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Old 08-09-2006, 10:38 AM   #1
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Knives for the Commercial Kitchen

I was looking at restaurant supplies in a local store recently and came across a Tramontina 10" chef's knife with a formed plastic handle. It's a basic stamped blade made in Brazil. The handle is claimed to be anti-microbial. It looks a lot like a Forschner commercial knife.

Does anyone have any hands on experience with this knife?

Here's a picture. The one I saw had a white handle.
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Old 08-09-2006, 11:02 AM   #2
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I have a bunch of them, came from Sam's club, very inexpensive. I do not use them a lot so they are ok, but can't say that i like them. The restaurant supply store I go to caries Dexter Russell brand, those I do like a lot. Not expensive but very durable. I especially like soft gripp handle.
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:18 PM   #3
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My impression is that knives and other utensils for the commercial kitchen differ in one key aspect from those for the home -- they're not expected to last a lifetime.

I did a stint of consulting work in the meat packing industry several years ago, specifically at Clougherty Packing (Farmer John) in Southern California, which at the time was (and maybe still is) the largest pork slaughter house and packer west of Chicago.

One of the main concerns was whether the company was required to pay its 1200 butchers for the time they spent sharpening the knives they used in the process of disassembling hogs. Consequently, I learned more than I ever thought possible about knives and how to sharpen them, or at least how these pros do it.

Believe me, I would never do to my Wusthof and Hattori knives what they do to the professional knives these guys use. They sharpen them every two or three days on electric grinders, and hone them once or twice every day on electric honing machines, and they constantly steel them as they work. Their knives always were so razor sharp that I was afraid to handle them -- they go through 6 inches of meat as if it were warm butter.

I learned that these pros are required to buy their own knives, so they go for good quality. However, because of the frequent sharpening, their knives wear out in 3 to 6 months and must be replaced -- again, out of the workers' own pockets. Consequently, they buy much cheaper knives than most home cooks would pick. And they never buy stainless -- it's carbon steel or nothing, which takes a much better edge than stainless, but it's also softer and requires more frequent sharpening, and it rusts if not properly cared for.

So, as good as those professional knives are, I decided that they're not what I want in my kitchen. I like the ease of care of stainless, I find that I can get it plenty sharp for my needs, and it holds its edge for a long time because I'm not using it 8 hours per day. And like my All-Clad and Caphalon pots and pans, my knives are a whole lot prettier than what the pros use.
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:20 PM   #4
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There are several brands like that which make a similar "generic type" knife, with different colored handles. It's a workable and decent knife, but it does need constant honing and sharpening as it doesn't hold it's edge for an extended period. But because of the price, you don't have to worry about it too much. Most places use those knives for cooks who don't own their own set. Any cook/chef in a commerical kitchen who is serious about their craft owns their own set of blades though.
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:33 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input, Fryboy.

I am not considering this knife for home use or for butchering pigs. I just wondered if it was any good.
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Old 08-09-2006, 01:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FryBoy
... it's carbon steel or nothing, which takes a much better edge than stainless, but it's also softer and requires more frequent sharpening, ...
Though I agree with everything else, this particular statement is wrong. Carbon steel is harder than SS., that is why it keeps the edge better.
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Old 08-09-2006, 01:57 PM   #7
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Thanks, Ironchef, that's what I was wondering.

I saw a bubblepak of two of these knives fro $12. Also, two utility knives and two santokus.

They were each $14 or less. Knowing what we pay for top of the line knives, I was wondering what $12 got you.
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Old 08-09-2006, 02:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieD
Though I agree with everything else, this particular statement is wrong. Carbon steel is harder than SS., that is why it keeps the edge better.
Charlie:

Carbon steel is actually softer than SS. The chromium added to make SS has a hardening effect.

Carbon steel can be sharpened to a finer edge but will not hold the edge for as ;ong because it's softer.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:04 PM   #9
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As I said, this was several years ago, and I was relying on information from people who weren't exactly metallurgists. There are so many steel alloys now available that I don't think either statement (carbon steel is harder than stainless steel, or stainless steel is harder than carbon steel) is always true anymore. BTW, all steel contains carbon -- it's necessary for making iron into steel.

