It's time to upgrade my chef's knife. Help?

I’ve got the Victorinox Fibrox 8" knife. People say it’s a good knife at the price but I must have got a lemon or something because it just will not hold an edge.

I’m ready to upgrade to a no-foolin-around knife anyways. I’m thinking carbon steel, maybe a gyutou style. Maybe something like the Misono that Kenji likes (though I think he likes the one that’s a carbon/stainless hybrid). Is that available from somewhere other than Korin? I’d really like to handle a knife before dropping two bills on it.

Where do you go to handle knives? Do you know about anyplace in the Baltimore area where I can try a bunch of different carbon knives?

And of course any input into brand is welcome.

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Victorinox takes on a good edge and its blade is relatively thin compared to many well-known German knives, so you should feel less resistance during cutting. However, its steel is not known for holding edge long. It is slightly softer than many well-known German knives, let alone the Japanese knives.

Look like you have a link to a carbon steel knife. Do you like carbon steel?
I think what Kenji (and a few other famous chefs) likes are the Misono UX10.
These days you can buy Misono UX10 on Amazon and eBay, JapaneseChefKnives has a great selection:

If you want to hold a knife in hand before dropping the cash, either try Korin or call a few restaurant supply stores. I believe MTC Kitchen in New York also carry Misono.

Maryland is a very diverse state, so I am sure you can find a few restaurant supply stores which carry Misono.

In term of other brands, maybe a Watanabe if you like carbon steel edge knife or a Konosuke HD knife if you like very thin blade semi-carbon steel knife.

*Forgot that you want to handle the knives before buying, so Watanabe will be very unlikely for you and Konosuke is possible, but unlikely as well.

One more recommendation. I just realized that you want a carbon steel knife and also want to able to hold it in a store. You can give this Henckels Zwilling Bob Kramer (replicate) carbon steel knife a try.

http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-180374/

Check out Chefknivestogo.com. Lots of reasonable Japanese knives to choose from. But first get a good method for sharpening

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Learn to sharpen and practice on all your old crappy knives until they split hairs

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Hi Greg,

Here’s the American Test Kitchen review of your knife compared to the high end Japanese and German knives:

I don’t have the fibrox–but I do have the Victorinox butcher knife with a rosewood handle. My feeling is that it not only needs to be sharpened, but to be steeled and stropped regularly to maintain the edge.

I started with a vintage carbon steel knife and a Kai Nakiri I got in Japan quite a few years ago. I prepared to throw them away. Once I sharpened them, I wasn’t sure I even needed a new knife–they were really sharp. Eventually, I purchased two really terrific chef’s knives: a Wusthof classic Ikon 8", and a Miyabi birchwood 8". The Wusthof is very easy to sharpen, but needs to be steeled. The Miyabi is extremely hard damascus steel, sharper and maintains an edge much longer than my Wusthof: it’s also a work of art. I love them both–but I don’t need them.

If you want to get a new chef’s knife, there are probably at least forty or fifty that would make you happy–if you maintain them properly. Have fun shopping: I did!

Ray

Since you have said that your Victorinox simply will not hold an edge, then it sounds like you already have a sharpening method in place.

Nevertheless, I think Scuba’s advise is very sound in general. One thing should be pointed out is that a great knife should have a more refined sharpening strategy than an average restaurant supply knife. While it is ok to use a tungsten carbide sharpener or an electric ChefChoice sharpener to sharpen a Victorinox Fibor or Dexter-Russell knife, I would avoid using these methods on a good knife. In short, as the kitchen knife get upgraded, the sharpening strategy may also need to be upgraded. Actually, this may also be true for the cutting board as well, but probably not as sensitive. For example, some people may pair their Victorniox knife with a glass cutting board. That is pretty bad, but not as bad as paring a Takeda knife with a glass cutting board.

For people who want a quick read on various sharpening methods, I think the one written by cowboyarde is a good start.

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Thanks for the input so far, all. Yeah, I’ve got my sharpening method all set for now – I use the Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker. My girlfriend collects personal (pocket and camping) knives so she got that thing with the spendy diamond edges and everything. Her knives come off the thing like a light saber. That’s what makes me think Victorinox must have got a bad batch of metal or something the day they made my knife.

In any event, I’ll have to get a stone if I go with one of these Gyutos – the Spyderco minimum angle is 22 degrees and I’ll want 15.

Now I’m starting to wonder if I really want carbon steel though – the UX-10 reviews are pretty persuasive.

Man, I really wish I still lived in NYC right now. I could just pop down to Warren St. and probably walk out with my perfect knife. But such is the curse of the suburbs.

Korin is having a 15% off sale on their website right now – does anyone go to the site often enough to know whether that’s a short-term thing or if everything is always 15% off?

I have a Misono UX-10 petty knife. Super-sharp, beautiful fit n’ finish, but I don’t really like the angled bolster of the UX-10 series. Uncomfortable to pinch grip, IME.

As drrayeye noted, there are tons of excellent Japanese knives, a lot of them made in Sakai and sold under a wide variety of brand names in Japan and the US.

I’d suggest getting a “generic” Sakai VG-10 “damascus” kitchen knife. You’ll find dozens of them if you do a search for “gyuto VG-10” at Amazon.

