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Calphalon Katana

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Today while at BB&B I saw a few Calphalon Katana knives and handled the 8" Chef's knife.  I liked the way it felt and the way it looked.  However, it's a new knife to me and I've no idea about the quality and how it might hold an edge.  Does anyone know about this knife and have any comments about it?  http://www.cookware.com/Calphalon-KN4008V-CPH1263.html

Thanks,
Schmoozer
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post #2 of 20
Calphalon Katanas are a complicated blend of pretty good and not so good.  There are so many aspects to Katanas, it's hard to go into all of them. 

Fit and finish is adequate but unexceptional for a knife of its price.  Calphalon claims all sorts of performance benefits from the damascus patterned cladding, but it's just propganda.  If you like the way it looks, great.  Beauty is enough of a reason.  However, you should be aware that it has a tendency to scratch and fade.

The handles are unusual, some people like them, some don't, you do.  The blade is fairly thick, and the edge grind is fairly obtuse.  The knives are on the heavy side for Japanese manufactured knives.  The trend among people with good knife skills is towards lighter knives -- but that's a matter of taste, not an absolute.

The profile is certainly more "French" than "German," and very flat along the edge, and not particularly conducive to "rock chopping" in the way a German knife is.  That's not a particularly bid deal.  It's easier to rock chop a flat profile than push cut an arced edge.  (My preference is to flatter rather than curvier, but the Katana takes it a bit too far my taste.)

The VG-1 alloy is fairly good, and sharpens easily.  It's also capable of holding a more acute angle than the very obtuse 22* factory set.  However, the shape of the blade where it flows into the handle makes it hard to sharpen to the 15* it ought to be.  VG-1 doesn't wear particularly quickly, but at the Katana's relatively low hardness it does roll.  Consequently, the knives need a fair amount of maintenance with a steel.

Bottom Line:  They're not bad for the price, but if you're serious about high performance knives, for a few dollars more you can do much better.  However, the subject of better knives raises the related subject of sharpening.  There's no point in investing in expensive knives which you can't or won't keep sharp.

Hope this helps,
BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 3/4/10 at 12:37am
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post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks, BDL ... your comments are appreciated.  I'm not a knife maven but would like to know more about them.  What is
"rock chopping"?  Is that when you rock the knife along the blade while chopping?

BTW, your review of the Sabatier-K was an enjoyable and educational read.

One last question, would you consider the Calphalon knife a good or fair value at $58.00?
Edited by Schmoozer - 3/4/10 at 6:23am
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post #4 of 20
Hi Schmoozer,

You asked,
What is "rock chopping"?  Is that when you rock the knife along the blade while chopping?

Sort of, but not exactly.  Here's how "rock chopping" works:  The tip of the kinfe goes down.  The rest of the blade follows in a sort of guillotine motion.  Because the edge of the knife has an arc, the user keeps pushing down on the handle until the back of the knife is down far enough that the food gets cut through.  Most people with good skills (with chef's knifes) also slide the knife forward slightly as it cuts ( to keep the chop silent and to avoid making "accordion" cuts). 

"Rock chopping" is not a traditional knife skills term, but seems to have come from knife forums on the net as a way from distinguishing the European style of chopping from the Asian "push cut." 

If you just rock the knife around the board making the food progressively smaller -- especially if you keep you press down on the knife near the tip with your offhand -- that's called "walking" the knife.  A lot of people mince that way -- in fact darn near everyone, including me -- despite the fact that it's a good way to chip your knife. 

Quote:
BTW, your review of the Sabatier-K was an enjoyable and educational read.
Thank you for saying so. 

Quote:
One last question, would you consider the Calphalon knife a good or fair value at $58.00?

Yes and no.  It's only a good value if it suits you.  I keep a sort of mental knife continuum in my head, and have been wrestling with where to put the Katanas since you asked.  More specifically, whether they're better or worse than Forschner Rosewood (or Forschner Fibrox) which are far less expensive. 

The Calphalons have a better profile than the Forschners and are made from better steel.  But their geometry makes it very difficult to sharpen them the way they should be sharpened, etc., etc.  In my opinion your verdict on the Katana comes down to looks.  Do you value them more than the knife's undistinguished utility as a tool?  If you do prize its apearance and don't care that much about performance, $60 seems attractive as knife prices go these days.   

I don't care for them and wouldn't buy one, no matter how cheaply sold.  But you're not me and neither of us expects or wants you to be.   

FWIW, I know a pro with decent skills who's on his second or third Katana.  He says he likes them because "they're hard to hurt."

