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Carbon vs Stainless, What's your poison?

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Argonaut, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Argonaut

    Argonaut People call me French sounding words Founding Member

    As an owner of a Henkles set for the last 10 years, I've become accustom to stainless. I am intrigued by the ever growing popularity of the Japanese offerings, but I'm afraid my wife or kids would chuck it in the dishwasher. This is a constant battle with my cast iron pans. Which do you prefer and why?
  2. Kevin

    Kevin Special K Founding Member

    We use stainless (A cheap Henckels set as well) for your reasons. We frequently have guests come over and help / do the cooking and have had more than one skillet thrown in the dishwasher, all clad pot warped, etc....

    Cheap knives are cheaper for us to replace and work OK when well sharpened.
  3. Rick

    Rick aka Pensacola Tiger Founding Member Gold Contributor

    You could always get a carbon core clad in stainless.
  4. Lefty

    Lefty Founding Member

    Both, and many of either type.

    For me, it's all about what I'm feeling that day. Just like which shaving brush you want to use that day, or which pen you want to write with, a chef's knife (or gyuto) is all based on what will make cooking that much more enjoyable. Carbon has charm, and grows along with you, as you use it. The patina changes, and becomes more and more stable over the months and years.

    My work knife is a carbon Harner gyuto, and I frigging love the thing! Even the guys at the hall have figured out that you can use my knife, but just wipe it dry, and we're all good. In practice, are there any real benefits to carbon over modern stainless? No, not really. With the super fine grained stainless steels out there, you can get an unbelievable edge and many of them even take an edge ALMOST as easily. The pluses, however are obvious with stainless; They are less rust prone, less maintenance, less scary for your wife, etc. However, in my mind they also have less soul... So, that's where the maker comes into play. Guys like Pierre Rodrigue, Butch Harner, and Michael Rader are freakin' pros at this, and you can always pick out their work.

    Without further ado:






    Tough choice, isn't it? :D
  5. Marko Tsourkan

    Marko Tsourkan Founding Member

    I like both, but I am picky what steels I eat.
  6. Lefty

    Lefty Founding Member

    I should add that Marko Tsourkan is ALSO a freakishly talented maker. Seriously.
  7. kentos

    kentos Founding Member

    I remember taking to an itamae in Japan about his knives. He told us that carbon knives develop a "skin"(I assume patina) that protects the blade from rusting. Care would still be needed, but once the skin is formed it's easier to maintain.

    Does that make any sense?
  8. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

    Sure does Kent, the patina can be very protective or not so much based on how slowly it was developed and how complete it is.
  9. MattS

    MattS Founding Member

    No need to limit yourself. I reach for my carbons more often, but man, that stainless sure comes in handy when I am cutting alot of pineapple....
  10. kentos

    kentos Founding Member

    Ah. So the patina would be a source of pride. Too bad we had no idea what we were looking at way back then.
  11. Marko Tsourkan

    Marko Tsourkan Founding Member

    Carbon steels are generally easier to sharpen. Patina provides some protection but not 100%, so all carbon knives need to be cared for. Stainless is that sense is care-free.
  12. John Fout

    John Fout Founding Member

    Trying to get more carbon in my life. :)
  13. greasedbullet

    greasedbullet Founding Member

    It depends on what I am using it for. During prep I like carbon or stainless clad carbon, but during the shift my line knives are stainless.

    However my favorite knife for prep recently is stainless so I may be changing my mind. We shall see.
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Founding Member


    I think you should get yourself a knife and hide it from the family, or at least anyone who would not want to properly care for one. If they're not interested in knives, they may not even care to try yours. Kind of treat it like your pipes.
  15. John Fout

    John Fout Founding Member

    I've been using more carbon during service just to prove to myself I can cook for 500 without a screw up while keeping my station and knife clean and organized. Partially just to torque off the people that have been there forever and work like slobs.

    Loving an 8" Carbon 2Lion Sabatier. Ugly as sin with the three piece blade/bolster/tang but the size and geometry is great!
  16. turtle

    turtle Founding Member

    Out of all the knives I own and use in the kitchen (carbon and stainless)

    This stainless one seems to get the grab more often than any other.

    Japanese style with bevel only on one side. Full tang with an 8" blade



  17. HHH Knives

    HHH Knives Founding Member

    I have always been a carbon steel user. But have recently found a few really awesome stainless steel that I like in the kitchen. So Im now in the BOTH corner!!

    Yet Im always gona love and choose a good carbon steel, heat treated and ground properly for kitchen cutting..
  18. Spike

    Spike Founding Member

    I've been using a knife that I made out of O1 tool steel, butt lately I'm using my Takeda for most things. It has a serious carbon core and iron cladding. I have stainless knifes too butt they are relegated to guest use and the spousal unit.
    Why the preference for the carbon? It is more pleasant to put an edge on it and my carbons are ground way better than any of my stainless!
  19. turtle

    turtle Founding Member

    I really need to sit down and "inventory" my knives like I did my razors.

    Some of them I have had for over 50 years. Some I purchased new or used. Some were "gifts" from employers (when I was an apprentice and some of those date back to the early part of the last century when they were made).

    The sad thing is that my "knife drawer" dropped (the runner holders failed) and I have not been able to get the drawer open for.... oh gee... 7-8 years now (?). I know WHAT is in there but I have not seen any of those knives in way too long. Bout time to get off my duff and get it together. I have so many knives that most of the ones in the drawer are duplicated by other knives I have so I have not been all that enthusiastic about fixing the drawer. Maybe this forum will be the kick in the pants I need

    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  20. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    So many knives you lost a box and forgot about it, that sounds oddly familiar of some pen stories lol, now its the great unsolved mystery of our time

    Whats in the box ?, lol grounds for a PIF guess whats in the box exactly and win a thumbs up of acknowledgment free of charge

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