by:  Aaron Gibson

Konosuke HD:

Length: 240mm

Steel: Carbon/stainless to HRC 61

Weight:152 grams/5.35 ounces

Handle: Either octagonal ho or Western

Price: $206.00

Kikuichi Performance TKC:

Length: 240mm

Steel: Carbon/stainless to HRC 61-62

Weight: 206 grams/7.25 ounces

Handle: Western

Price: $189.95

Impressions of Konosuke HD:

Well, seeings how this would be my fourth Konosuke knife, I really knew what it was I would be getting into for the most part. I knew that the fit and finish would be very good, and out of the box it would be really good as well. The edge I feel is about a 1/2k finish then stropped, (once again this is what I think so I might be wrong) but none the less, it was what you would expect from Konosuke, a nicely rounded spin and choil. Light weight and nice and thin just weighting in at 152 grams.  It comes in either a Western style or octagonal ho wood handle, which is nice if you prefer one over the other. The one I purchased was the ho wood model as I really do prefer it over Western since I use my gyutos for some 7 to 9 hours a day, I feel that those style of handles are more comfortable. Every Konosuke I’ve ever purchased, I have used at work on the box edge with only stropping to bring it back after the days work, (all work is done on poly boards) for a week before I’ll go ahead and put my own edge on it, (same stones and strops are used for both knives) which is finished on a Kitayama 8-12k stone and final stropping done on a split leather loaded with .05 Colloidal silicas and makes for a spooky sharp edge, (much keener than just stainless since the addition of the carbon) But, even after pounding on poly boards for hours on end, at the end of the day alls that is needed it to be taken through my strops, (which starts with 3 mic diamond and either .1 diamond or the .05 depending on what I feel like) and the edge comes right back and ready for another day of work. Speaking of sharpening, it goes very easy. Taking the edge from my 400 grit stone to finish is about 10 minutes. When I first went to use it, I was already well used to my Konosuke white #2 gyuto, so using the HD was like a slightly beefier version, (the white is much thinner and even lighter) but it was like shaking hands with an old friend. The handle, balance point and over all feel was just how I like it. Taking down anything from cabbage, (which it does very well since how thin it is so it doesn’t wedge a ton) or mowing down onions of all shapes and cuts and I use it for taking down on the average 30 + pounds of strawberries a week as well as normally 80 kiwis, (which are also peeled with the same knife) and about 30 or more pineapples, (once again also peeled with the knife as well). There isn’t much in the way of veg or furit that I haven’t taken down. Also, I would like to note that the knife also has no problem going through a five pound bucket worth of butternut squash.  I would also like to note, that, as far as how fast this knife will develop a patina, well it’s really slow. After having and using it on a ton of fruit and vegetables, I can’t even really begin to see the patina developing. So, reaction is very low.

Pros:

• Thin and light weight • Nice out of the box edge • Two different handle styles • Ease of sharpening • Slow reactivity • Good edge retention and easy to bring back

Cons:

• Price is more than the TKC • Thinness isn’t for everyone if you prefer a heftier knife

Impressions of TKC:

When I had first purchased this knife, it was my first carbon/stainless knife, and since I do a ton of fruit which can have a funny reaction to carbon, (along with some smells) I figured that this would be the best of both worlds, the keenness of carbon and it’s edge retention, which the addition of the stainless would cut down on the rusting issues that carbons have.  Since that this knife wasn’t brand new, I can’t comment about its out of the box, but from what others have said, it’s your standard edge. So I took it right to the stones, (which is the same as the HD goes through) and I will say that the HD is easier to sharpen, (I think because of the thinness of it) but with only a little more work the TKC gets hair splittingly sharp. I will say that it is a bigger knife, not only in weight but in the handle which is only offered in a Western style, there being about a 52 gram difference in weight between the two. Now, it might not sound like a ton, but if you are using a knife for a very long time, that extra weight can make a difference in hand fatigue. Fit and finish are good, but the spin and choil aren’t really rounded a lot if any so it has some more sharp corners on it, and if you have smaller hands, than you might find the handle a little big. But if you want you can always do a little DIY and round it more and either replace the handle with your own or have someone else make it for you, (not that you couldn’t do so with the HD either on the handle) While I was doing the sharpening I decided to also lower it to 10 degrees preside, (as the edge is thick to me personally) so thinning it out did improve sharpness and penetration and the edge would last about a good week solid on poly boards, (the same fruits and veg were done with this knife as was the HD) The extra thickness does tend to lead to more wedging through things such as cabbage, carrots, squash or onions than the HD. But, I did and do find that the TKC edge lasting isn’t as good as the HD, but it will come back to very close to full sharpness when taken through the strops after a days worth of work. As with reactivity, it does develop a patina a lot faster than the HD, and was kind of odd when I lent it out to one of the cooks and he used it to dice some eggplant. When he was finished the blade was stained with spot. Now, he might haven’t wiped it off or such as much as I do, but I did find it a little odd, but it easily came off with a polishing of Turtle wax car polish and Flitz.

Pros:

• Less expensive than HD • Heavier if you are looking for a stout knife • Good retention and comes back from stropping easy

Cons:

• Thicker and heavier than HD • Not as good Fit and finish • Wedges more than HD • Only one handle choice • Patinas a lot faster than HD and can stain on some foods

Conclusion:

So, when all is said and done is there a winner for me personally? Yes. If you were to give me a choice between the HD and TKC, I would pick the HD any and every time. Now, that is just my preference because I do prefer a thinner and light weight knife, but if you have bigger hands and like a heavier knife then you’re really like the TKC. If you are looking for a semi stainless/carbon knife then either the Konosuke HD or TKC performance are two knives to look into.

by:  Aaron Gibson

Manufacture, weight and dimensions:

 

Jyunsyouhonyama: Type: Natural medium finishing stone. Price: $49.95 for a 620g, which measures about 140mmx78mm 25mm, (measurements and weight will vary from stone to stone)

                          

Ohira Tomae: Type: Natural medium finishing stone. Price: $179.95 for a 1100g and measures 8 x 3 x 1.5 inches, (measurements and weight will vary from stone to stone)

 

Impressions of Jyunsyouhonyama:

 

            The Jyunsyouhonyama small natural stone was my very first natural sharpening stone that I had ever purchased or used. Normally, good polishing stones cost anywhere from $50 all the way up to over one thousand easily. So, not wanting to spend a ton of money on something that I may or may not like, I decided to pick up the Jyunsyouhonyama small stone. And with that I went down into the rabbit hole that is Japanese naturals.

