How do kitchen knives differ? Why are the prices different even though they look the same? I think there are many people bothered by questions like these. Let's look at what are the criteria when choosing a kitchen knife and how not to make a mistake when selecting a knife.
First of all, so as not to make a mistake when selecting a knife, let's look at "knife stores."
It is no exaggeration to say that the quality of a kitchen knife depends entirely on the store where you purchase it. Especially with Japanese knives, because the finished knife depends on the artisan's skill, knives will not be of the same quality even if made using the same material and the same machine.
So, if you buy a kitchen knife just because it is cheap, you will regret it later. First of all, please find a store that has trustworthy craftsmen and clerks. Let's look at what specifically is different.
Japanese knives are formed by striking the steel to stretch it into the shape of a knife, but this process is done based on the craftsman's skill (intuition). So it is extremely difficult to make a knife with an accurate and completely flat blade surface.
It's easier to understand if you imagine a wire. A wire is initially straight, but once bent it will be very difficult to make it completely straight again. A kitchen knife is the same, and while you may not notice at a glance, the surface is not completely flat. This distortion is very important for a kitchen knife. If the knife is distorted, it affects the quality of its sharpness, and the distorted part also takes a lot of time to sharpen.
An inexpensive kitchen knife has fewer work steps to correct this distortion, while an expensive knife increases this work process. We remove this distortion as much as possible, and we make our knives sharp and easy to re-sharpen.
We make sure that our customers are satisfied with the sharpness of the kitchen knife after they buy it, and that they remain happy to have bought it even 10 or 20 years later. We believe that our relationship does not end once the sale is made, but continues long after, so we put particular emphasis on quality control.
I think many people assume that a kitchen knife will naturally cut right after it's purchased. However, the knives in most stores knives have not undergone the final hatsuke process. For that reason, you have to finish the knife to a good sharpness after you buy it. This work is surprisingly time-consuming and it is difficult to whet the blade accurately.
However, we have listened to feedback from our customers, and we apply the final hatsuke process at the manufacturing stage, so you can use your knife immediately after purchase. Moreover, since the uraoshi process of higher-grade knives is done with a No. 10000 whetstone, as well as having a sharp finish they are also easy to re-sharpen.
You may be worried that if you sharpen the blade too much it will become easily chipped, but we deliberately carry out a process at the end that makes it difficult to chip. We think that you'll be satisfied with the sharpness when you buy your knife, but anyone looking for more than that can always whet just a little to get it even sharper. Also, this sharpening work can be done together with quality control. Because Japanese knives are handmade, blemishes known as "aike" may be seen at first.
Once the knife is properly sharpened, these will be removed, but most stores sell their knives before sharpening, so you may buy without noticing them. Since we manage the quality at the same time as the sharpening, and since we ship around 100,000 pieces a year with almost no complaints, you can purchase from us with confidence.
The reason why a kitchen knife "is not used as it is" is because it is not in the state of maximum sharpness. In order to get the knife to its maximum sharpness, it is necessary to perform a "hatsuke" process.
The hatsuke process means to sharpen the knife you have purchased to your desired sharpness. It is common for ordinary stores to sell kitchen knives without doing the final hatsuke process.
* Although the knife will cut without having hatsuke done, its sharpness will not be maximized. So, if you buy at an ordinary knife store, you will be buying a knife that hasn't had the final hatsuke processing (= uraoshi processing).
As for why they don't do this process, it's because they don't have the machines and other facilities, and it takes time because skill is required to do hatsuke correctly. And that's the reason it is common to sell knives as they are, without doing hatsuke.
If you use a kitchen knife that has not had the hatsuke process, it will:
So, hatsuke processing of a kitchen knife is very important. Now we would like to explain how we are different to ordinary knife makers.
We start off by doing the hatsuke process that other stores find too troublesome. What's more, the whetstones that we use on the kitchen knives are No.220, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10000. It is also important to use fine grit. While there are some stores that say they do hatsuke, they are using machines with a rotating grinding stone, whereas at our store we hand sharpen using a square grinding stone. Sharpening by hand means you can make adjustments for very precise angles.
* The whetstone used depends on the grade of the knife, but we don't use anything less than a No.3000.
The important thing with a kitchen knife is to remove distortion (fine irregularities on the surface of the blade). You won't notice it at a glance, but the surface is not perfectly flat.
As mentioned before it's easier to understand if you imagine a wire. A wire is initially straight, but once bent it will be very difficult to make it completely straight again. It is very important that knives do not have this distortion. If the knife is distorted, it affects the quality of its sharpness, and the distorted part also takes a lot of time to sharpen. We correct this many times and make it as flat as possible.
I think that people were doing the hatsuke themselves after purchase, but in our store knives are sharpened by a craftsman who specializes in hatsuke. There are many work processes involved when it's done by a professional, and the sharpness is improved greatly.
Also, by improving the cut quality of the kitchen knife, we can promise that "your cooking will be more delicious", "your cooking time will be reduced", and "cooking will be more fun".
By removing the knife's distortion, sharpening will become easier. Just as important as the cut quality of a kitchen knife is that it is easy to sharpen. For every single kitchen knife, we correct the distortions many times until it is completed. There is no more, "I sharpened it, but it still doesn't cut..."
If the hatsuke process is done properly, you can cut with the whole blade. If there are spots where it hasn't been done properly, they will bother you and you will have to re-sharpen more often than usual.
For that reason, re-sharpening becomes more frequent. If you use our kitchen knives, you can extend the intervals between when you need to re-sharpen.
If you buy a kitchen knife, it is a tool that can be used for 5 years, 10 years, even 20 or 30 years. We hope that you will consider our opinions, so as not to regret having chosen a particular kitchen knife. Because our knives are made with a focus on the things we write about in these pages, we will also advise on how to choose a knife, how to sharpen a knife, knife repairs, and so on.
If you cook using the correct kitchen knives, cooking is more fun. And if you want to make delicious dishes, you will also become interested in selecting ingredients. As a result, we believe that you will eat in a way that makes you more healthy. We think that the pursuit of cut quality is connected to everyone's health, so we will continue to pursue such quality.
We would like to build a relationship that will connect us for 10 or 20 years. If you have any questions, no matter how trivial, please contact us by phone or email.
(1) Forge welding
Bonding the jigane (malleable iron) and the blade (carbon steel). The red-hot metal jigane is beaten and fired together with the blade...
Steps for sharpening kitchen knives such as Deba, Sashimi, Usuba, etc.
1. Sharpen the tip of the knife
2. Sharpen the whole cutting edge from the tip of the knife to the heel of the blade
3. Remove the burr
4. Kobatsuke (for intermediate and advanced users)...