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Yanagi help?

Fri May 18, 2012 9:56 am

Trying to determine what grade steel to choose for a yanagi... Background: This is a knife I don't need, can really justify buying, but have always wanted to try. I do all my sharpening by stones and have plenty-o-progressions to work from and am above average at it. A relatively decent knife I have spotted features Tatsutogi grade carbon steel. Can somebody point me to a good source that describes the characteristics of "Tatsutogi Grade" carbon steel (or chime in if you have that knowledge)? Also, is this grade steel relatively easy to sharpen? It is my understanding that sharpening these knives can be a challenge, so would it make sense, if diving in, to get something that is a bit softer than harder? My guess is that this grade knife (for the price point) will get me all I want (satisfy my curiousity) without breaking the bank. Unless I make a life change and work to become a trained sushi chef, would a yanagi made from this grade steel give me a solid knife that would reflect accurately the characteristics of this blade?

Re: Yanagi help?

Fri May 18, 2012 10:17 am

While its important for a yanagi to be forged from quality steel, like white steel #1 or #2, the knifemaker is the most important part of a yanagi.

I recommend that you read Mark Richmond's interview of Murray Carter, which you can find here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/inwimuca.html

Choice of a high quality yanagi is pretty easy, and a good investment: purchase one of Keijiro Doi's knives, which you can find here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/satadr.html

Re: Yanagi help?

Fri May 18, 2012 5:46 pm

Hi Chester,

Are you right handed?
What price range were you thinking about?
What size?

Re: Yanagi help?

Fri May 18, 2012 7:14 pm

Hey guys, thanks for chiming in. Price range is up to $450-ish. Again, this is not an essential purchase, but something I have wanted to toy with for quite some time... For a million years, I have envied the knives at every sushi shop I have visited, including those in Japan. Always wanted to understand more about their blades, but knew not enough to even ask the fundamental questions. Now in life, I have both a bit more knowledge under my belt and a few extra coins bouncing around, so thought I'd dabble a bit more. (PS, my working knives, are very solid--Moritakas, Misonos, Sabs, etc.). And, aside from the actually cutting and using the blade, part of the project is also to take my freehand sharpening up an extra level. I have a very decent Misono Suji, which is obviously a knife with plenty of utility for the thin slice. That said, this is something more than just slicing. I know that there are plenty of yanagis out there that are around $200 plus, but I am wondering if it may make sense to get something a bit more pricey with one of the blue steels? I can pay about $250 for a very good entry yanagi, but would it make sense to add a bit more and get something with a better grade of steel? Seriously, I don't want to do this too too too many times, so I might as well get something that I will really enjoy sharpening and using.

Now, for those of you out there that would scoff at the thought of throwing around that kind of money, trust me, I am with you; Not made of money, but this is just one of those weird things some of us knife and cook people do! Like some of you, I am an avid cook, and have had that joy in my life for a long time... Why not the fun tools that can go along with it, I say? I also appreciate the art of the blade and the joy of learning the skills that come with learning how to put a good edge on a knife.

So, after all that, the question is this: Entry-level steel or higher-end steel? Will I get frustrated to maintain an edge on the harder steel due to the complexity of sharpening this beast with its hardness? Would it make sense going with something softer? You yanagi owners out there, tell me which way to head on this one and why!

Thanks up front!
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