            The Jyunsyouhonyama is a splash and go type so no soaking was required and it is a little thirsty but only a few drops of water is needed. It should be noted that this stone is HARD. It takes a while to get mud going, but this is a good thing as harder stones will not dish as fast as those which are softer. But since it is so hard, a natural nagura should be used in conjunction with this stone as it will help produce mud faster but one isn’t necessary. As with naturals, once the mud is formed, the cutting power or grit range goes up by about double. For the Jyunsyouhonyama this stone starts out about 8 or so thousand but with used with the weight of the blade then around 16K.

            The knife used for sharpening was a 240mm Konosuke Gyuto White #2 steel, (the other knife was also a 240 mm Konosuke Sujihiki) The first stones were all naturals: a 800 grit Red Amakusa, 1000 White Amakusa, 2000 synthetic/natural. The cutting speed of the Jyunsyouhonyama isn’t the fastest, but sometimes speed isn’t always what you want. Naturals do kind of teach you slow things down and take your time. Hard stone such as this should be noted that you should take your time as you can damage your knife so proper angle control is needed.

            When I used it for the first dozen times, I didn’t have a natural nagura. Without one, it does take a while to work up a good amount of mud, but once I had one, mud creation went a lot faster. After I was finished with this stone, the blade was mirrored polished and exceedingly sharp. Off of this stone I’ve yet to achieve a sharper edge off a medium pre-polish stone. Even though this stone has never seen any stainless or stainless/carbon mix, this stone takes to white, blue and AS steel very, very well. Even though it is a pre-polish, (although not by a lot) it leaves more of a smooth edge.

            Overall, I would easily rate this stone an excellent pre-polish, or if you like, finishing for knives that you’re not looking to go onto another full polishing stone. This stone is hard that flattening isn’t going to be very often. I think that I’ve only flattened it some 3 times in the year and change I’ve used it.

 

Pros and Cons:

 

Pros:

  • Not very expensive for a very nice stone
  • Very hard so flattening isn’t needed every time
  • Splash and go so no soaking
  • Very good finish or pre-polish for final polishing

 

Cons:

  • Small size
  • Hard so care should be taken on knives
  • Not the fastest cutting

 

 

Impressions of Ohira Tomae:

 

            This stone is something of a mid level stone in my opinion, in that it is more of a 6 or 7 thousand stone so it will give a better finish than an aoto. The Ohira Tomae is a medium grit stone that is a splash and go type and isn’t very hard, so making mud on it isn’t that difficult and has a decent cutting speed, faster than the Jyunsyouhonyama. The edge that I got off of my Konosuke White #2 Sujihiki was a very toothy edge that, if you are looking for that type of edge would be more than enough for everyday use or even a quick touch up or as a pre-polish before taken to a final polishing stone.

            This is another splash and go type and doesn’t absorb water as much as the Jyunsyouhonyama and isn’t as hard. Even though I’ve used this on all three types of Japanese steels, (white, blue and AS) AS took to this the best followed by blue and white. Not that the edge off either wasn’t bad by any means. That is one of those things about naturals where it’s kind of a crap shoot. Certain stones do work better with certain steels, which is kind of the fun when it comes to using natural stones.

 

Pros and Cons:

 

Pros:

  • Large size
  • Quick to give up mud, (faster than the Jyunsyouhonyama)
  • Splash and go type
  • Fast cutting speed

 

Cons:

  • Not the best with all steel types
  • Close to what you might get off of some aotos
  • Works better when used with a true polishing stone after

 

Conclusions:

 

            So, while both stones are medium polishing stones, the Jyunsyouhonyama is more in the higher end of this spectrum, while the Ohira is easily more to the lower end. Only the Jyunsyouhonyama is the only stone that is in need of a nagura as it is so hard, where the Ohira is softer and gives its mud easier.

            The price for both is a good price for both. Especially the Jyunsyouhonyama which at its price is very hard to beat. With that being said, the Jyunsyouhonyama makes a better finishing stone if you want, while the Ohira is a better bridge stone.

            The only con for both is that, if you see it as such that is. Is that once you tend to go down this road of Japanese natural, you might find yourself wanting to pick up more and more of these little treasures. But then again, that isn’t a bad thing. 

by:  Aaron Gibson

 

Imanishi 4K stone vs. Shapton 4K Glass Stone

 

Manufacturer, Price and Dimension:

 

Imanishi 4K —Manufacturer: Imanishi. Price: $49.95  Dimensions:26mm x 77mm x 205mm (1 x 3 x 8 inch)

 

Shapton 4K Glass Stone—Manufacturer: Shapton. Price: $72.00 Dimensions: 210mm x 70mm x 10mm (8 ¼ x 2 ¾ x .40 inch)

 

Impressions/Performance for Imanishi:

 

            Yet another great, inexpensive stone from the Imanishi stone manufacturer. The stone does feel like a 4 thousand grit stone, the surface is a little smooth, but once you run your hand over it, you can easily feel the how course it is. The Imanishi stone is a relatively short soaker, needing only about 15 minutes of soaking time before it is ready to use. For the test of this stone I was sharpening an 8in stainless steel Global chef’s knife. Before I took it to the 4K Imanishi, I started off with a coarse 400 grit stone for resetting the bevels and raising a burr. That was then followed by the King 1.2 K stone, then by the Naniwa Aotoshi 2k “Green Brick” then the Imanishi 4K and finally finished by the Sanyo 6K stone. Final step was done with a balsa strop loaded with 1 micron Boron Carbide paste. The final edge easily pushing cutting receipt paper and shave.

