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My new Hong Kong knife 菜刀

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Balthazar

Looks like a beautiful knife!

 

Circular motions for sharpening? Sounds like a difficult motion to pull off while keeping the knife at the same angle. Is it a single or double bevel knife?

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Kamelion

Congratulations, @abcdefg! Since I see that the joint is brass coloured, I assume it is the 1112 and not 1102, meaning you went for the stainless steel instead of. Is this correct, and why did you go for that variant? I bought both sorts, as you may recall.

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abcdefg
On 6/3/2017 at 10:39 PM, Balthazar said:

Circular motions for sharpening? Sounds like a difficult motion to pull off while keeping the knife at the same angle.

 

Balthazar -- I'm not explaining it very well. He demonstrated the motion for me using a whetstone that was still in its box and a knife that didn't really contact it. The move he was suggesting first pushed the blade away from his body, with a shallow angle of only 10 to 15 degrees, and instead of turning the knife over at the end of the stroke, just reversed the direction of of travel for the blade in a circular manner, pulling it back towards his body, still on the stone, never having lost contact with it. This movement let all parts of the edge, from heel to toe, come in contact with the stone. After completing several strokes like that, somewhat elliptical (not truly circular,) then he turned the blade over and just finished with a couple such moves on its second side. The two sides of the blade did not get equal attention. 

 

Quote

Is it a single or double bevel knife?

 

It looks like a single bevel. The young lady asked if I was right-handed or left-handed before taking my knife out of the large display behind him on the wall. Three people were working in the front of the store, so far as I could see: and old man who mainly sat back and kept an eye on the overall scene. I figured him as the father, possibly the founder. Then the 40 or 50'ish man in the green tee-shirt, who spoke good English; I figured him as the old man's son. And there was a young woman, far right in the snapshot above, who I guessed was green tee-shirt's adult daughter.

 

They said they manufactured the knives at another location in Hong Kong where the real estate was less expensive. They also offered a re-sharpening plan for professional chefs. One could pay for it in advance and get a membership card 会员卡, like at foot massage shops on the mainland.

 

Difficult for me to illustrate the edge, my photo skills and gear are not really up to the task, but I'll try.

 

IMG_0788.thumb.JPG.e25d78d7907dad225b87fd1080534ff0.JPGIMG_0792.thumb.JPG.e1b2332a01a0791999def09ac00124ad.JPG

 

 

The side with the little bit of bevel, upper left, is the right side of the blade as I'm holding it with a normal cutting grip. The flat side is the left side (it is the side with the brand stamp.) The whole blade is not very thick at all. Taking a page from @Kamelion's guide, I've placed three Hong Kong coins beside it for comparison (10 cents, 50 cents, and 1 dollar.)

 

IMG_0769.thumb.jpg.ae1df12957e555e406e6891de21b560d.jpgIMG_0804.thumb.JPG.83cb71dd0ff13e5b7c88280e21aae8fc.JPG

 

 

In contrast to some German and Japanese kitchen knives I've owned over the years, this one does not just scream "quality" at first glance. But I hope that in daily use it will prove itself to be worth the trouble and expense of acquiring it.

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abcdefg
On 6/4/2017 at 5:46 AM, Kamelion said:

Since I see that the joint is brass coloured, I assume it is the 1112 and not 1102, meaning you went for the stainless steel instead of. Is this correct, and why did you go for that variant?

 

You're right! And since I said I prefer plain carbon steel blades, that surprised me too! At the store, they explained that they used a very high-carbon formulation for their stainless, better than "ordinary" stainless steel, and that it would not be unduly difficult to sharpen, even though it would hold an edge well and be quite a bit less likely to chip. Sounded almost too good to be true. I realize there are trade-offs in steel selection. Hope I did not make a mistake.

 

 

IMG_0806.thumb.JPG.11d3f6981b583e3b8d8fdb8f9b468d4a.JPGSo I set aside my original plan and went with their recommendation for use in a non-professional, home kitchen. The blade is stamped: 不锈锋利 (which literally means "stainless sharp")。The heft and balance seem very good; should be a breeze to use. Will definitely need to keep my fingertips tucked in so as not to unintentionally add extra animal protein to the dish. This blade is seriously sharp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a diagram of the main types of bevel (from Wikipedia.) Are your Number 2 caidao 菜刀 knives single bevel too? I realize it has not been very long since you received yours, but do you have any impressions on how they are to use? Any tips on care and maintenance? (I read your earlier notes on the Spyderco sharpener, but will have to stick to my old whetstone for now in Kunming.)