If you're looking for a lot of performance you could spend significantly less on a Forschner, or a little more on something like a Kakayagi Basic, a Kakayagi VG-10, a MAC Superior, MAC Chef, Misono Moly, Togiharu Inox, etc.  Rating performance above looks, you might even consider a German like a Messermeister Meridian Elite

Let me add that knives are all about sharpening.  If you're buying to own for more than a few months of so you really should have a plan which goes beyond "a sharpening steel, and sending it out once a year."  A truly sharp knife makes a huge difference in the level of quality you can put into your cooking and the level of enjoyment you can take from it. 

BDL

PS.  The Kakayagi Basic, and (probably) both MACs mentioned are made from the same VG-1 alloy used for the Katana.  But, mostly because of geometry, they're significantly better performers.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 3/4/10 at 8:14am
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post #5 of 20

I recently left the casino and started  working a station at a local fine dining restaurant (beautiful view).

Looking around I noticed the house knives and a few steels.

One of the steels stood out so I felt it and then gave it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it honed.

After a little research I fiound out it is a Calphalon Katana series diamond steel.

BDL, I believe most of your reviews, responses etc. are regarding knives.

Do you have an opinion on this steel?

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #6 of 20

"Diamond" usually means one of two things.  The steel is either cross-cut grooved or impreganted with a diamond abrasive.  In either case, diamond steels are almost always very aggressive.  The Calphalon Katana is of the sort which is coated with synthetic diamond.  

 

Because it's a rod which means a very thin contact patch, which in turn means a lot of pressure on the knife, it grinds very quickly.  The immediate result is a toothy edge; and if you like a little "bite," you'll like the scuff. 

 

However...

 

A toothy edge isn't quite the same thing as a sharp edge.  Although it will cut quickly and efficiently, it won't make a really clean cut. 

 

Another problem with an edge that coarse is the teeth bend and break quickly creating the need for frequent steeling.  Obviously, over the long term it wears your knives down quickly by removing so much material.

 

Yet another problem is that the narrow force magnifies the amount of force per unit area, and every bobble or other imprecision in the honing stroke is magnified creating many high and low spots along the bevel.  This weakens the blade and makes it prone to chipping. 

 

Also, toothy edges tend to bite into the board, and will easily chip if there's any torque at all on the upstroke.  Almost everyone who's used a coarsely sharpened knife on a poly board is familiar with the feeling and the breaking metal sound going along with it.

 

If you've got cheap knives and like a toothy edge -- why not? Except maybe that it costs more, and won't do a better job than an AccuSharp or Jiff "V." 

 

Bottom Line:

From a "knife guy" perspective, it's a rod best avoided.

 

BDL

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post #7 of 20

Thanks BDL, something for me to ponder.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #8 of 20

Jim,

 

How can anything so obviously good be so bad?  If you're more about cooking than having a knife collection, the idea of getting an efficient edge so... well... so efficiently is very seductive.  I felt bad being the guy with the bad news about something with which you were so obviously smitten.

 

Trust me, the "bad" really does come out over time.  There's no law which says you have to relive mistakes I made thirty years ago. 

 

On the other hand, there's no law which says you can't find out for yourself either.

 

One thing about it is is that you may like that kind of edge, so wotthehell, wotthehell.  Another thing of it is that your knives may be inexpensive enough so that chewing them up is no big deal.  And again, wotthehell, wotthehell.

 

BDL

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post #9 of 20

BDL,

in regards to sharpeners, what would you suggest for standard blade maintenance between professionally sharpenings?

post #10 of 20

I hope I don't step on any toes here, but I just want to put my two cents in on this discussion.  As far as the Katana knife goes from Caphalon I think they are really great.  I purchased the 8" chef knife that you are talking about and I have to tell you that it is a very nice knife.  It comes from the factory with a great edge, and with a few strokes on a good steel it comes back like a charm.  I personally don't care if the etching on the blade gets scratched, all I care about is will the knife hold an edge and will it take an edge when it comes time to resharpen it.  This one takes an edge beautifully.  Hardly any effort.  To me many people that are professional chefs and cooks think that they need to spend a lot of money for knives.  I have always gone outside of the mainstream and don't give a rip about what others do or how much they spend on their tools.  The way I see it is that if you find a tool that works for you and it appeals to you in some way that strikes a chord, then by all means you should have it.  

