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Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:28 pm


I really enjoy cooking, but only cook at home. A few weeks ago I decided to finally get some decent knives. I don't like to spend money on things I know little about, so I started doing some research online. Turns out, there's a lot to know about knives... I've been reading what must be hundreds of boar_d_laze's posts across here and cheftalk.com

I've read about as much as I think will be helpful for now. I think I need to go ahead and make a purchase and start getting some actual experience before I can form any real opinions. That being said, I'd really appreciate it if someone could look through my thought process here and help me know what I'm missing.

Starting from the ground up, I believe I should start with a gyuto, petty, bread knife, and honesuki. The carbon steel really appeals to me -- I like the supposed ease of sharpening and edge taking ability, but I suppose the stainless might be more practical for my needs. The extra maintenance doesn't scare me at all though. If there's a real good reason for me not to get carbon, I would go with stainless. I like the look of the wa handles, but I'm used to the western style. I don't know anything about proper knife use and sharpening, but I'm hoping to find some good videos. boar_d_laze had mentioned some good ones and ones to avoid, but I need to find that post again.

Here's what I've come up with. Any comments would be appreciated.

Gytuo (one of the following):

    Kohetsu Aogami Super 240mm Gyuto -- This one seems perfect for me, but I read that the san-mai blades can have a "muted" feel to them. On one hand, I have such little experience that I doubt I would know the difference. On the other hand, maybe its better to learn with a monosteel design.

    Moritaka Gyuto 240mm -- another san-mai, but maybe not worth the extra money compared to the Kohetsu?

    Richmond Artifex 240mm Gyuto -- my monosteel /stainless choice. Hopefully its easy enough for a beginner to sharpen.

    Konosuke HD2 Wa-Gyuto Ho 240mm
    -- I'd love this one, but for that kind of money, I'm afraid I'd mess it up when sharpening. Does it make sense to start off with something cheaper?

Bread Knife:

    Tojiro 270mm ITK Bread Knife


    Dojo Hayashi Petty 135mm -- I figure if I get the 135mm, it could kind of work as something between a pairing an utility. Save some money and use something thats okay at both tasks.


    Richmond Artifex Honesuki 165mm
    MAC Honesuki Boning Knife 6"

I figure the Honesuki and Tojiro bread knife can handle things that might be too rough for the gyuto. I may get the edge pro essentials kit for sharpening, but I need to do more research into all of that first. If its not a terrible idea, I'd like to save money and just buy the stones I need and learn to sharpen "freehand". Maybe I would destroy my knives though...

Thank you for any advice!

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:58 pm

Looks like you have really done your home work!

Gyuto--> The kohetsu is a lot of knife for the money and a great value and knife for a home cook. Save the money over the Konosuke HD2 for stones.

Bread knife--> Great choice with the ITK, have one myself and love it.

Petty--> The Dojo has a very good reputation for it's petties but I have no experience with them. They are made with a very good steel. The size is personal preference. I like a 150mm, many like 120-135mm.

Honesuki--> The Mac Honesuki, again no experience with this knife but the Mac is popular in this style.

I would probably get stones before the bread knife or Honesuki and get started sharpening. Just me.

Hopefully a little help.

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:03 pm

Crispy - great post! I wish everyone would present that kind of information to get started.

I think you would do well to get started with a lower to mid priced Gyuto to get a basis for opinion and preferences, as you stated. That being said, the Kohetsu, which I consider mid-level priced, is so darn good for the money, it might just be a one and done Gyuto purchase for you. Meaning that you won't get a ton of performance gains moving up the food chain from there.

I really wouldn't worry about the clad vs. mono steel feel at this point. Most people probably won't notice much of a difference. Out of those that do, even fewer likely consider it a major factor in the experience. Are you one of those people? If you really want to know, then at a later date you could get a mono steel blade and discover if you feel the difference or not.

The Konosuke is a great knife, but pretty spendy if you're not sure about preferences yet IMO.

Mark just release a new knife today that might be of interest. The Goko 240 Damascus Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/goko.html. It's brand new, so no feedback yet, but it looks like a promising performer, especially at the 30% discount Mark's offering.

The Tojjiro is a great bread knife. That or the Richmond Artifex bread knife would be my picks: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riarbrkn27.html.

I'd maybe wait on a petty until you've had some hands on w/a Gyuto (or 2).

On the Honesuki, that's a very task specific knife and it's not really intended for rough duty. If you break down a lot of whole poultry/birds, then it might be worth doing. Also, many Honesuki's are right handed single bevel blades. Keep that in mind if you're a lefty.

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:18 pm

Kohetsu is a great knife. It's a laser and therefore requires you use it as such. It's very thin at the edge....if you use it as it's designed to be used, it'll be a great knife.

The Moritaka is carbon core, carbon clad....unless they're making something I'm not aware of these days.

Artifex is more of a beginners knife, a project knife, or a knife for someone who doesn't want a very thin edge. It's a great knife for the money. It uses great steel....that's easy to sharpen. It does benefit from a nice thinning though.

