Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

So I’m sharpening a few of my kitchen knives that desperately need it. It’s a task I procrastinate on terribly (as I’m currently posting this instead of stroking the water stone with high carbon steel). I needed a break, my hands keep going numb. I’ve got good knives- not the best money can buy, but not a cheap block set. I have purchased all my knives individually. About 20 years ago, I purchased a few J. A. Henkels Five Star knives- a 7” Santoku, 8” carver, 6” utility, and a 5.5” boning knife. They have done me well. They take and hold an edge pretty well, they’re durable, and they are pretty comfortable to use if you’re not using them for long periods. They’re good for the average home kitchen.

But a few years later, after working in the restaurant biz for a bit, I wanted a new 8” chef’s knife and a smaller santoku, so I did some research and went a different direction. I went with Japanese Damascus steel, and bought a Shun (Kershaw/Kai) Classic 8” Chef knife and a 5” Santoku. Damn! What a difference! So much harder. So much sharper. And I love the D-shaped handles if your using a knife all day. Pricey though. I think I paid ~$180 for the chefs knife.

These Shuns are a bitch to sharpen. The steel is so hard. Also, the edge is a few degrees sharper than German knives, which makes more surface area to sharpen. Plus they are brittle and chip easy, and sharpening chips out is a bitch. But if I treat them right, and keep up the edge on a honing steel, I’ve only got to tune them up on a stone once or twice a year. But they are literally the sharpest knives I’ve ever touched. They will cut your finger if you just touch-check the edge. Slice through over-ripe tomatoes with just their own weight. Crazy sharp shit; don’t make a mistake. They keep the edge really well, too. Next, I’ll buy a vegetable cleaver, but it’s like $300. Even with the drawbacks of super hard steel, I still prefer the Shun knives over the Henkels, and by a wide margin.

What do you kids use? Am I the only one who appreciates fine cutlery?

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Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I've worked in restaurants my whole life and for just regular work i prefer German steel.

Japanese knifes are sharper but are a bitch to maintain and in a restaurant you don't have time for that.

At home i just use some cheap offbrand knives which i throw away when they are dull. I am in the market for a good knife though.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

True that, especially in prep, production, or line.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I was actually just in a review meeting on quenching. They 2 are pretty different and represent sortof the extremes of knife steels, japanese being very hard, and german being very soft (from a material standpoint)

The japanese are harder brittle phases so you can get a thinner sharper blade but it's again more brittle and harder to sharpen. That's what makes the layered laminated japanese steel so cool was being able to layer and layer the steel to have some of the toughness and hardness combined.

Then the german steel is usually softer thicker tougher steel so it's easier to sharpen but less strong so you have a thicker knife you gotta sharpen more. Less precision, more serviceable

I will say I love my german knives and use them often but the japanese 3 layer gets probably 2-3x as much use.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

to scope my review, I have 3 chefs knives i use and all just home cooking. I have a Henkels 8" chefs knife, a Wusthof Satoku (german steel japanese style) and the japanese sankotu was ironically from a streetside knife shop in germany. They were each about $200, except the henckels was like $80. I also have a full farberware set that was a wedding "gift"

Honestly it's a great setup. It's important to have a few good prep knives for prepping different things at the same time, the farberware are garbage for regular active use but the cheap farberware are perfectly good enough for less frequent low demand tsks like a breadknife etc.

Also my steak knives are wushof and they're so good. I use them sometimes even for prep stuff, like cutting tomatoes etc where the serration really helps. i don't really like nice things generally but VERY much appreciate where nice means more than a name and flashy showy gadgetry, and actually translates to a quality product

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

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Put me down for German steal

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Overpriced Parts /

I prefer to make my own with a simple forge!

I run my air compressor at about 10 psi to keep it going,

I use scrap USA or euro steel! never Chinese junk ever,I hate the Chinese government they killed three of my old family members by lying and covering up the virus,

The communist bastard Government needs to pay the price, Thousand times for that! I have used use Japanese Steel, which is pretty good, have a whole drawer full of good steel blades From Japanese, USA and German steel, as well as stuff I forged with the stuff I forged from scrap steel including axes, lawnmower blades, machetes big stuff!

Communist Chinese bastards Should all die a painful death but they won’t because Left (as well as some right) politicians and globalist embrace them and make their money off of them!

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I have victronox forshner knives at home here for cooking. I like them. I built this little guy a few years ago. Was gonna get into more knife making but have way to many hobbies.