The example shown below looks pretty appealing to me (although I don’t own this particular knife). It’s a 9.5" guto with a 33-layer “damascus” blade and a hammered finish. I personally like knives with a hammered finish because I find it helps with food release – and because it looks so cool!

Amazon link:

The Spyderco Sharpmaker is easy to use and does a good job – just a little slow. Are you sure about your Sharpmaker’s inability to go down to 15o degree on each side? I have always under the impression that it can. Here:

"Die-cut into the base are keyed slots and holes fitted for the stones. They accurately set the stone’s sharpening angle at a 30° (15° each side) or 40° (20° each side) for knives and a 12.5° scissor setting. "

https://www.spyderco.com/catalog/details.php?product=77

UX-10 is probably the best known series within Misono. You can even email Koki from JapaneseChefKnife. He is generous and will steer you toward UX10 or Swedish Carbon Steel based on your need. These two lines have similar geometries and similar steel hardness. The UX10 is slightly thinner and lighter (especially if you compare the 210 mm - 8.2 inch)

The Swedish Steel one you were looking at is much cheaper, only ~$110 for the 8.2 inch Gyuto, whereas the UX-10 one will be ~$180.

All and all, if you really want to able to handle a knife before you buy, then call up a few kitchen supply stores near by. You are unlikely to find these knives in any big retail department store. If you don’t care about touching a knife before you buy it, then I think there are similar knives which you can also consider.

If you don’t mind a stainless steel knife and really want to hold a knife before buying, then I do recommend you to try the Miyabi Kaizen II 8" chef’s knife which is on sale for $100 right now. You will able to test drive it at a nearby Sur La Table which I am sure you have one nearby. I have written a short review if you want to take a quick look:


http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-2403251/Miyabi+Kaizen+II+Chefs+Knife

Most importantly, you will get to test it if you want to.

As for the 15% off sale, that is a short term thing. I have visited their sites on and off. They have sale here and three, but rarely a sweep sale for ALL knives. If you have to wait, then you have to wait. 15% is a small price to pay to get a suitable knife for you.

As far as steel goes, I prefer the SG2 - it just sings, and stays sharp. Miyabi uses it on several knives, but so do other companies. An 8 " chef knife can be about $150 and up depending on sales. http://www.cutleryandmore.com/search/sg2-chef-knife

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Excellent recommendation. I have used the Miyabi Artisan SG2 Chef’s knife a little. As you have said, the 8" Artisan is also on sale (notkitchen can try it at Sur La Table if he wants to). I know my friend Eiron really likes the Birchwood. It does look better, but it is more expensive too.

Greg,

You currently own one of the great Chef’s knives for home kitchen use: relatively inexpensive, easy to sharpen, and easy to maintain with regular honing. You’ve apparently taken an interest in expensive, difficult to sharpen, easy to maintain, narrowly focused, ultra high performing enthusiast knives.

That’s quite a switch.

I never made it to enthusiast status–but I have a full range of knives. I call myself a hobbyist. I’m good at maintaining, touching up, honing, and stropping–but I reserve true sharpening to the pros–and at Shun, for sg-2, they do it for free. For the vast majority of tasks I carry out in the kitchen, it doesn’t much matter if I use my vintage carbon steel butcher knife, my Victorinox, my Kai Nakiri, my Ken Onion slicer, My Shun Kaji Santoku, or my Birchwood. I love to choose and use–just for fun.

Ray

The 15% knife sale ends July 31. BTW, something they started recently is a knife clearance section, but you have to shop in person for that.

You are in some very knowledgeable hands in these posts and it seems like they are guiding you well.

So as a tangent to others that may find this - a place like a Sur La Table, which is more accessible for the masses, has a pretty wide variety of knife shapes sizes and more mass market makers. You can spend quite some time holding and feeling knives there to get ideas of the lengths and shapes that feel good for you. And while more mass market they are still quality knives that would be an upgrade.

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The Takamura HSPS from mtckitchen is high HRC powdered steel and looks pretty appealing. at $160

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Hi Tanuki,

I had been wondering about that angled bolster which is unique to the Misono UX-10 myself.

The Masamoto is a decent pick from ATK.

Hey Chem,
You’re right, I really like the Miyabi Birchwood knives! Not only for their beauty, but for their better balance & ergonomics over the other knives I was comparing it to. (This was a few years ago, when I was at both Sur la Table & Williams-Sonoma to gain an opinion on the Shun-made Kramer knives.)
Their higher cost was worth their better design, in my opinion.

This could be a problem with your Victorinox. I have a couple of the Rosewood-handled Forschner versions, & I use the Spyderco 8" ceramic bench stones on them almost exclusively. These knives came from the factory with lower edge angles on them, & I get much better results when sharpening at 15° rather than 22° degrees per side.

Also, as Chem mentioned, your cutting surface could be working against you. What do you use?

I cut exclusively on wood blocks & boards. And while my Forschner Rosewood santoku is not the only knife I use, I only need to return it to shaving sharpness twice a year (with no maintenance in-between). If I cared to keep it at this level of sharpness, I’d touch it up on the Spyderco “Fine” stone once a month. (Unfortunately, I’ve got too many other things to do!)

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold