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Old 11-20-2010, 05:34 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by snickerdoodle View Post
I'm looking forward to the replies to this as I am in the same boat with purchasing a chef's knife. I have it narrowed to the Tojiro DP 7" or Victorinox 6". A little bit of a price difference but that is due to the Victorinox being stamped instead of forged. I've been told that a stamped blade will be easier to sharpen, but also that it will need to be sharpened more often than a forged blade. Anyway, I could go on and on about my findings but I'll let the experts on this site take this one.

For what it's worth, I can't find any place to try out a Tojiro in my hand either but I would be OK with ordering it through Amazon where returns/exchanges are pretty easy, in case I didn't like the feel of it in my hand.
I apologize that I completely missed your post. Let me toss a few ideas at you.

First, there's no reason that a stamped blade will necessarily be easier to sharpen than a forged. It is true, however, that stamped blades will rarely have a bolster whereas forged blades of the Euro persuasion often will. It's the bolster, not the method of manufacture, that makes sharpening problematic. How easy a blade is to sharp will depend on the hardness, toughness, abrasion resistance, carbide size and a lot of other arcane factors.

If you get the Tojiro, regardless of the handle I suspect you'll fall in love with the blade. If that's true for you, you can easily mod the handles with some sandpaper.

-R-
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Old 11-20-2010, 09:16 AM   #22
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Even the most basic Edge Pro model will do wonders for you and you will most likely like it. And you can always upgrade it over time. If you are dealing with having to convince your wife then go for the least expensive model. She then has things she can buy you as gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. as you upgrade it down the line.

As for a bread knife, they are great for things that hard tough on the outside and soft on the inside. Bread is the obvious one, but many people use them for tomatoes as well. I prefer a properly sharpened regular knife for tomatoes, but if I were picking a dull knife or bread knife for a tomato then I would use the bread knife. The one thing, aside from bread, that I like using my bread knife for is pineapple. It does a quick and easy job of peeling one. That being said, I see no reason to spend big bucks on a bread knife. I have had mine for over 7 years and have never needed to have it sharpened or anything done to it. Probably because I use it so infrequently as my other knives are always sharp enough to handle most tasks. Spend your money on the Edge Pro and other knives and get a basic inexpensive bread knife and you you do just fine.
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:25 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the guidance so far guys.

Just when I think I'm understanding everything, something new comes along that confuses me. So help me understand the difference between the different sharpening stones and tapes. I think Rob said that the 1000 grit stone is equivalent to a 4000 to 5000 grit J-stone? I'm not sure if I understood this correctly or not, but maybe they are rated differently?

Also how is the tape different from a stone? Do you use it the same way on the Apex?

I think I'm almost to the point where you guys have forgotten more than I know, so I'm starting to feel good about myself!
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:28 AM   #24
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All you really need to know (to start out with) is that the higher the number the finer the stone or tape.

You use the tapes the same way as the stones. The stones are mounted on a blank that is loaded into the Edge Pro Apex. With the tapes you put the tape on the blank yourself and then load that into the Edge Pro Apex.
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:53 PM   #25
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In America we commonly use the ANSI Scale. That stands for the "American National Standards Institute". I guess one scale for all countries would be ideal but consider we still use Imperial measures where most of the world is metric, we drive on the right hand of the road while much of the world drives on the left, etc. Don't try to make sense of it all- you'll only hurt your head.

Tapes are used pretty much like stones with a couple of differences. First it doesn't take much if any water to use them. And too much water will cause the tape to lift off the blank. Also, tapes are best used "edge trailing", aka away from the edge. If you try to go edge leading you can cut the tape. Beyond that they're basically the same. A stone will outlast a tape but the tape never needs to be flattened, and when it's shot you just peel it off and stick on a new one.
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Old 11-24-2010, 11:08 PM   #26
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Time for me to muddy the waters ;)

J-knives are not necessarily thinner than Western knives. If you go for traditional single bevel knives like Usabas (vegetable) or Yanagibas (Fish) knives then they are actually significantly thicker than their Western counterparts.

