Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

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greysonjohnston
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Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by greysonjohnston » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:16 am

I've had a "decent" set at home since getting married in 2010. The knives themselves perform pretty admirably, though over the course of 8 years have become beat up a bit. I have always enjoyed cooking, but have recently become much more serious about the craft of cooking and would like to have tools that match.

1)Pro or home cook?
Home cook, though pretty serious about it.

2)What kind of knife do you want? (Gyuto, Santuko, Petty, Paring, Sujihiki, etc.)
240 gyuto, a more flat blade profiled knife, and a petty (or perhaps a sujihiki... this is why I'm asking for recommendations.)

3) What size knife do you want?
Definitely 240 for the gyuto. I would guess around 165 for the flat blade and up in the air for the third.

4)How much do you want to spend?
All in all, I'd like to stay between $500-$600

5) Do you prefer all stainless, stainless clad over reactive carbon, or all reactive carbon construction?
I am open to suggestion here. All I care is that the knives can be made sharp and would like them to stay sharp for a while. I do like the idea of stainless clad over carbon. Aesthetically, I like the patina and the fact that carbon is superior in many ways to stainless. But, practically, I like the idea of lower maintenance.

6)Do you prefer Western or Japanese handle?
I would like to go with a Japanese style handle if I am going to get a Japanese style knife.

7)What are your main knife/knives now?
I have a set of Faberware knives. They sharpen pretty easily. While they are certainly not the nicest knives around, I did do a lot of research leading up to the purchase (because $100 was a big deal when we first married) and settled on these after testing various brands at similar price points.

8)Are your knife skills excellent, good, fair?
They are at least good. I can't fly through an onion, but I can get through pretty quick on a fine mince with good consistency between pieces.

9)What cutting techniques do you prefer? Are you a rocker, chopper or push/pull cutter?
Lately, I've been more of a push cutter with the santoku in the set mainly because I haven't sharpened the chef's knife. It is really dependant on the material, though. I'd like to consider myself an equal opportunist.

10)Do you know how to sharpen?
Well enough that I sharpen these Faberware knives, but not enough that I would sharpen higher end knives. I would either send them to be sharpened at CKTG or find someone local.

Please also add any additional pertinent information that can help everyone with suggestions.
I care more about function over form. I do not care about flashiness as these are going to be used as tools and not conversation pieces. There are only two exceptions to this, though they are not entirely deal breakers:

1. I'd prefer to keep the knives within the same line (steel, handles, and finish matching,) or at least from the same maker.
2. I really enjoy the look of hand-chiseled kanji.

Thanks, guys!

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Altadan
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Altadan » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:31 pm

I wish I could write in more detail, but just to give you a quick direction (though at your upper limit, if you keep all three by same maker), is the Kanehiro Ginsan;
Stainless, though exhibits many pros of the carbon steels.
The gyuto is curvy enough that it might make an easier transition from a western chef knife, and by all reports, it's an excellent all-rounder, and masterfully ground.
~
The Kanehiro AS are a smidge cheaper, but do not fall in preformance, most agree. AS is reactive, but not so much to give you trouble in a stainless cladding.
If you are flexible on the other blades being from similar makers but not the same, the Masakage offerings (as well as Yu & Makoto Kurosaki) are all made in Echizen, and bear some similarities.

~

Another option is the Kohetsu Hap40 line, which would more easily fit (or fanagle) all three knives of same line into your budget. These preform well, and will retain the edge for much longer (assuming technique and board aren't working against it).

AlbuquerqueDan
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by AlbuquerqueDan » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:36 pm

If I were in your boat, I'd go with Kanehiro Aogami Super. I own the petty and owned the santoku. Really, really great knives. I see that the petty, nakiri, and 240 gyuto are all in stock at CKTG. If I were staying in the same line for a set, and wanted stainless cladding, that's easily the line I'd choose.

