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Old 11-08-2008, 08:19 PM   #61
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I'm not a chef..just a home hack, but I do like not having to constantly sharpen a kitchen knife. When a tool starts demanding too much attention, for me, time to find a better oneI'm sure what ever you choose, you will be happy with the improvemet.
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Old 11-08-2008, 08:24 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by bullseye View Post
No argument, Buzz. I was just noting that there are knives available on the cheap that will do the job. I have had my T-I for more years than I like to count and they fit me like an old shoe, yet your other posts make me long to try some of the Japanese products. Thus far, though, it's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Please don't take offense as none was intended. I have a eleven slot block of Chicago Cutlery knives I purchased over thirty years ago and I still use some of them on occasion and appreciate the qualities they exhibit. I often sharpen friends' German knives to levels they have previously not seen and I get a huge kick at the look on their faces when they slice that first tomato and the blade falls through it. There should be a whole new thread on this because a German/Swiss/Whatever knife of halfway decent steel can be made quite sharp although the boys in Solingen would surely grimace given the edge angles I sometimes create. I can get carried away on this topic because kitchen cutlery and the sharpening thereof is a hobby/obsession of mine. Hey, I'm retired, and golf only lasts four hours.....

Anyhoo, I'll go out of my way to point out that there is much more available than that which is found at Macy's or Sur La Table.

Buzz
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Old 11-08-2008, 08:49 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by SShepherd View Post
I'm not a chef..just a home hack, but I do like not having to constantly sharpen a kitchen knife. When a tool starts demanding too much attention, for me, time to find a better oneI'm sure what ever you choose, you will be happy with the improvemet.
Salute!
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Old 11-08-2008, 10:30 PM   #64
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That's why I like the Dexter Russell Sani-Safe knives ---Something about the reflection in them takes off 15 lbs, and 10 years of age!!!
Oh crap! I knew I bought the wrong knives. Mine make me look at least 10 lbs. heavier that I think I am and strangely, makes me look like my mom!!!!
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Old 11-09-2008, 02:39 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by buzzard767 View Post
French Chef's knives have the same basic side profiles of their Japanese counterparts. Less belly, eg. German knives look more like rocking chairs. I can vouch for the Thiers-Issard Sabatiers, and The Best Things is the US importer. I have an 11" stainless that I've never used but the fit and finish is above average and the blade is exceptionally straight for one that long. However, every once in awhile I do use three T-I Sabs, but they are both carbon and vintage, about 6, 9, and 11" lengths. Great knives but hard to find good ones with full blades.
The T-I Sabs are great knives, just IMO not great for home users who aren't into knives.

The greater belly of German knives makes them easier to use for non-professionals and are safer for non-professionals (you have to lift a Sabatier higher than a German knife when slicing increasing the chances of getting your fingertips under the blade)

In any event there are a number of factors I'd recommend for home buyers.
1) Always get the knife in a shop where you can handle the knife. You'll have it for a long time and you want something that is comfortable for your hand and the way you hold a knife. I've bought $200 knives that I've had to re-sell because I wasn't able to use them comfortably.
2) Learn how to sharpen and hone the knife. It makes a HUGE difference in ease of use and life of the knife. You don't need to obsess to the degree some of the people on the forums do, but you do need to get yourself to a reasonably competent level to get the best out of your knife. Think of it as checking the air and oil on your car.
3) Handle a number of different knives, and in particular try a French, German and Japanese knife before buying.
4) If you don't mind spending the extra money and are careful with them ceramic knives can be great in a home kitchen.
5) For home use you don't need a knife with a blade length of more than 8", although for a large person a 10" or longer knife could work.
6) I'd recommend getting some lessons on how to use the rocking motion properly - avoid the internet for this as I've seen some things on the internet that about this that leave me cold.
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Old 11-09-2008, 02:42 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by buzzard767 View Post
Please don't take offense as none was intended. I have a eleven slot block of Chicago Cutlery knives I purchased over thirty years ago and I still use some of them on occasion and appreciate the qualities they exhibit. I often sharpen friends' German knives to levels they have previously not seen and I get a huge kick at the look on their faces when they slice that first tomato and the blade falls through it. There should be a whole new thread on this because a German/Swiss/Whatever knife of halfway decent steel can be made quite sharp although the boys in Solingen would surely grimace given the edge angles I sometimes create. I can get carried away on this topic because kitchen cutlery and the sharpening thereof is a hobby/obsession of mine. Hey, I'm retired, and golf only lasts four hours.....

Anyhoo, I'll go out of my way to point out that there is much more available than that which is found at Macy's or Sur La Table.

