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Petty Knife Recommendation

Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:32 pm

I'm looking at getting either a 120mm or 150mm petty or both. I currently own a German utility knife in the 4.5" range (about 120mm) and if my budget only allows one knife to be purchased, I think I'd like to purchase something in the 150mm range.

I currently own a Kikiuchi V10 240mm gyoto and really like that knife a lot. I didn't really like it at first but then once I got used to it, I feel like it's so much nicer to work with than my heavier German chef knife. I've never used a Japanese style handle and although I'm not opposed to using that style of handle, I'm just not sure if I would like it having never used it and since I can't try the knife out before purchase, I think I'd like to stick to the western style handle. My only complaint I have about my Kikiuchi is the sharpness of the top of the knife (not sure what the technical term is). I'd prefer to have something smoother so it's more comfortable when I'm holding the knife for longer periods of time.

I can't spend over $100 on a single knife. I think right now I'm leaning towards the Richmond Artifex simply because it's only $50 but I've also looked at the Masamoto VG, Hiromoto AS, Hiromoto Ginsan, and the Tetsuhiro knives as well. All are a decent amount more expensive than the Richmond but I'm unsure if paying more money is going to result in a "better" knife.

I'm a novice at sharpening knives and would also like recommendations on stones, if possible. I'd prefer splash and go if possible so I could bring them to work with me and not have to worry about soaking them. Eamon Burke was recommending the Shapton Pro 2k stone and I was planning on purchasing that but I'd also like to get a lower grit stone. I had thought about the Shapton Pro 320 grit but am unsure if I could easily go from the 320 grit to the 2k grit stone without a stone in the middle. I want a fast working stone so I can sharpen knives fairly quickly so I'm not wasting time at work if I'm sharpening them there. Also, should I get a higher grit stone than the 2k as an additional purchase?

As this knife will be used at work, I need something that will keep a good, sharp edge for a long time and is able to be honed easily on a ceramic rod (I recently purchased the Idahone rod).

I guess there's not really a "bad" choice to be made, but I'd just like to get some other opinions of more experienced people. I'd also like to know which knife is sharpest OOTB. I'd prefer to not have to sharpen it before I ever use it. However, if one of the cheaper knives on the list is just as good as a more expensive one, I'd also consider having a finish sharpening service done on the knife before I receive it. If someone knows the procedure to do that, I'd like to know what it is.

Thanks again for everyone's help.

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:17 pm

The 150mm may be more versitile. The Artifex is a nice one, as is the Fujiwara series (carbon or stainless), Hiromoto AS or Ginsan and several others. How big are your hands? Some of the Western handles can be a touch small for large hands, so a Japanese style Wa handle may be something to consider if you have big hands.

The back of the blade is called the spine and is commonly sharp on Japanese knives. Get some automotive sandpaper (220, 320, 400 or 600) and break the corners. This is called softening the spine. I usually use a belt sander and do a full rounding of the spine and choil area (vertical area between the handle and blade that your middle finger rests against in a pinch grip), but it takes some practice to use the belt sander. A Dremel type tool would also work with a grinding stone, but if you pause slightly, it will leave little dips. Or get some diamond files and use those; Harbor Freight has them for cheap :)

For stones, I like the Bester 1200/Rika 5K combo, but they are soaking stones. I just leave mine soaking permanently in the bucket. The Shapton Pro 2K is a nice stone, but you may be looking more for a 1000/6000 or 1000/4000 combo stone.

Some sets to look at, but not all are splash and go:

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:03 pm

As far as hand size goes, I do have larger hands. If I had to change one thing about my Kikiuchi it would be a slightly longer handle, although I have gotten used to it now so it doesn't bother me as much as it did when I first used it. The 4.5" utility knife I currently own has a handle that's right around 4" long, which is a good size for me. The handle on the Kikiuchi is slightly shorter and I don't think I'd like a knife with a shorter handle than that knife.

If I wanted a Wa style handle, what recommendations would you have for me? I think since I've never tried that style of handle, I'd like something on the cheaper end just in case I don't like the handle I wouldn't be out as much money. Is it possible to take a Wa style handled knife and put a western style handle on it and vice versa?

What is the difference between 220, 320, etc. grit automotive sandpaper and just normal sandpaper I buy at the hardware store? Would hardware store sandpaper work as well?

For stones, you seem to indicate it'd be better to have a 1k/5k or 1k/4k stone progression than just having a 2k stone? This my be a dumb question, but how do you tell what stone to start with? Obviously you'll use the lowest grit first, but would I always need to sharpen with both stones, or could I just use the higher grit stone once a week if I say haven't used the knife that much and doesn't seem to be that dull? I'd like to develop more of a habit of sharpening my knives on a regular basis, at least the ones I use at work and so having a combo stone would be nice since I'd only have to take one stone to work with me. But if I could get by with only using a 4k or 5k stone to sharpen my knives with then I could leave my 1k at home and use that if I need to repair a knife, which I probably wouldn't have time to do at work.

The ceramic Idahone rod I bought specified a 1200 grit. If I'm using that rod, am I basically using a 1200 grit stone? I'm assuming not, but would it be bad to use a 4k or 5k stone and then use the 1200 grit ceramic rod? I'm in the habit (maybe bad habit) of using my ceramic rod before I use my knives everyday. And then I use it during the shift when I feel my knife has lost some of it's edge. Would it be better to use a high grit waterstone in lieu of the honing rod?

Thanks again for the help.

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:13 pm

I've seen it listed on other forums and web sites that the 1200 grit rating for the Idahone is an ANSI rating. That would make it close to J3000.

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:48 pm

This is a 135mm blade, but the handle is bigger than many other 150mm petty's. Blade is wider, too.

Not many Wa handles petty's out there under $100, Tokiro ITK:

The Fujiwara has a decent size handle, not sure how the Hiromoto 150's and Tetsuhiro 150's compare. The Artifex I haven't seen in person, but in the pics, the handle looks like the same as on my 210mm gyuto and bigger than some of the Japanese Pettys. Mark will be able to chime in more here with actual handle sizes!

Automotive sanding paper (or sand paper designed for metal sanding) is different from more common wood sand paper in terms of the material to make up the grit and how it's bonded to the backing. Wood sandpaper is more of an open grit and when sanding metal corners and edges, the grit often shears from the paper. Automotive is designed to be used on harder materials like metal and fiberglass and has a stronger bond to the paper/backing and seems to hold on to the backing better. SIC or Emery may be what to look for at your hardware store.

For the stones, you can touch up on the finer stone at work instead of the ceramic rod. You can leave the 1200 stone at home, but with small repairs, it's better to use the 1200 or 1K than trying to do it on a 4-6K stone. Same with the 2K; the 1000/1200 stones just cut much faster for the repairs than even the Shapton Pro 2K. Repairs may be fairly quick to do; if there is a chip in the edge, it may be better to repair it than to let it go and get larger if there is a weak spot there. Many want more polish than a 2K unless you are slicing proteins and want the toothier edge. The Rika 5K gives a toothy edge that is still polished. When done correctly and the burr removed, it will have a sticky feeling edge like a sharp razor blade, but it has some bite to it. It leaves a great edge and works pretty quickly, but I wouldn't want to set a new bevel with it! You can often jump 1K to 4-6K stones easily and don't always need the 2K in between. The 2K does save time on the next finer stone and may refine the edge a touch more, but for everyday use, it's not needed unless you want the coarser feeling edge.

I have the Idahone, too and yes, its more like a Japanese 3K stone than the 1200 grit it's listed at due to the differences in the conversions of grits. I prefer to use a finer grit stone to the rod, but I am just trying out the rod, so it may take some getting used to. A 4-6K stone, or even a Shobu San J Nat works nicely for a quick touch up. Some people touch up on a strop as well.

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:39 pm

The Yamashin Ko Yanagi would be a cool choice too.


It is meant to be used like a petty and is 165 mm with a Wa handle. It also comes in at well under $100.

I just recently got that Yamashin Funayuki and love it. These knives are incredible deals.

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:09 pm

Doh, forgot some of the newer ones! I went to the petty page, but not all of the petty's are listed on that one!

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:34 pm

taz thanks for the information regarding the differences in automotive sand paper to normal sand paper. I didn't really even think about there being a difference until after I posted it. I figured it was something like what you described.

A question about stones...I feel the need after reading your reply taz that I definitely need to invest in a 1k stone, but should I get something coarser than that for actual repair of an edge? Again, I'm very new to sharpening. I know the basic technique but feel as though I've never really learned how to sharpen a knife properly. And maybe I'm better at it than I think. After all I do get my knives decently sharp but I feel that I could be doing a lot better job. As far as toothiness goes, I'd like something that's decently toothy because I do slice and dice a lot of peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc. that seem to do better with a toothier edge. I'm thinking I need to get all my knives professionally sharpened as Eamon suggested to me and that way I know what a truly sharp knife is. taz, you mentioned that the 2k stone is not necessary for everyday use "unless you want the coarser feeling edge". Could you explain that to me perhaps in more detail? All I really want is a knife that's going to slice and dice tomatoes, peppers, onions (things I might want a toothier edge for) but at the same time just as easily go through something like a carrot or other root vegetable. I don't really want to have a knife I use for things that require a "toothier" edge and a different one for things requiring a more polished edge. So I guess what I want is a happy middle ground.

As far as handles go, I guess an e-mail to Mark is in order to make sure I get a knife with the proper sized handle.

Thanks again for everyone's help.

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:37 pm

One thing I forgot to mention is that I'm left handed so I need a knife that obviously will work for left handed people. I have used the shun classic knives (only the right handed versions) and seem to like those a lot if it's in my right hand. I can't really use it to cut with of course but the d shaped handle is comfortable if I could get a left handed version.

Re: Petty Knife Recommendation

Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:30 pm

Ok. D shaped handles are generally for righties, but if you remove it and flip it up, it may work OK for a lefty. If not, you may be able to get Mark at CKTG to put an oval handle on it; sometimes they have extra handles or ones that were removed from another knife for a custom handle or something.

A great set would be the 5 piece set with the Bester 500, Bester 1200 and Rika 5K, along with the deburring block and eye loupe. The 500 will do quick repairs, the 1200 works quickly for smaller repairs and really setting the bevel and the Rika 5K will give you a great edge for what you are doing. People who do a lot of protein cutting/meat butchering will often tend to want a coarser edge to have more tooth to saw through the meat more; a highly polished edge may slip off the proteins easier and not be as aggressive in the cut. People usually go with a 2K-4K type edge (or use a J natural stone which will have a variation in grit size to provide the toothiness) for that since it will refine the edge a bit, but still have a lot of tooth.

The Rika 5K is a great edge for what you are using it for. I prefer a more polished edge for that type of cutting than what a 2K stone will give. Plus by going from the 1200 to the 5K, depending on how much you refine on the Rika 5K, you can leave yourself some tooth from the 1200 edge, too.

Actually, if you are doing a lot of veggies, look into a Nakiri. I have 3 :) They work incredibly well with a push cut cutting through the veggies. A polished edge works better for push cutting, where a toothier edge works better for slicing generally. With the Nakiri, raw carrots will often feel "cooked"; they will feel easy to cut and with a good, thin Nakiri, won't snap when you cut through them. I use my Nakiri's for Potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, veggies, peppers, tomatoes, etc. A Rika 5K or a higher grit with a J Natural stone will give a great edge for a Nakiri!! Even with gyutos and stuff for veggie cutting, I prefer an edge at least at the Rika 5K, if not going higher with J nat stones.

The Tojiro ITK Kiritsuke should also work very well for veggies, and is larger, too, but all carbon steel.
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