Two distinctly different chef’s knives. The upper one’s a Classic 8" Chef with African mahogany, and the lower one’s a 210mm (8.3") Gyuto with purpleheart. Similar in length, you can see the difference in the curve of the cutting edges. The curvy Classic has the advantage if you like to mince and rock-chop, but if you mostly slice-n-dice then you’ll prefer the Gyuto’s flatter profile – it gives you the cutting edge of a much longer knife while working on compact counters. I think the purpleheart is a nice addition to my selection of hardwoods.
I have too many knives hanging in the kitchen but it’s nice having them sometimes.
I have a couple Global chef’s knives which I’m not fond of. My main knives are a bunch of Mercers from Webstaurant. They hold an edge and resharpen nicely, have different colored handles for identification, excellent grip, and inexpensive so can be tossed/replaced if necessary. The colors look a little tacky I suppose. But it’s just the and me.
There’s also some fancy Japanese knives on another wall but never grab them.
My knives could be categorized as slicers, choppers, and utility–to meet diverse mostly prepping purposes. None of them are personal and handmade–like Eiron’s–but most have been chosen with aesthetics in mind. Most recently, I’ve become fascinated by Chinese vegetable cleavers, and have been thrilled by my Shibasi F208 8" X 4"–which makes a great big brother for my 20+ year old Nakiri I got in Japan.
It’s encouraged me to add a tweener utility knife which I’m now learning how to use.
Thanks RD. I’m not too familiar with Mercer, other than the sharpening and repair work I’ve done on them for others. (I once turned a 10" Mercer chef’s into an 8" chef’s and removed its bolster )
I feel I have to be careful with their edge. My daily knives are sharp and durable and I can easily get the edge back if I roll it from hitting a bone.
I think they’re a typical inexpensive almost disposable kitchen knife ($15??). I used to debone hams professionally and would lop off the tip of Forschner deboning knives so they’d stabbed more easily. They were a decent inexpensive knife. They’d sharpen nicely and kept an edge as long as one didn’t hit the bone or cutting board much… or your mesh glove ever! Haha
Hi Ray, I saw the Shun Kanso line for the first time about 1-1/2 yrs ago. I was surprised at their appearance, given the price on them; the blades look tumble-deburred and the handle scales are sized smaller than the tang. Does the tang standing proud of the scales bother you in use?
It seems like when I grip it with my left hand, it wants me to pinch grip it at the wooden half bolster–which leads me to use the bottom edge for a bit of leverage. With that grip, I don’t feel the upper edge at all.
It’s their “Zen” style, I guess, that doesn’t at least make it flush–or even hide the metal inside the wood on the top–like the did on my 20+ year old nakiri.
It took me two years to decide I liked it!
I think there’s a word for that, when you feel like you’re required to like something because you paid good money for it.
And probably another word for when you feel compelled to deny that that’s the case, when of course you know it is.
There aren’t many in-between knives being made, are there?
Brittle knives you’re afraid to use are easy enough to find. Knives made of un-cured putty are everywhere.
As you certainly know there’s a huge difference between knives in a professional setting such as on a line in a packing house and a commercial or home kitchen.
Today I only use a knife in the home so in most cases they don’t find a bone much and never find a mesh glove. I love the look of a luxury knife but 99% of the time I grab a work knife. Fortunately I know how to use a steel and to sharpen them. On the other hand I point any guest cooks to the nicer ones.
They are pretty knives.
Mine are mostly utilitarian. I have Henckels Pro-S, about 25 years old. I mostly use the big chef or the big Santoku depending on whether I’m mostly chopping or slicing. I have a serrated knife (bread), a filet knife (whole fish), a utility knife (rarely used), and a paring knife (never used). I use a steel every day and a tri-stone as needed for sharpening.
I explained my entire decision process in much more detail here:
Buying a knife is always a subjective value proposition—but, so far, I’ve been having fun learning how to use this one.
What sizes are the big knives? The biggest (tallest) santoku I’ve worked on is the Shun Sumo. I make a 240mm gyuto but so far I haven’t had any interest in them.
