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Old 11-28-2010, 04:52 AM   #41
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Hmmm...does anyone know how to use a steel/hone nowadays?

... This blade had no discernable bevel. Either it had never been "professionally" sharpened or it had been done so long ago that no trace remained.

I spent about an hour and quarter carefully creating a bevel on this one.
No one buys decent steels/hones let alone know how to use them in kitchens. Out here in Oz it's the meatworkers who are buying up all the antique pre-war F Dicks and the Williams-Smithfield pipe steels. Give those guys a cheap CS knife and a good steel and its party time. Over here meatworkers are paid on piece rates so if you're fast and accurate you can make very good money in an abattoir.

I'll sharpen a blunt knife once. After that it comes back to me still sharp and I'll happily resharpen it. If it ever comes back blunt after I've sharpened it once then its a case of sorry not happening again because I know you won't look after it.
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Old 11-28-2010, 05:32 AM   #42
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Seems the cutting edges of certain knife steels (e.g. my 230 mm Zwilling butcher knife) are more amenable to maintenance via burnishing or work hardening.
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:45 AM   #43
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I still have to do the Onion Kaji; I just keep putting it off. To recap, the Exec where I work bought it off eBay a while back. To be honest I really hate the knife, and sharpening it is a major PItA. Recently he & his wife had a kid and he decided to sell it to recoup a few bucks. I prayed he'd eBay it but sadly he sold it to another guy in our kitchen. Which means, like a bad penny, it will keep turning up! Oh, well...at least it will take a good edge, being SuperGold-2 powdered steel.

Interesting, justplainbill- I didn't realize you could work harden metal that was already heat treated. Normally I see work hardening in unforged metals and things like aluminum foil and plumbing pipe. Then again, I'm not an expert on metallurgy. I know a bit about the steels used in knives, but that's the extent of my knowledge.
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Old 11-28-2010, 03:19 PM   #44
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No one buys decent steels/hones let alone know how to use them in kitchens. Out here in Oz it's the meatworkers who are buying up all the antique pre-war F Dicks and the Williams-Smithfield pipe steels. Give those guys a cheap CS knife and a good steel and its party time. Over here meatworkers are paid on piece rates so if you're fast and accurate you can make very good money in an abattoir.

I'll sharpen a blunt knife once. After that it comes back to me still sharp and I'll happily resharpen it. If it ever comes back blunt after I've sharpened it once then its a case of sorry not happening again because I know you won't look after it.
I have an old F Dick steel. Mine is around 50 years old and I bought it new. It was smooth when I bought it, and is smoother now. I would not trade it for any new steel.
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Old 11-28-2010, 04:28 PM   #45
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Ditto here. Except I have two; one circa 1920 (smooth as glass) from a great uncle who was a butcher and a fine cut that I bought new 2 years ago. The older one is more nicely made. The new one costed about $70.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:51 AM   #46
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Ditto here. Except I have two; one circa 1920 (smooth as glass) from a great uncle who was a butcher and a fine cut that I bought new 2 years ago. The older one is more nicely made. The new one costed about $70.
I wanted one as smooth as glass, too. So I ended up simply buying a glass one from Hand American. They don't make the steel ones like they used to anymore.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:10 AM   #47
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Chrome plating on new one less than perfect and hand guard rings not properly installed (not crossed).
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:38 PM   #48
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I'm a Johnny-Come-Lately and you're not going to be short of folks answering this post, but here's my two cents worth.

Don't, don't, don't, buy a pig in a poke. Try the feel of each and every knife in your hands before shelling out the big bucks.

I don't kick other people's dogs, but a knife is such a personal thing that I'd be loathe to recommend anything except as a starting point.

I use a Sabatier 10" chef's knife, a 4" Wustof paring knife, and assorted thousands of others I have in my drawers. I don't like Santoku's at all, but don't quibble with those who do. I butcher most of my meat from the field (I hunt and fish) and prefer the agility of the French blade for this purpose, and almost every other purpose.

I bought a Sab paring knife to match, but I didn't care for it in my hands, so I use the Wusthof, which feels great.

I bought a fine Hoffritz Sab on Evilbay for $80 bucks, and a Serco 10" blade (see my post in this section) for $75. Yes, I paid 2 bills for my Thiers-Issard Sab, but my Hoffritz is the same knife exactly. You don't have to sell the farm.

Just some thoughts for you. I'd also strongly suggest a 10" blade rather than an 8. Yes, I have an 8" Sab and use it a lot, but if the crunch came, you could have that and I'd take the 10. It's simply more versatile and handles just as well.
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Old 11-29-2010, 06:58 PM   #49
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Sadly, for someone interested in Japanese knives there are few places where you can handle a wide variety of them. If you live in NY you could stop by Korin, but even they only have about 10 brands, and some of those are tradition Japanese styles (eg yanagi-ba, kiritsuke, etc). The Epicurean Edge store run by Dan O'Malley out in Kirkland, WA has a vast array of brands but not everything of course. Sometimes you have to roll the dice.

While knives can be very personal I often solicit advice if I'm considering a brand I've never used. Things like edge retention and the tendency to chip are things that can be determined fairly objectively (given that the information is coming from someone that's pretty knowledgeable). Fit and finish is another thing you can often glean from people with firsthand experience with a product.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:27 PM   #50
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I wanted one as smooth as glass, too. So I ended up simply buying a glass one from Hand American. They don't make the steel ones like they used to anymore.
You can get good vintage steels on ebay relatively cheaply, ie between $50 and $100. Just look for one with a good steel and an ok handle. The collectors want the good handles so you don't want to be bidding against some idiot who just wants to hang the thing on his wall.
F Dicks (pre-war with the arrow pointing towards the handle) are very good, as are a host of now expired British brand steels made in Sheffield.

One exception on the 'relatively cheaply' is the Williams Smithfield 'Pipe' brand - those things attract a feeding frenzy whenever they show up on ebay, and people I know in the meat industry consider them to be the best steels you can put your hands on.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:54 PM   #51
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A Dick steel can be rehandled by anyone with a pen lathe in a matter of minutes. The one I have came originally with a painted black handle. The bore is slightly different than the standard pen, and the handle is longer and thicker, but the bit can be purchased at Woodcraft. Any scrap of wood will work.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:18 PM   #52
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Well, I see this discussion has drifted into sharpening, a topic that I could stand to learn a bit more about, so I'll just read up on what's being posted. But if I can get back onto the topic of knives for a moment, here's my take, FWIW, YMMV, and all that.

My wife and I have accumulated something of a hodgepodge of kitchen cutlery over the past 20 years. None of it is cheap, mind you. We have a few Henkels and a couple Wüstoffs, a Victorinox and a few others. But if you ask my wife what to buy, and she's the trained chef in the family, she'll tell you that, besides maybe a good paring knife, these are the only knives you'll ever need:

Knives | Dexter-Russell Gr

Of the two in that link, she uses the one on the right -- the small Chinese chef's knife probably 80% of the time. I use it a lot too -- it really is a sweet knife. But I'll reach for a Henkels or Victorinox or whatever if I feel the need.

Now don't be fooled by the price. These knives hold a sharp edge just as well as our Henkels do. These are traditional Chinese shaped knives, which are shaped differently from the Japanese Tojiros. But you can do just about anything you want with them. We have a few high-quality Japanese knives too -- a Santoku, a meat slicer (that I forget what it's called now) and a sushi knife. Again -- these are expensive knives. But once we bought the Russell knives they just never got used anymore. Maybe it's becauses my wife is Chinese that she feels more comfortable with them? I dunno if that's it or not -- she basically wore out the Santoku. But we've been using these Russell knives now for -- geez -- 15 years or more? They're about the best value out there, IMO.
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:01 AM   #53
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It really depends on the kind of cooking you do and the kind of training you have. I've seen some folks that really can swing a cleaver. IMOHO it's more suited to Asian (especially Chinese) cooking that typical Western cooking. My collection has only one cleaver, a lightweight Japanese version of a typical Chinese model. The steel isn't fantastic but it takes a reasonable edge. I suppose eventually I'll get a CCK to play with since they're pretty cheap while still being very good quality.

Although JPaulG would probably recommend one of these:

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Old 12-13-2010, 02:55 AM   #54
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That's a nice cleaver, a little on the small side but it will do in a pinch.
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:22 AM   #55
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Heh! Sure is. Actually, the large knife in the link I posted above isn't a cleaver -- it's a general purpose knife that many Chinese chefs use for all sorts of work, including slicing vegetables. And that CCK "cleaver" is the same thing. Its blade isn't thick enough to be a cleaver. A big difference between the Russell and the CCK, besides the Russell costing a few $ more, is the CCK is made in China, whereas the Russell is made in the USA.

As I mentioned, my wife prefers the smaller one for most of the kitchen work she does. And so do I, honestly. And even though my wife is Chinese, she can cook many different food styles and frequently does. She uses it mostly for slicing and dicing chores, whether its meat or veggies. Actually, I just think the Russell Green River knives are a very well kept secret.
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Old 12-15-2010, 03:33 AM   #56
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The general public may not be aware of Dexter Russell cleavers, but many Chinese restaurants in the states, use them.

Cleavers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the animal and sometimes fruit it was intended to break down. As far as I know, there is no standard shape or size for a cleaver.

Mr. Babcock, generally I agree with most of what you post. With all due respect, I disagree, that a cleaver is more suited for eastern foods, rather then western. The cleaver in many ways is a superior design to the gyuto.

Cleavers feel alien to people who are use to gyutos. It does take time to learn how to use a cleaver. Even those who put in the the time, to learn, typically will go back to a gyuto. Which is fine, a person has to be comfortable using their knife.

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Old 12-15-2010, 06:54 AM   #57
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I agree that a cleaver has many uses. Someone very adept at using one may find it appropriate for many tasks that most would select a gyuto for. Of course, someone who's good with a gyuto is pretty nifty to watch, too.

Ultimately I think you should use what you're most comfortable with.
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:58 AM   #58
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Mr. Babcock, generally I agree with most of what you post. With all due respect, I disagree, that a cleaver is more suited for eastern foods, rather then western. The cleaver in many ways is a superior design to the gyuto.

Jay
BTW, just out of curiosity, in what ways do you find it better?
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:43 PM   #59
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I used to be pretty good with small, Chinese cleaver. That's 'cause it was the only really sharp knife we owned. We paid $10 for the cleaver. Yes, it needed to be sharpened often, but that's easy with a knife that isn't stainless. That was when I learned to wash and dry a knife immediately after use.
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:06 PM   #60
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BTW, just out of curiosity, in what ways do you find it better?
A large part of what makes a gyuto a functional knife is the Japanese steel. A cleaver can be made of cheap steel, and still be able to perform at a high level. The extra weight of the cleaver, makes it ideal for chopping. The extra width is a built in knife guard. As long as the cleaver isn't raised above the knuckles, its hard to cut oneself. Also the extra width, is a plus for board management. Jay
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