            Out of the two, the Imanishi gave a slightly better over all finish and better feed back than the Shapton when I inspected the edge after I finished with the stone and while sharpening. It left a semi-mirror finish with a good amount of “bite” to the edge, (You could if you like stop there and use the edge and achieve good results) When I first started out using the stone, it was a slow cutter, meaning that the rate it removed metal wasn’t as fast as the Shapton. But, once I worked up mud with it, the speed increased a good deal. Water consumption is on the low side, only needing to wet the stone before I took my Global to it. Another good thing is that it doesn’t clog up as you use it as some other stones will. During the whole sharpening process I didn’t have to rinse off the stone to lap it. It takes a few strokes to get mud going, but once you do, as I stated cutting speed increases. Since I use this as a bridging stone dishing has come up yet since I’m not spending an eternity on it, but of the times I’ve used it there has been no need to flatten.

 

Pros/Cons for Imanishi:     

 

Pros:

 

  • Inexpensive stone that will last many years
  • Good feeling and feedback
  • Great for a stone to bridge the gap between lower and higher grits
  • Low water consumption
  • Doesn’t clog up much
  • Provides a good finish or prefinish for further polishing
  • If used lightly dishing will be less frequent, but if used more, more flattening will be needed

 

Cons:

 

  • Doesn’t cut as fast as the Shapton
  • Does require soaking

 

 

 

Impressions/Performance Shapton 4K:

 

            The Shapton four thousand grit stone is something of an odd ball to me personally when I got it. It is about the same size length and width ways, but the funny thing is, is the overall height of the stone. Which is about ½ inch, so if you’re used to standard stones, this might be a little strange given its low height.

            On the inspection of the glass stone, when I ran my hand over it, it felt like well… glass. Which personally I found a little strange again, because I figured that it would have some texture to it, but it really didn’t. This stone is a splash and go style, so no need to soak which is good if you don’t like waiting. For testing out this stone, I used once again a Global; this one was a small Nakiri. As with the previous stone test, I started off with the coarse 400, King 1.2, Green Brick then the Shapton and finally the Sanyo. The finish concluded with a 1 micron Boron Carbide balsa strop. The resulting edge was polished to a nice almost mirror finish and was able to push cut receipts and shave with ease.    

 While I was using this stone, I noticed that feed back wasn’t the greatest; it might be because of how hard it is or how smooth the stone is. But another thing that I kind of didn’t like was the height of the stone. It’s very short only about half and inch, so if you’re used to the standard size stones, this might be a little awkward. What was a nice feature was the cutting speed, which is very fast. You really don’t need to spend a long time on the stone (I think that almost all of the series is like that) Only a two passes and you can see how fast it removes metal. Now, if you’re just starting out this may not be a good thing because you don’t have your technique down or experience, so making a mistake is easily done, but if you’re experienced, then these are great stones as you don’t have to spend loads of time with them. Since the speed is high, I did find that it does clog more than the Imanishi, but not enough to where you would need to flatten after every use.

 Although I personally don’t like the height of them, it does make a good point however if you’re going to be carrying them around, as the size does save space. One more good part of the Shapton glass stones is that because they are rather hard, flattening isn’t needed as often so you get to use it more before you need to flatten it.

While you can mix then up with other stones, I personally think that if you do decide to go with Shapton, to get a set of them. I say this because when I was testing out the edge on a red skin potato, I could feel some drag on the edge, where there really wasn’t one with the other Global that I had sharpened. Both had been sharpened as humanly possible as I could from 400-6000 plus strops so there could be a little human error but I think that it’s because of the different stones.

 

 

 Pros/Cons for Shapton:

 

Pros:

 

  • Splash and go style so no need to soak
  • Smaller height so they will fit and travel easier than normal stones
  • Fairly low water consumption
  • Very fast cutting ability and clogging isn’t much an issue
  • Hard stone so flatting isn’t constantly needed

 

 

Cons:

 

  • More expensive of the two
  • Feed back is on the low side
  • Smaller height is awkward compared to standard stones
  • Since the cutting speed is so fast beginners may want to pay more attention if not mistakes are easily made
  • While you can mix and match, a set would be more beneficial for a more constant finish

 

Conclusion:

 

            Both the Imanishi four thousand and Shapton glass stone in four thousand perform well for an intermediate stone, giving a semi mirror finish that will provide a good toothy edge if you’re not looking for a finer edge, or if you are looking for that finer edge, both are good as a medium polish sharpening stone.

            While, yes both are good at what they do, I have to give the edge to the Imanishi. Due to the fact that its feed back and feel are better than the Shapton. While the Shapton does work faster, I feel that when you sharpen, it’s better to get a feeling for the stone. This is where the Shapton falls a little short, in more ways than one. The other being its lack of height which is under half of a standard stone. Also since the Imanishi is a normal sharpening stone, it will work well with other stones, where as the Shapton would benefit more with using the same glass stones.

Chosera 1k, The Hulk

Posted: December 1, 2011 in Synthetic Stones

Chosera 1k, The Hulk

by:  Micheal Vanhoudt

Everybody that has used waterstones can relate to the smooth feeling you get from using them. The soft grinding sound you get is almost magical… However sometimes we miss out on these feelings/ Sometimes you just don’t get into the zone. It could be the knife, it could be the stone. Considering most of you have pretty good knives (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), the reason you are not getting that smooth feeling would be your stone. Maybe you are using a stone that isn’t suited for the task. Maybe you’re using a stone that’s just not suited for you. Or maybe you are just using a bad stone.

