go, I personally have a sakai yusuke in white #2 (ground for a lefty). Glorious knife.

                2. re: cowboyardee

                  FWIW I've heard nothing but good things about CKTG and the Richmond knives from pro chefs.

              2. re: cowboyardee

                Hi cowboy,

                While we're on the topic . . . I currently own a Forschner and a Wusthof - both 8" chef knives. I sharpen them myself. I can't get them back to factory sharpness or to shave hair, but I do an ok enough job sharpening them - the difference before and after is definitely noticeable. How does the Tojiro DP compare with these knives? Is sharpening it more difficult? I'm interested in an entry level japanese knife, but not if I won't be able to sharpen it to where it's better/different than the Wusthof. Also, does it weigh less than my other knives? The Tojiro Shirogami linked to above also looks intriguing. That could definitely be another possibility.

                *edit* I just weighed my knives on a kitchen scale. The Forschner came in at 6.85 ounces while the Wusthof at 8.9. The Tojiro DP is 7.2 oz. The weight is very similar to the Forschner - now I'm curious to know how it cuts and how difficult is it to sharpen in comparison.

                1. re: sherrib

                  hi sherrib. Unfortunately, issues of relative sharpness, sharpenability, etc, are generally more complicated than they appear. I'll try to keep this as clear and straightforward as possible. See the last paragraph for a quick synopsis...

                  To some extent, it depends on how you sharpen and the equipment you use. The Tojiro DP uses harder steel than the other two knives, and is also set at a more acute edge angle. If you sharpen with oilstones/arkansas stones/carborundum stones, you might find the Tojiro is harder to sharpen just because it is slower to grind the steel down. Using waterstones which deal more easily with hard steels, I find that the tojiro is not particularly difficult to sharpen. And the improved steel quality along with the more acute edge angle generally makes it easier to achieve an edge matching or surpassing factory sharpness, smoothing out minor imperfections in your sharpening technique that might wind up more noticeable when sharpening a Wusthof or a Forschner.

                  But keep in mind that any of the above knives can get sharp enough to shave hair - any knife made from half-decent steel with a decent heat treatment should pass that test, if you sharpen them to a high enough grit. Generally, higher quality steels (and knives with more acute edges) shave at a lower grit than lower quality steels or more obtuse edges. For reference: I can get a tojiro DP to shave a bit at about 800 grit (waterstone), to shave well at about 2000 grit - though I'd still have to go significantly higher and strop if I wanted to shave my face comfortably with one.

                  So I'm wondering exactly how you sharpen and what equipment you use. Given any method of hand sharpening, you should be able to create an edge that cuts food very well. Will it shave? Depends on a lot of factors, and frankly that's not as important as whether it cuts food well. A tojiro can be a little easier to get to 'shaving' sharpness (depending on your equipment and technique) and also holds onto that degree of sharpness longer, making it more worthwhile. But good sharpening technique is likely the bigger factor here.

                  Also keep in mind: the hair on my forearm is probably a bit different than yours, and shaving tests are a kind of general test of sharpness, not a clear and objective overall test of functional sharpness - I leave some knives deliberately coarse so they don't shave well at all, but they still sail right through food.

                  A final thing to keep in mind - a lot of what makes a knife cut better is not just its sharpness but the geometry of its cutting edge and the steel behind it. This is one of the advantages a tojiro has over most Wusthofs and similar knives. Japanese blades are not only more acute but are also generally thinner behind their edge (the forschner should be pretty comparable here actually). They also tend to use an asymmetrical grind that accentuates the thinness and cutting ability of the blade (the tojiro does this, but its very subtle compared to some Japanese blades).

                  TLDR: I like the Tojiro and recommend it. But inability to get a very sharp edge or match factory sharpness is more likely an issue with sharpening technique or possibly equipment. Minor issues in sharpening technique can be helped by buying a better knife that is easier to sharpen well (like the Tojiro). But big technique issues will have to be addressed for you to sharpen any knife well. And I can't say whether your sharpening issues are minor or not from your post.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Hi cowboy,
                    Thank you so much for this! To give more insight, I use a double sided waterstone. One side is 1000 and the other is 6000. I then use a leather strop that has chromium oxide paste smeared over it. I just the other night sharpened the Forschner. The last time I sharpened it was a year ago. It desperately needed it. I was able to get it significantly sharper. I was happy with my results when I saw that it went through a ripe tomato without much effort (I had to practically saw through them before). I think my sharpening abilities and technique are probably better than my confidence. Also, I probably need to spend a little more time in both the 6000 grit and leather strop areas, I sort of rushed through those the other night. In all honesty, I don't care whether or not the darn thing can shave hair, that's not what I will be doing with it. The tomato test was good enough. But I KNOW I can do better. I probably should not wait for signs of dullness but practice practice practice getting my Forschner super sharp. I have a couple of kiwi knives laying around also. Will practice on those too.