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Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Kevin Bishop /

I have used them all. Henkel makes a good boning knife it’s flexible. Japanese knives are good for tomatoes mushrooms and shit that won’t dull them. BUT Wustof is the best hands down. If they made a machete I would buy that shit in a heartbeat. My grandmas 8” chefs trident knife is my go to every time I have had it 30 years.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I'm happy you posted this, Seth! It's been something on my mind quite a bit lately. I've worked in kitchens for the last five years but heavily invested in home cooking for closer to ten. Since the beginning of the pandemic I've been splitting my time between my house with my roommate and my gf's place, cooking a lot more than usual for me at both. The best knife at my house is a 10" cutco chef that couldn't pop a balloon and the nicest at my gf's is a 9" winco/dexter that would be sharp if taken care of, but still not great. Because of the circumstances, I desperately wanted a good knife to use between both houses.

I absolutely agree with Bas, the maintenance of a Japanese or Japanese style high carbon steel knife in a professional setting would be too much. At work currently, I'm lucky enough to be the only one that likes the old henkels so I get it to myself while everyone else uses the standard winco/restaurant depot knives. I guess they think it's too heavy.

For 99% of home cooks i'd go with german steel every time. There's just so much less maintenance and they're very forgiving. If someone asks, I recommend the victorinox chef's knife because the vast majority of home cooks have never used a knife even of that quality, and I think it's genuinely a good, easy, workhorse type knife. People that can or want to spend more, I'd recommend wusthof over henkels just because I think I like their build quality/ergonomics a little more.

Since I started looking for a personal knife, I was eyeing vegetable cleavers like you mentioned. It seemed like a great idea for my usual style of cooking, but price tags for decent knives seemed steep. I would have probably chosen the shun, but was too unsure about whether I'd like the style of knife at all to spend the cash. I found what I think is a fantastic middle ground, and so far I absolutely love it. I got the Zhen 6.5" light cleaver and am very happy with it. It's 3 layer japanese steel,made in Taiwan,and the weight and balance are perfect. It's like using a laser. If anyone was considering a chinese style cleaver, I'd absolutely recommend it. Cheap enough to not be too much risk but quality enough to be impressive.

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Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Dirty30 Dillon /

This past year I made the jump to Carbon Steel Japanese knives, for myself at least.

I bought a basic set of petty knives, and a mid-range Yanagi and Deba. I take pretty good care of them, but to be honest you REALLY need to watch them because the tips are brittle. Broke the tip off my Yanagi last week just accidentally tapping a mug on the counter.

THAT SAID: No German style knife can get this sharp. I use Norton Ceramic stones to sharpen these and theyre excellent.

As you can see, I also have some cheaper Victorinox knives for the misses to use (she doesn't like the work involved with the carbon steel) as well as a Chinese style clever that while cheap, is great for breakdown and especially for whacking open gourds and such.

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Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

After I bought the Shuns, it didn’t take long before I broke the tip off of the chef’s knife in a leg of lamb bone. Stupid mistake twisting the tip. They replaced it no questions asked, but I quit taking it to work and just used my Henkels.

It took me about three hours today to get these three knives sharpened to my satisfaction. I’m not very quick, but with the two sided stone, 1000 & 6000 grit, I can do ok. I don’t strop them on leather. I should, but I’m not quite that OCD.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

> Dirty30 Dillon Wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> This past year I made the jump to Carbon Steel Japanese knives, for

> myself at least.

>

> I bought a basic set of petty knives, and a mid-range Yanagi and Deba. I

> take pretty good care of them, but to be honest you REALLY need to watch

> them because the tips are brittle. Broke the tip off my Yanagi last week

> just accidentally tapping a mug on the counter.

>

> THAT SAID: No German style knife can get this sharp. I use Norton

> Ceramic stones to sharpen these and theyre excellent.

>

> As you can see, I also have some cheaper Victorinox knives for the

> misses to use (she doesn't like the work involved with the carbon steel)

> as well as a Chinese style clever that while cheap, is great for

> breakdown and especially for whacking open gourds and such.

> >

I think I had that same cleaver years back. It snapped in half when I whacked a clove of garlic, and I was so bummed! I loved it, and continued to use it half-sized for a few years. I wonder what I did with it.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Im aurprised there arent more people answering both, they eaxh certainly have their advantages amd have a good degree of crossover, but i definitely need at least 2 knives, pretty punpes with both.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Here's an excerpt from Anthony Bourdains "kitchen confidential":

"So, what do you absolutely need?