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lsboogy
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by lsboogy » Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:06 am

I seconds the Kohetsu HAP40 recommendation. I own many knive that are far more expensive than them, but I have 3 Kohetsu gyutos (210 and 270 HAP40, and 240 AS) - but I have been using the 210 knife more than any other for the past year. I'm just a home cook, but I have decent enough knife skills. I love the blade and the profile is pretty good, but they take and hold an edge - only sharpened mine once since I got it (strop it a few times a week) - still sharp enough to cut anything. The Kohetsu line is really great bang for your buck - and they are well made, balanced, and push cut like a dream. Even though I like the profile of other knives more, the thing still does a great majority of my prep. I love the little thing

Still looking for a Kikuichi thin blad with a Sabatier profile with white#1 steel sharpness with HAP40 hardness.

Lepus
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Lepus » Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:15 am

greysonjohnston wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:16 am

1. I'd prefer to keep the knives within the same line (steel, handles, and finish matching,) or at least from the same maker.
I hate to have to say this because you only have two general guidelines, but I would urge you to further consider this point. As much as you can enjoy knives in the same steel, finishes, handles, etc, there is a lot to be gained from having different styles of grind for knives used for board work. Knife grinds tend to be fairly consistent inside the same line, which means they will do similar things well and poorly. A Kanehiro santoku or nakiri is going to cut very much like a Kanehiro gyuto. The first 15-18cm of many or even most gyutos will also still be fairly flat, usually enough so that those sections of the knife are used with the same technique. Eventually I suspect you would just prefer one and seldom if ever use the other. The bunka or nakiri you could favor if you cook in smaller spaces and the gyuto if you often need a tip or slice proteins. If you want to stick to your guns I think you should drop the middle length knife and focus on the gyuto and petty. It will save you money and get you just as good if not a better set.

If I had to pick in just one line, probably Anryu's hammered blue #2 line. I have the gyuto and gave away the santoku. Both were excellent knives most people would enjoy and I have considered the Anryu bunka to add to my own collection for times I want that same knife in a smaller space.

Bluenoser87
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Bluenoser87 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:10 am

+1 for Anryu hammered blue #2. I don’t have a ton of experience with j—knives so take that for what it’s worth. But I was very recently in almost exactly your situation with a ~10 year old set of ok Wusthofs. I went with the Anryu 240 Gyuto and 150 Petty. They’re leaps and bounds better than the Wusthofs. I’ve been very impressed with them. I’m pretty sure I can do just about everything with only those 2 knives. The Gyuto has a decent flat portion but the end is still curved enough for a bit of light rocking. The chiseled kanji has a pretty cool look to it set against the hammered finish. The way the light reflects off it gives it some 3D depth or something. Sort of hard to explain but you can see a bit of that in the 150 Petty video

greysonjohnston
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by greysonjohnston » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:24 pm

Thanks for the replies everyone!

greysonjohnston
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by greysonjohnston » Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:30 pm

Lepus wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:15 am
As much as you can enjoy knives in the same steel, finishes, handles, etc, there is a lot to be gained from having different styles of grind for knives used for board work.
Mind fleshing that put a bit for me with real examples? I understand what you mean about consistency amongst the same lines/makers but I’m not sure why that’s necessarily a bad or unhelpful thing or exactly what is to be gained from using different lines, makers, etc.

Lepus
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Lepus » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:19 am

greysonjohnston wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:30 pm
Mind fleshing that put a bit for me with real examples? I understand what you mean about consistency amongst the same lines/makers but I’m not sure why that’s necessarily a bad or unhelpful thing or exactly what is to be gained from using different lines, makers, etc.
Of course.

The steel a knife is made from will impact its ability to be sharpened and to hold an edge. Once a knife is sharp, though, one of the biggest differences between the sort of high end kitchen knives you are considering is the grind. The grind is the shape of the faces of the knife from the heel to the edge. This is a look at the grind of a knife as seen from the heel:

Image

A knife usually benefits from being fairly thin immediately behind the edge, but past that different styles of grind do different things well. A knife with a lower grind thickens fairly quickly while knives with higher grinds tend to stay thin up toward the spine. A knife with a low grind does well with less dense, soft foods like mushrooms because the grind forces slices and pieces away from the rest of the food quickly, which keeps them from sticking together and helps the food fall off the knife quickly. Knives with taller grinds don't usually separate food as well, but still manage to cut nimbly through tight or heavier foods like apples or potatoes. Grinds can also be concave, convex, flat, or a combination of the above at different points which also impact how food splits away from and fall off of the knife. Convex grinds can only be in contact with so much of a slice of food at once, so food tends not to stick, and the tall ridges on concave grinds tend to actively pop food off of the face when the slice hits the higher section of the grind.

So to provide a concrete example, say you bought an Anryu gyuto. They are average thickness knives with medium weights and medium to low convex grinds. This makes them good jacks of all trades; I find mine does really well on a lot of the common foods cut in Western kitchens, onions and celery and such. When used somewhat aggressively they manage denser foods like carrots fairly well, but they do not whisk through. If you were going to add a knife to compliment an Anryu gyuto, an Anryu bunka would do well on onions and celery and will manage carrots well, but will not whisk through. It would be a little lighter, so you would notice differences there, but the Anryu gyuto is also flat enough the bunka doesn't offer any flatter a profile. In that situation there isn't much reason to buy up that bunka instead of spending it on stones, a knife that handles different tasks, or just buying nothing else. If instead you bought a light knife with a higher grind like a Shibata Kotetsu bunka, it will manage some tasks better than the Anryu, like dense onions, potatoes, or pears, but won't benefit from that lower convexity that keeps food from sticking or even helps it fall off.

Different makers tend to have their own specific styles that they feel work well. Inside specific lines they tend to be fairly consistent, though some lines vary more than others. Those modest differences in weight, profile, and grind can dramatically impact how a knife feels in use.

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jbart65
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by jbart65 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:16 am

Years ago when I first started buying knives I wanted a set. Seemed the thing to do. Symmetry and uniformity can be aesthetically pleasing, after all.

Buying the same brand makes sense with some things, like appliances in a new kitchen or a set of pans. Even then, most of us own different brands of pans. Anyone with a wok, cast iron pan, nonstick pan or enameled cast-iron pan likely owns something different from the brand of your 10-inch skillet.

Why? Because different brands focus on different lines of cookware that suit different styles of cooking or have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Nonstick is great for eggs because it is, well, nonstick.

Artisan kitchen knives fall into the same category. As Lepus explains, they come in a variety of steels, shapes, profiles and such. And they can perform - cut - quite differently on the same ingredient.

The simple truth is you’d be very happy to own three or more knives from the same line. There may be some redundancy, but these knives perform so much better than what you own or have used that you’d be quite pleased.

You’d also be happy because you’d have no idea what you are missing out on.

I have had the pleasure of owning or using close to 100 Japanese or custom American knives in a variety of forms. It’s amazing to think something as simple as a knife can be so different from maker to maker and offer such distinct levels of performance.

Some get sharper, are easier to sharpen or stay sharper longer. Some fly through food like you are cutting air but the food sticks. Other separate food so well you can scallop a potato but leave it fully intact as if it were never touched. Some are better at chopping, others at push cutting and still others at rocking. Some excel cutting soft foods, others are better at hard products such as winter squash.

I’d recommend you start out with one knife. See what you think. Add a few more knives later.

And ask yourself: What do I really need? I can do almost everything with a 240 gyuto or chef’s knife. I use a gyuto 60% of the time. I also use a nakiri about 20% of the time, a 150 petty about 10% of the time and my wife’s santoku 10%.

I don’t own a sujihiki. I’ve got a $20 Mercer carving knife that I use a few times a year. One of my gyutos is so thin it doubles as a carver on tuna or larger cuts of meat. I use the petty for smaller cuts such as chicken breast.

I’ve got a mix of fully reactive, stainless clad and stainless knives too. A stainless clad is the best compromise for easy care and great cutting, but sometimes I don’t want to bother. I use a stainless Japanese knife to cut down on maintenance.