The Chosera 1k offers a smooth velvet like sensation passing through your body like sitting down in a $10.000 couch. Yes it is that good.

Green goodness.

When you unpack the stone you will see the vibrant green stone in the box. Like an emerald waiting to get ground. That’s where the one and only problem with this stone pops up. Unless you want your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend to kill you, don’t use a good towel to clean of the slurry of the blade. The black and green good is hard to remove from towels and stains pretty hard. I do love the vibrant green, but according to my girlfriend, it is slurry from hell. So use rags only if you can.

Like the speed of light

If you think a 1k King is fast, then well I have a nice surprise for you… It is not fast. This stone puts pretty much every 1k stone to shame and is on par with the Shapton 1k for speed. To get its full potential, you will need to soak it for at least 5 minutes. The stone is rather thirsty and needs a fair time soaking to get the best results. Keep a spray bottle handy too.

A 1k stone is considered a medium stone and should act like that. Meaning: removing the scratches from the coarser stone you used before (320-800) and setting up the path to a polishing stone or pre-polisher. In this the Chosera excels.

I have used 2 stones to set a bevel before the 1k Chosera. A 320 Shapton pro and a 400 Chosera. The 1k removed the scratches from both stones with ease and left a rather polished edge. This edge is not polished like a 6k, but you can the polish staring to form. This is because of the slurry building of the stone. The slurry on the stone will allow a more polishing action while still cutting fast. This is the same on all the Chosera stones. After a good sharpening session, you can see a reflection when looking at the edge sideways. A very hazy mirror if you will.

Uses

I have found this stone to fit perfect in pretty much every synthetic progression. It’s also a perfect stone to use before natural stones. The slight polishing lends itself to be followed with a Coticule with a heavy slurry or a good Aoto. I really like to use a Binsui after this stone to do a full natural progression. A Coticule with a heavy creamy slurry which is then diluted works well too.

For most softer knives (Sabatier, Wusthof, Henckels, Victorinox) this level of refinement is plenty. You can clean up the edge by stropping it on 2µ SiC to get rid of the burr remnants and you are good to go.

For harder knives this is an excellent stone to prepare the knife for a 3k or 4k stone.

Conclusion

This stone is one of the best 1k stones on the market. It’s fast, polishes well for a 1k stone and is an excellent finisher for soft knives. The only rival it has are the Shapton stones which are different animals all together.

Whether you are looking for a bevel setter for razors, a medium stone or a finisher for soft knives, this is a perfect choice. The emerald green is vibrant and I really love it no matter what my girlfriend says!

Aogami Super Steel

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the world of knives, both high end and your standard everyday mass produced models, there inlays common traits: a handle of some sorts and the most important part, the steel. The steel that is picked for a particular knife has a large impact on how well the final knife will take an edge and how long it can retain it. I’ve used over the past ten years knives made of different steels: Stainless, high carbon, carbon/stainless, white # 2, blue steel, but if you are looking for the best of the best in terms of the ability to take and retain even a highly polished edge, then you need to really look no further than Aogami Super Steel.

Aogami Super Steel or AS, is steel that is composed of a high percentage of carbon, chrome which increases the hardness of the blade along with over all toughness and corrosion resistance, manganese, which adds to the further wear resistance, molybdenum which helps in maintaining the steels strength during heating, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon, tungsten and vanadium. The last ingredients further add to the steels over all strength and wear resistance.

So, should you be all hyped up over steel and its ability to take and hold an edge? Simply put. Yes. If your knife can hold a razor edge exceedingly longer without breaking down, even when used on pounds of onions and tomatoes, you won’t need to sharpen it nearly as often. This doesn’t mean that it will never need to be sharpened, just less so. Soon, every knife will need to be sharpened. Unless you never use it that is.

The reason why I love using it so much, as mentioned before, is its ability to take an exceedingly high polished edge and keep it like that for a very long time. While all knives are able to take a high polish, not all are able hold it and will quickly go dull. I am able to sharpen and polish the knives I have that are made of Aogami to fifteen or twenty thousand grit natural stone finish, and it has the ability to hold it for many uses, both at work where I prep and also at home. And, when it does start to feel a little dull, I’ve only ever had to take it though my set of strops. Which consists of two balsa strops, both loaded, one with 1 micron boron carbide (which is about 30,000 grit) and the second being a .5 micron chromium oxide (which is about 60,000 grit) and finally finished off with a leather strop sprayed with .25 micron diamond spry (which is about 120,000 grit) So as you can see, even with a high polish, this steel can easily handle it but is also not a nightmare to sharpen either.

The following are four knives, two of which are by the same maker, but all four are made with an AS core. They are: 215mm Takeda yanagiba, 240mm Kanehiro gyuto, 240mm Moritaka gyuto, and a 240mm Moritaka gyuto/kiritsuke. All of the knives were sharpened as close to the same as I could and to about the same degree edge (about 15 degrees)

Takeda Yanagiba:

First is the 215mm Takeda yanagiba, which in reality is a sujihiki or slicing knife being that a true yanagiba is a single edge, where as this is double beveled. The over all length is about 215mm, (being that they are hand made they will very from knife to knife.) and weighted in at 97 grams or 3.4 ounces. Out of the box, the Takeda was by far the sharpest edge I’ve ever felt/used to date. While it is aggressive toothy edge it is very sharp, easily push cutting receipt paper with ease. The blade is also thin, but it doesn’t have as much play as you might think. It does flex but it’s still ridged enough to use on vegetables with no problem. Also, that since it is carbon, you need to make sure that you keep it dry and wipe it off because if not the blade can rust.

