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 Post subject: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:30 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:18 pm
Posts: 10461
Location: Madison Wisconsin
To whom it concerns,

I am interested in purchasing some knives for my household, not sure where to begin…I was looking into the Shun’s and ran into your website and now the Shun’s are no longer an option, I’m in love with the Japanese knives and what to start a collection that I can use for home cooking.

I’m right handed, not a lot of experience with a knife, slow push and chop cutter I would call myself but precise and pay attention to detail if that makes sense.

Price – I could see myself spending $250 on a Gyuto and then accordingly down the line.

I do some BBQ, like Ribs and Briskets…Tri Tip Steaks cut against the grain…I do cook some Halibut on occasion. Cut up a lot of Onion, Avocado, tomato, peppers, Celery, etc…

Do I need a Cleaver, Do I need a Santoku?

I know I want a Gyuto that is well made and not going to break on me and I probably need a boning knife for when I prep beef, trimming and such.

I have a block set from Calphalon I think it is called and that set is annoying, just cheap over the counter wedding present.

Do you suggest getting a new block set with steak knives included or stick with the current steak knives and get the essentials for my collection?

Thanks for your time.



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 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:55 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:17 pm
Posts: 7477
Location: Derby City, Kentucky
Kikuichi TKC 240mm Gyuto is a good place to start.

If your ready for full carbon, Moritaka KS 250mm:

If God wanted me to be a vegetarian he wouldn't have made animals taste so good.
 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:36 pm
Posts: 3330
You "need" only what your desire. :)

In a western kitchen, the following knives I use:

Gyuto - 90%
210mm Suji/slicer - 5%
Paring - 2.5%
150mm petty - 2%

Everything else comprises the remaining 0.5%.

I'm probably exaggerating, but it's more to make a point than an actual statistic. Your main chef's knife (gyuto/cleaver/etc.) is probably going to be used far and away more than any other single knife.

I'd buy a nice gyuto.....leave it in a box, hide it from others....treasure it. :) Only being somewhat serious.....

Don't spend a lot of money on steak knives unless you plan to buy some wood plates. Ceramic/glass plates instantly kill the edges so having a great steak knife is pointless for the most part.

Don't buy a block set. Never works out.

I'd buy a great gyuto:


That will do almost everything you need done in a kitchen.

After that, come back and get a nice paring, a great suji, etc. But start with a nice gyuto.

Another option I often recommend is buying a knife like the Fujiwara carbon:

Use it for a month or two. Come back, let us know how you like it. What you'd like more of, less of, etc. That is the most complete way to get a killer knife set.

Or, do like I did and buy them all....then sell them off as your heart says to do so. :o


 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:00 pm
Posts: 4454
David - I would encourage you not to get a "block set" of anything and to start by assembling a collection of knives tailored to your needs and wants, from different makers. Keep your steak knives and then get two or three models that can cover most of your needs ITK.

"I know I want a Gyuto that is well made and not going to break on me" - Not sure exactly what you mean by "break on me", but IMO anything you'll get here is well made. How you use these Japanese knives will generally dictate whether they sustain damage. They require a certain amount of decent technique, maintenance, and respect to use them to their full potential.

A good Gyuto in either 240 or 210mm size should be your #1 priority. From there you can focus on what might else might best meet you needs.

Do you have a preference between full stainless, semi-stainless, stainless cladding over a reactive steel core, or reactive cladding over reactive core blades?

What's you prep space/cutting board size? This will heavily influence your 210/240 or even 270 Gyuto size choice. Most people recommend starting w/a 240 Gyuto.

As Adam mentioned, you can start inexpensively and learn about your own preferences before jumping in whole hog.

 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:49 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 12:20 am
Posts: 4071
David, are you comfortable using water stones for sharpening? Leave some room in the budget if you do not own any. Part of owning great cutlery is treating it greatly ;)

Here is a link to CKTG's sharpening tutorials:

Here are links to some of the commonly recommended starter sets to see what that entails:

 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:48 am
Posts: 1
Thanks to everyone that has contributed to this thread so far, words can't express the appreciation I'm feeling right now. Off topic but all of my golf clubs are Japanese clubs, so I fully understand the quality put into their steel products and want the same in my knife set. Anyone hear of Epon or Miura?

Lets talk about material and sharpening and then I'm ready to start buying some knives.

I have a large cutting board, 24" x 18" Walnut. From a material stand point, I probably want something that is low maintenance but I wouldn't be opposed to going all in if the high maintenance materials are that much superior to low maintenance materials. I have never sharpened knives before, just honed my current setup. How often does sharpening need to be done? I would probably use the knife 2 times a week.

Thanks again for the feedback, simply amazing community I've stumbled upon.


