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seeking the perfect chef's knife
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geekbruin



Joined: 17 May 2005
Posts: 3
Location: los angeles, california

PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 12:29 am    Post subject: seeking the perfect chef's knife Reply with quote

i'm almost afraid to ask this question since i know how people get all worked up talking about knives but here goes nothing.

i am looking for the perfect chef's knife for me.

i have been looking around and can't find anything that i find quite right. to give you an idea of what i'm looking for, i have small hands and am left-handed. i like to rock my blade as i chop so if it's a santoku it has to have some rock to it. most importantly, i have this really high, choked up pinch grip. because of this grip i feel like most chef knives don't balance well for me.

so far the knife at the top of my list, much to my surprise, is henckels pro S 8-inch high carbon stainless steel chef's knife. j.a. henckel's also has a super-heavy line i like and balances really well but i know if i bought it i would find it too heavy after a few weeks. (i can't remember the name, maybe this one, the handles have a metal stripe down the spine)

i have tried the shun ken knives michael chu mentioned in his article on knives and as much as i want to like them, they just don't fit quite right. in addition to not enough weight in the handle, my middle finger (which is there because of my tight pinch grip) gets in the way of the bolster.



the furi pro rachel ray 7-inch gusto grip east/west knife is okay, but it was a awhile ago when i tried it and can't quite remember what i didn't like about it. i think it might have been too light. the snobby part of me wants something nicer, too.

similarly, the globals don't feel quite right. they are beautiful, but the handle is both a little too small and too light for my taste.

what i have not tried and am curious about is alton brown's shun classic angled 8-inch chef's knife. because the other shun i tried felt weird in part because of the blade-to-handle orientation, i think i might like this knife. does anyone have any experience with it?

does anyone know what else i might like? i know my request is probably impossible but i thought if anyone could give me good suggestions, it would be the CfE forums...

i think my ideal knife would have a heavy, fat handle, a 7-8 inch knife with at least some curve to it and a concave bolster to accommodate my middle finger. i realize that going down in size to a 6 inch would probably make my search easier but i'm stubborn and want something a little bigger. i'm ready to fork out the dough but would be hard-pressed to spend more than $100 on a knife if it isn't perfect.
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jagstyle



Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 45
Location: CA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:47 am    Post subject: Re: seeking the perfect chef's knife Reply with quote

geekbruin wrote:
to give you an idea of what i'm looking for, i have small hands and am left-handed. i like to rock my blade as i chop so if it's a santoku it has to have some rock to it. most importantly, i have this really high, choked up pinch grip. because of this grip i feel like most chef knives don't balance well for me.

i think my ideal knife would have a heavy, fat handle...


Strange...usually people with smaller hands look for smaller handles. Also, I don't understand why you want a heavy handle if you use a choked up pinch grip. As you move your hand farther up the blade (choking up), the handle would need to decrease weight to maintain balance.

The balance issue that you bring up makes me think of traditional Japanese chef's knives (wa-gyuto) which have a heavy laminated blade with a rat tail tang and a light wood handle. This makes them extremely blade heavy so one must choke up with a pinch grip up to achieve proper balance. Here is an example of one that I own which balances 2" from the hilt:


Most western chef knives balance right at the bolster which means that they balance well when you hold the handle but become handle heavy if one uses a pinch grip that moves the hand up the blade past the balance point. The majority of chefs that I have conversed with seem to use a pinch grip that is more on the aggressive side which would most likely be similar to your "really high, choked up pinch grip" rather than the traditional fishing pole grip. Subsequently, many high end western style knives are designed with the balance point forward of the bolster. Perhaps this would be to your liking. For example, the Hattori KD is around 20mm forward:
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y113/blwchef/Sketches002.jpg

geekbruin wrote:
does anyone know what else i might like? i know my request is probably impossible but i thought if anyone could give me good suggestions, it would be the CfE forums...

You might also want to try http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showforum.php?fid/26/
You could kindly ask the folks to upload pictures with the balance point of their various knives and perhaps you would find one that would work well for you.

My recommendations:

If you are going to go with a standard German chef's knife check out Messermeister Meridian Elite or San Moritz elite



If you want to go higher end, check out Artisan, Ryusen Blazen or Misono UX10:
http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/ARTISAN.html
http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/RYUSEN.html
http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/UX10Series.html




Good luck and I hope you enjoy shopping for that perfect knife...

Eric
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opqdan



Joined: 25 May 2006
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also have not tried the Shun knives with the Alton angles, but you might as well give one a try. Unlike other knives, the Shun knives are not ambidextrous, they have a ridge in a D shaped handle that is supposed to fit into the palm of your right hand and keep it from rotating.

Fortunatly though, since I am also left handed, the handle feels even better backwards than it does forward (my right hand hates it). I love having the ridge against my fingertips, and they are actually the most comfortable knives I have ever held (I would choose them over others simply for that feature).