Usage:

For the first test, (after the push cut test on receipt) was a half a red skinned potato which was about two inches in length. The test was simple: get as many slices out of it while doing so at speed, (which for me is rather fast) the result was 57 slices in about ten or so seconds, which the slices were for some, thin enough to see through. Second test was a half an onion. Once again for speed. For the horizontal cuts, (two in total) I used the tip area of the knife and easily sliced through the onion. For the vertical, I then did about a dozen slices, followed by another fourteen or so slices to make a nice and uniformed fine dice. From start to finish, there was no wedging, (where the blade is thick and has a little trouble passing cleanly though the product) due to how thin the blade is, but while you can use it on both proteins and veg, I wouldn’t take it to very hard items like some squashes as you might damage the blade.

But where this knife really comes into its own is meat preparation or portioning. From cleaning and butter flying chicken breasts to slicing pork tenderloin, the Takeda yanagi does do with very little effort. Draw cutting is the preferred method of usage, but will also work with a chop or thrust cut; it’s just that the shape and size of it is better suited to a pull. Also, if you are looking for a knife to use on the line and are fine with taking care of carbon, this knife is a good option. Being that it’s small and thin enough so it won’t get in the way and not take up much space if you’re faced with limited cutting space.

The handle is a good size for the knife, but that is where I have a few problems with the knife. How close choil is in relationship to the handle, it’s very close. So close in fact that I find it a little hard to pinch grip so I had to readjust my grip. The closeness also I found a little annoying was when it came to sharpening and touch up stropping. Since the two were so close I kept hitting the hand I was holding the handle with and had to be careful not to scratch up the ferulle by grinding it on any of the stones. But the biggest gripe I have with it is that where the handle and the machi meet is a large amount of epoxy that squeezed out from sticking the handle on. I’m sorry, but for the price I felt like it should have been pristine. Other than that, I have nothing but positive things. Great cutter and awesome steel and the best out of the box edge I’ve ever used.

Sharpening:

Sharpening the knife even though the steel is that tough, surprisingly takes a minimal amount of time to get back to shaving sharp, from my 400 grit stone to my final natural was about twenty or so minutes, add in a pass through my strops to sweeten the edge and it was good to go for the next round. After sharpening, it only took a few passes over my strops to bring back the edge.

Conclusion:

If you are in the market for a thin and out of the box razor sharp edge knife and will hold its edge for a very long time and don’t mind spending a little bit of money ($300, but remember that is for handmade) you have no need to look further than the Takeda yanagiba. From prepping out meats, to medium to soft vegetables, all will fall by the wayside. Also if you are in the market for a good line knife to use at work and are cool with caring for carbon, this would make an excellent acquisition

Kanehiro Gyuto:

The Second knife is the Kanehiro 240mm gyuto. Little was know to me about this knife maker, since they are of a smaller company. For AS steel, there were only either a normal “D” shape handle or the octagon handle (which I prefer) so for those that left Takeda or Moritaka which normally have to be special ordered as they come with “D” shape which left lefties such as myself limited either tweaking or replacing a “D” shape or going for a Takeda.

Kanehiro comes with an octagonal handle and has a nice gentle belly, but still has a nice amount of flat to it so chopping is not a problem. The edge is rather thin when you look at how rather large this knife is. The Kanehiro has a kurouchi finish, which means that the blade isn’t fully polished, but the maker has left the blade rustic and not smooth. Where most kurouchi feature a black finish, the Kanehiro has more of a texture finish and forgoes the blacking finish. The AS steel is sandwiched between stainless steel so the only care that is needed is at the cutting edge which you need to keep dry otherwise it could rust.

Usage:

For the first test of the Kanehiro (out of the box) was once again a half of a red skin potato. Once again it was simply as thin as possible while at speed. Result was about 37 nice thin slices of potato. Now since it’s thicker, (this knife is not a laser, but a work horse) you can’t expect it to work like a Nakiri or such. But, what it does do and do very, very well is blast through just about anything and everything you have to prep or such. For more delicate tasks you can use it for but another knife might prove to be better suited. But saying that, the Kanehiro is by far the best knife I’ve used to date.

For the next step of its usage, I decided to take it to work, (still on the factory edge unstropped or touched up in anyway) my normal prep list consists of: 6 large onions, 12 large tomatoes, 12 bell peppers, (all of which are small dice) 4lbs of mushrooms sliced and about 2lbs of either sausage, ham or bacon sliced. Now, most knives after being hit with such acidic foods, there edges would be very noticeably duller, while there was some with the Kanehiro, it was rather minimal. There wasn’t a lot of wedging with the onions when slicing through the core, what there was, was where the heft of the blade came into play (193grams/6.75oz) and helped with that issue.

The second part of the test was done again the following week, ( I had used the knife a few times still on the factory with good results) but before I took it to work for a longer prep list, I decided to give it a full sharpening job (see sharpening section) This days list was a little more substantial than the last. This day consisted of:  17 large onions small dice, 16 peppers small dice, 4 lbs mushrooms sliced, 12 large tomatoes, 16 very large potatoes small dice, few pounds of cooked bacon chopped, (which was cold and as anyone could attest, very hard on knives) and 4 cups of kalamata olives cut in half. Now, this by far is a good test for edge retention, (all was done on a poly cutting board as well) After all was said and done, the edge (which was done to 15 or 20k natural before a three strop set up finished with leather loaded with .25 micron diamond) was rather degraded, (that is a little trade off when you polish an edge to that high of a finish. Very keen and sharp, but longevity isn’t a good) but, before I put it back in my bag I decided to see if I could still pull cut it through a sheet of paper. Result? It could. It was a little rough, but it did. So when I got back home at night I decided to see how much the edge would come back. So I took it through my 1 micron boron and ½ micron chromium oxide. The result was I kid you not able to push cut paper! Now, that’s what I call edge retention.

