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My knife story

Discussion in 'Other Genres' started by squeegee, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    So every time I move I end up giving away my kitchen knives because they're just too much of a hassel to lug around. In the last recent while I've given away 2 Henckel sets and 1 Wiltshire set.

    This time around I decided I should just buy 1 knife instead of the set because I usually only use 1 knife to cook with anyways. So, I went to the local "Big W" aka the Walmart equivalent, and I looked at what seemed like a decent knife, a Wiltshire Santoku, it was $17.


    As I got it home and tried it, I noticed... it's not very sharp. That's brand new out of the packaging. So, I decided to buy a sharpener. The red thing in the picture is a Henckel diamond ceramic hollow grind sharpener, I've had (and given away) 2 of these before and they're pretty good. Basically there's a metallic disc followed by a ceramic disc and by drawing the knife through it'll sharpen the point in a rounded V shaped like the disc's which is why they're called hollow-ground.

    The knife was a little sharper but it dulled after just a few usages and was generally unimpressive. I was starting to get pissed off at the situation, then had this idea... if I buy a more expensive knife... more expensive than the typical Henckel / Wusthof types knives, I'll be more inclined to carry the knife around with me and I won't have to go shopping around for crappy knives and I'll actually save money - by not having to buy knives again.

    After more extensive research, I ended up ordering a Hattori Gyuto direct from Japan.


    This knife is an experience in itself and completely eclipses the Henckels I've owned. Normally this knife goes for just over $300 but by ordering it from Japan I managed to get it for just $170. Yes, what a jump from $17 to $170...

    They say blade is sharp enough to shave with. I tried it, I held a strand of hair on end and brushed the knife up against it and just the force of brushing by the hair cut it in half. When cutting hard items like carrots, it is so easy and smooth it feels like butter. When I slide the knife across the cutting board to pick up vegetables, it shaves wood bits off the cutting board - and that's with no pressure on the knife blade at all.

    As with all slightly off-mainstream items, it requires some extra care. Allegedly the metal is hard enough that you only need to sharpen & tone the knife about once every 6 months, even with daily usage. You also can't use the simple draw-through sharpening tools like the red one I have. I had to order a whetstone which is the brown & mocha coloured block in the picture. This stone itself is something else. For those of you who know about sanding grits, one side is 1000 grit, while the other is 6000 grit. The 6000 grit side feels smooth to the touch almost like plastic. You wouldn't imagine it'd do anything useful for sharpening. Sharpening with a whetstone itself is a dark art. I'm practising on the Santoku for now in preparation for 6 months from now when I may need to use it on the Gyuto. (Feel free to imagine me in a dim, dark room... slowly sharpening knives... muuuuhhhhaaaaa!!!!)


    As it turns out, $300 isn't an expensive knife. This is actually the "cheap" line that Hattori makes, the more expensive ones run at over $1000 each...

    All this leaves me with one realisation. My photographic abilities are insufficient to capture the metallic look and the sheer craftsmanship of this knife which is evident in person. I blame it on the lack of lighting, lack of tripod, and lack of practice... we all have our excuses right? :redface:

    P.S. this was just an excuse to practice taking photos and practice my story telling abilities so don't expect my information here to be too precise about knives.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    You can see the layers of steels which make up the blade : as a lamination. Hopefully the edge is the only super-hard layer and the body should be tougher to prevent cracking. That's the theory. In any case : not one to open tins of paint with.
    The layers are very obvious in this one of mine on the right ;
  3. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    I just thought I had opened the wrong forum - I also read several kitchen knife forums... The Hattori is a great knife, just keep it away from bones and frozen stuff. The hardness of the steel comes with a higher brittleness. Keep an eye on the sharpness, I would not wait six months with sharpening if I used it regularly. To maintain better sharpness, You could strop it occasionally, i.e. Try to find the angle of the knife edge and pull it very gently without any pressure over the fine side of your waterstone. Have fun with it!

  4. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I've had a long battle with knives, from cheap to the really expensive(never that expensive, but 150+ for a good chefs knife). I feel that at times, with Henkel and Woostof(sp) that some of the price is in the name. There is also a price to be paid when it comes with really hard steel in that it pits easily(bones, or anything reasonably hard) and when it comes time to sharpen them, they take more time than I care, and sending it to be professionally done becomes cost prohibative on a long term basis. I finally, after 10 years found knives that work and make sense for me.

    I must say, I love the second shot.
  5. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    Yes the Hattori is also a layered Nickel Damascus, it doesn't show up too well in the picture unless you look at it in a larger size. I actually wanted the non-layered / textured one but it would have costed me and extra $80... so I gave it a pass. The layering also makes it cheaper as the really hard (aka expensive) steel is only used for the centre layer.

    I think your picture managed to show the metal much better than mine does. I think I need a lot of diffused light to do it properly. I had ... the kitchen light which meant everything was either dark, or it was an extra bright reflection off the metal surface. I don't have any lighting equipment nor even portable lamps so I couldn't really try it that way. I though of taking it on to my balcony to picture in sunlight... but that wasn't going to work out for similar reasons. I think I could have done with a higher f-stop and a tripod too so that a little more was in focus... but it was a fun attempt.

    Yes the harder knives chip/dent more easily... so I can't give up the santoku entirely. As for sharpening, since you're in the USA, if you buy a Shun, they will give you life time sharpening for free, you have to pay postage though. I don't think it's too bad with a whetstone, by most accounts it only take about 5 to 6 strokes on the stone to sharpen it - depending on how blunt it is. It is definitely not for everyone though, you do have to use and care about the knives enough to make it worth your effort, I guess it's like people who own P&S's v.s. mirrorless or dslr cameras, there's more fussing to clean and care for these cameras but people who like it and enjoy it don't mind it.
  6. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    That's the theory. In fact the original reason (historically) seems to have been for mechanical toughness as very hard (higher carbon) steel can be produced as cheaply/expensively as pure soft iron, depending on the results of the smelting and source materials ... and adding carbon to softer steels is an easy job. The high-nickel stuff in the body of your knife might even be the most expensive material there, in these modern times the hard stuff is very good quality and not expensive. Of course my viewpoint won't be shared by those wishing to sell machine-made knives for high prices!

    I've found photographing laminated steel in cloudy daylight is the best for detail, but not 'impact'.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Kosta

    Kosta Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 29, 2010
    my girlfriend's father has a set of Hattori knives - for preparing fish for sashimi.
    they are so damn sharp. the fish looks softer than butter when the knife gleams through it almost effortlessly. it is a truly beautiful work of art.
    they are sharpened regularly and stored wrapped in newspaper and in a soft box to protect the edges.

    nice knife! :D 
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Keeper

    Keeper Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 10, 2010
    For such a nice knife, I would recommend you get rid of that cutting board and buy a nice end grain board, your knife will thank you.
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