                    1. re: sherrib

                      I'm not certain that your issue last time was too little work on the 6k stone and the strop. It's hard for me to tell without seeing your knife. But either way, it sounds like your skills are decent and the fix should be relatively easy.

                      IME, your sharpening on the first stone in your progression is more important to the final edge than the later stones and polishing. Since your knives last time were very dull, and a 1k stone is only medium fast, there is a strong temptation to move on to the next grit once the knife STARTS getting sharp, but you don't yet have a really pristine 1k edge. This will tend to make knife kind of halfway sharp, almost regardless of your later work with a strop and 6k stone. Starting with a less-dull knife, starting with a coarser stone, or being more diligent with the 1k stone - any one of these would likely fix your problem (if this is indeed your problem). A knife well sharpened on a 1k stone only should be quite sharp already. The 6k and stropping will make it shave better, but a fresh, well-done 1k edge alone will feel great for most food cutting tasks.

                      OTOH, since there is a decent sized jump from 1000 to 6000 grit, you will need to spend a little extra time on the 6k stone to get a knife to shave as well as it could. You could fix this by getting an intermediate stone (~2000-3000 grit) or just by spending more time polishing on the 6k after the 1k. But here we're talking about the difference between two edges that both cut quite well.

                      If I had to guess, I'd say your problem last time was more likely that you needed more work on the 1k stone. But again, it's impossible for me to know for certain without seeing your work. There are a lot of little tricks that can help you tell exactly where you're at on a lower grit stone - the three finger test, checking sharpness along the entire edge by cutting paper and looking for snags, checking intently for burrs, etc.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        Thank you for this extremely thorough dissection and explanation. I definitely check for a burr and make sure I have one all along the knife's edge. I'm wondering, as I chase it, does the size of the burr matter or am I simply making sure it's there? In other words, should the burr get more pronounced as I chase it or should it stay the same or maybe even get smaller? When I have a little peace and quiet (won't be for another week at least,) I'm going to re sharpen this knife to see how I can improve it further and put all of your suggestions to use. Only the good Lord knows why a suburban housewife has become obsessed with sharpening her kitchen knives, but whatever...

                        1. re: sherrib

                          When you sharpen on one side only, you tend to create a very large and noticeable burr. When you start flipping the knife and alternating both sides, you tend to get a smaller burr - sometimes it will abrade away and get smaller when you flip sides; sometimes it will stay about the same size.

                          Upsides of creating a large burr:
                          - Easier to tell for certain when your bevels have met along the entire edge

                          Downsides of creating a large burr:
                          - Harder to deburr while leaving a clean sharp edge
                          - Can remove a bit more metal
                          - Have to pay closer attention to not oversharpening one side of the blade while under sharpening the other (i.e. making the edge bevels more asymmetrical)

                          Personally, I don't hesitate to deliberately build a large burr with my coarse stones if I'm unsure of my progress. Even given the downsides, knowing that a blade comes off my first stone with a good sharp edge and flat bevels is my priority.

                          But that gets us to the next hurdle - how do you deburr? There are times where deburring leaves you with a ragged edge that needs just a couple gentle strokes on the coarse stone again. Especially if you've built a large burr or your knife is a little fussy (forschners can be, some more so than others).

                          There are those who hold off on deburring until after their polishing stones; who use their stone progression to naturally deburr for them. I'm not one of them. I reliably get my best results when a knife comes off my coarse stone with the best, most finished edge I can create with that stone.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I did, indeed get a smaller burr. The burr pretty much disappears by the time I'm done stropping, then I run it over a honing steel. Do you deburr between stones??

                            1. re: sherrib

                              Yeah, I normally deburr in between stones. Sometimes I skip deburring in between intermediate (if I'm using one) and fine grit stones, but I almost always deburr after my first stone and again after my last one.

                                1. re: sherrib

                                  Most often, I run the knife's edge very gently through either cork or soft wood. About 2 or 3 strokes, using the weight of the blade only. Some people use hard felt for knives that are especially tough to deburr, but I don't find I need it.

                                  I also often lightly strop on newspaper (laid on a flat surface, usually a stone) after my high grit stone, using a higher angle than I sharpened with to finish the deburring process. Might not be necessary for you. For me, it's just a little extra insurance.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    Ok, I *think* I got it. Thank you so so much for your time. I will report back with my progress!

                                    1. re: sherrib

                                      cowboyardee knows his stuffs and never BS nonsense. So you can be sure that whatever knowledge you get from him is solid.

                                      Yes, I agree with JavaBean. It is always nice someone wants to sharpen their knives by themselves. It is a good thing. On the note of <why a suburban housewife has become obsessed with sharpening her kitchen knives>, I don't find that difficult to believe. Now, had you tell us that you are a city girl, then maybe I will be a bit more shock. :)

                                      1. re: sherrib


                                        Thank you again for your explanations above. I've spent the last week looking over some sharpening videos on youtube (specifically these:
                                        )and rereading these posts.