 

As for sharpening your knives I just found the best ever system for sharpening and keeping sharp your knives.  I have always wanted something that was foolproof and would allow anyone to put a dangerously sharp edge on a knife.  This is the system right here.  http://www.wickededgeusa.com/.  I have tried most of the systems and this is by far the best for getting your blades seriously sharp.  Get the knives you want but get this for keeping them sharp.  It works and you won't be disappointed.  Good Luck

 

Chagal

 

http://phpalumbo.com

post #11 of 20

The main issues with the Katana are the goofy handles and the fact that they're a bit spendy for what you get.  The Tojiro DP is made of the same steel but with better ergonomics, and it's slightly cheaper.  Still, for the average home cook they'll get the job done.

 

I'm not sure if you follow the forums, Paul, but soon Jende will be offering custom water stones cut for the Wicked Edge.  Clay Allison has been playing with a set of Choceras IIRC that Ken Schwartz cut for the WEPS system and has been very impressed.  I don't think it will be long til they'll be ready to order.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #12 of 20

The handle on this knife actually works for me.  I like it, and it fits in my hand rather comfortably.  I have large hands and the way we chefs hold knives makes it fit quite nicely.  And as I am slightly above average as a home cook they do work quite well for me.  As for price I purchased mine at a Home Goods store on sale for around $39.  It was perfect pricing for what I consider to be one of the better knives I own.  And, I have spoken to Clay regarding the Wicked Edge, and I am in the process of becoming a dealer for them here in Connecticut.  I think that will be a good move for me.  One can hope.

post #13 of 20

Very cool!  Clay has been doing a good job of listening to the criticisms and feedback to improve his device over time.  IIRC there's a mod in the works to allow sharpening at much lower angles than the current version can do.  If that comes to fruition the EP Apex will have some competition.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #14 of 20

We added the Chosera line and adding the Shapton line soon. We're also carrying strops w/ compounds down to 0.025 microns. The new mod for lower angles should be ready in October.

 

-Clay
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post

Very cool!  Clay has been doing a good job of listening to the criticisms and feedback to improve his device over time.  IIRC there's a mod in the works to allow sharpening at much lower angles than the current version can do.  If that comes to fruition the EP Apex will have some competition.



 

post #15 of 20
Nice thread guys. I know its been years though. Lol. I thought I would get a post in for any newbies reading about the katanas to better help with decision making. Im a professional sharpener like that which you would see in local farmers markets and by all means I do not think I am a samari ninja master. I just learned certain ways to do this that have fortunately made thousands of customers happy and return with more business. With that said I would like talk a little about my knife techniques. I become intimate with every decent knife that comes across my counter for sharpening. I can feel and see the bevels on each one and would start with the need to have the katanas professionally sharpened right after buying them. It is obvious caphalon spared expenses in that catagory. Hidious bevels! However, caphalon outlet in austin texas is selling there open stock for 50 percent off and I couldnt resist. After at least an hour of inspecting each of the 7 katanas I chose I was able to swipe the card. Look closely at every detail of any knife before buying. To the point where the staff is sick of you! Thats what I did. Caphalon designed a new style of handle and infused it with vg1 steel which I believe to be nice and very capable. The ramped bolster acts as perfect thumb and index finger holsters and am very pleased accuracy I get out of them. Its important to know that I have xlarge hands and that may be a contributing factor. Also the knives are prone to cosmetic blemishes such as scratching or dents so they will need to be in a block or knife bag not drawars or magnets. Heavy handles but for a big handed person its no matter for me. All in all I have fixed way too many bolsters of European blades do to years of sharpening the wrong way with diamond rods or the infamous triangle sharpener (which leaves a uneven raised area in the cnter of the edge. I know there must be a few samari ninjas reading this but understand most chefs do not know how to use either method appropriately. Also after putting the right edge on mine and buffing it out they are extremely strong sharp and beautiful! I will be looking forward to the next year or so to see how long the edges keep there intigrity. But at this point I would say if you do not like the euro bolsters and are useing your thumb and index finger to control your knives youll have to at least demo a few. I like the honesuki a lot. Either way I have been able to hold almost all current brands of cutlery and aside from shuns arching handles I love the feel.
post #16 of 20

I have tried out a couple of the calphalon katanas and haven't been impressed.  First off it just felt wrong in my hand, which i know will vary depending on who is holding it, but still worth mentioning.  Like tallcanslt said above the bevels really were hideous, and when cutting the knife was perpetually sticking in the cutting board, which I've never experienced with other knives, making slicing a bit difficult.  All in all I feel like they are more of a gimmick for home cooks who want "Japanese" knives.

post #17 of 20
I recently bought the Katana Nakiri, I love it for slicing, dicing & julienning vegetables. It is easily tuned up using a ceramic "steel". It was well worth the $70.00 in the time it saves me. I buzz through vegetables like a hot knife through butter, no matter how hard they are.
post #18 of 20

Wow, great thread with great timing for me as I've recently been contemplating some knife purchases. I went by BB&B yesterday to have a look at their offerings and without wanting to steer this thread too far off the topic started by the OP, I have some comments and questions...

