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Milanski

Japanese Knife Retailers?

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Heyup,

 

A while back there was a thread with chat about Japanese kitchen knives. As a result of that chat I bought from one of the online retailers mentioned. It was a while back and can't find mention of that thread or the purchase in my emails.

 

Does anyone have any good online retailers they can recommend?

 

Cheers!

 

Sent from my ONEPLUS A6013 using Tapatalk

 

 


Coffee enema anyone?

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https://www.divertimenti.co.uk/collections/knife-sets

I use yaxell knives after having a number of other high end Japanese variants.

This company does a good range and in occasion have very good sales. Although not typically cheap.

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http://www.knivesandstones.com/

https://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/

https://cuttingedgeknives.co.uk/en/

I have used all three and can recommend them, one in Australia, one in Denmark and one in UK.

The Australian one will deliver very quickly but you will be required to pay customs charges, the UK is fine too but limited stock JNS is great for its selection and you pay VAT at point of purchase so no import costs. Knives and stones have some beautiful handle options. Word of warning this is one expensive rabbit hole.

 

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I do remember the thread as I participated in it. Didn't realise it had got lost. I was going to say JKC in London but I see DSC has beaten me to it. Also you can look at Knives & Tools if you're happy to buy mail order (I think they're based in Holland). I've had 2 knives from them and even the guy in JKC admired my Eden Susumi SG2.
https://uk.knivesandtools.eu/en/ct/japanese-knives.htm

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Sorry to butt in here guys. Can I just ask what makes a knife good apart from its "sharpenability" and weight distribution? Might be looking to buy one for my brother who is a professional chef as a 30th, not sure if you guys had any suggestions?

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It's a number of factors.

Handle shape. Quality of materials. (Applies primarily to the blade steel but also handle). Quality of fit and finish. Blade geometry, shape etc. Balance. Above all, suitability for purpose - you want to make sure the knife you buy is appropriate for what you/ they want to use it for.

 

Note that 'Japanese' knives may feature western blade shapes and/or Japanese handles. There are a myriad of traditional Japanese blade designs that have specific purposes in Japanese cuisine. Many of these are single-sided (especially sashimi knives like yanagiba or sujihiki) and are not ideal for normal western use.

 

For general use, a gyuto (chef's knife), santoku (multi purpose), and a petty/office (small utility or paring use) are the main useful shapes to look for. A nakiri (vegetable knife) is also a good thing to have, but in many ways if you have a gyuto or santoku then a nakiri is not strictly necessary. Still I use mine a lot. Most of these are available with J or western handles. Personally I favour the feel (and aesthetic) of the eastern style. A lot of people rate 'Global' but their small tapered handles aren't for everyone, and to me they slightly miss the traditional J blacksmith look. Which of course is subjective and won't matter to some.

 

Budget for a Japanese knife could be anywhere from say £75 to £1000+. Bigger knives unsurprisingly cost more than smaller ones in the same range, but some ranges are more expensive for a petty than the biggest in a 'lesser' range. Some cutlers only make a few shapes in each range. A reasonable gyuto of say 20-25cm with decent steel might cost £180 for example.

 

There are a great many different steels to choose from. Some are rust resistant, but many (high carbon) are not and need plenty of care. There's VG10, SG2 powdered steel, Aogami (blue paper steel, named for the paper that particular steel is wrapped in at the foundry), Shirogami (white paper steel), and they often come in #1 or #2 depending on quality. There are many others besides - you'll have to do a bit of research.

 

Typically, Japanese knives are thinner in the blade, and also harder and more brittle than German or other euro knives. Also, J knives are usually sharpened to 15° per edge, compared to 20° for western blades. A double-sided blade (desirable for general use) will therefore be a total angle of 30° compared to 40°+ on a European blade. This is also related to the thin blade width and hard but brittle construction. Japanese steels are often Rockwell (hardness) of around 63, compared to late 50s for Zwillings and Wusthofs (both respected European knives) They can be brought to incredible sharpness, but are often that much more difficult to sharpen. You can't use a normal 'steel' to correct an edge, as the blade is harder than the rod. To sharpen you need a set of water stones, or diamond or ceramic sharpening system, and can also polish the edge with a leather strop.

 

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Rocket R58Ceado E37SAeropressAerGrind • Puck Puck cold brew widget • VST 18g basket • Torr Goldfinger 58.5 convex black Ti/walnut tamper • Torr Goldfinger 58.5 flat sharp edge tamper • Big bag o' beans • Triumph Street Triple 675R

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I bought a couple while living down under from here: https://japanesechefsknife.com

Great quality, not cheap but wasn't aiming for cheap. This was the last one I bought: https://japanesechefsknife.com/products/hinoura-white-steel-no-1-kurouchi-series-hs1-3-wa-petty-150mm-5-9-inch

Long story sort, I let my wife use them and they are not in good shape anymore. There is a lesson to be learned here...