I think the easiest way is to start at the beginning which is steel.

a) Forging.
Forging's main purpose is that it makes steel homogeneous. Up until 10 or 15 years ago steel ingots you would buy had all manner of casting flaws and air bubbles in them. A forged knife will still be less likely to have microscopic flaws in it than a stamped knife but the gap is much smaller than it used to be.

b) Steel composition.
The five main ingredients in knife steels are Iron, Carbon (Iron + Carbon = steel), Chrome (for stainless), Molybdenum and Vanadium (Hardening agents). Chrome massively increases the crystal structure within steel which makes it more brittle and harder to sharpen. It does make it shinier and close to rust proof.
Vanadium in particular reduces the crystal size and is the key ingredient for the Japanese 'super steels' the most widely known of which is VG-10.

Because carbon steel will always have a smaller crystal structure than a stainless steel it offers advantages in that it is both more ductile (flexible) that stainless and it will always be able to carry a sharper edge. It's like comparing a 1 megapixel camera to a 5 megapixel camera. No matter how many bells and whistles you put on the 1 MP camera the 5MP camera will always be capable of getting better resolution as long as it is treated right.
Carbon steel has significant disadvantages in maintenance issues. If you don't look after a carbon steel knife it will rust away.

c) Steel HardnessThis has more to do with the treatment given to the steel than the composition of the steel. Armour plating steel is hardened to 250+ Rockwell and has very similar composition to knife steels.

The harder you make a steel the more brittle it will become, although Vanadiam and Molybdenum will help reduce this problem.

The advantage of harder steels is that they allow the blade to be made thinner. whilst retaining similar amounts of strength.
High carbon stainless steels and carbon steel can be made thinner because they are more ductile and they flex more and snap less. Similar outcomes but a different path.

It is a complete myth that hard steels can carry a sharper edge than soft steels. All steel can be sharpened to whatever angle you want to put on it. Hard steels wear away slower and need to be sharpened less often no matter what angle you put on the edge. In practical terms there is a balancing act between how sharp an edge you want to put on your knife and how often you want to sharpen it.

Softer steels wear away quicker but are easier to sharpen. Hard steels will hold their edge longer but can be a complete PITA to sharpen.

d) Blade geometry
Different blade designs for the same type of knife give different features and advantages.
Taking the Chef's knife as the classic example you have the heavily curved German style and the comparatively straighter edged Japanese knives as two opposites.
From my experience the German design is maximised for ease of use and the Japanese design is maximised for cutting efficiency.
What suits you is whatever works best for you.

e) Handles
I hate steel handles with a passion and cannot say anything good about them.
I prefer wooden handles to plastic handles because I find wood easier to grip and less slippy than plastic.
As others have said the most important thing about the handle is that it should have a comfortable balance point because once you're pinch gripping that sucker the shape of the handle is mostly irrelevant.

f) What length knife should you buy
The short answer is to always use the longest knife that will do the job comfortably. I'd say 240mm/10" is about the minimum length for a chef's knife. I use an 11" Sabatier at work and I can use it as a paring knife if I have to. I used to use 8" and 9" blades but the amount of times that extra inch or two length in the blade has made a job easier is countless.
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Old 11-25-2010, 06:40 AM   #27
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Tungsten adds toughness but is also a carbide former. Modern "powdered" steel side-steps the tradition issues of carbine size by vaporizing the molten metal and spraying it into a vacuum chamber. That's a drastic oversimplification, but it drastically reduces carbide size. The old saws don't really apply to many of the modern stainless and tool steels. Technology really has re-written the rules to some extent.

Also, modern (Japanese) steels muddy the line between forged and stamped. For example, the ubiquitous VG-10 from Takefu Special Steelworks is roller laminated to the jigane under something like 100 tons of pressure. The force used can really be called "roller forging." The same kind of restructuring you see with classic forging is duplicated to a great degree with this process.

