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Hape, size, country or origin, how about alloy?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Many times when I counsel a potential client on a new knife, we discuss things like utilization, brand name, size and shape. That's pretty standard.

But dozens of times I get a call later from a client, like, "Chico, I was washing my knife last night and I noticed a marking on the blade 'S30V.' What's does that mean?"

I pretty much give them the standard spiel about "the recipe of steel." That being the alloy's component make-up, its HT, a few pertinent reasons and perhaps its origin (for example, ATS-34 is Hitachi out of Japan, and 154-CM is Crucible from America, but it's pretty much the same stuff).

Obviously, this is after the purchase. The idea of "alloy" didn't seem to matter as a priority when the client sought out a new tool. And if I mention it, sometimes their eyes glaze over.

However, you guys seem to be better informed, so let me pose the question:

"If you came to me seeking a new knife, and I offered you two of them in similar size, shape, country of origin and overt overall appearance, would the alloy matter?"
post #2 of 5
Yes. However, there are several to many alloys I'd consider excellent for any given knife profile and use.

BDL
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Fair enough. As you know many clad or folded knives have a differing core.

For example, some have a central iron core, some have a stainless one, like VG-10. I had a personal clad knife with a iron core that tarnished during dinner. It didn't mean anything to me, because I had prior knowledge.

Having said that, I always warn a chef--even a very savvy one--on the descriptions of "white" or "blue" steels. (That's the color of Japanese wrapping paper, not the hue of the blade blank.)

There is one excpetion, like anything else. I've prepared a white steel butakiri for a sous-chef that blocked out large sections of beef as it he used a lightsaber. Silvers? What silvers? Poof, they were gone!

However, he knew the risks.
post #4 of 5
If you came to me seeking a new knife, and I offered you two of them in similar size, shape, country of origin and overt overall appearance, would the alloy matter?"

Yes but you need to get price point in there as well. At some price point I will no longer be happy with a given alloy. I'll expect the alloy to match the price point as well as what I intend to use the knife for. Then there is how well each given company treats each alloy as well as the finish quality. I don't expect a $100 knife to be equal to a Hattori even if both are solid VG10.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
I had an example of this very idea late today when I called a long time client. We had been unsuccessfully trying to work out a evening date for sharpening and viewing some new inventory, and my phone call uncovered some disappointments.

My client had wanted to purchase a custom knife from a premium cutler, but the prices have always been steep. Last year this cutler licensed his design to a major knife maker, and my client ordered a copy.

Oh, he loved the design. Yes, I put a mirror edge on the blade. True, he is a serious and well-read collector.

The project was pretty much a failure.

Within two weeks on the job, the knife began to get dull, and when he foolishly loaned it to a co-worker, it came back chipped. (This is why I haven't loaned out a knife in +30 years.)

The problem is plain and simple. The licensed copy is a good rendition. I think some of the parts are actually interchangeable. The issue is the blade steel.

The premium custom version was a superior alloy and got a HT from a noted heat treatment specialist. The copy had "claims" which may have been over-stated.

So now I have to repair and sharpen a knife for a disappointed client. He went into this project with his eyes wide open and clearly saved +/-300 bucks. While the overall appearance of the knife was true to the original, clearly the copy to did not meet the expectations of the buyer.
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