 

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We use a Santoku as our general kitchen knife and one of the best VFM we've found is Pro-Cook's X50 and X70 range.  They hold a great edge.  For paring and utility we have Yaxell Japanese Damascus which use an exceptional steel...surgically sharp and very durable.  I've found some like the Aus10 steels can be overly brittle and prone to chipping but our Yaxell Ran which use VG10 Damascus are very tough and hold there edges for the longest.  It's meant to be very similar hardness but the VG10 is most definitely the better steel imho.

For a tough, really well balanced chef's knife, I favour the Wustoff Classic Icon range.  The steel isn't as hard as the Japanese ones we have but it is easier and faster to sharpen and balances beautifully in the hand.  As a general recommendation for a chef's knife, it's hard to recommend anything else for home use as more money doesn't buy a better tool, just a more expensive one!

All knives will periodically need resharpening, not just edge straightening, so thinking about a sharpening system is almost as important as knife choice.  I like to use Japanese water stones and it didn't take long to get the hang of using them to produce surgically sharp results.  Our Japanese blades are all double sided edges, and at 15 degrees. I always put a 20 degree micro bevel on them as this helps durability.  The Wusthoff and Pro Cook knives are all sharpened at 20 degrees.  A few strops on a leather strop are usually all that's needed to maintain the edges for a long time. If they need an edge straightened then I've found the best tool to be the Lanksy 8" medium grit sharpening stick.

I've been using these sharpening methods for years and wouldn't contemplate any of the machine sharpeners as most remove too much material and can ruin a blade with a little misuse, or arenvery very expensive for the better ones.  A good set of water stones can be bought for about £50 each and will last donkey's years.  Only 3 are needed.  I use King Water Stones of 800, 1200 and 6000 grit.  My knives are only re-edged once annually and the lanskey and the leather strop used in between for edge maintenance.

For knife sales like the Yaxell I think we used tools and knives uk.

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My hat is off to Bica60s obviously deep knowledge and experience of blades and sharpening.  I also use knives extensively in my work (for steel enthusiasts, mostly D2, CPM-3V and ELMAX) and over the years have accumulated a dozen or so Naniwa Chosera, Shapton and King stones, plus an assortment of lapping plates of one sort or another for maintaining the stones, having discovered through trial and expensive error that water stones are by far the best way to restore a previously dull edge.  However, like Bica69s the huge majority of my sharpenjng is done by strop (I disposed of my Lanskey system).  The only thing I'd add though is that it is easy to get it very wrong with water stones so I would strongly suggest that anyone transitioning into using them gather up as much information as they can on technique from eg YouTube and start with blades that don't matter.

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+1 to that...absolutely agree!  I remember using our outgoing knives (a cheap set which I was given as a present and which were used for over 10 years almost daily) to practice on when first acquiring the water stones.  You-tube has some great videos showing the correct method but basically you put light pressure on the "away" stroke (ie not into the blade) and lighter pressure on the return stroke (ie from blade edge to blade back or spine) withe the blade at about a 45 degree angle horizontally and (for most kitchen use) at a 20 degree angle to the edge.  It's getting that edge angle consistent which is the hard thing to do and where most mistakes (and ruined blades) are made. It takes muscle memory which can only come from practice, hence the importance of using a knife which is expendable to practice with.  You can buy an angle guide (we had a Wusthoff one) which is a really helpful tool in establishing and memorising the 20 degree angle.

Many Japanese blades are sharpened at 15 degrees, including single side edged blades.  Whilst you can angle the thicker European blades at this angle it's generally not recommended because with softer steels the edge will more easily fold and require more maintenance plus for some uses (eg boning out meat) the 20 or 22 degree edge angles are more useful as well as more durable.  Japanese blades tend not to be used much for chopping but are more a slicing edge and before taking the plunge on them it is worth remembering that many use fairly thin blade profiles and 15 degree angles not as suited to Western Kitchen uses as they are to fish and vegetable prep although there are obviously many that are specifically designed for tougher use, like their utility blades.

Brands that don't cost much at all but use great steel, dead easy to sharpen include Victorinox, Eden and Opinal.  The middle ground is where the real value is though, and these include Wusthoff, Ziwlling, some of the Kai and Pro-Cook knives (who in the UK commission some bigger names to make their range for them, offering really quite exceptional value compared with many).  At the higher end of things you have the Yaxell Rans, Kai Shun and similar, plus many of the hand made blades.