                                        I sharpened my Forschner again tonight and you were absolutely correct, I wasn't spending enough time/energy on the 1k stone. I did so tonight and am much happier with my results.

                                        At the onset, it seemed as if I was getting nowhere fast. I almost gave up (I couldn't get a burr going.) But kept at it until I started to finally feel a burr (I probably let the knife get too dull again and could have used a coarser stone to start with?) And then I kept going some more. I sharpened and sharpened and sharpened. I deburred. I stropped.

                                        I had been using an old microfiber kitchen rag during the process to wipe my knife with. I realized I was finally getting a really sharp edge when I started noticing that some cloth particles were being cut off during wiping (there were little pieces of cloth on the edge of the knife after I wiped.)

                                        And, INDEED, I was finally able to cut a few arm hairs with it. Not like a razor would, but I was definitely able to cut some of them. It was a super exciting moment for me. I asked my husband if I could try on his arm (after years of arm hair management, I have very little hair on my arms, and what is there is very fine - I wanted to see what would happen on his coarser arm hair.) He said no, felt my forehead to see if I have a fever, then went to bed. He doesn't share the same excitement.

                                        1. re: sherrib

                                          :) So glad to read this development.

                                          < But kept at it until I started to finally feel a burr (I probably let the knife get too dull again and could have used a coarser stone to start with?) >

                                          yeah, your knife probably was much duller than you thought, so that is why it took much longer. In the future, I don't think it will take you anywhere nearly as long.

                                          <I was finally able to cut a few arm hairs with it.>

                                          That is great. It is much more difficult to shave finer hair than thicker hair. For example, it has always been easier for me to shave my leg hair than my arm hair -- my leg hair being more coarse.

                                          < I wanted to see what would happen on his coarser arm hair.) He said no>

                                          Did you want him to use the knife to shave his arm hair or did you want YOU to use the knife to shave his arm hair? I won't feel comfortable someone shaving me a kitchen knife either.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Thanks Chem!

                                            "In the future, I don't think it will take you anywhere nearly as long."

                                            Is this because you don't think I will allow my knife to get that dull or because you think it will take me less time to sharpen a dull knife?

                                            "Did you want him to use the knife to shave his arm hair or did you want YOU to use the knife to shave his arm hair?"

                                            I didn't care. I just wanted to see if it was possible. I don't think my request was all that demanding. It's not like I asked him to do any housework or to buy me a new pair of shoes or something. All I wanted was to see if my freshly stone sharpened knife would shave some hair. Is this so weird??

                                            1. re: sherrib

                                              <Is this because you don't think I will allow my knife to get that dull or because you think it will take me less time to sharpen a dull knife?>

                                              I think both, but I think probably more on the first. Once I have sharpened and used my first really sharp knife, I knew what a sharp knife should really feel. Therefore, now I know when my knife starts to get dull. Before I learn knife sharpening, I couldn't tell when a knife is dull, so I would keep using a dull knife and thinking that is normal.

                                              <All I wanted was to see if my freshly stone sharpened knife would shave some hair.>

                                              I think that is a reasonable request if you ask him to try to shave the arm hair. Well, it is possible that he highly value his arm hair -- like it is his sexy symbol or something. :)

                                          2. re: sherrib

                                            Nice work Sherri.

                                            I recommend you give the knife another sharpening in the near future, basically as soon as there's any noticeable drop-off in performance at all, for a couple reasons:
                                            1) Sometimes you seem to get a sharper edge when resharpening a knife that isn't particularly dull. This is especially true when you're still a little newer at sharpening.
                                            2) It will take less time, and tends to produce good results. A relatively quick but also productive sharpening session can be a nice boost to your confidence.
                                            3) You're helping to build muscle memory of the kind of angles to hold, the motions, etc. Going too long between sharpenings while you're learning makes this harder. Understanding the process and teaching your hands to do it properly are two different things.

                                            Truth is, if your knife is shaving fine arm hair, you're already making a sharper edge than most people ever have on their kitchen knives. There's still plenty of room to refine your technique, but either way you're doing something right.

                                            "I asked my husband if I could try on his arm... He said no."
                                            Aww. Give him a few drinks and try again to get him to take one for the team. You're not shaving his face or anything (yet).

                                            As Chem said, coarse arm hair is a lot easier to cut than finer arm hair. So I bet your knife would shave quite well on him. Sometimes when I've tested edges, I've shaved the thin wispy hairs on my knuckles for precisely that reason - it's a tougher test for an edge to pass than shaving my arm hair.

                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                              <to get him to take one for the team>

                                              Yes, marriage a teamwork. Her husband absolutely need to take one for the team.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                Thanks Cowboy!

                                                I agree with all three of your points and will definitely be sharpening the knife much sooner this time around. I have been wanting to purchase Japanese knives but have not been confident enough about my sharpening abilities to do so. My Forschner is the knife where I want to get the most practice. I figure I won't delve into the world of J-knives until I get this one right.

