Help a newbie (to chef knives) out please.

Discussion in 'Kitchen Cutlery & Tools' started by SVTFreak, Sep 19, 2020.

  1. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Hello all. Long time knife guy. Currently I have a mixed matched set of cooking knives. Two are older henkels chef knives. One is 8” and the other maybe 6” and not as tall edge to spine. I don’t use those often as I find stuff seems to stick. My current favorite is a Rada santuko style. It’s on the smaller side.

    Anyway, I cook a lot. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and I think it’s time I get a good set. Or couple of knives.

    Here’s where i need help. I know I use the Rada a lot because the blade is so super thin. And stuff doesnt seem to hang onto it like the henkels. I love their larger size but find myself making do with the smaller one for the above reasons. Knowing that, after a little research, I think that means I like Japanese style knives? I read they are generally thinner stock? Do I want one with the hollowed spots in the blade to prevent food sticking? Also, I want a double bevel edge. Not sharpened on just one side.

    I know I want an 8” chefs, a 6” santuko and a smaller paring knife. That would fill all of my needs. Cost isn’t set yet. Obviously, this isn’t my profession so I’d rather not break the bank, but For fun for now let’s say 300$ for the 3. That number can be fluid.

    1.....2.....3.....GO! What do you guys think I should look at?
    And thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  2. folder geek

    folder geek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 28, 2012
    Knife exchange>>knifemakers market>>kitchen knives
    Look around, contact some makers, there should be something there.
    Good luck with your search.
  3. scdub

    scdub Basic Member Basic Member

    May 29, 2004
    I suggest buying individual knives rather than a set - it’s more likely you’ll get knives you’re really drawn to. Also if you space out the purchases, in theory you can have a BIGGER BUDGET!!

    For a Japanese double bevel kitchen knife I would look hard at the Takeda Hamono shop.

    Shosui Takeda is a well known blacksmith that employs a small number of craftsmen and produces both outdoor and kitchen knives for very reasonable prices imo.

    I have a field knife and small utility knife from him and they’re both very nice, sharp, and easy to resharpen due to his use of a “scandi style” bevel (for lack of a better term).


    Also don’t dismiss the idea of a single bevel knife. By far the sharpest larger knife in my kitchen is a chisel ground (single bevel) Miroshi Deba. Deba have fairly thick spines, however due to the chisel geometry they take an amazing edge, and are even EASIER to sharpen than a Takeda because you are able to lay the blade flat against the large bevel on one side and totally flat against the stone on the other side. No need to worry about angles. It does take a little acclimation to cut straight with one but that’s part of the fun.

    Happy Hunting!
    SVTFreak likes this.
  4. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Personally, I think outside of true Granton knives, the dimples do next to nothing and are more gimmick than anything. Stuff sticks. If you're using a pinch grip over the spine and rock and slice, stuff sticks.

    Japanese vs. Western knives I don't think will change that. The Japanese tend to go for thin (spine), hard blades, that are in general straighter profiled and often more task oriented. Western knives tend to be taller, softer, and more curved. Japanese knives are more oriented for up and down cutting and Western knives favor rocking. Although, depending on the specific profile, both are capable of either style. Santokus sort of bridge the gap. Japanese knives tend to be more brittle and less forgiving and Western knives tend to be more robust but will lose their edge sooner.

    A shorter knife (edge to spine) will have less sticking simply because there is less surface area but they are also not as efficient. Well, at the dimensions it takes to notice a difference. A gyuto and chef's knife I think will have about the same results.

    My recommendation?

    Get a cheap pairing knife like a Defter Russell or Victorinox. You don't need to invest much here as the blade geometry makes them pretty slicey regardless.

    Then get a reasonably priced but not too expensive chef's knife. Say something like an 8" Wusthoff Gourmet, Victorinox, etc.

    Use it for months and see how you like it. What do you and don't you like about it? You may end up loving it and remain perfectly satisfied. Or, it may help inform your decision about what you want in your next knife. A reasonably priced gyuto would be nice to play with too but someone with more knowledge will have to recommend something. A French sabatier is very close in shape though.

    Finding the knife that is just right for you can be tricky so I think it is best to not invest too much going in so you can refine your tastes.

