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MAC Santokus

 
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 11:55 pm    Post subject: MAC Santokus Reply with quote

So, Tina wants to get a santoku for herself and has been reading up online different brands and how they perform. I'm partial to the Shun Santoku, but Tina's not so keen on the idea of spending over $100 when she's read the MAC Superior Santoku received top marks from Cook's Illustrated and can be had for $60.

She's also interested in the forged, granton edge MAC Professional Santoku because it's only $17 more.

Anyone have experience with MAC knives? Unfortunately, we can't find any local stores to check them out and get a feel for how they, well, feel.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an excellent Santoku for $45:

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/DPSwdenSteelWoodenHandleSeries.html

Unless you have the 7" wide blade Shun santoku http://209.35.185.42/ShopSite/Shun_Knives_Shun_Classic_Knives_DM0717_Wide_Santuko_7_inch.html and particularly like the extra size, then I would buy yourself one of these: http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/HDSeries.html and give the Shun to her. The Hattori HDs always get better reviews than the Shuns from the enthusiasts/addicts on knifeforums.com

I don't think the granton is worth any extra money. In fact I prefer not to have it (UGLY and reduces the life of the blade). The only knives where I have heard it making a difference as far as food not sticking are these: http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/GLESTAIN2.html
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot to add that I hear MAC makes a good product so you can't really go wrong. Enjoy shopping! Smile

Some brief MAC discussion: http://216.91.137.210/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Board=cutlery&Number=2056
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 7:28 pm    Post subject: Re: MAC Santokus Reply with quote

What Santoku did you get and how do you like it?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We haven't gotten it yet.

We did try out a whole bunch - Wusthof Classic, Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu, Global, Shun, Henckels Pro-S.

Tina needs the knife to be comfortable in her hand (a high priority that everyone should have when choosing a knife, regardless of edge design) so handle feel was very important.

Next requirement was the curve of the blade needed to facilitate the chopping motions that Tina will be making. Since it is a santoku, it'll be used predominantly for chopping, dicing, and mincing vegetables and just a little bit of slicing meats (for stir frys). So, the rocking motion was very important for Tina. The Classic and Le Cordon Bleu line were excellent, but the Grand Prix II just wasn't working out. Visually, we couldn't tell a difference, but on a board it made a huge difference.

We also went to chinatown and Japantown in San Francisco in search of santokus but at one Japanese store we saw what looked like a pretty high quality knife from a company that didn't have an English name. We asked to see if we could try it on a board and the store owners seemed to be shocked. They said in twenty years of business no one has ever asked that - and no, we could not try it out - you can see the curve for yourselves. Well, for over a hundred dollars, I'm not going to trust my eyes if my hands are going to be the ones using the knife later.

In the end, we settled on trying the Wusthof Classic. Tina found that after a little bit of use, the handle and blade position felt uncomfortable. The bolster rubs against her finger and the handle was too angular. In our side by side test with the MAC Santoku, it was clearly not in the same league in terms of design and sharpness. The MAC's handle fit comfortably in Tina's grip (and in mine, we grip our knives differently) and the edge was SHARP. When chopping green onions, the MAC cut cleanly through and even produced a different sound when compared to the Wusthof and my Shun chef's knife. The MAC didn't rock as nicely as the Wusthof, but Tina decided that the edge more than made up for that. When the Wustof chopped green onions, the pieces were still partially attached after she was done (I thought it was knife technique, but after using the MAC, there was a clear difference without changing technique).

I'd rate the edge of the MAC as sharper than my Shun (although, the MAC is brand new and the Shun has been used a lot and has only been steeled and never resharpened) and the Wusthof went back to the store.

Oh, we also sent the MAC back because the handle wasn't well bonded to the tang and so a crack was visible. We're waiting for the store to get more in stock to send us another one.

(This whole adventure is significant because until recently Tina has never had an interest in cooking and always feared my sharp knives. This is the first time she's buying a knife for herself and I was surprised (delighted?) that as she kept trying knives she insisted on sharper and sharper.)
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Chu wrote:
I'd rate the edge of the MAC as sharper than my Shun (although, the MAC is brand new and the Shun has been used a lot and has only been steeled and never resharpened) and the Wusthof went back to the store.


