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Carbon Steel Knives

Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:34 pm

Hi Mr. Richmond and other knife professionals,

I've been interested in getting a hand-made Japanese carbon steel knive and was wondering what you would recommend? I have a few production stainless steel knives from Henckels and Wusthof, but I'd like to have a knive or two made by a Japanese craftsman. I've heard that carbon steel knives have good edge retention, are easier to sharpen, and usually out-perform stainless knives despite the extra care involved to keep them from rusting. I really don't want to spend more than $200 on a knife and I'd like to get something with a Japanese wood handle (for both right and left handed use). I'd like something in a kurouchi or damascus blade finish and want a gyuto in the 240 mm or 210 mm size. The knives I've been interested in from your website have been the Moritaka Aogami #2 Gyuto 240 mm, the Tanaka Damascus Gyuto 240 mm, Tanaka Kurouchi 210 mm Wa-Gyuto, and the Tojiro Shirogami ITK 240mm Wa-Gyuto. I was wondering if these are good knives to consider or do you have others you would recommend? I don't have a lot of experience with the properties of different carbon steels, but I'm looking for something that has good edge retention, is easy to sharpen, and has superior cutting performance for my price limit. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you when you get a chance.

Kevan Gregalis

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:06 pm

I have the Tanaka 240mm Damascus and love it. It had a D handle, so lefties may not care for it, but a lefty on one of the forums has found that D shaped handles for righties don't always bother someone who is left handed. It has outcut pretty much every other knife I own and I still have only stropped it a few times; it hasn't seen the stones yet (home cook) and I bought it in August! The Tanaka 210mm KU has been shipped, should have it early next week. I haven't held a Moritaka, but they are supposed to be nice as well. The Tojiro ITK isn't in the same league IMHO, the Yamashin would be a better choice in that price range.

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:37 pm

Give the Moritaka a try. It has an even grind on the edge and has a lefty friendly octagonal handle.

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:03 pm

Thanks Mark and taz575 for your recommendations. I am left handed and a home cook, but still wanted a knife that right handed people could use. The Moritaka is probably a better choice for me since I haven't used knives with D shaped handles, but I really liked the damascus steel on the Tanaka. Are there other knives outside of the few I've selected (under $200) that I should consider?

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:06 am

The Tanaka would be a good knife....but it's got a D shaped handle as Taz pointed out.

The Goko is nice:


Definitely worth considering.

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:52 am

Mark may be able to switch out the handle to an Oval one, or if you have some files and sandpaper, you may be able to round out the D portion to make it into an oval profile; the Tanaka D's aren't super sharp.

OR you can get it re handled :) One of these days I will do a new handle for my Tanaka, but I haven't had much free time lately and I haven't gone a stretch of a few days w/o using the knife.

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:04 pm

Thanks Adam for your recommendations and Taz for the advice on the handle. I'm a little hesistant to consider the Goko because it says the edge grind is asymmetrical. I do sharpen my knives, but I'm not an expert, so I thought is would be better for me to select knives with 50/50 edges. Do either of you know how the steel compares between the Tanaka Damascus Gyuto 240 mm and the Moritaka Aogami #2 Gyuto 240 mm? The Moritaka Supreme Series Gyuto 210 mm is also in my price range (made from Aogami Super steel) and the 240 mm in that series is just over 200, so would either of those be a better choice? Taz, you'll have to let me know what you think of the Tanaka 210 mm KU when you get it.

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:58 am

It will be in today and I plan on using it!!

With the White vs Blue steels, White will take a slightly finer edge and be a bit easier to sharpen, but the Blue will hold it's edge a little longer and won't be quite as reactive. Aogami Super (Blue Super) will take a fine edge and hold it very well and is generally considered the best chose between the White and Blue steels, but it's usually more expensive and may be a touch less tough and a bit harder to sharpen. Having a few knives in White, Blue and Aogami Super, I can tell you that they all take a really nice, fine edge and the slight differences aren't easy to notice unless you are using the knives for 8-10 hours a day. The Aogami Super is considered the best in edge holding, but may not be the best toughness wise. It all depends on what you want it for!

An asymmetrical blade grind is no biggie in terms of sharpening. You can follow the original factory bevels and keep your edge asymmetrical, or you can change the edge bevels to 50/50.

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:25 am

I wouldn't make a choice between the Moritaka and the Tanaka based on the different steels.

The Tanaka is blue (although it doesn't specify which blue) and the Moritaka is AS. Very similar steels no matter which version of blue the Tanaka uses. I'd buy based on a different trait though.

Asymmetry is only a big deal if you're talking a 10/90 knife or some such like a hankotsu or something. More gyuto's are like 40/60 or 30/70. I'd try to follow the existing bevels if you can. But it's not life ending if you don't.

Re: Carbon Steel Knives

Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:24 pm

Got to use the 210mm KU Tanaka against the 240mm Tojiro ITK Kiritsuke on some potatoes today. Both cut well OOTB, but the kasumi (sand blast) finish on the bevels seemed to cause more friction in the cut, so I will polish the bevels and compare, may do the same with the KU finish when it wears off. Both were nicely thin behind the edge and ground well. The Tanaka Sekiso has better F&F overall than either, and a bit more even grind, but is also more expensive, too. If you can spring for the Sekiso Damascus, it's worth it for the smoother sides (easier to cut taller foods with) and better F&F (spine, choil and handle). The Tanaka KU is very similar to the ITK, and different than my Tanaka KU Nakiri, which has a glossier KU finish.
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