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Old 11-17-2010, 06:16 PM   #1
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Knife assistance - what to buy

Okay guys, I've been reading the posts on this site regarding knives for some time now, and need to finalize my decisions. I almost went with a block set, but changed my mind after reading a lot of the comments. I know Rob is a so-called J-knife snob (his own definition), but his rationale seems to make sense to me. I'm currently leaning towards the Torijo DP series 8" chef and 4" paring knife, but I have never found one to hold. I've held the Wustoff Classic and one of the Henkels, and of those two the Wustoff felt much better in my hand. I also considered the Victorinox, but decided I wanted forged instead of stamped because I like the weight. I want this to hopefully be the last set of "main" knives I buy other than a bread knife down the road (unless you know a good package with all 3).



So the big questions I have left are:
  1. For the price is there any better deal going than the Torijo DP combo for $100 ish (can't remember where I saw them at though)? Where in the heck can I find one to hold locally, because I'm obviously searching in all the wrong places?
  2. How difficult are the Torijo's to keep sharpened? If they are going to be a nightmare I would prefer to look at something else that is easier to maintain a good edge.
  3. What is a decent set of steak knives to get that will be under $100. Not looking for the Cadillac because they are going to get abused anyway. I never could find good guidance on steak knives on the posts other than buying at a garage sale!
  4. What type of sharpener should I get for the knives?
  5. What is the preferred cutting surface. I have a glass cutting board that I use with my junk knives, and nylon and wood boards to use with my slightly better ones (still classified as junk though).
  6. I don't have room for a block on my counter so what is the next best alternative to keep them safe while in a drawer? Something with a key lock and alarm system would be preferred!
Again this is for home use only by a wanna be Chef (a.k.a. weekend hack)! I'm going to keep some of those junk knives around so the kids can use them, but the new are ones OFF LIMITS to everyone in my house. I MAY let my wife occasionally use them if she doesn't use the glass cutting board or on my granite countertops.

So I turn it over to you guys to help me finalize my selections. Here is my budget so you can spend my money wisely: Chef and paring ($150) and steak ($100). Hopefully I'm not being too cheap! Thanks everyone!!!!

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Old 11-17-2010, 06:27 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:33 PM   #3
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I'm glad I'm not the person out here who is totally confused with data/information overload!
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Old 11-17-2010, 08:26 PM   #4
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I have a Tojiro. I have never seen them in a store so I took a leap of faith and bought it online. I figured I could either return it or sell it if worse came to worse. I am very happy with the knife. It feels great in my hand and keeps a very sharp edge for quite a while. They are not difficult to sharpen either. $100 for both those knives is a great deal. I would jump on it personally. I do not think you would be disappointed. For reference, I have Wustof knives that feel good in y hand as well.

I will let someone else answer the steak knife question as the ones I have are junk.

How much do you want to spend on a sharpener? And how interested are you in sharpening?

As for storage, have you considered a magnetic strip holder? If you do not mind having the knives out and have room on a wall then that is the best way to store knives. If not, I have used these before and really like them. The bonus is that you can use them to travel with your knives if you ever need to.

Take your glass cutting board and put it in the trash. Or at the very least just don't ever let your knives touch them again. Almost nothing will dull a knife as fast as a glass cutting board. The best boards are either foodsafe plastic or wood. With wood, end grain will be better (and more expensive) than edge grain. Plastic and wood boards are kind of like Coke and Pepsi. People are pretty evenly split over which they like, but both do a great job. Plastic can go in the dishwasher, but wood can not. wood looks better (to some) and supposedly antiseptic properties. You will do fine with either. I have both and use both in my house. I love how my knives feel on wood, but I love that plastic can go in the dishwasher.
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:15 PM   #5
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I don't think I would mind sharpening my own knives provided I have the right equipment. I guess if I'm willing to spend $150 on the knives I would probably spend $30 on a good sharpener. Because the knives won't do me much good unless I can keep them razor sharp.
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:41 PM   #6
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The Tojiro handles are a little "blocky"; that is to say, they're somewhat flat and lightly radiused on the corners. Some people don't like that but I actually do. One problem you sometimes see on J-knives is that a gyuto around 210mm will often have a much smaller handle than one that's 240mm or larger. A good example is the Ikeda/Akifusa gyuto. The 240 has a pretty nice handle but the 210's handle is like a freakin' paring knife. Still, the handle isn't really a big issue once you learn to use a "pinch grip." That is to say you "choke up" on the knife, holding it by with two fingers pinching the spine of the blade and the other three fingers on the handle. Despite having much more expensive knives I still take two Tojiros to work with me every day.

