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In a unique position to have a blade forged for me, need input

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

It's been a fair few months since I last got my Togiharu based off suggestions from the forum.  Since then I've been happily using/sharpening it while getting caught up with Real Life(tm).  A while ago I asked around for a heavy blade, since the Togiharu always seemed quite light (and still is, after all the slicing I've done with it).  I never got around to laying down the cash for a yo-deba or something similar, but always felt a need for one.


Recently, I've been put into contact with a local blacksmith in a Far Flung East Asian country.  At 30 dollars a pop he would be able to forge a blade to my specifications.  It won't be refined work by any standard, but the knives and tools I've seen from this man have been solid (the man makes pretty good usubas and Chinese-style cleavers).  I figured I might see if I can get him to forge a yo-deba for me (maybe even a santoku for the heck of it).  This blacksmith, however, is fairly localized and doesn't use fancy terminology, so I need some help.


There's a choice of two metals: stainless, and carbon steel.  No telling how hard or how corrosion resistant they are, since he only knows of them as stainless/carbon steel.  I'm leaning towards stainless for easier maintenance, however for the yo-deba I'm thinking, he mostly uses steel for that type of thickness.  Any suggestions on this?


I will need to be able to provide a blade profile and measurements of what I want.  The length and other measurements I can get off Korin or some place similar, however what's important is the weight and thickness of the blade.  Weight can also be taken off of Korin, however I haven't seen a place that lists the thickness of the base of the blade.  Would anybody happen to have a yo-deba (or even a chef de chef) they can measure?


Coming again to blade profile.  From what I've seen all of his blades are Japanese-patterned, i.e. the usubas and the debas look like, well, usubas and debas, with very distinct edges and blade roads.  I'm debating whether to just let him do his job for my yo-deba, which arguably has a very Western blade profile, something I'm not sure I can adequately describe to him in enough detail.


Much thanks if anybody has any input for me!

Edited by Akilae - 6/30/10 at 1:00am
post #2 of 2

Hi Akilae,


Give or send him a picture of a knife you like.  You can get one off the internet. 


You're making the whole thing a lot more complicated than you need to with your talk of "yo-deba."  You don't need one.  You're looking for a very strong, heavy-duty knife -- the concept of splitting chicken backs is something he'll understand.


I'm not sure what you mean by "base of the knife."  If I didn't guess right (below), could you post back and be more clear?


If by "base" you mean the thickest part of the spine where it meets the handle... assuming a 10" blade, 5mm is about what you'd see in a yo-deba.  If the alloy won't be hardened to high levels, say 57RCH or less, 3.5mm - 4mm, is MORE THAN ENOUGH.


If you don't have the specs on his two steels, and feel confident about dealing with the small amount of extra maintenance, get carbon.  It will probably be more robust, easier to sharpen and have better edge holding -- which is what carbon is all about.


Sometimes it's hard to convince a person who's fallen in love with a Japanese made chef's knife or slicer that there's nothing magic about Japanese knives or knife steel choices; and that they don't have a monopoly on the best knives for all purposes.  When you're taling heavy-duty, a western knife, especially a heavy duty specialist is easier to handle, easier to keep sharp, and cheaper.


Pardon the tirade, but when you gets down to it a yo-deba is kind of a dumb knife anyway.  The asymmetry, which is blocked or forged into the knife and not just sharpened, serves no purpose; Japanese sharpening angles dull easily; the steels are too brittle; the knives are way too heavy; you don't get any advanatage at all from the expensive super-steels; etc.  Garasukes and honesukes are also ill suited to western style cutting -- not to mention over-priced.   


After you get the knife you'll want to sharpen it very obtusely.  My "chef de chef" is a regular (not a special "heavy duty") 12" K-Sabatier au carbone.  I sharpen at a double bevel which is around 25*/17.5* with more or less 50/50 symmetry.  Because of how the knife gets used, it doesn't get much polish.  Maintenance is with the fine steel only -- not with the ultra-fine.     



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