The Only 3 Knives You Really Need

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Johnny2Bad

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #20 on: 25 Sep 2018, 04:32 pm »
You don't really need stainless for knives. A good carbon steel knife is softer metal and much easier to sharpen, and keeps an edge well. Stainless is quite hard, which means more strokes with your favorite sharpener, or an aggressive sharpener like a carbide type.

The other thing is pretty much everyone is going to have a natural tendency angle they put on a knife, and that will rarely match the factory edge. So you are going to put a new angle on the first time you sharpen, and that is much easier with a carbon steel blade. Rinse and wipe after each use and staining won't be a problem. You want to be especially careful to do so after cutting acidic foods (citrus, etc) as they are most likely to stain a knife.

Serrated knives work, but instead of slicing they tend to act by tearing the food. When the food is soft itself (cake, bread) or has a crust, it works well, and softer foods do not dull the knife much. To sharpen you use a round tool and work each serration somewhat like sharpening a chainsaw. But really they are for cooks who never sharpen, as they will still cut (tear) when dull.

MaxCast

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #21 on: 25 Sep 2018, 05:44 pm »
Yes, I find a petty knife very useful for coring and slicing tomatoes, cutting up fruit, manually peeling fruit and tomatoes, etc. I bought this Tanaka years ago and it's a phenomenal knife for the price. It takes a razor sharp edge and holds it well. A quick stropping on a suede paddle quickly restores a like new edge. It's not stainless but it is more resistant to staining than average carbon steel.

https://www.chefknivestogo.com/tadape13.html

Nice, thanks for the link.

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #22 on: 25 Sep 2018, 05:45 pm »
Carbon steel is harder than stainless - isn't it? (That's what the carbon is for.)

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #23 on: 25 Sep 2018, 05:47 pm »
so I made one. ... 

Cool, way to go  :thumb:

srb

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #24 on: 25 Sep 2018, 05:59 pm »
Carbon steel is harder than stainless - isn't it? (That's what the carbon is for.)
Here's a nice short enjoyable blog from the Serious Eats website:
Why Serious Cooks Use Carbon Steel Knives

SoCalWJS

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #25 on: 25 Sep 2018, 07:33 pm »
I believe I could get by with 3 knifes most of the time, For me, it's:

1)  6" Santoku (but not a classic Japanese style)
2)  4+" Pairing Knife
3)  10" Bread knife

So, VERY close to what the original post suggested. Probably 90% of the knife work I do is with one of those. They are all what I consider to be of high quality.

However, I do own a TON of other knifes, and I almost always use the one "designed" for the task at hand (boning knife for boning, etc)

But the key is that I keep them SHARP.

Edgepro Apex  :thumb:

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #26 on: 25 Sep 2018, 07:42 pm »
Here's a nice short enjoyable blog from the Serious Eats website:
Why Serious Cooks Use Carbon Steel Knives

I'm convinced, I'm going carbon:

http://www.dexterrussellcutlery.com/dexter-traditional-6-high-carbon-steel-cleaver-08010-5096/



I'll try shaving myself with it and the blood stains on it can be used to tell a story ;)

I can't help noticing how much cheaper knives sold to butchers are than knives sold to home cooks. Butcher's knives are plenty sharp, right?

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #27 on: 25 Sep 2018, 07:54 pm »
Probably 90% of the knife work I do is with one of those. They are all what I consider to be of high quality.

However, I do own a TON of other knifes, and I almost always use the one "designed" for the task at hand (boning knife for boning, etc)

The thing I wonder is, if you (not you specifically, in general) have specialized knives that do all the things you need to do, why do you need a general purpose knife at all (e.g. chef's knife, santoku etc)?

Tyson

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #28 on: 25 Sep 2018, 08:50 pm »
I think part of it comes back to your cutting style.  I'm a "push cutter" so I really like the Santoku style of having a wide blade and the handle aligned to the top/spine of the knife.  Big, medium, or small - all my knives are this style.  Or will be soon!  Haha.

dB Cooper

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #29 on: 25 Sep 2018, 10:47 pm »



Johnny2Bad

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #30 on: 25 Sep 2018, 11:11 pm »
Carbon steel is harder than stainless - isn't it? (That's what the carbon is for.)

