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Old 12-10-2009, 04:51 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by justplainbill View Post
Thinner is often good but for some uses a thicker spine (5 mm / .2 ") is more useful.
Well, again I only said thinner as a rule. Thicker can be better for some things but it's rarely better simply for being thicker. Certain styles of knives are inherently thick, such as a Western Deba. Knives like Debas tend also to be thick, and a Yanagiba will usually be pretty thick at the spine.

I do still keep one Wusthof in my work kit, an 8" Chef that I use for things like lobster and frozen food. It is a tad thicker than my J-knives but mostly it's much softer; that makes the difference. Before long I expect to have a Tojiro Western Deba- once I get that I'll probably ditch the Wustie.
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:14 PM   #22
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I've cooked onboard Alaskan fishing boats, restaurants, and, of course, home and entertaining. In my experience,Henkel's makes a premium knife that comes in many varieties, sizes, and purpose directed. They are not the most expensive knives on the shelf but they are very good and will stand the test of time and retain their edge.
As to differing sizes for you and your DH, absolutly! You need to feel comfortable with the balance and weight of any tool and the right knife will go a long way toward keeping your fingers intact. I've carried six knives with me no matter where I've cooked and my own chef's knife is indespensible. If you need to discuss the details of my six knives, just let me know.
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Old 01-03-2010, 02:46 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Rob Babcock View Post

If you want a conventional German knife you can't go wrong with Messermeister. Wusthof is also good. J.A. Henkels makes great knives so long as you avoid the International series and stick with their higher end offerings.
Why stay away from J.A. Henkels International series? Curious. I was looking at a set that seemed nice, and while pricier than my current very old knives that need replacing, not something that I can't afford.

BTW: I looked at the sharpening system you recommended. Seems nice. Do you use this with a sharpening steel?

Carol
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:27 PM   #24
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blades of glory

I am not actually a assistant cook (not sure how that got there and not sure how to change it) actually I am a fairly experienced amateur cook, I am however an industrial engineer by trade. I have for quite a few years design and build my own knives and have on occasion made gifts for friends and associates. And this is what I have to say about knives in general.

Japanese steels or knives are my preference vs the european blades, why? craftsmanship and quality steels of which many are not even available to traditional Euro commercial companies. But not all Japanese knives are created equal, I found the workman ship on some of the so called Damascus blades MAC's are flat out shoddy at best! As well, you need to make certain if you take the plunge and pay serious money for some Japanese knives that you get what you pay for! Often you will see claims for exotic steels or Damascus type blades that are nothing more then designs embossed on the blade( buyer beware). But good knives using G10 are top notch extremely sharp and hold the edge for ages, more exotic powdered steel types like ZDP 182 and Cowry X are the very best but are a fortune and very difficult to resharpen but are beyond sharp and are so hard it seems like they don't ever dull. I made a ZDP182 chef knife and gave it to a friend ( a real chef ) well over a year ago, he still has not sharpened it..
In the end just make certain it feels right and uses a good steel, if you have the patience and the funds often its best to have something made for you, there many excellent knife smiths out there often putting out products similar in price to commercial offerings. One of my faves is haslinger knives. Check him out!
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:43 PM   #25
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:49 PM   #26
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Some practical advice about your knives, the MOST important thing is how well they fit your hand and how easy they are to do the tasks they are called upon to do. Name brands are good knives else they would not still be around. Look at them like they are a long term investment, they are going to last you for years and years, some of mine are 40 years old and are used daily in my cooking chores. Keeping good knives good...sharp and functional requires attention to their care every time you use them. Use the steel every time you use it and it will remain sharp for a long time, ignore that step and soon, no matter what company or individual produced the blade and it will become less sharp and less useful. It is not necessary to spend a fortune on each knife or buy a matching set unless you are driven to such an expenditure. Recently Cook's Illustrated has tested knives made by Victoronix with well seated fibrox handles and found them equal to the tasks every chef has before him/her for a fraction of the expensive knives compared with them. I would advise going to a knife shop, talking with the staff and handling the knives before you lay out your hard earned money, get ones that fit your hand and style of cooking. A chef's knife, a boning knife, a paring knife, a carving knife will do to start.
Good Luck and Good Cooking!
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:43 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by sadievan View Post
Why stay away from J.A. Henkels International series? Curious. I was looking at a set that seemed nice, and while pricier than my current very old knives that need replacing, not something that I can't afford.

BTW: I looked at the sharpening system you recommended. Seems nice. Do you use this with a sharpening steel?

Carol
The International Series aren't all bad, some of them are okay. But the lower end of that line is comprised of really cheap stamped junk. Bear in mind, a knife doesn't have to be drop-forged to be good (the best knives in the world aren't, IMOHO) but cheap stamped knives are pretty sad. For German knives, stick to the forged ones.