You need, for God's sake, a decent chef's knife. No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrongheaded, or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialized cutlery in various sizes. I wish sometimes I could go through the kitchens of amateur cooks everywhere just throwing knives out from their drawers-all those medium-size 'utility' knives, those useless serrated things you see advertised on TV, all that hard-to-sharpen stainless-steel garbage, those ineptly designed slicers-not one of the damn things could cut a

tomato. Please believe me, here's all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chef's knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand. Brand name? Okay, most talented amateurs get a boner buying one of the old-school professional high-carbon stainless knives

from Germany or Austria, like a Henkel or Wusthof, and those are fine knives, if heavy. High carbon makes them slightly easier to sharpen, and stainless keeps them from getting stainedand corroded. They look awfully good in the knife case at the store, too, and you send the message to your guests when flashing a hundred-dollar hunk of Solingen steel that you take your cooking seriously. But do you really need something so heavy? So expensive? So difficult to maintain (which you probably won't)? Unless you are really and truly going to spend fifteen

minutes every couple of days working that blade on an oiled carborundum stone, followed by careful honing on a diamond steel, I'd forgo the Germans.

Most of the professionals I know have for years been retiring their Wusthofs and replacing them with the lightweight, easy-to-sharpen and relatively inexpensive vanadium steel Global knives, a

very good Japanese product which has-in addition to its many other fine qualities-the added attraction of looking really cool.Global makes a lot of knives in different sizes, so what do you need? One chef's knife."

I forgot that Global is actually Japanese, at cooking school you usually have to get a set of Global knives when you start.

For home cooking Global makes really good knifes, but I've heard plenty of chefs complain about how unergonomic they were.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Dirty30 Dillon /

Yeah, I think that when it comes to Japanese cutlery, there is confusion:

Japanese Style, European Made Knives.

Japanese Made, European Style Knives.

Japanese Made, Japanese Style Knives

and

Traditional Japanese Knives (Carbon Steel, Single bevel)

I would NEVER use a traditional Japanese knife in a work kitchen. The fact that they can't stay wet or survive a drop means that European style knives are just easier to bang out work. The only reason I invested in single bevel carbon steel was because I enjoy the ceremony behind their use and upkeep. If I wasn't into that, I would have a shelf full of the black Victorinox knives for a quarter the price.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I had to google mine.

My Emjoy Chinese knives say they are made of German Steel. Sure.

They are decent and I make better looking and tasting food than any restaurant I’ve ever been to. Except for a life changing chicken sandwich I had in Switzerland one time. But, knives were minimal in the creation of that. So....

Anyway. I need a very sharp knife for processing deer. Or cleaning up chicken. Otherwise, I have kids that help with dishes and I don’t want one of them to have a reconstructive surgery if They put their hands in the sink wrong.

I clean any burrs off the edge right before carving a piece of meat or a big job with soft fruit or veggies that require it.

Expensive knives seems snobby to me. Plus, I think it’s foolish to over pay for such a simple tool. Like Stihl making a silver engine trimmer with platinum core plastic string for $5K. The $200 one edges and mows weeds just fine. There are exceptions. Like dollar store knives which could be out performed by sharpened plastic picnic utensils.

The longevity of the tool and results of its work are almost purely from the talent and experience of the user.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Expensive knives up to about 100$ make a world of difference, everything above that you are basically just paying extra for good marketing.

Every place i worked at always only had 1 type of Victorinox knife; the bread knife. They are cheap and do the job and when they are dull you just throw them away.

Edit:

On the topic of sharpening knives, i worked at a restaurant where we had one of these belt grinder things in the back.

Whenever the Chef got annoyed with the dullness of the knives he would angrily walk to the grinder and spend the remainder of the day sharpening everyones knives to perfection.

(edited)

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Bas,

I hope my post didn’t sound like I was putting down expensive knives in professional kitchens. The workload and demand in that environment is completely different from my world.

Like comparing a really nice stock car to a formula 1. Paying for the F1 makes perfect sense if you’re racing it.

I was trying to burn yuppies that think a $500 knife will make their soggy homemade California roll into a magically classy item.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

No worries, i understood what you were saying, i just needed to add that up to about a 100$ it does actually make a difference.

I've worked in a 3 Michelin star restaurant and the cooks there were obsessed with expensive knives, but it was really only about who could spend the most money on a knife.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I have a general rule of thumb that you never want to pay less than double the cost of the cheapest option. But above 4x and you arent getting much more out of it. Bicycles cars knives ehatever, it generally holds true. A 4 dollar 6 pack is shit but a 8 dollar 6 pack probably ok

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

We all have our hobbies.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

PBR is the cheapest beer I can get. At $4.50 per 6 cans.

I love the stuff.

I once used similar logic to yours.

Now, whether I’m buying something in person or online, I tend to check out product reviews on Amazon.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Dirty30 Dillon /

> Papa _ Wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> I had to google mine.

>

> My Emjoy Chinese knives say they are made of German Steel. Sure.

>

> They are decent and I make better looking and tasting food than any

> restaurant I’ve ever been to. Except for a life changing chicken

> sandwich I had in Switzerland one time. But, knives were minimal in the

> creation of that. So....

>

> Anyway. I need a very sharp knife for processing deer. Or cleaning up

> chicken. Otherwise, I have kids that help with dishes and I don’t want

> one of them to have a reconstructive surgery if They put their hands in

> the sink wrong.

>

> I clean any burrs off the edge right before carving a piece of meat or a

> big job with soft fruit or veggies that require it.

>

> Expensive knives seems snobby to me. Plus, I think it’s foolish to over

> pay for such a simple tool. Like Stihl making a silver engine trimmer

> with platinum core plastic string for $5K. The $200 one edges and mows

> weeds just fine. There are exceptions. Like dollar store knives which

> could be out performed by sharpened plastic picnic utensils.

>

> The longevity of the tool and results of its work are almost purely from

> the talent and experience of the user.

There is always someone willing to swear that Harbor Freight Tools are just as useful and longlasting as the high end stuff. Not every high-dollar item is made solely to draw the wallets of those with money to burn.

If you take a hardware store chisel and compare it to a O2 steel chisel, no matter how good you are at using the chisel or sharpening, the O2 chisel will take a keener edge that lasts longer than the cheap steel chisel.

The materials that tools are made of wholly a reason for the price tag, ESPECIALLY hand tools. There's no pulling the wool over people's eyes when a tool is just steel, some wood, and a few rivets.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

this is a fun topic, value vs quality. I like to buy good used stuff, that's a nice way to get the best of both and help the world a little bit too.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

That makes me think about how beautiful it would be if capitalism worked perfectly.

Intelligent, informed consumers driving producers to make the highest quality products and refusing to pay more than real value for it.

What a wonderful world that would be.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I have the grand prix wusthof set, it was a wedding present and i love them, i'm not a knife snob by any stretch but i cook almost every meal from scratch and use the shit out of them. the 9" chef knife gets 'sharpened' on a ceramic steel about once or twice a week (or whenever i have to cut a tomato) and in about 8 years its stayed sharp just doing that, which is pretty awesome because before this i had a henkels 10" chef that was a much thinner blade, like laminated flat steel instead of the ground style and that dang thing had to be ground at least once a year. we have a couple odd wusthof classics and i don't like them as much, they don't balance as well and the santoku (my wife uses) seems like it always needs sharpened when i go grab it.

I gotta say though, americas test kitchen has consistently ranked that 60$ victornox as the best chef knife, i have the victornox boning knife (recommended to me by a guy who works at a meatpacking plant as the one 'they use') and i love that thing. I don't really need a second 9" but i kinda want one just to check it out.

the boning knive is ground kinda weird from the factory but after you steel it about 10 times it takes on a better profile that will hold its edge a lot better. I use it for butchering out deer and stuff so it gets beat on.

Thats just my .02, i'm just a hack, but i think if i had grown up with even the 60$ victornox in my household, it would have helped me cooking so much. I go visit people all the time that just have the worst knife program. I think so many people get intimidated by big brand names and $100+ price tags, lots of food gets cooked all over the world with these workhorse knifes, more home chefs should be into that.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

punkrock randy /

I love my Wustof chefs knife, very nice feel to it. My girlfriend has some Kiwi knives, which I believe are from Thailand. Those hold their edge well and sharpen to razor sharpness quite easily. Gotta keep my eye out for more of em.

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

I have a set of newer lower end Henkels. I sharpen the 2 that I actually use with the lansky kit every couple of months or whenever dicing an onion starts to make me tear up. I keep the chef's knife and paring knife at 20° so I can be a lil rougher with them and my girlfriend doesn't have the best knife technique. She's also constantly putting them in the sink when done which drives me nuts.

they feel pretty good to me, but tbh I've never used any really high end kitchen knives

anyone have strong opinions on the lansky kit? that seems like a thing purists would look down on. (edited)

Re: Kitchen Knives: German vs. Japanese Steel.

Dirty30 Dillon /

> Dave & Bummerzz Wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> She's also constantly putting them in the sink when done which drives me nuts.

I've tried to get the fiance to stop doing this but alas.

Thankfully she has a phobia of touching the carbon knives after seeing how bummed I got when I tipped the one blade.

As for sharpening, I useonly use Norton Ceramic waterstones because I own them for woodworking tool sharpening and am comfortable using them. The thing I learned working at Fine Woodworking is that sharp is not a relative term, it is very specifically either sharp or not. Whether you daimond paste and strop, ceramic stone, sandpaper hone, or traditional whetstone your edge, as long as your technique results in sharp, you're good. I think the biggest thing that surprised me is what people classify as sharp. It varies wildly on experience.

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