The technology used in modern Japanese knives blurs the lines between forged knives and stamped ones, to be sure.
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Old 11-25-2010, 06:51 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by jpaulg View Post

It is a complete myth that hard steels can carry a sharper edge than soft steels. All steel can be sharpened to whatever angle you want to put on it. Hard steels wear away slower and need to be sharpened less often no matter what angle you put on the edge. In practical terms there is a balancing act between how sharp an edge you want to put on your knife and how often you want to sharpen it.
Here I will disagree. You can form Play-Dough (an American toy clay product) to whatever angle you like, but it won't survive contact with anything. The same is true for steel. You can put any angle on a knife with a hardness of 55 RC, but it won't survive a dozen cuts thru meat and into an edge grained cutting board. And the higher you push the polish the less capable the knife will be of retaining it. A 128,000 grit edge will fade during the first cut. And yeah...I do finish my J-knives to a 128,000 grit edge!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jpaulg View Post
Softer steels wear away quicker but are easier to sharpen. Hard steels will hold their edge longer but can be a complete PITA to sharpen.
Also overrated. If you use waterstones you honestly will find that even the hardest alloys will melt away. I have several knives over 60 RC, including one that's 64 RC. All of them respond very well to synthetic waterstones. Yeah, they are to oilstones what carbon is to stainless: A lot of work and maintenance. But, like carbon, the results are worth it. Yes- they dish and you must flatten them. No- it's not a big deal to do so. Yes- you must soak them. No- that's not a big deal either. You have a watch, right? Just start 'em soaking while you do something else. Consider it your "sharpening mise"!
Jpaulg- I think we probably agree more than we disagree, but we have a little different notions on a few things. But that just keeps things interesting to me!
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Old 11-25-2010, 08:30 AM   #29
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I have a wide variety of kitchen knives. To me the best criteria of of a knife's edge holding quality is it's ability to score raw pigskin. My CPM S30V knife outperforms anything else that I have tried.
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Old 11-25-2010, 01:45 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Rob Babcock View Post
Here I will disagree. You can form Play-Dough (an American toy clay product) to whatever angle you like, but it won't survive contact with anything. The same is true for steel. You can put any angle on a knife with a hardness of 55 RC, but it won't survive a dozen cuts thru meat and into an edge grained cutting board. And the higher you push the polish the less capable the knife will be of retaining it. A 128,000 grit edge will fade during the first cut. And yeah...I do finish my J-knives to a 128,000 grit edge!




Also overrated. If you use waterstones you honestly will find that even the hardest alloys will melt away. I have several knives over 60 RC, including one that's 64 RC. All of them respond very well to synthetic waterstones. Yeah, they are to oilstones what carbon is to stainless: A lot of work and maintenance. But, like carbon, the results are worth it. Yes- they dish and you must flatten them. No- it's not a big deal to do so. Yes- you must soak them. No- that's not a big deal either. You have a watch, right? Just start 'em soaking while you do something else. Consider it your "sharpening mise"!
Jpaulg- I think we probably agree more than we disagree, but we have a little different notions on a few things. But that just keeps things interesting to me!
I don't think we disagree too much, its more a case of having different perspectives on things. As you say modern techniques are re-writing a lot of things about knife steel.

Funny thing about the difference in sharpening is that I had just sharpened my Carbon steel knives and a Japanese knife for a fellow chef before I wrote that post. I use Japanese whetstones (1k to 10k) and the ease and speed at which they put a terrifyingly sharp edge onto a CS knife is unbelievable. Then trying to put the same edge on a powdered steel VG-10 J-knife took me about the same amount of time it took me do my entire knife roll of CS knives.

CS Knives also hone much quicker and easier too. I use a pre WW1 F Dicks smooth steel for honing and IMO it works better than the ceramic or glass rods I've tried.
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