Here's a link to a knife maker's page that gives a rather detailed discussion of knife steels:

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/%7Eumschm08/aboutsteel.html
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:11 PM   #10
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Well, now we are getting into detailed science. There are so many different materials that to generalize the situation is simply wrong, but since I was the one who started, I am the one who has to defend my position.

I used to make knives my self, have made hundreds of them from both SS and carbon steel (CS). You can have both of them the same hardness, you can have SS harder, or you can have CS knife harder. Depends on many factors. Usually the knives made from CS made from the material that is harder and then comes hardening that makes a knife desired hardness. Hardness that you want it to be.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:16 PM   #11
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P.S. same is true for fish producing plants, workers go thru knives in even less time.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:18 PM   #12
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Fry Boy thank you for posting that link. It very much proves my point.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:25 PM   #13
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FryBoy, thanks for the link.

It appears that high carbon steel is often harder than SS. Learn something every day!
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:28 PM   #14
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As I said, check that link for a table describing the many steels now available. I collect knives, and from what I've seen on most knifemaker's sites, 440C and AUS-10 seem to be the steels they favor most. Both have a Rockwell hardness of 58 to 60. The high-carbon steels that have a slightly higher hardness (61 and above), according to the information at the link I gave, are generally less suitable for knives, in part because some are not flexible and tend to shatter, and some are too hard to sharpen! Does that comport with your experience?
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:29 PM   #15
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Off topic.

Interesting, I was talking to a friend of mine today about the fact that I cannot debate things. No matter what it is. I try, usually try, not to make a statement or even simply say anything if I am not sure about what I am talking about, but if I had to prove my self I couldn’t. This conversation is a perfect example. In reality, I should have been the one to find a link to a knife maker page, or something similar that would explain my point in details, but I couldn’t. That makes me sad, I’m going to go cry now.
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Old 08-09-2006, 04:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FryBoy
I learned that these pros are required to buy their own knives, so they go for good quality. However, because of the frequent sharpening, their knives wear out in 3 to 6 months and must be replaced -- again, out of the workers' own pockets. Consequently, they buy much cheaper knives than most home cooks would pick.
I guess butchers would be a different category from someone like myself, but I've used the same Henckles Pro-S set that I've had since culinary school. Sharpen them all the time and hone them all the time, and the blades aren't wearing out. But then again, I don't use an electric sharpener and my blades don't go through as much abuse as a butcher's probably does.
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Old 08-09-2006, 06:01 PM   #17
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Dexter Russell

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieD
I have a bunch of them, came from Sam's club, very inexpensive. I do not use them a lot so they are ok, but can't say that i like them. The restaurant supply store I go to caries Dexter Russell brand, those I do like a lot. Not expensive but very durable. I especially like soft gripp handle.
Does Dexter Russell have a web site, and if so what is it?
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Old 08-09-2006, 06:02 PM   #18
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Dexter Russell
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Old 08-09-2006, 06:24 PM   #19
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WOW, the 10 inch knife I have I paid $22 and 12 inch I paid $25 dollars. They are charging thru the nose on the site.
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Old 08-18-2006, 01:35 AM   #20
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On the Carbon vs SS discussion, SS (Steel with Chromium added) has Chromium carbides with a RC of about 70 (for the carbides NOT the steel) This adds to the cutting abitity of the edge via increased wear resistance HOWEVER Steel only needs about 1-3% Chromium to obtain this trait, adding more Chromium (like the ~15% in most SS) will then progressevly weaken the Steel. Steel need to contain 11.5% free Chromium to be considered stainless---adding more chromium makes the steel more "stainless" but less tough. FYI Vanadium carbides are 80RC! and you only need about 1/3-1/2% vanadium in your steel to get them. Think of carbides as micro saw teeth in the steel that are very hard (harder than the base steel itself. SS can out perform carbon steel even if both are the same hardness and contain the same amount of Carbon due to the presence of carbides IF it doesen't contain too much Chromium to lower it's performance (like the absurd 18% in 440A.) Another example.. 52100 is an awesome Carbon steel that contains a small amout of Chromium (1.5%,) not enough to be Stainless, but enough to form Chroium carbides. This is a simple carbon steel that usually outperforms (by a wide margin) "Super" stainless steels (like ATS-34 and VG-10)
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