HD2 is kind of the king of semi-stainless lasers. Awesome knife, great company, great F&F. Is it better than the Kohetsu in the laser category....maybe, maybe not. The Kohetsu is a great value....the HD2 is perhaps a slightly better made overall knife though.

Between the four, I'd get the HD2 or the Kohetsu if you want a laser (budget would probably decide which for me)....the Moritaka if you want a full carbon knife....the Artifex if you want a slightly thicker (safer to be careless with) knife.

Good choice on the bread knife. :)

I wouldn't try buying a knife in the 135mm length. Trying to make a paring knife out of it is worthless.....the same for a good petty. Many have tried, very few liked the results.

For now, I'd skip the honesuki and get a 150mm petty and a proper paring knife. :)

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:05 pm

I recently bought the Kohetsu gyoto and Tojiro bread knife and love them both. Can't go wrong with those choices.

Like you, I was also accustomed to the western style handles. After working with the Kohetsu, I now prefer the Japanese handles. Took me about 5 minutes to make the transition. I appreciate the lightness and more forward weight, but I think that is highly personal.

I would not worry about the "muted" feeling you were concerned about. I think you would need significant knife experience with a variety of different knives to feel it. Remember, some of the guys on this forum are professional chefs and make more cuts in a day than the average home cook in a month. Others are knife hobbyists and have 7 gyotos. I don't doubt these guys can feel the difference. I consider myself a serious home cook. I have an entire freezer in my basement devoted exclusively to different stocks. I can't feel the difference. All I feel is pure joy when my Kohetsu cuts so thin I can see through a carrot.

Lastly, you mentioned that you were concerned about buying the Kono because you might harm it in the sharpening. You obviously don't want to harm any of the knives on your list sharpening. When you get your new Jknives, take the good advice I got on this forum---practice on old knives until you've developed confidence and then sharpen your new knife.

Hope this helps.

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:18 pm

And remember, to truly ruin your knives when sharpening would take an erroneous technique of great magnitude... like trying to beat your knife sharp on the stone... lol If you follow Mark's vids on the site and other places where you might see sharpening vids, the worst you will do might be scratch the blade a bit (no big deal, it will happen) or not get it sharp because you can't hold a consistent angle. Of course practice with cheaper knives is always best but don't be scared to try it on the Japanese knives! When you get the hang of holding a consistent angle you'll know it because the blades will be sharper after being taken to the stones than they were before.

Just don't try to sharpen at a 90 degree angle and don't play the drum solo to In-A-Godda-Da-Vida on the stones with your knife and you shouldn't ruin anything beyond very simple "repair". ;)

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:07 pm

Jeff, I appreciate your recommendations. Scott and Steve, your thoughts on the san-mai make good sense, so I'll stick with the Kohetsu and Dojo. Adam, I was on the fence anyways about my split-the-difference choice, so I'll change to a 80mm paring knife.

I'll keep reading responses, but I think I can revise my list to:

Kohetsu Aogami Super 240mm Gyuto
Dojo Paring Knife 80mm
Tojiro 270mm ITK Bread Knife

I'm still trying to choose a good 150mm petty knife now. Does it make sense to get something fairly tough to compliment this selection? I've never worked with knives that come close to the hardness of these, so I'm a little worried about chipping when working around bones or tough skinned vegetables. I'm guessing the bread knife can handle some of the thick tough skinned vegetables though.

Thanks for the sharpening advice, DefMunky. That gives me a little more confidence, but I'll try to practice on my old knives. Maybe this question will be answered when I watch and read some more sharpening tutorials, but do you guys think its reasonable to start off with just stones, or should I get an edge pro or something to start with.

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:12 pm

Scott wrote: I consider myself a serious home cook. I have an entire freezer in my basement devoted exclusively to different stocks. I can't feel the difference. All I feel is pure joy when my Kohetsu cuts so thin I can see through a carrot.

OK Scott - that pretty serious dude :-). I bet your home smells awesome when creating those stocks. Nice post.

Also, Crispy - I started with the Edge Pro Apex Essentials set and I'm now using free hand stones. I can still get a sharper knife on the Edge Pro....for now ;). I definitely like free handing better, especially after I'm gaining some skill and getting better results. Don't get me wrong, the EP is no gimme, you still need consistent technique and some practice. People like MadRookie and Sadden do some amazing things with their EP setups. The learning curve is definitely higher free handing to get the same results. It's a personal choice.

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:17 pm

If you go with the Edge Pro, stay with the Edge Pro. If you go with freehand stones, stay with stones. You could mix and match, but I'm not sure if I really see a point... it seems a bit redundant. It is perfectly reasonable to start off with stones. I would actually encourage it so you can learn to sharpen without needing an apparatus. There is nothing wrong with using an Edge Pro, but once you can freehand sharpen you should be able to get an edge on just about anything sharp with anything abrasive. lol

It is a personal call and you can end up with really sharp knives either way. ;)

Re: Beginner, Starting from the Groud, Up

Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:17 pm

Pick out two or three stones, grab some old knives and get started. You may surprise yourself.

Hiromoto Utility Knife 150mm. An excellent petty/utility knife is you don't mind a Yo handle. Stainless clad AS just like the Kohetsu. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/hiromoto.html
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