The Tojiros will really hold their edge well, too- much better than a Wusthof. Sharpening them can be an issue if you're not used to sharpening by hand. The best method is water stones. Although it's not cheap, an Edge Pro Apex would be a good investment if you get bitten by "the bug." I know at least one of the mods here uses one, and I had one for a long time and loved it (stepped up to the Pro model). Of course, I have some large synthetic water stones that I use for hand sharpening as well.

One word of warning- I don't really know of any $30 sharpener that's well suited for Japanese knives. For Germans (Wusthof, Messermeister, Henckels, etc) I regularly recommend the Edgemaker Pro set. It's about $30 shipped and works very well on most knives. But I really haven't used them much on J-knives. While they may work, I suspect they may cause the edge to chip. The best way to sharpen a knife like the Tojiro is on a synthetic* water stone. You'd probably be looking at $75-$100 for a really basic set. You could get an Arashiyama 1k and a Suehiro Rika 5k stone for about $75. That would handle most sharpening you would do. If you found you liked it you could add an Arato (coarse) and a Shiagato (polish) stone later on. But a 5k edge is pretty nice.

If you want a heavy knife, though, look elsewhere. Most Japanese knives are thinner and lighter, especially since most lack a bolster. I've never understood why anyone would want a knife to be any heavier than it had to be. If you were going hiking, would you prefer to wear 5 lb boots and lug a 15 lb tent or have boots that weighed 10 oz and a 3 lb tent? I realize that in some people's minds heavier = high quality but that's not the case with cutlery. Maybe if you're splitting logs a heavier maul head translates to more power in the swing but a knife relies on sharpness, not blunt trauma. And all else being equal a thinner knife will cut better, longer.

As for steak knives, I'm over them. Unless you simply want something fancy, get some Fibrox paring knives or some 150mm petty knives. Most good steak knives are overpriced. All you need is sharp. Alternatively, you could buy as many Mora #1's as you need and call it good. Much sharper and better than any steak knife I've ever seen for even four times the price.

* Or of course, a natural water stone. But that's an expensive and exotic hobby unto itself.
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott S. View Post


So the big questions I have left are:
  1. For the price is there any better deal going than the Torijo DP combo for $100 ish (can't remember where I saw them at though)? Where in the heck can I find one to hold locally, because I'm obviously searching in all the wrong places?
You can get the 2 pc Tojiro set from ChefKnivesToGo. Mark Richmond, the owner, is a great guy- very knowledgeable and terrific to deal with. I've sent him many of my paychecks! I always check there first before I buy anywhere else.
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:53 PM   #8
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A couple more things...Recently Tojiro switched from the unspecified "Swedish steel" they used to use to VG-10. VG-10 is used in all the Shun Classics, the Hattori KF/HD line, most of the Kanetsunes, etc. It's a good steel, probably the most widely used in Japanese kitchen knives (well, stainless ones, anyhow). Secondly, the dollar is sinking like a rock vs the yen, and most makers have announced price increases to take effect next year. In all likelihood, we'll see prices of J-cutlery increase by 10-15% by early next year. So maybe you'd be wise to make it an early X-mas gift to yourself.
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:42 AM   #9
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I know it is a lot of money, but the Edge Pro Apex sharpening system is amazing. Like Rob said, if you get bit by the bug then you will want this. I could not imagine being without mine. Another system in your pricerange though is the Lansky Sharpening system. I know people who have had very good luck with them. I had one and liked it, but found it a little difficult to use because of its size. If you are set on your price range then that is what I would look into. It can do a very good job.
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:11 PM   #10
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Okay, so if I don't go with the Tojiro, what brand would you guys suggest that I could use the edgemaker pro on? I'm not saying I'm going to go that way, but it would be nice to know my best options. I did like that Edge Pro Apex.

Thanks again.
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