 

59336305dc96a_Ground_blade_shapesbevel.thumb.png.bef9b034d587d3689c30e8d49ff9d270.png

 

Mine is more or less like diagram number 4, above, except with a much more gradual bevel. When not in use, I'll probably wrap the blade in a paper kitchen towel and store it in the pages of the Chinese version of Dream of Red Mansions 红楼梦 that I will never, ever read beyond page 20.

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Balthazar

"I'm not explaining it very well. He demonstrated the motion for me using a whetstone that was still in its box and a knife that didn't really contact it. The move he was suggesting first pushed the blade away from his body, with a shallow angle of only 10 to 15 degrees, and instead of turning the knife over at the end of the stroke, just reversed the blade in a circular manner, pulling it back towards his body, still on the stone. After completing several strokes like that, somewhat elliptical (not truly circular,) then he turned the blade over an just finished with one or two such moves on its second side."

 

Ah, that makes a whole lot more of sense :). If it's a single bevel knife, I guess the finishing few strokes on the second side are intended to remove "burr" (from the sharpening of the beveled side), but I may be wrong.

 

By the way, depending on how experienced you are with sharpening on a whetstone and making sure you're keeping a consistent angle, you may or may not find this video useful "Magic marker/Sharpie trick" (In case you are not able to access Youtube, it's a really simple trick where you use a magic marker to color the edge (and a bit of the area behind) before sharpening. This allows you to see what part of the blade is actually being sharpened, and thus to maintain the same angle as the one used by the manufacturer.

 

This way, you can gauge when your angle is too low (marker is still on the edge of the knife, but is being removed behind the edge), too high (marker is only being removed at the edge, but is smaller than the bevel), inconsistent, etc. It adds one more level of feedback you can get from your sharpening.

 

(When you're finished sharpening, remember to remove any left-over marker with acetone/ nail polish removal and then wash your knife.)

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Kamelion
10 hours ago, abcdefg said:
10 hours ago, abcdefg said:

You're right! And since I said I prefer plain carbon steel blades, that surprised me too! At the store, they explained that they used a very high-carbon formulation for their stainless, better than "ordinary" stainless steel, and that it would not be unduly difficult to sharpen, even though it would hold an edge well and be quite a bit less likely to chip. Sounded almost too good to be true. I realize there are trade-offs in steel selection. Hope I did not make a mistake.

 

 

I have heard that their stainless is good, high in carbon, so it is probably a good choice. And it is probably nice not to have to care so much about rust in the start. For me, the carbon version is maybe ever so slightly sexier – and even thinner and lighter – but I will use both and see in the long run. 

 

 

10 hours ago, abcdefg said:

IMG_0806.thumb.JPG.11d3f6981b583e3b8d8fdb8f9b468d4a.JPGSo I set aside my original plan and went with their recommendation for use in a non-professional, home kitchen.

 

This confuses me a bit, when they mention “home kitchen”, this usually means the smaller version. Every knife exist in small (“home”) and large (“restaurant”) versions, the 1112 is the stainless restaurant version, and the 1912 is the home version (also #2 in that series), everyting but the same is identical. This makes me think, maybe yo got the 1912? What are the blade measurements?

 

SSSlicer1.jpg

KF1912

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Kamelion
11 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Here's a diagram of the main types of bevel (from Wikipedia.) Are your Number 2 caidao 菜刀 knives single bevel too? I realize it has not been very long since you received yours, but do you have any impressions on how they are to use? Any tips on care and maintenance? (I read your earlier notes on the Spyderco sharpener, but will have to stick to my old whetstone for now in Kunming.)

 

59336305dc96a_Ground_blade_shapesbevel.thumb.png.bef9b034d587d3689c30e8d49ff9d270.png

 

Mine is more or less like diagram number 4, above, except with a much more gradual bevel. When not in use, I'll probably wrap the blade in a paper kitchen towel and store it in the pages of the Chinese version of Dream of Red Mansions 红楼梦 that I will never, ever read beyond page 20.

 

2 hours ago, Balthazar said:

Ah, that makes a whole lot more of sense :). If it's a single bevel knife, I guess the finishing few strokes on the second side are intended to remove "burr" (from the sharpening of the beveled side), but I may be wrong.

 

 

Number 4 is not entirely correct – that image suggests that one side ist completely flat – not tending towards the center – all the way, with no bevel, usually most found on japanese knives.