 

My local BB&B only had 1 10" chef knife, a Henckels, hidden away at the very bottom of one of the display cases, I guess chef knives > 8" don't sell well to the home market they primarily cater to, so it's not worth it for them to keep any on hand? Maybe it's just my local store though...

 

I was intrigued by the Katana series' looks and grip design, but since the sales weasel ignored my hovering around the knife section for 20+ minutes, I never actually got to handle one and it's hard to judge ergonomics visually. They looked potentially comfy. I'm a little confused by what I've read here and in the sales info at the store and online. I thought the "grain" patterns in the steel were a result of the folding of the metal during manufacture. In the case of the Katana series though, it sounds like it's "simulated" damascus steel "cladding" primarily done for looks, but touted to have performance benefits in order to make it seem less "fake". Do I have that about right? I love the way some knives I've seen online look. I believe it was a Shun I saw that even had remnants of hammer divots near the top of the blade and I thought it was gorgeous, but buying a knife that simulates the look without it being an actual byproduct of manufacturing would make me kind of feel like a poser. I don't mean to offend anyone, and I'll be the first to admit I know very little about knives so far, but that's just my personal feeling about it.

 

While browsing around BB&B, I also saw some knives with the Sabatier name on them that were incredibly inexpensive. They were labeled "forged", made in China, and the 8" chef knife was 9.99. I didn't see anything to indicate the steel's composition or hardness. Am I correct in assuming that just because it's forged rather than stamped you can't really draw any conclusions about the quality of the steel? They looked decently made from what I could tell through the blister pack, but the price and being made in China made me really suspicious about how good the knives could possibly be. It seemed to me like technically one could "forge" a knife out of low grade gouda. OTOH, I wondered why Sabatier would put their name on them if they were complete crap. Any thoughts?

 

Oh, and someone mentioned knife forums earlier in the thread. As I mentioned I know next to nothing about them but I'm trying to learn more. If anyone could recommend some online reading to me I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm interested in the knives themselves and also the knife skills and techniques such as the "push cut" mentioned earlier.

 

Thanks,

/tones

post #19 of 20

I have a Katana Nakiri that I bought a few months ago. It's one of my favorite knives, and I love it.   It is a hefty knife, but is well balanced. I don't even notice the weight unless I have been playing with a ceramic knife recently.  The handle is comfortable for me, but I don't use much handle in my grip. It is smooth without ever feeling slippery to me.    On to the important parts: 

   When I got mine, it was pretty sharp. I bought it from a woman on eBay, and it felt like she had had it sharpened properly.  It took about a month of heavy use before I had to touch up the edge.  It sharpens pretty quickly.  About 10 or so light strokes with a 1k grit whetstone, and I can butterfly a sheet of printer paper with it.  It still holds an edge pretty well, but cutting 25lbs of onions daily means I need to hone it about once a week.   I have read some reviews about these knives rusting easily, but that's not the case with mine. I've had a cook leave it in a puddle of salt water for a few hours and not a mark. I've had cooks cut tomatoes with it, not clean it, and let is sit over night, and still nothing.   I had one cook drop it on the floor, and not even a scuff.  Needless to say, I quit trusting line cooks to be adults and bring everything home every day now; but the knife is fine.

 

All in all, I feel like it was totally worth the $50 I paid for it.  It cuts through raw sweet potatoes with ease, it looks cool, and I think it feels great in my hand.   I probably wouldn't pay full retail for a Calphalon Chef's knife, as there are certainly better knives for the money, but I have no complaints about my nakiri.   

post #20 of 20

I have the Katana Santoku and Honesuki

 

Santoku sucks big time.  I personally do not like the weight, and find the styling too European for my personal taste

 

Honesuki is great.  I keep it very sharp and it cuts those oysters out as good as any knife I've found.  Cheapest Honesuki I've found by $50.  I like the small blade, and the thickness is good for some thicker knuckles.

 

I agree with BDL, some good aspects, but mostly overpriced.

 

I'd trade back the Santoku in a second if I could.

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