                                                "There's still plenty of room to refine your technique, but either way you're doing something right."

                                                This is exactly how I feel right now. My success the other night boosted my confidence for sure, but it also made me aware that there's tremendous room for improvement. This is probably why this easily becomes an obsessive hobby.

                                                "So I bet your knife would shave quite well on him."

                                                I wouldn't know :(

                                                1. re: sherrib

                                                  "I figure I won't delve into the world of J-knives until I get this one right."
                                                  There are two major aspects to sharpening: understanding what you're doing and what you're trying to do - a kind of intellectual process; and your ability to actually go do that - a physical skill.

                                                  I think you'll find that if you have the intellectual understanding, when the physical part of the equation starts to develop (as it is now for you), everything will fall into place and you'll start making a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

                                                  In other words, you'll find the next few times you sharpen that you're already over the hump, so to speak. The hardest parts of the learning process are behind you already. You can refine your sharpening technique forever, just as I'm still refining mine. But that's fun, and you get to enjoy using truly sharp knives in the meantime.

                                                  You'll be up to sharpening J knives in no time.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    Hi Cowboy and Chem,

                                                    I resharpened the Forschner along with a couple of other knives today (a total of 5 - including a CCK cleaver and a Wusthof classic chef's.) Sadly, I couldn't get any of them to shave my ultra fine arm hair. I did, however, test them on super ripe cherry tomatoes which they all slid right through with no effort. Push cutting paper was also happily achieved. I think, for now, I will have to be content with gliding through ripe tomatoes and paper and forget about hair.

                                                    Predictably, the dull Wusthof took a very long time to create a burr. The cleaver also surprised me a bit - I almost feel as if a carbon blade should have been a bit easier to sharpen than what I experienced with it today, even though I am extremely happy with the results. Maybe a different stone would have made it easier? Or, maybe it was also dull and simply needed the time and energy. This is the stone I use, it's two sided, 1000 on one side, 6000 on the other:


                                                    Another question. Is it ok if I skip the 6000 grit altogether? Sometimes, I feel like the 6000 grit ends up polishing the edge so much that it ends up being counterproductive. All the toothiness disappears and it no longer glides through the tomatoes as easily as before. Does this make any sense? Either I have to use fewer strokes or I have to use a lighter touch or skip it altogether like I did today.

                                                    Today, I alternated the front and the back of the blade on the 1000 grit going lighter and lighter. Then, I drew it in a wine cork a few times and then I lightly polished on a leather strop treated with chromium oxide. I figure if my ultra ripe and mushy tomatoes had no problems with my technique today, then neither should I.

                                                    Incidentally, the Forschner took very little time to sharpen today. It was last sharpened a little over two months ago and I have been extremely happy with the way the blade has held up in that time. I tested it before I started working on it today. It certainly wasn't gliding right through the tomatoes, but I used it heavily over last weekend and felt that it was still very much an acceptable blade (it was MUCH sharper than the dull Wusthof.)

                                                    1. re: sherrib

                                                      :) You must have pretty fine hair. Like you said, you were able to push cut the paper (not slicing) and able to cut ripe tomatoes.

                                                      I am surprised that CCK was difficult for you. It should just be that it was a new knife. I find CCK knives to be very easy to sharpen. If anything, these knives are fairly thin, so there is less metal to remove in order to sharpen.

                                                      <Today, I alternated the front and the back of the blade on the 1000 grit going lighter and lighter. Then, I drew it in a wine cork a few times and then I lightly polished on a leather strop treated with chromium oxide. >

                                                      This is a very high level setup there. I am glad that things are working out for you very nicely.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        I think you might be right about the CCK. Once I got the burr, I found that I was getting a rather pronounced burr, much more so than with the other knives. It wasn't that it was more difficult to sharpen than the other knives. It was just that I was expecting it to be noticeably easier, which it wasn't. I'm still very new at this. I wonder what my experience with it will be next time, especially if I don't wait very long until next time.

                                                      2. re: sherrib

                                                        It seems like you have two separate issues/questions:

                                                        1) Is it OK not to sharpen to a high polish that shaves very fine hair?

                                                        - Absolutely. How a knife performs on food is ultimately much more important than how it performs during sharpening tests. A knife that cuts effortlessly through ripe tomatoes is sharp.

                                                        And anyway, as you're starting to see, there are some advantages of a toothy (low grit) edge. At times, I deliberately leave an edge toothy - either because a toothy edge is better suited to the tasks I intend to use a knife for, or because on some knives a highly polished edge is a bit of a wasted effort (not enough retention to justify the effort). In fact, I often deliberately fail to fully polish out a lower grit scratch pattern even when I use a higher grit stone (by making a large jump in grits and limiting the amount of strokes I use on a polishing stone), in an effort to get some of the benefits of both kinds of edge. A lower grit can make for more aggressive slicing. A higher polish can make for enhanced edge retention and push-cutting ability.