The answer is complicated by the large number of steel formulae suitable for kitchen knives. But ...

420 Stainless Steel becoming more common for inexpensive knife blades Rockwell 49-53
440A Stainless Steel commonly used in knife blades Rockwell 55-57
Alloy 1095 Plain Carbon Steel Rockwell 56-58
ATS-34 High Carbon / Chromium / Molybedinum Stainless Steel Rockwell 60-61
AUS-6A Medium to High Carbon Stainless Steel Rockwell 55-57
AUS-8A High Carbon / Low Chromium Stainless Steel Rockwell 57-59
Carbon-V Low Alloy Cutlery Grade Stainless Steel Rockwell 59
CPM-S30V American grade of Cutlery Steel Rockwell 58-60
N-690 Austrian grade of Cutlery Steel Rockwell 58-60
Sandvik 12C27 Swedish grade of Stainless Steel Rockwell 57-59

You are correct that adding Carbon makes for a harder alloy, but you can use it in a formula that is Stainless or not; other components alloyed will determine if the steel is considered Stainless. Generally Chromium (which is a very hard metal) and perhaps other alloying elements make a steel Stainless.

There is not a huge difference between knife grade Plain Carbon Steels and Stainless Steels (for example, they are both magnetic, otherwise they would not stick to magnetic knife holders, while high grades of Stainless are non-magnetic), but the addition of Chromium is what makes most Stainless variants brittle, versus pliable for Plain Steels. The brittleness means you need a more aggressive sharpening material, so "harder" might not be technically correct on the Rockwell scale but none the less, they are more difficult to sharpen.

Note as well that the various grades of Stainless will corrode under some conditions. so a rinse and wipe is still recommended. It is also important that utensils are stored dry as that is the key to bacterial contamination control. If using a knife wet (say, you are switching from chicken to onions) you should use soap so that the majority of live bacteria is washed away; it won't kill bacteria (and anti-bacterial soaps just create bacterial-resistant bugs, and should be avoided in any case). To kill bacteria you must have a dry surface, plus a little time. Placing a wet knife into, say, a wooden knife block or resting on a plastic surface in a drawer, you are potentially harboring bacteria.

jules

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #31 on: 25 Sep 2018, 11:35 pm »
quote John:

"The thing I wonder is, if you (not you specifically, in general) have specialized knives that do all the things you need to do, why do you need a general purpose knife at all (e.g. chef's knife, santoku etc)?"

At two extremes ...

A large 30cm blade traditional french chefs knife isn't really a general purpose knife. It's great for chopping huge amounts of parsley and onions or maybe dicing meat finely but it's purpose specific really. Below about 20cm [sorry, I haven't got one on hand to check] the main purpose of these knives is defeated by the fact, if you're attempting a classic chopping motion, your knuckles hit the board you're working on before the blade does. At this length, you're probably better off with a gyuto.

A small concave curved blade paring knife can be very useful for peeling fruit or something like cutting the core out of a pear that's in quarters. The paring knife is pretty useless for larger jobs though.

Often, it's a question of dexterity. While it's possible to cut the core out of  tomato with the tip of a 30cm long knife, it's easier and more precise to do it [or repeat it over a few hundred tomatoes] with a short knife. Likewise, a paring knife is useless if you need to cut large volumes of anything.

A cleaver really is specialized  :D and if you put a really sharp edge on it, it will cut as well as anything else BUT it's cumbersome.

Home use really is different to pro use just because of the volumes involved.

Johnny2Bad

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #32 on: 25 Sep 2018, 11:45 pm »
For Cleavers I buy them at Asian Grocery stores. Very inexpensive, provided you're shopping at one that caters to ... well ... Asians, and not trendy consumers.

For a filleting / boning knife, I buy them from Butchers who wear down what were once pretty substantial knives to a thin blade, then often discard them. Very decent steel, usually a plastic handle.

The Chef's knife I spend money on.

Photon46

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #33 on: 25 Sep 2018, 11:55 pm »
quote John:

A cleaver really is specialized  :D and if you put a really sharp edge on it, it will cut as well as anything else BUT it's cumbersome.