Sharpening:

When it finally came to re-sharpening the Kanehiro, (not that it really didn’t need it but I wanted to see how well it preformed when fully polished) it was really quick. Initial bevel setting was done with a 400 grit stone, (I set the bevel to about 15 degrees, as AS steel can chip if taken to low) then from there to final polish took about 25 minutes or so. The edge could push cut paper with no resistance and could shave without pulling hairs.

Conclusion:

For those of you who are looking for a wonderful knife to use for everyday prep, be it at home or a pro setting, the Kanehiro will bit a lot of your wish list. Out of the box is good enough to last a while before needing to be sharpened, but is a breeze to sharpen. It’s edge retention is second to none, (for the price of $235 which is very reasonable) able to come back from a beating with once again ease. So, if you are looking for a full on work horse of a knife, you should highly consider the Kanehiro 240mm gyuto.

Moritaka gyuto:

The third knife is the AS review if the Moritaka 240mm gyuto. This was my second knife from Moritaka in about a month after purchasing the first, (which will be reviewed later on) so I already knew what I was getting when I purchased it. Moritaka’s is the lest expensive of the other two brands, (at $192 for a 240) but that doesn’t mean that they don’t perform less. On first inspection I knew that the blade was pretty sharp, (could push cut receipt paper no problem) and it has a nice amount of flat surface for chopping, but also a nice belly if you are a rocker. The blade is a kurouchi finish leaving a portion of the blade polished, (should be noted that they do patina really fast and if not kept clean can rust) Also the kurouchi does have a tendency to rub off if you take it to highly acidic foods so be forewarned.

The handle is a “D” shaped, (so for lefties prolonged use may cause some cramping and fatigue) and weights in at 6 oz (or about 170 grams) The cutting edge on these knives is thin, (even at 15 degrees so it makes it a nice cutter) and yes they are able to go lower, but for all intensive purpose I did them all to 15 degrees. There is a little wedging when you are going through a really big onion, but nothing to bad I assure you.

Usage:

Since, as I said already, that this was my second Moritaka, I knew what to expect when I started to use it. Very smooth cutting, able to cleanly slice and dice anything you put in it’s path. I did a video using it and in the span of 39 seconds, all four onions were finally chopped. Now, I’m not patting myself on the back, but to be able to accomplish that you need a sharp knife, and one with good geometry (knowing how to use it properly is a good thing as well) But I did and do still take it to work with me and it’s been put through the same standard prep list consisting of: 6 large onions small diced, 12 peppers small dice, 12 large tomatoes small dice, 4 pounds of mushrooms sliced, and 2 or 3 pounds of either ham (small dice), sausage or bacon. I’ve done this same list while on the factory edge (preformed very well) and as well as fully sharpened, (which made things even easier)

On the first day I took it to work I had just touched it up from my 2k aoto to my Ozuku Asagi, (followed by the usual three strops) and one of the chefs needed to slice about 10 pounds of tomatoes. So, instead of using one of the standard knives he asked to borrow one of mine. I offered up my Moritaka 240 and stood back to watch the fun. Simply put, it fell through the tomatoes, and left him wondering what kind of knife this was. Needless to say, more than an impressive knife.

Sharpening:

Sharpening up my Moritaka, is really easy considering how much you can put these through yet how long it keeps it edge. When I first got it I used it for a few days then I decided to take it to the stones and touch it up, (which only took about 15 minutes) then after a good two weeks of use at home and work took it and did a full sharpening job. That time took about 25 minutes from start to finish. So once again, the ease of which you can fully sharpen up these knives is very impressive, considering how long they will keep there edges.

Conclusion:

For it’s price, you are really hard up press to find a knife to out perform the Moritaka 240 gyuto. Edge retention, ease of sharpening and over all sharpness are more than enough to go out and try one. The only dry back, (for lefties at least) is the “D” shape, but for the majority out there, the handle shouldn’t be a problem. Over all once again a great knife for a great price.

Moritaka 240mm gyuto/kiritsuke:

The last knife on the list was the one that started it all. The Moritaka 240mm gyuto/kiritsuke. Simply put, if you’re on the fence about spending $208 for a knife, please do yourself a favor and reconsider. I was the same way, but now I’m very happy that I took the plunge.

The gyuto/kiritsuke is 240mm long and weights in at 6 oz (or about 170 grams) and has the standard kurouchi finish and “D” shaped handle. Since this was the first time I’ve ever bought a knife that was made of AS steel I had no idea how well its factory edge was how well it took, (I did some reading up on it, but personally this was new territory) Out of the box was really nice, push cutting paper with ease.

Now, if you’re wondering what a kiritsuke/gyuto is, well simply put it’s a very flat, (a small up sweep towards the tip) and sword shape/style knife that is traditionally designed for a single bevel style to replace both a usuba and yanagiba. Since it is so flat, it could take the place of thin slicing vegetables and also do a good job at slicing meats. As mentioned before in the gyuto review, these knives patina very fast must be kept dry or rusting my happen, which I found out after taking it to work for the first time and going about the standard prep list.

Usage:

Since, it was my first time ever using a knife such as this there was a little grace period for getting used to the feel of how it cut, (which wasn’t to long a day or two) but after that, it was smooth sailing.

Since the blade is so flat, it really does lend itself when used while draw cutting, or chopping. If you are more of a rocking style cutter, than this knife I’m sorry doesn’t really lend itself to that because of how flat the edge is.

When I took it to work and proceeded to go about my standard prep list, I quickly noticed how fast the steel took to patina, (now it is carbon so it will patina anyways) especially after I finished up with the tomatoes, the edge was already a darker color. The factory edge was very good, easily going through tomatoes and onions with complete ease.