                                                        2) Why are you having difficulty achieving a very high polish?

                                                        Again, this is not necessary. But improving your sharpening technique can be worthwhile in its own right, or at least interesting. For one, as Chem pointed out, not all arm hair is the same and yours might pose an extra hard test. But still, I think this is something you can achieve eventually.

                                                        I'll list a few possibilities here. Your problem could be one or several of these:
                                                        - Jumping from 1000 to 6000 grit is big enough that you might just have to do more work than you realize to polish out the scratch pattern from the 1k stone. Ultimately, the main reason to use an intermediate stone in between those two isn't because you can't make this jump... it's to save time.
                                                        - In general, the higher your grit, the better your technique needs to be. Think of it this way... at 1k, if you make a bad stroke or bump the edge a little bit slightly deforming the edge, you'll only need a couple more strokes to get the edge right back to where it was. A lot of times, you won't even notice you made a bad stroke. But at very fine grit, when you deform the edge slightly, you might wind up undoing several minutes worth of work. Same thing goes for rolling the edge while stropping, though this problem isn't particularly hard to avoid.
                                                        - If you don't have a very pristine edge coming off the 1k stone, your work on 6k can be a waste of time. From your results so far, this probably isn't your problem, but I though I'd throw it in there just FYI. If your bevels haven't met and formed a new edge, 6k is doing next to nothing for you.
                                                        - Check your fine stone to make sure you don't have high corners/edges on the stone. This can be undoing your work (or at least making it a lot harder) even while you're using it.
                                                        - Lastly, wire edge issues are a possibility. This, again, is highly unlikely in your case since you've said you deburr and you also are having the same issue with several different knives. But if you ever find that your knife is wicked sharp right off the stone and then seems not very sharp almost immediately into usage, then a wire edge might be your problem.

                                                        At any rate, learning to sharpen is a marathon, not a sprint, and it sounds like you're making fine progress. So congrats.

                                                        Hope you don't mind the long post.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          Chem, Cowboy....let me thank you personally for your contributions to this thread and others concerning sharpening. I have used a multitude of methods over the years to keep my knives sharp. This includes my kitchen knives as well as my pocket knives..both folders and fixed blades. As we are all more than well aware as we journey into knives and their care., we know there is a multitude of angles and finishes for knives depending on our knives and their intended usage. I recently went to a knife show in Las Vegas where I was happy to have my personal pocket knives sharpened by a representative of the Wicked Edge (WE) knife sharpener. His demonstration as well as the comments on the Usual Suspect Network of my friends using the WE convinced me to buy one. I like it as it takes the guess work out of angles and blade placement. I've yet to fool around with it yet, but I will comment on it in the future.

                                                          1. re: wabi

                                                            Nice. I thought I remember you were leaning the Wicked Edge more so than the Edge Pro. Somehow, I thought you have already bought Wicked Edge for long ago. Guess not. Hope to hear more from you about your Wicked Edge on kitchen knives.

                                                            1. re: wabi

                                                              Hi Wabi,

                                                              "Chem, Cowboy....let me thank you...for your contributions to this thread and others concerning sharpening."

                                                              They are the best! We are very lucky to have such knowledgeable craftsmen answer our questions and share their thoughts.

                                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                                              Hi Cowboy,

                                                              Thank you for your detailed response, as always. I always learn a lot from your posts, so the longer, the better.

                                                              "Ultimately, the main reason to use an intermediate stone in between those two isn't because you can't make this jump... it's to save time. "

                                                              This might be good enough reason for me to get a stone <1000 grit and one in between 1000 and 6000. I spent a lot of time on the 1k stone with the dull Wusthof. It felt like it took way too long to form a burr. Somehow, doing this in stages (a coarser stone, the 1k, something in between 1k and 6k, and then the 6k) might make it easier - both practically and psychologically. When spending what *feels* like too long a time on any one stone and feeling like I'm getting nowhere, it makes me want to give up. A tremendous amount of faith is needed to keep going.

                                                              As for polishing, I pretty much skipped it yesterday because I honestly didn't have the time for it (I sharpened 5 knives in about 3 hours.) And I gave myself A+ after the tomato and paper tests, so I wasn't sure how necessary it was at that point. However, if, indeed "A higher polish can make for enhanced edge retention..." then I will for sure go back to spending time on the 6k. My intention is to have a sharp edge for as long as possible. Yesterday, I was simply interested in sharpening up some dull knives in a short time. I think that next time, it will be better for me to concentrate on only one knife, spend a good amount of time on it and refine my technique.

                                                              "...make sure you don't have high corners/edges on the stone."

                                                              I use a stone fixer so I'm not sure that this is a problem. And now that you mention it, I remember thinking (on the 1k side) that it suddenly became much easier to create a burr immediately after using the stone fixer. Maybe I have to use it more often than I expect.