Since you have small hands though, your mileage may vary.
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geekbruin



Joined: 17 May 2005
Posts: 3
Location: los angeles, california

PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:07 pm    Post subject: thanks Reply with quote

thank you both for the replies. i am going to have to get my paws on a san moritz and see what i think. depending on what kind of return policy amazon has, i may get the alton brown shun just to see what it's like.

jagstyle, to answer your handle question, which was a good one... i'm looking for a big handle, or one that curves upwards, to it fills my palm when i hold the knife, like how opqdan describes. the heavy part, well, maybe that is just personal preference. i feel like if i have a heavy handle i have counterweight when chopping.

i have to run, but thanks for the help!
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jagstyle



Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 45
Location: CA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 7:42 am    Post subject: Re: thanks Reply with quote

geekbruin wrote:
jagstyle, to answer your handle question, which was a good one... i'm looking for a big handle, or one that curves upwards, to it fills my palm when i hold the knife, like how opqdan describes. the heavy part, well, maybe that is just personal preference. i feel like if i have a heavy handle i have counterweight when chopping.


alright, these knives were made handle heavy on purpose (link to source) and feature: "Special MC powder steel (MicroCarbide) allows for the incredible hardness of 66 Rockwell"

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=9688

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geekbruin



Joined: 17 May 2005
Posts: 3
Location: los angeles, california

PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ah, ah ha! that's it. i haven't seen this line before. thanks again for the tip.

p.s. i thought henckels was a german brand... hmm.
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jagstyle



Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 45
Location: CA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

geekbruin wrote:
p.s. i thought henckels was a german brand... hmm.


They certainly are a German brand but that doesn't stop them from trying to compete in the high end Japanese market with their own line...

I should also mention that there are two lines:

Twin Cermax (powdered steel, probably HRC 61-63)

and

Twin Cermax M66 (powdered steel HRC 66)

The picture and knife that I linked to is from the higher end M66 line...

If it is too expensive you can try looking for the regular line which should still offer exceptional performance.
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SgtNickFury



Joined: 20 Nov 2006
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I didn't understand the original question but just wondering, if you like to rock, when cutting why not get a nice cleaver with curve? I have just found they seem to do better for rocking style quick dicing then any other style of knife, and if you choke up they're much safer as there's plenty of space between you and the blade when balancing against other hand.I have a great older Henckels cleaver that is tough as nails sharpens beautifully and has a good curve to it I don't see on their newer ones.....I rock chop as well and choke up and can dice faster with this knife then an electric appliance.
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Jay Francis



Joined: 14 Apr 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 10:58 pm    Post subject: You don't need to spend a lot of money Reply with quote

You don't need to spend a lot of money on a chef's knife. Walmart sells a Farberware 8" chef's knife for less than $10 that works as well as my $80 Global. The trick is to keep it sharp, so you may wish to look at the recent issue of Cook's Illustrated, or was it Fine Cooking (?) where they reviewed manual knife sharpeners.

Although I have some very expensive chef's knives, my daily default is to my Dexter $30 Chinese cleaver which I find does everything a chef's knife does and can be used as a scoop.

Note: although I like the $10 Farberware knife, their $10 Santoku knife option is not very good.
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GuidoTKP



Joined: 16 Mar 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You should consider this knife:

http://tinyurl.com/yssvp7

Cooks Illustrated's favorite knife (when meassured for performance and price). Victorinox knives hold a great edge, are light, and are very nimble. I like a heavier knife, personally, but I have a Victorinox boning knife I wouldn't give away at gunpoint (unless, of course, the gun was loaded). Wink
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To find out what you like, bring a rubber pad or small cutting board with you to the store, and just try them out to see how each one feels. You wouldn't buy a car based on someone else's sayso, you'd try it yourself. This isn't any different.
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Cucina Pro



Joined: 22 Oct 2007
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shun knives can be ordered for left-handers.

I like the angled ones, but your best bet is to try out as many as you can. If possible, go to a gourmet kitchen store that will actually let you cut so you can test the feel, heft, balance etc. for yourself.

If you like to rock, a chef's knife will be better than a Santoku. I suspect the left-handed angled Shun would be a good choice for you.
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Guest






PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 7:33 pm    Post subject: Re: seeking the perfect chef's knife Reply with quote

geekbruin wrote:
to give you an idea of what i'm looking for, i have small hands and am left-handed.


Here you go: http://watanabeblade.com/english/standard/l6knife.htm
Excellent knives for the price, left handed, and you can sand the handles to any diameter you like.

Buzz
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tiberiu



Joined: 25 Dec 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have noticed some really great knives on the tele-shopping channel and I was thinking to ask for your advice. The knives do not have a familiar brand but they seem to do what they were designed to: cut cut cut. The brand is called Shaolin, maybe you have heard of it.
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buzzard767



Joined: 30 Jan 2008
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tiberiu wrote:
I have noticed some really great knives on the tele-shopping channel and I was thinking to ask for your advice. The knives do not have a familiar brand but they seem to do what they were designed to: cut cut cut. The brand is called Shaolin, maybe you have heard of it.


I tried a couple search engines and Shaolin knife or knives shows nothing. Sorry I can't help you out.
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