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#290113 - 07/30/18 11:44 PM Chef knives
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4932
Loc: SOCAL
Okay, not survival related at all, but I was looking at Chef knives recently, in order to dial up the quality of my kitchen cutlery and ran across a line of knives marketed by Zwilling, but designed by Bob Kramer — the Bob Kramer Carbon Collection. Okay, yeah, seriously not inexpensive.

Nice knives, but in doing some research, I found a YouTube titled: Equipment Review: Best Carbon-Steel Chef's Knives & Our Testing Winner. In an effort to totally spoil the YouTube, the Best Carbon-Steel Chef's Knife was the Kramer, but it was then tested head-to-head against a ~$40 Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef's Knife; the Victorinox Chef’s knife didn’t win the test, but it held its own.

It so happens that a Victorinox Forschner 8” Chef's Knife was already in my knife block, all I needed to do was resharpen — which was done this morning. I needed to start with the coarse stone (it was that bad) and work up to fine, but now the knife will push cut paper. The only problem with the Victorinox is that I was treating it like a cheap knife, when I should have been treating it like a very good, inexpensive knife. My lesson for the day was to not judge a knife by its price-tag.

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#290115 - 07/31/18 02:02 AM Re: Chef knives [Re: Russ]
Famdoc Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 88
Loc: PA
Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools website has occ. reader's picks for a variety of knives, including chef's knives:
Cool Tools

I check out his site daily.

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#290116 - 07/31/18 02:15 AM Re: Chef knives [Re: Russ]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6612
Loc: southern Cal
Knife prices always puzzle ; there are obviously factors other than cutting ability and reliability at work. I just checked one prominent knife retailer. Top knife cost $5495.00 (but doubtless free shipping).

Would it really perform better than a $20 Mora? - its blade is one inch shorter...

Knives can certainly be valued as works of art/jewelry, but I rarely spend more than $50 on a blade - to me they are tools, pure and simple.

DD's boyfriend loves to cook, and I know he is interested in a really fine set of cutlery. Someday, I hope to satisfy his desire for good cutting implements.


Edited by hikermor (07/31/18 01:29 PM)
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#290118 - 07/31/18 03:43 AM Re: Chef knives [Re: Russ]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2719
Loc: Alberta, Canada
An argument about chef's knives? Good Lord, let us bid a hasty retreat to politics, gun rights, and religion -- it's safer! laugh

At a certain level, it's never about the best utilitarian tool; it's about the fine and subtle optimizations and adjustments that make the tool a seamless extension of your hand and your will. Personal ergonomics become huge, in the same manner as musical instruments to an advanced player. The right tool draws you forward and higher in your art.

Now, I'm a unique case because I've been a thrift shop scrounge for a decade or two. As a result, I have a pail of Victorinox blades, including 10" Fibrox chef knives. Frankly, I find the steel quite soft in comparison to German blades; but perhaps I need to push them to a much finer grit on the belt sander, and see if they "pop" in a way I didn't expect.

To underscore the ergonomics point made earlier: I pulled set of hand-made Japanese Hattori blades, a chef and a utility, with original cases, from a thrift shop for a total of $6.00. They're the best knives in the house, by orders of magnitude; but they don't fit our hands. So they remain as conversation pieces. (And I get endless amusement out of taking them to snooty, high-end knife boutiques, asking for an assessment, and then showing them the tags and receipt. High quality entertainment IMO.)

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that I don't buy the YouTube assessment of these different blades. It's an interesting but tone-deaf comparison.

(Meanwhile, Phaedrus is in the bullpen, warming up ...?)

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#290119 - 07/31/18 04:59 AM Re: Chef knives [Re: dougwalkabout]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4932
Loc: SOCAL
Belt sander? Isn’t that a little much for a knife post heat treat? Does that have no effect on temper? After years of neglect, I used an old Tri-hone (oil) and brought it back to a fine edge in about 15 minutes. I really don’t think a belt sander is necessary, but that’s just an opinion.

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#290120 - 07/31/18 08:05 AM Re: Chef knives [Re: Russ]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2164
Loc: Great Plains
Originally Posted By: Russ
Belt sander? Isn’t that a little much for a knife post heat treat? Does that have no effect on temper? After years of neglect, I used an old Tri-hone (oil) and brought it back to a fine edge in about 15 minutes. I really don’t think a belt sander is necessary, but that’s just an opinion.


A belt grinder is ideal for budget knives (or really any knife except a Japanese blade IMO). It's best to stick with lower speed grinders like the Kalamazoo that runs around 1700 rpm but I've done at least hundreds of knives with a 3,700 rpm Harbor Freight cheapo. You need a light touch with the latter to avoid burning the blade but with a bit of practice it's pretty easy.