After using it for a week, I decided to take it to the stones for a touch up, (it should be noted that it didn’t need it as it was still very sharp so edge retention was great). So, starting at my 2k aoto and finishing at my Ozuku Asagi plus strops, I was finally able to see what all of the fuss was about. It was able to take a very keep sharp edge. Push cutting receipt paper like it wasn’t even there. Then after I took it and used it at work, I was finally able to see why everyone said this was awesome steel.

Sharpening:

When it came time to fully re-sharpen the Moritaka, I was somewhat apprehensive about it. Since the steel could take such a beating, I was thinking that it would be a nightmare to sharpen. Thankfully I was wrong. From start to finish it only took about 25 minutes from start to finish. After which, how keen and sharp this steel can get was something to behold. Shaving and push cutting receipt paper zero problem and no resistance. Easily the best edge I’ve had off the stones ever to date. Simply great.

Conclusion:

Once again a very hard knife to beat for at the price. Ease of sharpening, edge retention and keenness are more than enough reasons to try one and find out for yourself why they are such a great knife. The only problem as with the gyuto version is the handle, but that is easy to over look.

So, there you have it. Three knives all made out of the same great steel. All three different than each other, but all three have the same things in common: ease of sharpening, stellar edge retention and keenness. It’s easy to see why; so many people love to work with the steel. Does it cost more than some? Yes. Is it worth it though, most defiantly.

Sharp vs. Strong

Posted: November 12, 2011 in General Discussion

by:  Eamon Burke

A kitchen knife is supposed to be, first and foremost, sharp.

Right?

This is a common sense belief; one that is promoted by advertising, sharpening enthusiasts, and end users.  The world is full of dull knives and we are all impressed by a sharp knife, performing it’s task so effortlessly.  A sharp knife seems to say, “Hey, let me do that work for you, I’ll make an easy time of those old tomatoes and that butternut squash.”  It appeals to the part of our instincts that want to get as much as we can for as little investment as possible, and a dull knife is just unacceptable waste.  But is this the most important feature of a kitchen knife?   We need to go back to the beginning.

Some of the first tools man ever used are called “Oldowan tools”, and were blades fashioned from rocks for digging and cutting.   You have to stab the pig with the broken branch and hoist it over the fire to keep it from catching fire, and you have to have the sharp rock to get the legs off a cooked pig without dropping the pig in the dirt and having your buddies help pull them off.   So you go to find the pointiest stick in the wood, and the most acute piece of flint in the cave.  However, you soon find that the ultra-pointy stick will not survive the pig’s hide, and the thin rock will chip on every bone, causing more harm than good(paleolithic gastroenterologists were hard to come by).

No, you’d need more than a pointy object, it would have to withstand the rigors of real use.  So one day, you take some flint and bash it into a shape that still has an edge, but is bulky enough to survive impact.  You use it on the stick to hack down that pointy tip, and there you have it—the first edges.  Some of the first design improvements were “hand axes”, made out of  materials that are often quite treacherous in their own right(quartz, obsidian, flint), and were chipped away to create a usable edge, and altered in shape not to hone for sharpness, but to strengthen the tool and tame its brittle nature.

A knife, when you consider it’s role as a tool used to redirect force, is a series of increasingly less acute bevels.  The face, starting at the spine, is the most acute bevel on the entire knife, and if there were no edge bevels added, it would have to be extremely thin to come to an edge in a usable size.  Any time it needs to be sharpened, the entire faces of the blade would have to be abraded down precisely even, any overgrind at all would cause the edge to wave, and the amount of time and material wasted would be maximized.  The solution?  Add an edge bevel; significantly less steep than the face, making it both easier to manage, less time consuming to sharpen, and MUCH stronger, since there is more material immediately behind the cutting edge.  It is not uncommon to add more sets of bevels and microbevels, all less acute than the last.  A less acute edge is not going to be sharper, it is going to be stronger, because of the wider angle(and it helps remove wire edges, but that’s another can of worms).

The word ‘sharp’ itself only denotes that something “has an edge or point that is able to cut or pierce something”(as defined by Google), but the word ‘strong’ denotes something that is able “to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks”(also Google).  If we want a tool to cut or pierce something, we need a sharp edge.  If we want the tool to cut or pierce in spite of great opposition, we need a strong edge.

In the world of cutlery, there is nothing quite like a sword.  A giant hunk of metal had to be tamed into a weapon that is at once life-saving and life-threatening, with an edge strong enough to deflect a lethal blow, and sharp enough to inflict one.  If there is any other knife quite as demanding to be found, it is surely in the hands of a cook.  It is not a mistake that professional kitchens are depicted as steam- and stress-filled bunkers, where food is a beloved but war-torn homeland, and the line is the foxhole in the back keeping the diners at bay, only you are sweating, swearing and suffering to get them to stay.  The home cook is typically focused on getting to the meal, and the raw ingredients only stand in the way of impressing a first date or, worse yet, satisfying the roulette-wheel tastes of a toddler.  A great knife is going to get you through that prep time, so you can focus on the food.  The knife is your tool, but the enemy of the knife is it’s companion—the cutting board.

No other knife is designed to be so constantly battered as a kitchen knife.  We demand that they withstand acidic lemons and deboning chickens, hacking the board over and over through onion after onion, and yet still politely chiffonade basil for us.  A great board is nice to an edge, but there’s no two ways about it—a kitchen knife is designed to be bashed into a piece of hardwood, plastic, or rubber over and over and over.  We do not want another thing to keep up with in the house and in professional kitchens, a knife that stops working will ruin days and cost you money.  This is another reason the edge needs to be strong!