I have a serrated bread knife, but I rarely have hard-crusted breads. I find that my gyuto slices bread more cleanly than my serrated knife and doesn’t steer left or right. I also have a 3-1/4" paring knife that I never use, but I do use my 4" paring knife for a few things; I’ve found that it’s perfect for sectioning summer peaches.
Agreed. And this is why I use D2 in my kitchen knives. Typically, steel properties are a trade-off between harder-but-more-brittle (good for sharpness, bad for abuse), and softer-but-tougher (good for abuse, bad for edge retention). Tool steels, like D2, are developed for applications where BOTH hardness AND toughness are necessary characteristics (ie, tools and manufacturing tool-&-dies). That means I can put a super-narrow 10° cutting edge per side on a 61-HRc blade and they can ‘pivot-cut’ (mince and rock-chop) all day long without popping chips out of the knife’s edge. Another ‘plus’ with D2 is the steel’s wear resistance that retains its edge longer than other steels. The biggest drawback (all steels have them) is its difficulty working into a thin kitchen blade, and some folks have expressed their frustration trying to sharpen it.
The chef’s knife is 8". The Santoku is a bit shorter, perhaps1/2" to 3/4" shorter. Since the profile is flatter (is the shape from bolster to tip called profile or something else?) the cutting surface is longer when slicing. For chopping the chef’s works better for me. I’m not a full-on “knife rocker” but I do some for things like onions, radishes, celery, carrots, and anything going from a strip to a dice (bell peppers for example).
I’ve used 10" chef’s knives doing prep for a friend who is a caterer. I like them, especially for volume, but not enough to buy one when my 8" knife is close enough and I don’t often work in really big volumes at home.
Can you elaborate on this? I inspect my edges with a 5X lit magnifying glass I use for electronic printed circuit board repair. Mostly I’m looking for feedback on my sharpening outcomes but I’m sure I’d notice chips. I use edge grain maple cutting boards for almost everything with the odd bit of plastic rarely.
It sounds like you’re careful enough not to generate significant chips. I suppose it can happen with super-hard boards, but I think the bigger culprit is twisting the knife once contact with the board has been made. A lot of people do it and don’t even realize it. I suspect it’s because most people use softer steel knives and never suffer any consequences from pivoting on the board. You can see the kind of chips I’m talking about without any magnifying aids. The edges become visually ragged.
Here are a few pics of the most abused Shun I’ve repaired. It was one of a pair from a husband and wife. This is the wife’s santoku (the husband’s was also abused but not as badly). There are small deformations all along the edge, but you can see in the close-up pic how badly the edge is warped on either side of the large chip near the heel. That chip was so big that I didn’t want to remove that much of the edge all in one go. I told them it would naturally disappear as the edge receded with future sharpenings.
Jeepers. Yes, I’d notice that. Heck, I’d probably feel that when I used a steel.
My wife has chosen to have her own knives (two 6" Santokus). She isn’t as careful as I am but still doesn’t have chips. I use a steel on them when I remember. They need sharpening about twice as often as mine.
Thank you for the additional insight and the pictures.
I’ve heard two basic theories:
- Shun (well, Kai) is doing a consistently poor job of making these knives
- Many people have bought Shun knives who have never had this type of knife before, and they aren’t aware that there’s a significant difference in how to handle them compared with what they were using before
(Or a bit of both, I guess.)
Bad theories, DavidPF,
Both of them.
Kai Shun is the world’s biggest knife manufacturer, fielding competitive products priced from below $5 to more than $1000. They are comparable or better in quality to other knives across the board.
In the United States, they’ve done a credible job of informing potential customers of the risks and advantages of their higher Rockwell knives. The vast majority of customers enjoy the knives, use them properly–and take advantage of the free sharpening service at US Headquarters in Oregon.
The negative theories you report come from enthusiasts and independent knife sharpeners, who deal with outlier experiences and have different views about kitchen knife value.
Counting gifts for family and friends, I’ve purchased, or been given, 7 Kai Shun knives. I’ve enjoyed my inexpensive Kai Seki Magoraku Nakiri for more than 20 years, and the only obvious signs of use are fine scratches associated with sharpening. I’ve not experienced any chipping on any of my high Rockwell Shuns.