 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:41 pm 

Joined: Thu May 31, 2012 1:05 pm
Posts: 31
I agree with every thing said in the previous entries. I use a gyuto more than any other knife, at home and at the restaurant. I suggest you just buy a gyuto you think you will like, and then figure out what other cutlery needs you actually have. there is a difference between having the knives you want, and needing the knives you have. Since you specified home use, a 240mm (mm is millimeter) blade is as long as you would need. 240mm is about 9.45 inches. If the work space is small, a 210mm blade (8.25 inches) might be better. The 210 in not more precise than the 240. My favorite brands are Konosuke, Takeda, Moritaka, Hiromoto. My Moritaka kinves needed to have the spine and choil (google choil) rounded, but in a restaurant I cut more than you would at home, so that might matter less to you. Rounding these areas is simple. Caring for carbon steel is easy. Just rinse off anything acidic (onion, tomato, peppers, lemons...) and wipe dry. Wipe blade with Camellia oil if knife is stored for a long time. I have no idea if proximity to the ocean is a factor. Salty air and fog or high humidity? There are plenty of knives that are not reactive. AEB-L steel (richmond knives), HD steel (konosuke knives), Vg10 (tojiro DP knives). Since you mentioned precision and attention to detail, you just might enjoy sharpening your own knives, once you start to get results. It is not that hard, and "Chef kinves to Go" has a lot of videos and the subject. Practice on your wedding present knives first.

 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:53 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:07 pm
Posts: 370
soUrdiEsel - How often to sharpen is an often asked question, but there are too many variables to answer with any type of accuracy. Simply put, sharpen when the knife isn't as sharp as you would like.

The 2 knives Adam(a knife maker in his own right) recommended are both proprietary semi-stainless steels that require very little care and would be 2 of my top recommendations. Don't leave them wet for extended periods of time and you don't have any problems. I know this goes without saying, but the dishwasher is not a knifes friend. Hand wash and dry only. Aside from fairly similar steels they are, in fact, very different style knives. The TKC is a medium weight knife and will be a natural transition from the knives you are used to using. The Kono HD is a laser and is incredible light, almost feather light. It can feel a bit strange at first, but is something you will quickly adjust to. Just depends on your preferences.

I don't normally recommend this for a first J-knife as it requires more care as the steel is harder(more brittle), but might be a fit for you The steel is SRS15, a stainless powdered steel, which will retain it's edge a bit longer than the 2 mentioned above. It is also takes longer to sharpen as a result of being so hard. This knife was one of my first j-knives and is still one of my favorites.

As far as sharpening all you "need" are a few good stones and a flattening(lapping) plate. There are of course strops, sprays and compounds to add later on
This is a great complete set that is capable of creating a scary sharp edge, but out of stock at the moment
Another set that I really like for beginners are the shapton pros
They are hard enough so they don't really gouge if you wobble a bit(I know I did), they are splash and go so no waiting for the stones to soak and imo have great feedback. You would need a separate flattening plate for when the stones start to dish. A stone holder and few strops are have as well so I would add this if you go with the shaptons

 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:02 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:48 am
Posts: 174
David, if you are looking for low maintenance I would think stainless or semi stainless is the way to go. The good news is there are several excellent options on the site. Another option is to get carbon clad in stainless. I have both in a home environment and both work great. My carbon clad masakage yuki really doesn't require much extra work, just needs a quick wipe while I'm working. I also have a konosuke hh (the hd that was linked above is semi stainless) which is stainless and absolutely love both. I wouldn't be scared off by a carbon blade but you do need to be aware it needs attention, ie wiping, in a more timely manner than stainless. As far as sharpening goes I'm still fairly new but I'm competent. My carbon feels great on stones but I don't find my stainless stuff difficult to sharpen (I also have a Mac Pro). Maybe as I get more proficient with stones I'll notice more of a difference but at this point in my knife journey stainless vs carbon isn't the deciding factor in how I choose a knife, I'm much more concerned with profile and aesthetics (how it speaks to me). You mention you will likely use the knife twice per week. I think you will be able to go a long time, several months i would guess, before needing a full sharpening if you maintain with a stop or hone. I actually strop with my 5k stone. If you are going to hone I recommend a ceramic or glass rod. The idahone or Mac black should work well and I think both are on this site.

 Post subject: Re: Help me with some knives for my home.
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:06 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 12:20 am
Posts: 4071
I agree with much of what has been said. Specifically, I would get a gyuto, a 1k stone, a 5-6k stone, and a flattening plate to start with. Once you have time with the new knife, you will be much better prepared to come back and inquire about the next addition to the collection.

As far as sharpening frequency, when it is not sharp enough is about right. I am a home cook, I cook for 4-8 people 5 nights a week, if I only used one knife, I would likely end up sharpening about once a month or so. But preferences vary.

As far as carbon vs stainless, I find carbon more rewarding to work with and feels more characterful to me, but there are many outstanding stainless steels out there. If your instinct is for stainless, then go that route. As far as the semi-stainless knives Adam recommended, I understand them to basically be stainless. I would only hesitate if there is some reason your knives would see an exceptional amount of abuse, for example, you live at the coast, frequently leave knives wet/dirty for extended periods of time, etc.

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