 

On these knives, both sides are thinned out towards the center, and the bevels too. Only the edge is sharpened assymetrically (even though I think many sharpens syemtrically). The sharpening method he suggests could mean either of two things, I will try to make a drawing of it and post here, but it’s often described as a 70/30-edge. Fuchsia Dunlop writes in her book Sichuan Cookery/Land of Plenty:

 

Quote

 

Looking after your knife

 

It's important to keep the cleaver blade sharp.The best way is to keep a whet- stone on hand and to use it regularly. Whetstones can usually be bought along with your cleaver. To sharpen the knife, wet the stone under the tap and then secure it, coarser side up, on a work surface—I usually place it on a damp kitchen towel to stop it from moving around. Hold the knife handle in your right hand and the end of the blade in your left, lay the blade facing away from you onto the whetstone at a sharp angle (about 30 degrees), and rub it back- wards and forwards, moving the blade from time to time to ensure an even sharpening. Then turn the knife and repeat, but with the blade at a sharper angle, nearly parallel to the stone. When the knife is becoming sharp, you can turn the whetstone and use the finer-grained side to bring it to a keener edge. Keep moistening the stone as you go along. If you sharpen your knife regularly, the process won't take long.

 

Try to keep the knife in a place where it won't get banged and won't cause accidents—most Sichuanese keep theirs in a small knife rack hanging on the kitchen wall. If you have a carbon steel knife, you should make sure you rinse and dry it immediately after use and smear it with a little cooking oil to keep it from rusting.

Dunlop, F. (2003). Land of plenty. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, p.46.

 

 

This method is what I have often seen, where also the angle is assymetric However, I wonder if the accidentally mixed up the left and rifht side here, since it would produce the bigger edge on the left side …?

 

I till email with a acquaintance who probably knows all this very good, and see if he has something to say, or even come to this forum.

 

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Kamelion

Here is an attempt to show the sharpening methods. Both result in a 30° edge, but with different methods. The second one would be Fuchsias’, or maybe mirror-inverted.

 

Please do not believe me to strongly though, there are folks out there, knowing 100 times more, and I may have understood this wrongly.

 

Bevels.jpg

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abcdefg
16 hours ago, Balthazar said:

Ah, that makes a whole lot more of sense :). If it's a single bevel knife, I guess the finishing few strokes on the second side are intended to remove "burr" (from the sharpening of the beveled side), but I may be wrong.

 

That's the way I understood it too, Balthazar.

 

16 hours ago, Balthazar said:

This allows you to see what part of the blade is actually being sharpened, and thus to maintain the same angle as the one used by the manufacturer.

 

Sounds like a good trick. Maybe I'll try it, sort of as a self-test. Currently I use a stone to sharpen my older Chinese kitchen knives, of which I have several. And I use a "making circles on the stone" technique similar to the one he described; right hand grasping the wooden handle and left hand supporting the tip. But my current knives are all double bevel, so I spend nearly equal time on each side.

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abcdefg
14 hours ago, Kamelion said:

This confuses me a bit, when they mention “home kitchen”, this usually means the smaller version.

 

I might not be quoting the salesperson exactly. I had told them I cooked a lot, Chinese style, but at home on the China Mainland instead of in a restaurant.

 

Will measure the blade in a few minutes, and return with the dimensions. I'm back in Kunming now, and have a ruler.

------------------------------

Measured it just now, and the blade is 20.5 cm long by 9 cm wide. So that does seem to make it their model 1912, as you suspected. While in the store I didn't ask about measurements or model numbers. I just handled knives that were designed for my main task, then chose the one which felt the best.

 

5934c37a14a6b_chanchikee.thumb.JPG.7721c2105c3ad736bc72dd37eb40a964.JPG

 

 

Just for fun, I measured the old cai dao knife I've been using here every day for the past 6 or 7 years. It is 16.5 cm long by 7.5 cm wide. Double bevel. Carbon steel (rusts easily.) So the new Hong Kong knife is larger, but not by too much. Glad I didn't buy a bigger model. 

 

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abcdefg
14 hours ago, Kamelion said:

Number 4 is not entirely correct – that image suggests that one side ist completely flat – not tending towards the center – all the way, with no bevel, usually most found on japanese knives.

 

On these knives, both sides are thinned out towards the center, and the bevels too. Only the edge is sharpened assymetrically (even though I think many sharpens syemtrically). The sharpening method he suggests could mean either of two things, I will try to make a drawing of it and post here, but it’s often described as a 70/30-edge.

