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Newbie Help

Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:04 am

I have decided to step up to some nice Japanese knives as an upgrade over my 15 year old set of Henckels. I have been drooling over the konosukes, kanehiros, takedas, etc... and trying to decide if I wanted stainless, stainless clad or carbon. Since I don't have any experience with Japanese knives, I have decided to start with a more inexpensive knife to get a feel for how much care a carbon steel knife takes. My thinking is to start with something that is basically a worst case scenario in terms of blade reactivity. Once I get some experience with my first knife, that should help drive future purchases. I am thinking of getting one of the following knives:

Yamashin Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1gy21.html
Tojiro ITK Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toitkshwa21.html

Are there other knives that I should consider that are carbon steel (no cladding) with Japanese handles?

Next, what do I need to maintain the knife? Should I invest in a sharpener or some sharpening stones? I don't have any experience sharpening, but I am willing to learn and experiment on my first knife.

What should I use for more frequent maintenance of the knives? Should I use the sharpening steel from my Henckels set? Is there something better to use to hone the blade?

What should I use to remove any rust / oxidation that might develop on the blade?

Thanks, Joel

Re: Newbie Help

Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:43 pm

Welcome to the Forum. :)

Both of those knives are clad....just fyi. Don't know if you knew that or not...but your "(no cladding) with Japanese handles" sparked the response.

I can't think of any other budget priced wa handled carbon steel knives at the moment.

I'd start with one of the stone sets:


Or something similar that you assemble yourself with similar grit range stones. Use wet/dry paper and a piece of glass (or other flat, hard surface) to flatten the stones.

No, don't use the steel rod you have from Henckels. If you want to maintain the knives, learn to strop with the high grit stone....like the 6,000 grit in the set I linked to.

If you insist on a rod, get something like the Idahone:


The Idahone is a good value.

True rust should be removed immediately. Flitz metal polish and/or a Scotchbrite pad will work.....but it can scratch the piss out of your knife especially with that KU finish on the knives you're looking at. Be careful. They also make rust removers for the knives, but I've never used them to recommend them.

If it's just discoloring/patina...you can let it be as it will actually protect the blade from true rust once it forms.

Re: Newbie Help

Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:44 pm

ADAM <> I'm at a loss. What are those two clad with? I'm quite positive they are both Honyaki white #1 & #2 respectively.

Re: Newbie Help

Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:54 am

Those are both clad with a carbon steel, usually iron of some sort. No where in those descriptions does it say Honyaki; Honyaki blades would be MUCH more expensive, like a few hundred dollars to around $1K. Even a single piece of steel isn't called Honyaki unless it meets the requirements for Honyaki. Honyaki blades are often heat treated/tempered to a much higher Rockwell Hardness and carbon steels will often display a Hamon, which is a heat treating line like on the swords and are much more difficult to sharpen and work with after hardening.

I had an ITK and it was definitely clad; you can see where the different steels meet up near the edge.

Of those two, I would check out the Yamashin; my ITK gyuto was somewhat thick and wedgey past the main blade bevel, but the Nakiri was much better.

Whats your budget? If it allows, Tanaka, Konosuke and Sakai Yasuke do full carbon blades that are not clad with Wa handles. The Tanaka is Damascus steel. Fujiwara, Masamoto and Kikuichi offer a line of Western handled knives with solid carbon blades that are not clad. Most carbon blades are clad like Hiromoto AS, Kanehiro, ITK, Tetsuhiro, Masakage, Dojo, Terayasu Fujiwara, Moritaka and Takeda.

Re: Newbie Help

Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:29 am

TIM <> Thanks for explaining the iron cladding. I was never aware the blades you mentioned like the Yamashin, Tojiro ITK, Moritaka & Takeda that are sold as white or blue steel knives, respectively, are in fact, clad. Obviously, the Kanehiro AOS, Hiromoto, Itto-ryu, Testsuhiro, etc that are sold as "clad" knives are clad, but good to know... thanks again!

Obviously, Joel is referring to stainless-clad, leaving all of our rhetoric moot, but awesome education nonetheless...

And second - I guess, I never claimed that those two were "described as Honyaki." For conversation, I used the term poorly as they [Honyaki] are single-steel forges of which I was drawing the parallel with these knives of which I had believed to be solely white steel. Poorly written, for sure... ;)

Re: Newbie Help

Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:57 am

Tim, are the Tanaka damascus knives not clad? I believe they are and don't believe they're damascus at the edge.

Yeah, yeah....in fact CKTG's description says they're clad Blue.

Re: Newbie Help

Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:16 am

It's hard to tell. The description says it's a core of Blue #2, and the pic makes it look clad, but on mine, it's hard to tell where the clad portion and core portion meet up since there are layers meeting at that point anyway. The cladding is layered damascus and patinas the same as the core steel does. The blade may be clad, but it's clad in a carbon damascus unlike the shiny SS damascus clad blades. It's not as highly polished, either, so the damascus is more subdued.

Re: Newbie Help

Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:32 am

Thanks for all of the great information! Yes, I was wanting to get something relatively inexpensive and not stainless clad for my first knife. My plan is to use this knife for a while to see how much work it is to keep it rust-free. I don't mind if it develops a patina, but I don't want to have a knife that is constantly rusting. After a few weeks with this first knife, I plan to buy some more expensive knives. This first one will help me decided if I want a carbon, stainless clad, or full stainless.

I didn't think it was a good idea to use the Henckel steel to hone the knives, but thought I would check. I had heard it was a good idea to always use the steel on the German knives before you use them and I was wondering if there were some type of similar maintenance for the Japanese blades.

Based on the recommendations here, I think I am going to get the Yamashin and a set of sharpening stones. That sounds like provide a good first experience into Japanese blades without investing a lot of money.

Thanks again,

Re: Newbie Help

Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:11 am

I think you are going to like that combo!
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