A strong edge will be durable, because there are only two ways a knife loses it’s edge—it either bends, or breaks.  The softer steels will bend and flop back and forth, being happily brought back to life with a careful hone on a rod, and the hard steels will cut for a long time until they get tiny little chips and dents that need a bit of stropping to cover up and/or replace.  But eventually, stropping won’t remove all the microscopic chipping, and honing with a rod will only flop that edge back and forth until snaps off like a tab on a soda can. By increasing the amount of steel directly behind the cutting edge, you are offering more heft to a softer steel(think a V8 tab), and a stronger structure on a hard steel(think mountains, not skyscrapers).  Your edge will be able to bash into that board a little while longer with some extra backing.

The reason this can be achieved—the real magic behind sharpening—is because sharp does not mean “acute”.  The given definition for sharp was simply “able” to cut or pierce, and no matter what the angle, this is a function of how well the two planes meet each other.  If you machine a square steel block down to perfect square, the edges would surely cut you, though they are bulky 90degree angles.  The edge that takes up such a tiny amount of space that it delivers all the weight and momentum onto a very tiny spot—so tiny that the object being cut just can’t help but to get out of the way.

There are, of course, exceptions to the “perfect edge” scenario, such as very elastic or temperamental foods like tomatoes, chicken skin, or Uramaki covered in cling wrap.  For this, you need sheer friction and grabbing power, as provided by edge teeth.  Teeth are enough of a subject to deserve an article to themselves, so I won’t bother to go into great detail here, but they deserve mentioning, because teeth do not offer a substitute for a strong, well-formed edge.  Teeth that are placed on an irregular edge are going to cause a world of trouble.  Imagine using a chain saw that had all different teeth on it, large and small, and pointing every direction; it would be suicide to use a machine like that, and though it won’t kill you, it doesn’t make any more sense to put a sloppy toothy edge on a kitchen knife and call it a day.

As hobbyists, it is easy to get caught up in the “perfect edge” race, trying to make a super acute cutting edge that will magically fall through food under it’s own dainty weight.  But these edges never last, and when you start to cook, grab a knife, and demand that it work, that kind of edge offers nothing extra in return for a much higher investment in putting it there.  The food we cut with our knives is not demanding—not when compared to things like cardboard, nylon rope, young tree branches, horns, and(at one time, anyways) chainmail.  We are taking something that was made of metals from around the globe into a space-age steel alloy, hammered and heated, cut and ground, painstakingly heated and cooled, ground some more, cleverly designed, finished and perfected, then personalized by ourselves on often rare and valued sharpening stones…and pushing it through a carrot.  It’s a no contest.

An edge bevel is not put there to make a knife sharp, it exists to make a knife strong.

Getting Started Sharpening

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

by:  Jesse Nelson

Getting Started Sharpening

Whether your knives were handmade by a Japanese master or if they came from Walmart, if you can’t sharpen your knives, they aren’t much good to you. Very little equipment is needed to sharpen a kitchen knife, but so much is available that it’s hard to know exactly what you need. This article will help you pick out the essential equipment and show you exactly how to use it to achieve a razor sharp edge.

What you will need

You will probably need to spend about a hundred dollars or less to get started. I recommend a stone, a stone holder, a stone fixer, and a spray bottle. The stone will cost about 35, the holder 20, and the fixer about 50. The bottle shouldn’t cost more than a dollar or two.

In the image above you can see some of the items I use to sharpen my knives. On top I have the Bester 1200 sharpening stone. On the bottom left I have an extra coarse diamond plate for flattening the stone. And on the bottom right I have a stone holder used to keep the stone from moving around while I sharpen. All of these items can be found on chefknivestogo.com. It’s not important to get the exact same equipment, any stone of about 1000 grit will get the job done. I don’t recommend getting more than one stone until you have become more experienced with setting the bevel.

Setting the bevel

What makes a knife sharp? I have drawn a picture to explain it more simply than words can.

As we rub the knife against the surface of the stone, we remove metal and begin to form a burr.  It is essential that in order to produce a sharp knife, we first must produce a burr that runs the entire length of the blade.  You will be able to feel this burr with your finger.  We then will flip the knife over, produce another burr on the other side, then remove that burr.  If we do this correctly the edge will look like the drawing on the right, and it will be sharp.

Before we can sharpen we need to prepare the stone.  That means either soaking it in water for a half hour or so, or just spraying water on it with our spray bottle, depending on which stone we have.  Then we need to learn a grip to hold the knife at a precise angle.  There are many different grips and strokes, I will show you one easy way.  With your right hand grip the knife by the handle and lay the knife on the stone on its side.  Then using 2 fingers, press down on the edge.  Here’s a picture.

Your right hand is holding the angle and your left hand is providing downward pressure.  The approximate angle can be determined by laying 3 coins under the blade like this.

You now just slide the knife forward and back over the stone, making sure to maintain the angle with your right hand, and keep some downward pressure with your fingers.  The point under your fingers is the point of the knife that is being ground down.  After a few strokes move your fingers over an inch and keep doing this until you feel a burr all the way along the edge.  Then flip the knife over and repeat until you have another burr.

Removing the burr

The final step is removing the burr.  This is a step that cannot be skipped.  The easiest way to remove the burr is to slice into a piece of wood gently with your knife a few times, making sure that your entire length of the blade makes contact with the wood.  Then take some newspaper and lay it flat on the table.  Rub your knife back and forth across the newspaper, holding it at the same angle you sharpened at.  Your knife should now be razor sharp. If it’s not, run the knife through the wood again, and against the paper again, until it is sharp.

More on finding the angle

Finding the correct angle to sharpen at takes some time and skill to learn.  Using 3 coins just gives you an idea where to start at.  With time you will be able to tell if you are sharpening at the correct angle by the noise that the blade makes as it runs over the stone.  You can actually hear the difference in vibration when the edge is contacting the stone.  Next month I will explain some more advances strokes I have developed to makes the process of sharpening easier and more enjoyable for the more experienced sharpener.  If this all sounds like too much work, you can always send me your knives and I will make them sharper than new.

Jesse Nelson