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Deba recommendations?

Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:47 am

I've got a reasonable stable of Japanese knives, primarily carbon, but a couple Cowry-X pieces that I leave out when company comes over or am working with citrus or other "staining" foods. I'm set with the usual suspects, but am starting to break down more fish from scratch. Non-shop-brands include Aritsugu (Kyoto) and Masamoto. I had a Kikuichi petty knife a few years ago (HC), and wasn't thrilled with it, either for sharpness or for edge longevity.

This is for home use, so I'm not breaking down dozens of fish a day.

I sharpen all my own knives with waterstones. I don't "steel" though there is a long story behind why I don't have a borosilicate rod. I may start stropping at some time in the future.

Right now I'm looking for a Japanese-handled deba, probably a 180 mm one, though if there was a great deal on a 165 mm, I might consider it. Unless someone has a killer SS piece, HC is my strong preference. Price-wise I'm looking for either a "decent" one at around US$100, or a better one at around $200. Those aren't hard numbers, but more an indication of the price range. Ability to form a good edge and, to a reasonable extent, hold it through the fish for a half-dozen meals-for-two is important. Balance and feel are critical. Within reason, I could care less how the knife looks.

Alas, it looks like the knife forum I used to frequent has changed significantly, so I'm hoping there are some good suggestions here.



Re: Deba recommendations?

Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:48 pm

Just so that I'm safe in my recommendations....please clarify western deba or Japanese, single beveled deba.

Re: Deba recommendations?

Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Forgive me, single-bevel, right-handed, Japanese-style handle.

Re: Deba recommendations?

Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:10 pm

Also, I'm OK with a recommendation on something that is, at least at the moment, out of stock, especially if there is a "If you just can't wait..." back-up plan.

(apparently I can't edit posts)

Re: Deba recommendations?

Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:18 pm

You don't mention whether or not you've used other single beveled knives (yanagi, usuba, etc.).

If you haven't, please be well aware of what you're getting into before proceeding. Please ask us a million questions first if you would like.

But, you came asking a specific question, and I will do my best to answer that. :)

This is probably the closest to your budget that's in stock at the moment:


This is another one I'd probably recommend as well, but OOS at the moment:


There is a 210mm version available, but a 210mm deba is HUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE!!! :)

Now, there are other, less expensive deba's as well. I don't recommend them unless you have a bit of experience with deba's and/or other true single bevel knives. The "cheap" lines of single bevel deba's (or any true single bevel knife for that matter) often use cost saving construction methods to get to their attractive price. This is to the detriment of the quality of the grind. A bad grind on a true single bevel knife is not nearly as easily fixed as on a double bevel knife like a petty or gyuto. So, some decent experience with them is needed if you want to try and fix any issues they MAY come with....they may come perfect as well and many do....but many also come with very crappy grinding.

Re: Deba recommendations?

Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:55 pm

Thanks for those suggestions.

I'm pretty familiar with the use and sharpening of single-bevel Japanese knives, with a honesuki, usuba, and a couple yanagiba that I keep edges on. Breaking down fish with a deba is new to me, though I've had a good sushi chef lead me through the basics.

I've got Shapton stones from 500 through 6000 to work with, so "fixing" a not-so-great factory edge isn't terribly scary. I don't have the equipment or skills for hollow grinding the backs, but I do have access to a professional that I trust if it comes to that.

What were you thinking of? One of my favorite santoku was probably not more than about $20 (after import to the US), is some unknown metal that seems to stain and rust before you can even wipe it off, has a simple wooden handle, but with a fresh edge, cuts like a charm.

Re: Deba recommendations?

Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:32 pm

It's not the edge you need to be worried about.

It's the twisting, bent knives.

It's the overgrinds/undergrinds.

These are the issues that gave me nightmares when I bought single bevel knives and the reason I no longer have any.

A knife like this is something I'd buy if I had the knowledge to fix any issues it might come with:


Re: Deba recommendations?

Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:46 am

I think I've narrowed things down a bit, perhaps tempered by seeing a beautiful Henkotsu kamisori (straight razor) and sensing that I might be needing to move from double-edge shaving to straight.

I'd appreciate any additional thoughts about or between:
As would be my luck, I'm going to have to wait for either one, but that will make getting one in hand even more rewarding.

Of course, the Konosuke Fujiyama White #2 Deba 180mm has caught my eye, having had a few of the Konosuke pieces in hand (though not a deba), but my more-rational side is having a hard time being convinced that the price differential wouldn't be better spent on something that gets more use. My less-rational side might be convinced otherwise...
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