I'm baffled by the CI reviews of knives. I've had quite a few of the Victorinox Fibrox knives and sharpened perhaps a hundred of them. They will get the job done but edge retention is very poor, at least by the standards of a chef. Good for the price I suppose but a review shouldn't merely identify the cheapest blade that will turn one chunk of food into two chunks! Even an entry level Japanese gyuto like the Tojiro DP absolutely smokes the Vics. You could use the Tojiro for a couple weeks in a restaurant setting without much more than a few licks on a ceramic hone; with the Vic you'd be lucky to have a serviceable edge after a few days. For the home cook that's not as big an issue but there's no comparison between the build quality or fit and finish, either.

Obviously feel and appearance are subjective but in a serious review those elements should be given at least a cursory examination!

I would say some of the best entry level knives you can get would be the Tojiro DP line and the Kagayaki Carbonext from JCK. If you prefer a Wa handled knife there are some other good inexpensive options as well. In my mind in this day and age (circa summer 2018) something like VG-10 represents the lowest level stainless worth using, and AEB-L is a nice step up. For the $100 range you can get some decent high carbon gyutos in 52100 or Hitachi White- or Blue-Paper as well.
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“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#290121 - 07/31/18 08:07 AM Re: Chef knives [Re: hikermor]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2164
Loc: Great Plains
Originally Posted By: hikermor
Knife prices always puzzle ; there are obviously factors other than cutting ability abd reliability at work. I just checked one prominent knife retailer. Top knife cost $5495.00 (but doubtless free shipping).

Would it really perform better than a $20 Mora? - its blade is one inch shorter...

Knives can certainly be valued as works of art/jewelry, but I rarely spend more than $50 on a blade - to me they are tools, pure and simple.


I must confess that most expensive ryuto/gyuto cost me around $900. blush
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#290122 - 07/31/18 01:28 PM Re: Chef knives [Re: Phaedrus]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4932
Loc: SOCAL
So what is the “FC61” steel used in the Zwilling ”Bob Kramer Essential” and Miyabi Evolution lines of knives. All I get is fine carbide and Rc61, but what is it really? Vanadium carbides or chromium carbides?

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#290123 - 07/31/18 01:49 PM Re: Chef knives [Re: dougwalkabout]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6612
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
An argument about chef's knives? Good Lord, let us bid a hasty retreat to politics, gun rights, and religion -- it's safer! laugh

At a certain level, it's never about the best utilitarian tool; it's about the fine and subtle optimizations and adjustments that make the tool a seamless extension of your hand and your will. Personal ergonomics become huge, in the same manner as musical instruments to an advanced player. The right tool draws you forward and higher in your art.



(Meanwhile, Phaedrus is in the bullpen, warming up ...?)



Excellent point- one should make a distinction between the occasional user and one who slices and dices continually. For the latter, considerations, which may well be costly, come into play and justify added expense/

A more prosaic example. The summer car camper is well served by a fairly cheap, albeit warm, sleepiing bag that is somewhat bulky and heavy. The mountaineer or climber is smart to spend big bucks to get a light, compact down bag. Getting gear that is appropriate for the intended use is the key.

Phaedrus is fine with his knife, but it would be wasted in my kitchen, where the knives are used to slice open the boxes of frozen pizza ...
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#290124 - 07/31/18 03:23 PM Re: Chef knives [Re: Russ]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4932
Loc: SOCAL
So I’ve been looking for something regarding what exactly FC61 steel was and all I can find is speculation. Review Brief: Miyabi Kaizen II Chef's knife - Cooking Discussions / Cookware - Hungry Onion
Quote:
...Kaizen II has a symmetrical handle which is thicker too. The core steel has been changed from VG-10 to FC61. It is said to be tougher than VG-10. Exactly what is FC61? Many speculate it to be AEB-L. It is definitely not VG-10. ...


So then I looked at AEB-L and found a good description at: http://devinthomas.com/faq.html
The line in the description under “What is "AEB-L" steel?”, that makes one think FC61 may be AEB-L is:
Quote:
...AEB-L naturally forms what is called the K2 carbide, the harder of the two chromium carbides, compared to the K1 carbide, which is formed in steels such as 440C. The K2 carbide is about 79 on the Rockwell C scale, compared to 72 for the K1 carbide. Through proper heat treatment, AEB-L has fine, evenly distributed K2 carbides. ...


Once my Chef knife requirement was satiated by sharpening a knife already in my knife block, I went to the smaller end and ordered a paring knife in FC61. I hope the speculation on FC61 being AEB-L is correct. A paring knife that will hold a fine edge would be welcome.

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