    Sharpening is also a consideration.
    scdub and SVTFreak like this.
  5. Dave Dallam

    Dave Dallam Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Aug 9, 2020
    Your Rada is a Japanese knife. They are decidedly different that German knives. And they sharpen differently. Do yourself a huge favor and go watch some of Ryky's Youtube channel "Burrfection". Every question you have will be answered, and even the questions you haven't asked yet.
    scdub and SVTFreak like this.
  6. tomsch

    tomsch Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 31, 2004
    I too would say focus your $300 on first a 210mm or 240mm gyuto in the $250+ range and then pick up a paring knife with the rest of your budget. I also recommend that you watch burrfection youtube vids to get a feel for general knife needs but more importantly how you are going to sharpen. You should also give Jon a call at Japanese Knife Imports as he will give you very solid advice. One very key thing to consider is what cutting board you have or intent to use. I great knife with an very refined edge will not last long if you are using a very hard material cutting board.
    scdub, SVTFreak and Dave Dallam like this.
  7. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    First off, I genuinely appreciate all you guys taking the time to give me advice. And leading me to the YouTube videos. I’ll be watching them later on.

    I think I am going to take y’all’s advice and start with a gyuto, as I know I like thinner steel for sure. I have an 8” henkels chefs knife that can fill that role if needed. The gyuto looks like it’s close enough in profile to a santuko that I will like it’s shape. And I have already found some at decent prices that won’t hurt my heart if I don’t care for it. I also already have a GEC 1095 paring knife, so between those 3, I should be able to decide exactly what I like. Once that’s firmed up, then I can either find a matching set (I like the looks of some of the shuns and MTC’s) or have some made. One maker on the forum already caught my eye. I’ll also look into the chisel grind. I can see how that could be beneficial I’ve just never used one personally.

    I really do appreciate the guidance. I’m off to watch some videos!
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  8. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Oh, fwiw, sharpening isn’t an issue for me. Have done chisel grinds too with success so that shouldn’t be an issue. Also, I never use hard cutting boards. I have Teflon ones that are quite soft. My knives edges live on it currently. But I may find me a good wood one while I’m looking at knives lol.
  9. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Wow that channel has lots of info. Knowing what I like in what I have and what I want, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with the yaxell mon series knives. They are a good blend of Japanese vg-10 with cladding, just over 60 rc and quite but with western style handle and nicely radiused at the front of the handle. Should fit what I was looking for to a T. 8” chefs gyuto, 6.5” santuko and 3.75” paring. Might pony up for a 4.25” utility and a kiritsuke also.
  10. scdub

    scdub Basic Member Basic Member

    May 29, 2004
    Oh - since we’re on the subject - for a paring knife I think everyone should try out a Herder Windmill. I ordered one in carbon steel but the one I received was the stainless version (and I love it anyway). The blade is ridiculously thin, the handle feels great after a few applications of tung oil, and it’s very inexpensive. Only downsides: the fit/finish isn’t awesome and you’ll have to sharpen it. Once sharp though it’s a laser beam. Second or third sharpest knife I own. It’s the smallest one in this picture:
    The other one with the light wooden/black handle is the Miroshi Deba I referenced above, and the largest is my wife’s 10” Miyabi that she specifically requested after attending a knife skills class at our local community college and getting to compare a bunch of chefs knives. Another good brand and amazing fit/finish...

    Attached Files:

    SVTFreak likes this.
  11. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Sweet! Like your little parer, I have a great eastern cutlery 1095 paring knife. Thing gets ridiculously sharp. Super thin and a nice clip point. It will stay a staple of my kitchen knives.

    My wife isn’t allowed to use sharp things very often. I love her to death, but knife skills aren’t her strong suite. Haha. I do almost all of the cooking (I beat her home by hours and have more days off) and she does the homework duty haha. If she asked me for a knife like that, I’d know it was to use on me, probably. My only saving grace is......I do almost all of the cooking....

    That is a nice knife.
    scdub likes this.
  12. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    I have a Yaxell/Apogee Dragon Fire gyuto in BD1N. It's a very well made knife.
    SVTFreak likes this.
  13. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    I found the yexalls by his praise on the mon on burrfection. I did look at the dragons also. Very very tempting also. If they made them all with the black and red micarta.....
  14. LUW


    Nov 24, 2009
    And I felt kind of bad for having a not-so-sharp "significant other" set of knives... :p
    SVTFreak likes this.

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