Even if you just own a few knives, however, it’s still worth it to get knives from different smiths. For performance’ sake and for variety’s sake. Knowing what I know now, I would never, ever limit myself to one smith.
Jeffry B

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Altadan
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Altadan » Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:37 pm

And so the rabbit hole opens its maw wide and large... hahaha

Perhaps, gentlemen, for Graysonjohnson's sanity and simplicity, would you agree that an excellent gyuto cand and would be well complemented by a 150 petty from the same maker?
What I'm suggesting is that he start with a recommended gyuto (to his preferences), and add a petty from the same maker. I imagine most petties would not present money ill-spent.
Then, after that, he can figure out if he wants a flat 165ish blade, and from which maker, etc. etc.

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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Lepus » Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:14 am

Oh, definitely. A petty from the same set is still different enough just by virtue of its dimensions to fit well.

cooknola
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by cooknola » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:43 am

Whispers into the night...

Misuzu 160 bunka, cuz they’re back in stock, (flat knife)
Moritaka 150mm Petty because I love her so.
Gyuto though? +1 on any HAP40.

Granted I’m biased on that bunka. It’s my go to for work. The whole petty thing though honestly as long as there’s a 2-3 inch paring knife to supplement for off board work you really don’t need a petty. Especially if you have a 165 Target for the flat profile knife. Gyuto wise hap40 is a solid steel to learn with. And throw in some sayas and/or fresher stones you can still come in under your limit. Honestly buy a solid bunka first and maybe a tojiro gyuto. That’d be a good set too. Get some heft and feel for profiles.
-C-

greysonjohnston
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by greysonjohnston » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:14 pm

Thanks again for all the info, guys. At your suggestion, I will limit the first purchase to a gyuto and petty and move on from there once I find out likes and dislikes. I am leaning towards the Kohetsu HAP40 line with Wa handles.partly because they are in stock, but mostly because they seem like a smart buy. Now onto the hardest part: convincing my wife that this is not a frivolous purchase!

greysonjohnston
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by greysonjohnston » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:57 pm

Though, I would ask one more favor... between a 120mm and 150mm petty, which would you choose to go alongside a 240mm gyuto?

My first inclination is to go 150 because the 240 may be a bit unwieldy for my wife so the petty will get a fair amount of use and I feel the extra 2” would be a bit more versatile in our kitchen, though I’m sure I’d be trading something for it.

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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by cooknola » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:45 pm

greysonjohnston wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:57 pm
Though, I would ask one more favor... between a 120mm and 150mm petty, which would you choose to go alongside a 240mm gyuto?

My first inclination is to go 150 because the 240 may be a bit unwieldy for my wife so the petty will get a fair amount of use and I feel the extra 2” would be a bit more versatile in our kitchen, though I’m sure I’d be trading something for it.
If you have a decent paring knife the 150 is the ticket. (Professionally speaking I use a Chicago Cutlery paring that I reground for my needs.) however with all honesty if actually gripping the blade makes her nervous the 120 would be fine. Especially if you’re looking to get a 150 bunka or something later on. A short 6 inch blade can be a bit unwieldy in general.
-C-

salemj
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by salemj » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:26 am

greysonjohnston wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:57 pm
Though, I would ask one more favor... between a 120mm and 150mm petty, which would you choose to go alongside a 240mm gyuto?

My first inclination is to go 150 because the 240 may be a bit unwieldy for my wife so the petty will get a fair amount of use and I feel the extra 2” would be a bit more versatile in our kitchen, though I’m sure I’d be trading something for it.
I think most of my gyutos are between 220-235mm, and I've learned that I VASTLY prefer 120mm Western-handled petty knives, even though I also vastly prefer gyutos with Japanese handles over about 215 as my all-around prep blades. When I want something smaller than my gyuto but larger than my petty, it is virtually never a 150mm petty, but rather a smaller gyuto (closer to 200mm, or maybe even shorter), or, in some cases, I find myself wishing I had a bunka or nakiri. I have owned 150mm pettys and they just don't hardly ever get used.