Damascus has become very fashionable, but a vast majority of steels with the label "Damascus" are more accurately described as folded layered steel knives.  True Damascus blades are very rare, not found on mass produced utility knives anywhere and the steel is still hand processed using the very specific age old techniques and very specific metalurgy of the original Wootz steel folded layered blades.  Originally the techniques and steel ores came from the Near East (from what became known as Wootz Steel) later introduced by the Arabs to Damascus (hence the regionalised description) but originally the steel and blades were found in parts of India and Sri Lanka.  

I like the quality found in many of the Japanese folded and layered steel blades, many exhibiting lovely patternation.  The Japanese still produce some of finest steel for blade making today but boy, you pay a premium for it!  Many chefs don't buy these for use in their day jobs for fear of theft, loss or damage.  A few I've known have used Victorinox for their durability and ease of sharpening and if one goes missing or is damaged, it doesn't matter much.  More expensive blades might make an appearance in smaller fancier restaurants, but most I suspect are bought by the well-off for home use.  Check out what is on your local butchers or fishmongers' blocks when you next visit....pound to a penny there will be mainly utilitarian Victorinox or similar knives found there.

A word of caution if buying into some of the more fashionable and expensive blades such as Global....some of these are very difficult indeed to sharpen.  Many who buy Global knives (personally I'm not a fan) tend to send them off to be professionally re-edged.  Their steel is super-hard (58 or more on the Rockwell scale, made from "Cromova 18" Chrome Vanadium stainless) and whilst it keeps an edge for a long time, resharpening takes a lot more effort than for softer steels.  Wustoff and many European blades tend to be around the 55 Rockwell hardness range which has the benefit of taking a super keen edge but being far far easier to sharpen.  These all tend to be Chrome Vanadium steels these days with other constituents, the main difference being the hardening and tempering process used to arrive at the desired hardness and durability for the end use of the knife.  

Sorry for the long post....knives and knife making has been a keen interest of mine for many years!

Edited by Bica60s
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Do I really need a Shun for my Sourdough is there no middle ground.


SAGE IS NOT A UPGRADE

 

 

:)

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Do I really need a Shun for my Sourdough is there no middle ground.
You already know the answer....

Sent from my LYA-L09 using Tapatalk

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12 hours ago, Planter said:

You already know the answer....

Sent from my LYA-L09 using Tapatalk
 

Really trust you eh! haha have you tried russoms?


SAGE IS NOT A UPGRADE

 

 

:)

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3 hours ago, Jony said:

Really trust you eh! haha have you tried russoms?

No mate I havent. Have tried a few of the knifes they stock. I have a set of the IO Shen's and they are nice for the price. I had these before I went onto the Yaxell's.

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I hate you haha


SAGE IS NOT A UPGRADE

 

 

:)

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43 minutes ago, Jony said:

I hate you haha

And you thought coffee was expensive. My main chefs knife cost as much as my niche. 

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Yaxell does have a fair few knives amongst its collections which use really excellent steel which is why I also have one in our colection.  My favourite utility knife though which provides fantastic VFM is this one:

 

b39b6e011af683a8ddc7420f9bd3fd52.jpg

Pro-Cook Damascus X-100 utility.

 

They also produce a very fine middle of the road, general purpose kitchen knife:

 

71fQHnaYW9L._SL1000_.jpg

I was really surprised at just how well made/nicely balanced this one was and how easily maintained the edge is (sharp enough to shave with).

 

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Yaxell does have a fair few knives amongst its collections which use really excellent steel which is why I also have one in our colection.  My favourite utility knife though which provides fantastic VFM is this one:
 
b39b6e011af683a8ddc7420f9bd3fd52.jpg
Pro-Cook Damascus X-100 utility.
 
They also produce a very fine middle of the road, general purpose kitchen knife:
 
71fQHnaYW9L._SL1000_.jpg
I was really surprised at just how well made/nicely balanced this one was and how easily maintained the edge is (sharp enough to shave with).
 
I have used the Pro Cook and agree they are very good vfm. I also agree that yaxell has a fair range. I gradually upgraded over the years from my early Ran's to the super gou I now use. Still looking to get a ypsilon super gou at sole point though as I love the steel used on their knifes and have no real reason to want to try any others.

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Wow, great responses, thanks gents!
@Bica60s that ProCook veg knife looks ideal for my needs (we've gone vegan). I'm not sure I want to get into sharpening with stones at this stage. Do you know of any ceramic sharpeners for example that would maintain this edge or what would you suggest for a newbie for this knife in particular?

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Coffee enema anyone?

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Milanski said:

Wow, great responses, thanks gents!
@Bica60s that ProCook veg knife looks ideal for my needs (we've gone vegan). I'm not sure I want to get into sharpening with stones at this stage. Do you know of any ceramic sharpeners for example that would maintain this edge or what would you suggest for a newbie for this knife in particular?