Buzz

I'm afraid I need to make an apology also

As a custom knifemaker, I'm constantly tying to give my customers the best product I can. People come to me, because they can't get what they want in a store, and most of the time they want better performance.
I personally own henkles ,wustoff, shun, and a kai/kershaw kitchen knife (s), and a few japanese knives. Each one pretty much represents an upgrade in cutlery from the next..and upgrade in price. I pretty much bought new ones as I became dissappointed in the last..that makes it slightly difficult for me to suggest a knife for someone that I've not liked.
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Old 11-09-2008, 02:49 PM   #67
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Thanks for weighing in jpaul.
I'm not sure if you read through all the posts, but trying out the knife, or several knives, is not an option. Unfortunatley I have to rely on the internet to make my decision for me. That's why I am leaning towards purchasing two knives in the not-so-high price range, a Western knife and a Japanese knife. If I find myself always reaching for one six months from now, that will tell me a lot more than a noob like me holding the knife in a store..... even if I could find a store around me.

I appreciate the insight into the style of the German knife being more forgiving to a rookie.

Thanks!
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Old 11-09-2008, 03:15 PM   #68
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Thanx, Buzz, for mentioning...Chicago Cutlery. I didn't want to be the first. I find a lot of C.C. in thrift stores...I think of them as rescues, and can tell the difference between the old knives that are US made, and the new, Chinese knives. I buy the old ones, and clean them up and use them. I have tons of walnut handled C.C. and use them every day in my kitchen. I am not a culinary professional, and do not work long, busy shifts with a primary knife, so they are adequate to my needs. Light, nice balance, good enough steel. I also have a bunch of old-type C.C. Metropolitan...same as the regular, but with nylon handles instead of walnut. Same identical pattern. The chef's knives are German pattern blades, and I'm used to them. And I have used other knives of better quality and higher price. I particularly like the 8" Chef's knife and the 6" Chef's knife. I also have some of their knives with NSF molded nylon ergonomic handles. They're nice utility knives for my use. I might mention, too, that their 7" bread slicer is a marvelous little sandwich knife. I also don't freak out if I'm cooking "out" and someone picks up my knife to cut the kind of things people cut at BBQs...everything from tri-tip to porterhouse to chickens to string, rope and cardboard.
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Old 11-09-2008, 04:59 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by gadzooks View Post
Chicago Cutlery....

The chef's knives are German pattern blades, and I'm used to them....

I particularly like the 8" Chef's knife and the 6" Chef's knife.
Oh yeah. The Chef's knife in my ancient big block is a model 44S, 260mm, 10 1/4". What a brute it is. The stamped steel does not taper at the spine until it gets an inch from the tip and it's a bit fat a half inch above the edge but that's okay. The edge is 15 degrees per side with an 18 degree micro bevel and it is as tough as can be. This has alway been my go to blade for watermelons and squash. It is a knife that is built to take abuse and keep on working.

The block also contains a Chinese vegetable cleaver, model CC-1. I can't tell if the writing is Chinese or Japanese Kanji (probably Chinese judging by the handle) but the steel is considerably different from the rest of the set. It's a fairly good vegetable knife so I never had to use the Chef's knife that much and that's the reason it still has 99% of its original blade today.

Buzz
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Old 11-10-2008, 05:03 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
Thanks for weighing in jpaul.
I'm not sure if you read through all the posts, but trying out the knife, or several knives, is not an option. Unfortunatley I have to rely on the internet to make my decision for me. That's why I am leaning towards purchasing two knives in the not-so-high price range, a Western knife and a Japanese knife. If I find myself always reaching for one six months from now, that will tell me a lot more than a noob like me holding the knife in a store..... even if I could find a store around me.

I appreciate the insight into the style of the German knife being more forgiving to a rookie.

Thanks!
Sorry pacanis, I skimmed the thread and missed the fact that you're restricted to internet sales.

Just to expand a bit on my point about why it's important to handle the knives (if possible) before buying. I wasn't thinking so much about the blade but about the handle and the balance point.

We're all individuals when it comes to hand size and the grip we use.

If you use a pinch grip you want the balance point of the knife to be at the bolster, if you grip the knife by the handle you want the balance point further back in the handle. Basically you want the centre of balance of the knife to be at the point where you're holding it as this makes the knife feel much lighter and allows you to be more precise.

Different manufacturers have different handles, and often different handles with different ranges. If you've got a big hand you'll find a knife with a large handle more comfortable to use, and if you have a small hand a smaller handle will be more comfortable. The handle material also affects comfort, I for one will never buy another metal handled knife as I don't like them but many people are very happy with metal handles. The shape of the handle also comes into play.

I'd almost say that the handle is more important than the blade. For example if you're buying a $100 knife there shouldn't be a huge amount of difference in the quality of the metalwork in the blades of the different manufacturers but their will be huge differences in the ergonomics of the handles.

If you're looking at medium quality knives the basic Scanpan knives are a very good option. They're at the heavy end of the weight scale, have good steel and very nicely designed handles. If you're looking at a premium product their damascus steel range has very impressive edge holding capacities.

On the trying a Western and an Eastern knife my only comment would be to avoid a Santoku style knife. I've found that western style chef's knives slice better and that cleaver type knives chop better, I'd recommend getting a Nakiri cleaver (blade is roughly 6" long and 2" wide) for your Japanese knife.
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