The out of box sharpness isn't really a fair way to judge the edge of a knife. I haven't come across any new knife that I consider fully sharpened. In fact, a lot of Japanese companies don't even send out the knives fully sharpened. They allow the user to put on the final edge. You owe it to yourself to get a set of waterstones and learn how to sharpen. You will love the newly acquired skill which can be picked up very quickly and perfected over a lifetime. Check out my set:

Norton 220, 1000, 4000 & 1000/8000 [8" x 3" x1"]

(In case you are wondering, the knife is a 240mm Japanese Gyuto handmade by Shinichi Watanabe. I can tell you more about it if you are interested.)

Id also be careful with the steel and the Shun. With a Rockwell hardness of around 60 the Shun can be delicate. Personally Id only use a glass smooth steel on my Shuns if I was to use one at all.

Michael Chu wrote:
Oh, we also sent the MAC back because the handle wasn't well bonded to the tang and so a crack was visible. We're waiting for the store to get more in stock to send us another one.


It is a commonly known fact that a lot of Japanese knife manufactures suffer from various problems with quality control. The only way to know what to expect is to subscribe to a community of knife enthusiasts who can offer experience and expertise. I recommended the Hattori HD series because it is regarded as having excellent fit and finish. I think the Misono UX10 series (http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/UX10Series.html) is known to be the best in that regard.

You should take a second look at the Hattori HD Santoku on this page:

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/HDSeries.html

The only thing to warn you about is the fact that if you buy one, you will soon be drooling over buying more.

Enjoy shopping!
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen waterstones for sale on online vendors for as little as $30 for a set but some vendors sell individual waterstones for $90 or more (ex. Norton 4000/8000 waterstone).

Is there a real difference between one brand of waterstone and another, or are the materials used in manufacturing more or less the same?
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Chu wrote:
I have seen waterstones for sale on online vendors for as little as $30 for a set but some vendors sell individual waterstones for $90 or more (ex. Norton 4000/8000 waterstone).

Is there a real difference between one brand of waterstone and another, or are the materials used in manufacturing more or less the same?


Yes. There is a difference. It has to do with how quickly they cut and how well they wear. A good waterstone cuts quickly and does not dish easily.

Shapton ($$$$) seems to be everyone's favorite with Norton as a VERY close second. King stones are cheaper but tend to wear faster so they will require more frequent flattening.

The link you posted seems to be only one 1000/6000 combo stone (judging by the price and the title). I would stay away from it as they don't really give you any information and the picture is obviously misleading. An important thing to know is the dimensions of the stone. The bigger the better. The nice thing about my Nortons is that they are 3" wide. The extra width really helps to hold the angle steady.

I bought my Nortons here:
http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/Merchant/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=toolshop&Product_Code=NO-WAT.XX&Category_Code=CNO
(always shipped the same day and all stones are shipped in stackable plastic cases with rubber feet that also serve as solid sharpening bases)

However I believe the best prices for Nortons can be found here:
http://www.thebestthings.com/newtools/norton_waterstones.htm

If you want to get the best of the best you can check out the Shapton website, but be prepared to empty the bank account:
http://www.shaptonstones.com/stones/Professional-Series.php

Don't forget to buy glass and sandpaper, or some sort of lapping plate because stones will require flattening.

Combo stones are great for the finer grits but the lower grits wear faster so you will want a full stones' thickness. For example a good set might be: 220, 1000 and 4000/8000. FYI, 8000 will leave a beautiful mirror polish on the edge Smile and 220 is generally only used when regrinding the bevel or removing chips
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Johneegeek



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Kenosha, WI

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael,

Update? Did you purchase a santoku? Which one did you get? Do you like it?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, we received a second MAC santoku which also had some fit and finish problems. Tina returned it to Cutlery & More for a refund and then purchased a Tojiro DP Santoku from japanesechefsknife.com. (Later, after corresponding with MAC in preparation for my chef's knife testing, they said we should have handled returns/complaints through them as they would like to see what the defect was. Cutlery and More has not proivded them with the knife or notified them of any complaints. Next time that's what we'll do.)

Tina really liked her Tojiro DP until we received the MAC chef's knives. Now she uses the MTH-80 exclusively. We ended up giving the Tojiro DP santoku to my mom (and she loves it, but her comparison point is Ginsu knives).

Originally, I had considered doing a santoku test, but after doing the chef's knife test, I'm having second thoughts.
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