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OOTB Sharpness

Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:06 am

Is it fair to say that some knives come "scary sharp" and do not require a trip to the stones before using? Others do? Does it depend on which maker we're talking about?

I ask this because one knife shop owner or salesman said he knows the sharpener for Masamoto and Fujiwara and admitted he can't hold a candle to their skills. So there would be nothing more he could do. OOTB. Being that the knives were sharpened by a "master sharpener".

Or, do ALL cutlery's from Japan purposely just sharpen their knives "enough". But far from being "scary sharp".

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:10 am

I can say my new Kono Fuji Nakiri came OOTB sharper than my new Tojiro DP boning knife.

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:18 am

Last summer I was in a Japanese knife store in New York, not Korin, another one. I spent 2 hours in there talking about sharpening with the young Japanese sharpener who had just returned from a month long knife sharpening course. I was able to get my hands on the most exquisite knives I personally have ever seen, all Japanese and ranging in price from 300 to 3,500 dollars. I expected the knives to be incredibly sharp, however they were not, they were sharp alright but not what I expected.

He explained to me that the his customers, mostly professional Japanese chefs, are all highly skilled at sharpening, they purchase these knives knowing that they have have never been touched beyond the master bladesmith who forged them and it is now their priviliege to sharpen it themselves, put their own edge on it.
This is the way it was explained to me.

They were not dull by any stretch of the imagination and are ready to go in any "normal" kitchens.

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:53 am

I haven't really had any J Knives come super sharp out of the box. Korin offers a finish sharpening on some knives when you buy them and CKTG has that as an option on some knives. Many places don't bring them all of the way to a polished because A) they risk scratching the blade, B) it takes a lot of time, C) most people prefer to put their own edge on for what they want. Some like crazy polished, others like more toothy. Also, on the single bevel knives, it would take a long time to do the long bevel polishing, making it a hamagura grind and then polishing the whole thing and it may not be a pretty as from the factory without a lot of skill, work and good stones.

Most will cut OOTB and are maybe at a 1200-3K finish, but rarely do I find a knife as sharp as I want OOTB.

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:50 am

Depends on if you pay them to finish sharpen them. Most knives come unsharpened so you can do your thing. If you give them a little extra, they'll usually have it done for you by someone who is pretty kick ass at it.

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:04 am

Factory sharpness can only be compared to your individual experience with what sharp is. If you feel that the knife in the dollar box at the gas station is Sharp enough then the opinion of a factory edge on a high end knife will likely be very over rated. If you view razor blades as a baseline of acceptable sharpness then you may feel factory sharpness is always sub-par.

There are some exceptions where the knife has been sharpened by a highly skilled sharpener but you typically know this going into the purchase as its a detail likely to be noted.

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:38 pm

Not an easy question. The first time I was in Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, I had the knives sharpened by the store sharpeners, who make the knives sharper than they were without sharpening. But by my standards, the edge was not as good as what I could do so on my next trip I asked them NOT to sharpen it. I think many on this board would have the same opinion compared to their own technique.

This isn't condemning the store sharpener. On an average day he may do well over a hundred knives - sharpening, repairs, straightening, etc. And he is sharpening for fish Mongers on their lunch break with a fist full of long tuna knives, etc etc. A 'good edge' is what's required, not a spectacular edge. Looking at edges with loupes etc etc - they would find this amusing at best. WE tend to push these knives far further than is common in Japan.

It is common to have pretty good edges for Japanese knives made for the American market out of the box - Shun for instance. Aritsugu edges or Masamoto edges untouched are not spectacular. Most American knives are also not spectacular, but less is expected of them. When you start going to knives like the Nubatama or Shigefusa class of knives, well now you do have exceptional edges out of the box. Knifemaking and knife sharpening are two distinct skills and professions.

My personal feeling is that it is a missed opportunity to have a knife come dull, not showing the true potential or at least hint at the potential of a knife. This is certainly not a uniformly held belief.


Re: OOTB Sharpness

Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:16 am

I sharpen pretty much every knife I take out of the box the first time. Mostly because they aren't sharp enough for my taste, but also because so knives are a prone to chipping right out of the box and a bit of metal removal solves this.

Fujiwara has always been blunt OOTB to me.

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:57 pm

Sounds like most knives come with varying degrees of sharpness OOTB. But are almost never "scary sharp". With maybe a handful of exceptions (e.g. Shige/Nuba as Ken mentioned).

I'm sure OOTB sharp is sharp enough for most home users. Especially those coming from using sub-$50 knives or German.

For me, "sharp" is when the knife can be push-cut (diagonal/vertical) through paper/tomato/onion effortlessly and cleanly. With next to no muscle required. I'm guessing most Japanese knives can do that OOTB. The difference being how easily and cleanly.

I heard German knvies (e.g. Wusthof, Zwilling JA Henckels) still can't do that with sharpening on water stones/stropping.

Re: OOTB Sharpness

Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:54 pm

OOTB shartness doesn't make a lot of sense given the user should have the ability to bring the desired level, time and time again. what important OOTB is the high quality bevel that's consistent and free of any defects.
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