                                                              1. re: sherrib

                                                                After flattening a stone the surface is rough like the grading media and will have a temporary effect like a coarser grit.

                                                                The excess mud if left on will speed up sharpening as well.

                                                                I actually save mud sometimes and let it dry.


                                                                1. re: knifesavers

                                                                  "I actually save mud sometimes and let it dry."

                                                                  Whoa. I have never heard of this before.

                                                                  I was taught to leave the mud and I do. It wreaks havoc on my manicure though. Oh well.

                                                                2. re: sherrib

                                                                  < I spent a lot of time on the 1k stone with the dull Wusthof. It felt like it took way too long to form a makes me want to give up>

                                                                  This is so true for dull knife -- because they are so very dull. It can take a long long time to sharpen these knives which you haven't worked on. It can takes 30 min or longer on a 1000 grit stone. However, once you have an edge, future sharpening will be like 1-5 min.

                                                                  Recently, I bought a cheap ShiBaZhi knife. I must have spent over 30 min sharpening on a very coarse ~200 grit stone. Much of the edge has been formed along the blade. However, some sections are still dull, and I basically stopped due to being too tired. I will need to work on it another time.

                                                                  Knifesavers know a lot. He is a professional knife sharpener.

                                                          2. re: sherrib

                                                            < I have been wanting to purchase Japanese knives but have not been confident enough about my sharpening abilities to do so>

                                                            Yes, and no. I think it will be very beneficial to have a minimal level of knife sharpening to benefit the most from a Japanese influenced knife, and this is mostly because not all professional knife sharpeners can properly sharpen a Japanese knife.

                                                            < I figure I won't delve into the world of J-knives until I get this one right. >

                                                            That is not a bad strategy. It sounds to be that you have the basic down (possibly more) because you can shave fine arm hair already.

                                          3. re: sherrib

                                            <Only the good Lord knows why a suburban housewife has become obsessed with sharpening her kitchen knives, but whatever...>

                                            I think it's great!

                                            1. re: JavaBean

                                              Thank you Chem and Java! I'm determined to get this right no matter what!!

                                2. Cowboy has answered so perfectly. All of the knives you have listed are good knives. I have not had Richmond Artifex.

                                  If you like the smoothest transition from softer steel German knives to your first gyuto, then the Fujiwara is the best because it is softer. On the other hand, you will also notice the least changes -- both good and bad.

                                  The two Tojro DP are the same except the handle, so that is a very personal choice. DP is great. Stainless steel (VG-10), hard steel, thin blade.

                                  Tojiro Shirogami is a white paper (Shirogami) carbon steel knife. It is probably the easiest sharpen and the sharpest one on your list. However, it is also the easiest one to rust and stain. More care will be needed, but not too difficult.

                                  CarboNext. I have a CarboNext santoku. It is easy to sharpen. It holds it edge well, but not as good as a typical Shirogami. It has characteristic of a carbon steel knife and a stainless steel knife.

                                  In term of ease of care, I will rank it that:

                                  Fujiwara > Tojiro DP~CarboNext > TojiroShirogami

                                  In term of performance, I will almost rank it backward:

                                  TojiroShirogami > TojiroDP~CarboNext > Fujiwara

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    "CarboNext. I have a CarboNext santoku... It holds it edge well, but not as good as a typical Shirogami. "

                                    You might be right. In my experience, edge retention with shirogami steel depends a lot on its heat treatment/hardness. I don't know how Tojiro treats theirs; also I only got so much of a feel for the carbonext edge retention, since I only had your santoku for a short while, and I never used the suji extensively. The carbonext steel should have better wear resistance, anyway. Functionally, it's a little hard for me to predict which one will hold its edge longer for the OP between the two.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      Thanks cowboyardee. I meant to say that it (Shirogami) holds a lower angle edge better than CarboNext. In term of longevity of the edge (edge retention), I think that depends on the angle and the kitchen environment. I don't think 15o (on both sides) is a problem at all for CarboNext. Below that, then I had trouble.

                                      Thanks for the chance for clarification.

                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Hey Chem, I thought the Carbonext would outperform VG-10. Can you give me a ballpark guess on the edge angle / retention, and lowest angle (before failure) on the Carbonext vs Tojrio.

                                      1. re: JavaBean

                                        Hi JavaBean,

                                        I have tried to sharpened my Tojiro DP (VG-10) gyuto and my CarboNext santoku knives at 10° (included at 20°). Both can take the 10° edge, but they don't last really more than 1-2 cooking sessions. At 15° edge angle, they both hold the edge well. I didn't find that one held its edge longer, but that was at a time when I sharpened my knives about once every two weeks. So it only means that they both lasted at least 2 weeks or longer. How much longer than that I don't know. I know a lot of people online said that the CarboNext edge lasts longer. That may very well be true. Both knives do not rust. I intentionally try to leave water on the CarboNext knife just to see. :)

                                        The biggest differences I have noticed are that the CarboNext knife can stain (not rust), and it is slightly easier to sharpen the CarboNext knife.