That is a personal preference, of course: I'm not trying to argue that 150mm is a bad length for petty knives, but rather that, for me, there is no need to "fill in the gap" between my gytuos and my 120mm petty with another petty in-between. Likewise, I just prefer Western handles on my smaller petty knives, even though I generally prefer the aesthetics of Japanese handles. I have smaller hands and I find the grip of Western handles on smaller knives (especially the changing types of grips and the fact that I use these knives for messier tasks) to be much more confident than on Japanese handles. This would be another argument for perhaps "not" getting a matching set.

There are LOTS of gyuto options that rest between 210mm and 240mm. In fact, MOST do. So try to be very specific. I know that I myself - and at least a few very prominent, experienced members - have strong preferences for knives that fall between 208-232. This is probably not a coincidence, and more than one member has related this to the size of food above all. For me, there is a really big difference between a 230mm and a 245mm gyuto...a MASSIVE difference, sometimes, and yet both are marketed as "240mm." So, just make sure you think specifically about the size/range/weight that you want.

One last thing: try to get over the sharpening issue!! Seriously!! Japanese knives with good steel are fantastically easier to sharpen than most softer Germans steels. If anything, you should look forward to sharpening (and have more confidence trying to sharpen) your new knives than your old ones given your years of experience. You may need a new stone or two, but trust me: there is no reason to buy a Hap40 for edge retention, just in case that was the thinking. You'd be MUCH better off getting an "easy" to sharpen carbon than getting Hap40, which holds an edge a long time but is actually one of the hardest steels to sharpen (in kitchen knives) depending on your stones. You'd have no trouble...and in fact would have lots of fun...touching up a basic carbon steel like Blue 2 on the stones or even on a strop.

(I haven't owned a Hap40 but have recommended them frequently to pros based on the reputation—it seems to be a great knife. But for a home cook who is familiar with a stone and does not need full stainless, there really are lots of other options out there that could be a lot more fun. LOTS.)
~Joe

Comments: I'm short, a home cook, prefer lighter, thinner blades, and own mostly Konosukes but have used over a dozen brands.

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jbart65
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by jbart65 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:13 am

salemj wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:26 am
One last thing: try to get over the sharpening issue!! Seriously!! Japanese knives with good steel are fantastically easier to sharpen than most softer Germans steels. If anything, you should look forward to sharpening (and have more confidence trying to sharpen) your new knives than your old ones given your years of experience. You may need a new stone or two, but trust me: there is no reason to buy a Hap40 for edge retention, just in case that was the thinking. You'd be MUCH better off getting an "easy" to sharpen carbon than getting Hap40, which holds an edge a long time but is actually one of the hardest steels to sharpen (in kitchen knives) depending on your stones. You'd have no trouble...and in fact would have lots of fun...touching up a basic carbon steel like Blue 2 on the stones or even on a strop.
Agreed. White steel is especially easy to sharpen. I never sharpened before I got into J knives three years ago. Didn't take me long, a month or so, to be able to get an excellent edge. Much easier to sharpen than Wusthofs, Henckels, Vics and the like.
Jeffry B

Bluenoser87
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Bluenoser87 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:53 am

jbart65 wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:13 am
Agreed. White steel is especially easy to sharpen. I never sharpened before I got into J knives three years ago. Didn't take me long, a month or so, to be able to get an excellent edge. Much easier to sharpen than Wusthofs, Henckels, Vics and the like.
I had a similar experience. I could sharpen the Wusthofs, it was just always a struggle to do it consistently and results were mixed. Blue#2 is very very easy to get a razor edge compared to those in my limited experience so far. I haven’t tried white yet but it sounds even easier based on everything I read here.

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Altadan
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Re: Looking to buy 3 knives to replace a set

Post by Altadan » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:54 pm

since everyone s recommending you pick up a new skill while you browse for your new knife, I thought I may as well point you to Peter Nowlan's page, further down the forum's main index, where you can find excellent sharpening lessons, or better yet, just link you to his "Sharpening School"
Peter Nowlan is a multi-decade professional knife sharpener, and despite the verbosity (or perhaps thanks to it) has produced really easy to follow, pleasurable lessons, right here
https://www.knifeplanet.net/knife-sharp ... ne-course/

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