Sent from my ONEPLUS A6013 using Tapatalk
 

That Pro Cook Santoku is an excellent choice Milanski for what you need and very nicely balanced.  You may want a slightly smaller utility blade also like the other one I linked to above.  Those two alone will cover most of your kitchen needs if not all of them.

I'd be very careful about using edge straightening rods as most will damage the fine ground edge but one which I've had success with is the Lanskey knife sharpening stick:

https://uk.knivesandtools.eu/en/pt/-lansky-ceramic-sharpening-stick.htm?gclid=CjwKCAiA0svwBRBhEiwAHqKjFo_NsuK3YyA-pLucRf85gxbdZXXPVx1t_hOGLH8w-9Y37TUDINjC9xoCLRIQAvD_BwE

This is the best one on the market imho but far from the most expensive.  It's fine enough that a gentle few strokes (literally just the weight of the knife drawn along the stick a few times at a 20 degree angle) will help maintain the edge, or a tiny bit more pressure to sharpen but it will be a coarser edge than using a fine waterstone.  Really though you should at least get a water stone of 4000 to 6000 grit to finish the edge...at least two or three times annually.  You can get one that you simply dampen by sprinkling water over before use instead of soaking in water for 30 minutes.  Dry edging can generate a lot of heat right at the edge which can affect the tempering of some blades, so it's usually always best to use a wetted sharpening for restoring edges.

I use that plus a leather strop in between maintaining the edges using a fine waterstone (about once every 6 months).   One like this would be fine:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Professional-Barber-Genuine-Leather-Strop-for-Sharpening-with-Paste-10ml/322043099828?epid=1492180593&hash=item4afb43bab4:g:OzsAAOSwsN9XBO1m

Just add some stropping compound to it. You strop after every knife use before putting the knife away.  To strop, fix one end of the strop to a solid handle or hook (I use a cupboard door handle!), pull the strop tight and strop in a direction away from the edge (ie towards the back of the blade) with the edge at the edge angle, or ideally a tiny bit less, so for a 20 degree edge you strop at perhaps 15 to 20 degrees as the strop will fold itself slightly around the edge and if not careful you can strop over the edge rounding it.  About 5 or 6 strops on each side of the blade is all you should need but sometimes a little more.

The other point well worth mentioning to ensure that you look after the knife edge is not to store the knife in a cutlery drawer as many people do!  This is a sure fire way to destroy the edge as it rattles off other metal implements.  I use a bamboo vertical knife holder with magnetic inserts like this one:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bamboo-Magnetic-Universal-Knife-Block-8-10-inches/362045729641?var=631279404945&hash=item544b9b6b69:m:mjQvKvXSQXSptyN1rPcnLQA

Hope this helps.

 

 

 

Edited by Bica60s

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A lot of important info here gents. As @Bica60s  said, be careful regarding sharpening professional blades (carbon steel). I was aware of all the issues regarding single bevel white steel when I bought mine, so a few months later after it started losing its edge, sent it to a professional to sharpen it, via a knives store.

It was meant to take a week until I got it back. A month and multiple excuses later, I was told that the knife was back and could come pick it up.

When I opened the box to inspect it, well words cannot describe how I felt. The pictures below are from the knife after I cleaned it as much as I could.

So be very careful about who you trust your expensive knives with.

 

IMG_20200112_075001-01.jpeg

IMG_20200112_075026-01.jpeg

IMG_20200112_075055-01.jpeg

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Just for comparison, this is what it looked like when I bought it

spacer.png

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That is shocking!  I think I'd be banging on doors or writing the owner of that company demanding some recompense!

It can be e right PITA to begin with but if you can put time aside to sharpen at home using a decent whetstone set like King or similar, it allows you to have faith at least that the job is done properly.  I started out using old knives that I didn't really care much about as they'd served me well for 20 years.  Ended up keeping one or two once I'd learned to use the stones properly.

Two things to remember when using whetstones:  1) it's all about getting a consistent angle and only applying pressure on the stroke away from the edge and 2) remembering every now and then to re-flatten the stones otherwise you may end up with them dishing in the middle.  To keep them flat, after each use, I use the flat back (unused) of one and use that as a flat base to re-profile the one I want to flatten.  Takes a while but keeps them in good order.

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4 minutes ago, Bica60s said:

That is shocking!  I think I'd be banging on doors or writing the owner of that company demanding some recompense!

Happened in 'Stralia mate, 'nough said....

Yes, I do have a set of Nirey whetstones, 3000 and 8000 grit that I regularly use for my less precious knives. They have indeed dished in the middle, any suggestions on what to use to flatten them with?

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