                                        Both cowboyardee and Eiron have used this knife. We did a passaround. You can read their reviews on

                                        Some highlights

                                        cowboyardee: " This is a good all around knife and I can see why it’s popular. It seems to be most often compared with the Hirmoto due to similarity in price, edge retention, all-around usage, and profile. Functionally, it seems to have more in common with stainless steel than carbon in terms of reactivity, which makes it a good choice for just about anyone. Excellent edge retention (though maybe not as amazing as I had hoped), easy usage, and a nice high-performance grind that still sports some durability make this knife and presumably the Carbonext series a great choice for people who just want a great knife. I can see why this series is popular with line cooks."

                                        Eiron: " This is a very nice knife; it has good workmanship & sharpens beautifully. It’s not flashy in appearance, but that helps to keep costs reasonable for an authentic Japanese knife of this quality. Add to all of this the “Honko” (“Real Tool Steel”) easy-care carbon steel blade material, & this should be a serious consideration for anyone looking to spend $100 on a santoku."

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Thank you all for the very deep and detailed explanations.
                                          At this point I am leaning towards the Carbonext.
                                          If I may to have another question. What would you recommend for the sharpening?
                                          I am a total noob, but do not mind to pay a little extra for a longer term and quality option.

                                          1. re: jazzanova

                                            Hi Jazz,

                                            For any Japanese style knife, I would recommend against using electric knife sharpeners like Chef's Choice. There are three recommendations I can think of.

                                            The simplest and most restrictive option is to use something like a Sharpmaker ($55). It is relatively inexpensive and almost no learning curve. It is good for maintain an edge. However, it also the least flexible and slow. Lansky is much cheaper, but I don't know much about it:



                                            Second and most traditional, use waterstones. Get yourself an relatively inexpensive but good quality waterstone (~$15-25) at 800-1200 grit (Japanese standard), and then maybe a diamond stone for flattening. You can always expand later, but the ~1000 grit is a good start. It does require investment of learning. It is not tough, but it takes time. Think of learning how to ride a bicycle. Everyone can learn, but it takes time and practice. One of these:



                                            and then a diamond stone if you have money



                                            if diamond stone is too expensive, then just buy a piece of sandpaper and lay it on top of a flat surface will do.

                                            Third, the most expensive, but high quality option is a sharpening device like Edge Pro Apex. Apex 3 is a good one.


                                            Wicked Edge also get nice reviews, but I don't know much about it:


                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Thanks Chem. The carbonnext sounds like a great knife and probably is, but i was expected a greater difference than VG-10.

                                            I sharpen the Tojiro, Shun VG-10 at a similiar angle as you. When i did them below 15/30, the owners chewed up the edge within a week or so.

                                      2. My take…
                                        Fujiwara FKM

                                        - Are made of AUS-8 @ ~58 hrc; on the softer side of a Japanese knife. Although it won’t take or hold an edge as well as a VG-10 tier blade, it sharpens easier, can be maintained with a hone and is tough enough to handle some occasional rough treatment without chipping. It’s a good choice for someone who isn’t quite ready to break away from soft knife habits / learn to use a harder blade.
                                        - The handle is bit narrow. The overall fit and finish, blade grind, and OOTB edge is above average.

                                        Tojiro DP

                                        - Are made of VG-10 @ ~ 60 hrc; it will take and hold a slightly better edge than the AUS-8 / Molybdenum tier knives, but at the same time is more difficult to sharpen, may chip (depends on the edge) if roughhoused. It doesn’t like super acute edges/ tends to microchip.
                                        - The handle is quite large and boxy. The ones made several years ago, had some minor finishing issues (handle gaps, rough areas, etc.) but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some sandpaper and elbow grease.

                                        Wa-handle DP

                                        - Wa handles are less intrusive, tend to be lighter, and often result in blade heavy balance. If you use a pinch grip, you can always adjust the balance by moving your hand fore or aft. Western handles are easier to clean, tend to be heavier and often produce a neutral or butt heavy balance. I generally prefer wa-handles, but will opt for western on boning knives because I can really scrub & soak it in boiling hot water.

                                        Tojiro Shirogami gyuto
                                        - Is the only carbon steel on your list. You’ll need to do all the things to upkeep a carbon blade…keep it dry, clean, etc.
                                        - Made from white carbon steel (#2 or #3). In general, White steel is very easy to sharpen, gets very sharp and will hold an edge on par with or better than VG-10.
                                        - There have been some reported major issues with the a) Kurouchi finish flaking off within the first couple of hours or days, b) cladding itself is very reactive and a rust magnet, c) blade / grind are very inconsistent; ranging from OK to really bad (bent, warped, overgrinds).
                                        - Make sure you can return a lemon and/or differentiate between one with fixable and catastrophic flaws.