I'd say that's a matter of cultural and culinary perspective. To many Asian chefs, the cleaver is the "go to" first choice.  I don't find them cumbersome in the least for prepping stir fry dishes or slicing and dicing veg and proteins (as long as you buy one that's well balanced and you hold it right.)

jules

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #34 on: 26 Sep 2018, 12:04 am »
Yes, I completely agree. Related to the image john posted above, I was thinking "french" cleaver when I said that. At first glance Asian cleavers look similar but in practice they're thinner, lighter and very useful, as you say. 

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #35 on: 26 Sep 2018, 08:28 am »
Delicate work with a chinese cleaver - https://youtu.be/HV8FPk5qN9k?t=2m40s

(PS. that's actually a Wusthof :lol: )

jules

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #36 on: 27 Sep 2018, 04:51 am »
Quite a showman  :o

This site and maybe their shop in Sydney, could both be worth a visit John.

https://www.chefsarmoury.com/




JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #37 on: 27 Sep 2018, 11:46 am »
Indeed :)

Once I learn my chops with the $30 nakiri, perhaps an upgrade will be in order  :o




https://www.chefsarmoury.com/collections/nakiri-vegetable/products/saji-ironwood-165mm-nakiri

cujobob

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Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #38 on: 27 Sep 2018, 04:54 pm »
You don't really need stainless for knives. A good carbon steel knife is softer metal and much easier to sharpen, and keeps an edge well. Stainless is quite hard, which means more strokes with your favorite sharpener, or an aggressive sharpener like a carbide type.

The other thing is pretty much everyone is going to have a natural tendency angle they put on a knife, and that will rarely match the factory edge. So you are going to put a new angle on the first time you sharpen, and that is much easier with a carbon steel blade. Rinse and wipe after each use and staining won't be a problem. You want to be especially careful to do so after cutting acidic foods (citrus, etc) as they are most likely to stain a knife.

Serrated knives work, but instead of slicing they tend to act by tearing the food. When the food is soft itself (cake, bread) or has a crust, it works well, and softer foods do not dull the knife much. To sharpen you use a round tool and work each serration somewhat like sharpening a chainsaw. But really they are for cooks who never sharpen, as they will still cut (tear) when dull.

I figured I'd provide some clarity on steels for you and John (as best I am able to).

Being carbon or stainless does not have anything to do with how hard a steel can be. There are steels that can be hardened near 70 RC like Maxamet which is basically weakly semi-stainless. How stainless a knife steel is depends on how much free chromium exists in it's makeup. Most steels available on high quality pocket knives will be between 58-62 RC and vary from near completely stainless (LC200N, H1, Nitrobe 77), to those that can stain if abused (S110V/S90V/S30V, VG-10, 440C, 14C28N), to semi stainless (M4, 3V, K390), and then those which stain quite easily (52100, 1095, simple carbon steels). When I say free chromium, I also do not mean % chromium in the chemical makeup. Chromium is also used to form chromium carbides. ZDP-189 is a steel with excellent edge retention, 20% chromium, but can stain if the user isn't careful.

Getting back to hardness, that is determined by which elements exist in the makeup, how the steel is made, and the heat treatment of the steel.

For kitchen knives, you typically want steels that have a good balance of traits. I recommend AEB-L and 14C28N. They rarely rust, sharpen easily (and because they have such good edge stability, you can sharpen them to ridiculous angles), have solid edge retention (if it is properly heat treated), and are fairly tough/resistant to edge deformation. Most steels you'll find in common cutlery is simple in it's makeup, heat treated fairly soft (lower to mid 50s), and won't hold an edge long.

The knives I use in my kitchen vary between customs from Jeremy McCullen and Spyderco kitchen knife models (the Santoku is quite nice), plus cheap paring knives from Victorinox.

JohnR

Re: The Only 3 Knives You Really Need
« Reply #39 on: 27 Sep 2018, 06:08 pm »
Being carbon or stainless does not have anything to do with how hard a steel can be.

That clears it up for me :)

I ran into some Japanese knives the other day saying they use Swedish steel and it turns out there are (at least) a couple of ranges using AEB-L e.g.

https://www.chefknivestogo.com/ksearch.html?term=aeb-l&x=0&y=0&vwcatalog=chefknivestogo