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What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:07 am

Hello Mark, spoke with you last week about knife wooden covers. Today I spoke with your wife about 2 different knives, Takeda and Moritaka, the problem is that you have so many brands. So if you could help me out with some of your favorites. Before you do that I will try and explain what I'm kind of looking for, I really like the Bob Kramer knives.

I would really like to have polished carbon steel knives with the American or European type custom handles. If that is not possible what about in stainless steel.

Also tell me the difference between stainless vs carbon or a combo blade and I notice there are these new stainless steel what is the deal with this new steel. One last question does it matter about the steel that sharpens easier or is the way these Asian or made so thin that make them easier to put a edge on your the knives. Thanks for all your help, you have a great thing going keep it up.


Re: What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:14 am

What size knife did you want?
How much did you want to spend?
Are you right handed?
Do you know how to sharpen?

Re: What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:13 am

Not to come out of left field or anything, but...

It's time to stop asking the "are you right handed" question at the top of the list. If you get someone new to knives who wants to spend $1500 on a set of "sushi knives," then it's important. Otherwise, not really; not unless you're Korin and you smell an opportunity to make an extra $30 or whatever.

We are not Korin.

There just aren't that many knives where it makes much of a difference -- at least not knives for people for whom the list works as an aid at all. From our standpoint we need to know whether a person who comes in here seeking advice needs an education or just a list. Questions about weight, flex, the importance of cosmetics, knife and sharpening skills mean a lot more. Questions which reveal misconceptions -- "knives with a lot of belly are better for rocking," "short knives are better for short people," "AS gets sharper," etc. -- are perhaps the most valuable.


Re: What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:42 am

I'm left handed, I'm going to spend about 800 to 1200 on 4 to 5 knives. As far as sharpening that won't be a problem, and can do, but there is a Japanese knife shop and they will sharpen your knives and they also give classes also. As far as sizes like I said the Kramer knives is what I started out liking, just remember this is going to the last set of knives that I purchase, Hopefully. Thanks for all your help, also can you fill me in on S/S vs Carbon.

Re: What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:48 am

BDL, what if I wanted to recommend the Itto-Ryu Black or Yauji? Both are right sided knives with flat backs with western shapes? If I don't ask that simple question then I have a return problem. We're getting more single sided gyutos in the future too so it's worth asking.

Also, for handles many makers offer D handles and while these can be used by lefties they're not ideal. I usually have 5 different choices for a particular customer and I can swing people to a neutral octagonal handle easily.

Re: What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:00 am

Back to the customer.

You can get good carbon or stainless these days. If you want an excellent western handled knife I would suggest this Tanaka Ironwood. It's a great knife made with R2 steel and it holds an edge really well. Great looking knife that should keep you happy for many years:

You could add the petty and santoku if you wanted to get several of the same knives. We don't get many of these knives each year and they just showed.

If you want a good carbon steel knife you have lots of choices but better choices exist for wa handeled knives. Sue suggested a Takeda on the phone to you and that is one of my favorite makers on the site. The knife is not shinny finished but it's a great knife. I own one and I can have anything I want. Try one with a custom handle:

If you want to wait a little Hiromotos are very popular and you can easily have them re-handled to make them special. Again, I had Adam Marr do a custom handle on mine and I love that knife. It has aogami super steel which is a good carbon steel on the core and it's clad in stainless.


Last one. This Konosuke is a hybrid handle knife that uses Ginsan steel which is good stainless steel. It's a phenominal knife.

I can do this knife in blue #2 if you like with a custom order from Konosuke. It takes about 10-12 weeks and would be the same price as the Ginsan. Blue #2 is another excellent carbon steel. At least I think I can get that. I haven't tried but Konosuke is pretty accommodating.

Re: What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:15 am

Carbon versus stainless used to be a bigger decision as stainless steels used to be absolute crap. Today, there are many great stainless steels that are very similar to carbon steels and can be better depending on what stainless we are comparing to what carbon. Today, I'd only choose carbon versus stainless if I wanted something specific.....if I wanted a patina, I'd get a carbon.....if I wanted no patina, a stainless.....or if I wanted to try 52100, I'd get that (which is carbon).....or if I wanted to try AEB-L, I'd get a knife made from that.....does that make sense? I wouldn't necessarily say "I want a great knife, so I need to get carbon".

That said, if you want a great western handled gyuto.....buy a TKC and have a nice custom handle put on. This is something I do, but please don't look past that as me simply trying to get work.....it's not. :) I keep myself well more than busy enough these days with that hobby. It truly is a great knife and a custom handle just makes it that much better IMHO.

Otherwise, the Tanaka Mark recommended is another great western handled knife.

Another good choice if you wanted a carbon knife (the two above are not carbon, the TKC is semi-stainless and the Tanaka is powdered steel) is to get a custom handled Misono Swedish. I really like that knife, and the dragon engraving is actually pretty fun.

There are also a lot of great wa (Japanese style handle) handled gyuto's available. The Tanaka Damascus gyuto's are great...gotta show love to Takeda as he's an incredible knife maker, any thing from Konosuke would be incredible......

Re: What to choose for a good carbon knife?

Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:17 am

Yes I had the TKC on my list too but we're waiting for them to come back in stock in the next couple days so I passed on that one. It's a good knife and would make an excellent custom with a nice handle on it.

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