                                        - Is made from some sort of semi stainless steel with carbon-esque qualities. Supposed to be a very good knife that may just need to be sharpened / better OOTB edge.

                                        Richmond Artiflex
                                        - I eyeballed, read up on it several months ago.
                                        - Is made from AEB-L steel; which is more or less the stainless steel equivalent of White carbon. On paper, you’re getting a better blade steel, decent looking handle and F&F than other knives in its’ price class.
                                        - The heat treatment and blade grind are wildcards. Check out the youtube vids of this knife as well the M390 steel version from Cliff Stamp. He seems knowledgeable, honest and unbiased.
                                        - Based on pics, the blade appears to be as thick as a cleaver with almost no taper. If so, it will need an extensive amount of blade thinning and profiling for it to come close to performing as well as the others.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: JavaBean

                                          It seems as though many of the newer Richmond knives have either thinner blades or better grinds, so thinning might not be necessary anymore. The knives got a lot of criticism for their grind initially, and later generations claimed to deal with the issue. Of note, CKTG is also now selling the Richmond 'Laser' - seeing as he has handled quite a few of the other 'lasers' on the market, it wouldn't surprise me if he got the grind about right.

                                          Of course, until I handle one, I couldn't say for certain. The prices are so low and the steel is so good that I think the Richmond knives might be a decent gamble.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            Hey Cowboyardee. 
                                            There are bunch of different Richmond branded knives.  The Laser and others made in Japan are probably a custom or rebranded OEM knife.  These seem fine / haven't read any complaints about them.

                                            The older as well as newer models...made by Lamson are the ones with heat treatment and/ or grind complaints. Based on pics, the knives that come directly from Lamson have horrible grinds.  However, there are several 3rd party sharpeners working for him, so those maybe better or not.

                                            Personally, I'm more put off by a messed up heat treatment than grind. These blades are probably being heat treated in large batches to keep the cost down, but some of the gurus say certain steels don't heat treat well in large batches. 

                                            1. re: JavaBean

                                              Good info - thanks for sharing it. Didn't realize that some of his knives were made in Japan. I had just assumed they were all manufactured by Lamson.

                                              I've heard before of problems when large batches of knives are heat treated - not so much that the heat treatment winds up uniformly bad, but rather that it winds up inconsistent. Some knives from said batch perform well, while others don't sharpen or hold an edge very well at all. I've wondered before if this kind of thing explains some of the variations I've seen with Henckels International blades, where it seems like the same model can vary quite a bit in how it sharpens.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                Yup, that's my take on it too. The variations between knives heat treated in large batches or different batch runs, could be the reason why you're seeing differences in multiple same knives.

                                                I think the heat treatment process is sorta like deep frying chicken. It comes out better when you only do a certain amount a pieces at a time. Doing too many pieces, lowers the oil temperature and messes things up.

                                                1. re: JavaBean

                                                  Hi Guys,

                                                  Happy Labor Day.

                                                  Let me know if you have any specific questions about my knives, the Tojiros, Fujiwaras or anything else on our site and I'll be happy to answer them for you. I usually answer stuff on our own forum and I don't visit here much but the incoming traffic on this thread got my attention. (thanks for that) :)

                                                  PS of that group that was listed I usually recommend the Tojiro DP Gyuto for newbies that are just dipping their toe in the water for Japanese knives. They're an excellent value.

                                                  My knife was designed for pros and they are a little thicker behind the edge (we can finish sharpen them and thin them if you like) but not much. Line cooks tend to beat up their knives with hard use on poly boards so we wanted something that would be durable and sharp and use a steel that would hold a good edge but not roll or chip. It's not easy to do.

                                                  The Fujiwaras are good knives with somewhat average steel. Nice value but they won't hold their edge as long as the others. I had them make my Artifex wa-gyuto out of this steel and they came out nice.

                                                  The Tojiro ITK line is carbon steel and I'm not a huge fan of them. I like the Yamashins better for an entry level carbon steel knife.

                                                  You guys are right, the knives I get from Japan are OEM jobs that I usually have some input over steel and profile etc and each one is different. The lasers are made from a tiny shop in Niigata and they're very different from the ZDP189s that I get from another shop in Sanjo etc.. These are not entry level priced so I don't think the person that asked the question would be interested in most of them.

                                                  The whole "blow up" between me and Dave was pretty boring. He and I were competing for the same customers and he ended up getting banned by the mods on knifeforums and started his own forum. In his defense, In The Kitchen on knife forums was something he built for several years before I showed up so I can understand why it was hard to have me elbow my way in there. I started my own forum after that and I think it worked out well for both of us. At least we're not in each other's hair anymore. Knifeforums had too many dealers in the same space and it's hard get along in that environment. Having my own forum removes that pressure for me and we have plenty of knives and stones to talk about without petty squabbles.

                                                  Mark Richmond