 

Well, I looked again very closely just now (back in Kunming) using a magnifying glass. It seems that you are right about both sides having some bevel. One side is a long bevel and the other side is very. very short, resembling those in the diagram that you posted. My eye is not good enough to say anything about how exactly the blade narrows overall from the spine to the edge.

 

bevel.thumb.JPG.3cad3d9ab3bff293edc4d18cb812c436.JPG

 

Must say that I'm now officially tired of all this technical background information. It has exhausted its charm. Later today I will start using the knife and see how it performs. That is what I care about the most.

 

Thank you for the care tips. I will take them to heart.

 

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Kamelion
9 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Measured it just now, and the blade is 20.5 cm long by 9 cm wide. So that does seem to make it their model 1912, as you suspected.

 

Hey, I am glad we now have identical ones. This makes comparing and sharing experiences easy and fruitful!

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Kamelion
8 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Must say that I'm now officially tired of all this technical background information. It has exhausted its charm. Later today I will start using the knife and see how it performs. That is what I care about the most.

 

Thank you for the care tips. I will take them to heart.

 

Forgive me, @abcdefg, this it not was I intended. I tend to over-analyse such things sometimes (getting a bit tired of myself then, to be true). 

 

However, I personally find the technical aspect very interesting, almost as an art in itself, and I try to look at it this way. Probably, I will post more about it, but I hope it will not take away all of the charm …

 

After mailing a bit with an expert in the area, my conclusion so far is: The thinner the blade, the less important the whichever-side-question gets. Bot versions probably work fine – so just sharpen it till you feel a burr. 50/50 if you like, or otherwise more strokes on one side, less on the other, 70/30 for example.

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abcdefg

70/30 it will be. I have three friends who are intrigued by knives in big way. One mainly collects Japanese kitchen knives, plus a sword or two. He has all sorts of sharpening devices in the basement. Sometimes I take problem knives when I visit and we work on them. Agree that it is interesting stuff. No need to apologize. I await more from you with interest!

 

Another friend is a sculptor who sharpens his own chisels. He said he had to become knowlegable about the process, because he couldn't find anyone who could do it right. Has half a dozen stones, including a couple of prize Arkansas stones that he calls "slicks."

 

The third made hunting knives for several years, but his interest was more in the handles than in the blades. I've copied all three of them on this Hong Kong Kitchen Knife adventure!

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Kamelion

In another forum I got in contact with a member who calls himself Chemicalkinetics, and he gave me permission to quote him on this theme. Maybe he will chime in here himself. Here is what he had to say:

 

 
Quote

 

• I sharpened my knife symmetrically.  I think the asymmetric vs symmetric is a personal choice.  For Japanese traditional knives, they do prefer asymmetric sharpening because asymmetric knives can make feel a little sharper and they *may* release food better.  However, in general asymmetric sharpening is a little more tricky and asymmetric edge often "drift" during cutting.  That is to say, when you try to cut straight down, the knife actually does not come down straight, so you need to adjust.  For a thin blade like CCK KP1303, I am not sure if the asymmetric edge will help push the food away (food release).    Below is the Japanese knife asymmetric bevel for pushing food away.  
 
image.thumb.png.882eb7d9e34864bc443124aaa2a1578d.png

It is a personal choice.

• I have heard people put asymmetric edge on a Chinese knife, but still... not the same extend as what Dunlop has described (30 degree one side and ~5-10 degree on the other side).  She is describing more like a total bevel angle at 40o.  This is similar to the typical recommendation people have for the 20o + 20o.  For your thin blade Chinese knife, I think your TOTAL cutting edge bevel (primary) can be 30o.  If you want to use Dunlop method, then I would recommend maybe more like 20o one side, and ~10 on the other side.  Unlike a traditional Japanese knife, you cannot have 0 degree on the other side due to the blade grind.

• "I did not realize that I was only touching the shoulders to the edge". [This is a reply to me, @Kamelion, since I asked about sharpening with the Spyderco Sharpmaker. and wasn’t sure I was hitting the edge.]  Yeah, it is a common challenge.  If you are still not sure, then just use a rougher stone (1000 grit or lower) and kept at it.  You will able to form a noticeable burr for the CCK knives.  If you feel the burr, then you have formed an edge.  You don't need to form a burr every time, but for the first time sharpening a knife, you may just do it just to be sure you are not only hitting the shoulder.  Once you have one it the first time, it is optional afterward.  There are other knives which is more difficult to form a burr, but I can feel a burr on these CCK knives.  Small, but you can feel it.

 

 

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abcdefg

That's fascinating; many thanks!

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