As to the steels, which ones are you referring to? The EMP is pretty simple, draw your knife thru the unit at about a 45 degree angle. There's a video on his site. A ceramic or glass steel is best used as follows: Place a towel or other non-skid mat down on the counter. Hold the hone in a "hammer grip" upside down, ie with the handle on top and the rod hanging down. Hold it straight up and down with the tip on the towel. Very lightly run your knife along the length of the hone, heel to tip. The angle used should reflect the angle on the knife. You don't have to sweat how precise your holding, just make sure to go very lightly, and use an angle a touch steeper than the angle on the knife. For example, a German sharpened at 22.5 degrees per side should be (lightly!) hones at 23-25 degrees. You want to gently push the steel back into alignment. What you don't want to do is whack it on the steel as fast as you can like you see those guys on Food Network do. That's TV, not reality.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:21 AM   #28
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As an amateur cook, and less of a knife guy, here are my 2 cents worth:

After using a set of Forschners I acquired during my stint in a packing house 45 years ago, I purchased a VG 10 Kanetsune on sale on the advice of Rob in a thread a year or so ago. I later went back and purchased the entire 5 knife set. Thanks Rob.

Although the Forschners are very good knives, the difference between the two is night and day. Out of the box the Kanetsunes were the sharpest knives I have ever used. They are still sharp today, although they will need touch up soon.

I find the pinch grip is pretty much automatic with sharp knives and impossible with dull.

I find that 95% of my cutting is done with a 240 gyuto, with the remainder a small petty. I would recommend starting with these two. I do not like, and seldom use, the santou, but I believe that is personal preference. I would like to have a smaller petty (paring) knife.

My knives live in a wood cutting block, my hand, or on the rear of a wood cutting board. I use the Forschners for opening packages, scraping bones, etc.

Conclusion? IMO 2 good knives beat a boxed set by a mile. As a first knife I would buy the largest Japanese chefs knife that I felt comfortable with, and the best I could afford. My large chefs knife works just fine to slice bread and other soft items, and to thinly slice meat. Second knife would be a small petty. With these two, you will be able to perform nearly all kitchen chores. A santou is another option, but I find that I can do anything with a chefs knife that I can with a santou, and the reverse is not true.

If you use a pinch grip, handle is not as important as balance. Pinch grip comes naturally if your knife is sharp.

A good steel is important. Mine is a very old Dick that has worn very smooth over time. Those designed to tear away steel will not straighten an edge. Another reason to avoid a boxed set.

Watch the sales. The Kanetsunes were purchased at less than half the lowest price I can now find.

I have all the tools necessary to sharpen knives, but not the skills. I would gladly pay for a day long learning session with a really good sharpener in a classroom setting. I don't even know how sharp is sharp.

Forschners are very good entry level knives. I prefer the rosewood handles, but that is a matter of opinion. They will not give as much satisfaction as a good quality VG 10 laminate blade.

All above is opinion based on nothing scientific, and is just observation.
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:33 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Babcock View Post
The International Series aren't all bad, some of them are okay. But the lower end of that line is comprised of really cheap stamped junk. Bear in mind, a knife doesn't have to be drop-forged to be good (the best knives in the world aren't, IMOHO) but cheap stamped knives are pretty sad. For German knives, stick to the forged ones.

As to the steels, which ones are you referring to? The EMP is pretty simple, draw your knife thru the unit at about a 45 degree angle. There's a video on his site. A ceramic or glass steel is best used as follows: Place a towel or other non-skid mat down on the counter. Hold the hone in a "hammer grip" upside down, ie with the handle on top and the rod hanging down. Hold it straight up and down with the tip on the towel. Very lightly run your knife along the length of the hone, heel to tip. The angle used should reflect the angle on the knife. You don't have to sweat how precise your holding, just make sure to go very lightly, and use an angle a touch steeper than the angle on the knife. For example, a German sharpened at 22.5 degrees per side should be (lightly!) hones at 23-25 degrees. You want to gently push the steel back into alignment. What you don't want to do is whack it on the steel as fast as you can like you see those guys on Food Network do. That's TV, not reality.
Hi Rob,

The Henckels set I was looking at is at Costco. Here is the link.

Costco - J.A. Henckels International 10-piece Forged Knife Set

As far as sharpening stones go. I would like to start to try them on my old set. What kind do you use and what grits? Am new to all this knife stuff.

Carol
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:26 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Bigjim68 View Post
After using a set of Forschners I acquired during my stint in a packing house 45 years ago, I purchased a VG 10 Kanetsune on sale on the advice of Rob in a thread a year or so ago. I later went back and purchased the entire 5 knife set. Thanks Rob.
Yeah, that was The Mother of All Deals! Sadly I only got the 210mm before they sold out- I sure wish I'd have scored the whole set! They're fantastic knives. I gave mine to my GF shortly after getting it, planning to get a couple more for myself, but I wasn't quick enough. In the year or so she's had it I've sharpened it once and it's extremely sharp. I've subtly tried to see if she'd "rather have something else" but it's always no dice!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim68 View Post
Watch the sales. The Kanetsunes were purchased at less than half the lowest price I can now find.
Sadly that's very true. I've often seen them at 3X the price we got ours for! Never are they sold for less than twice what I paid. Truly one of the greatest knife bargains I've ever seen.
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