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Some New West knife reviews

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Mini paring knife

http://www.cheftalk.com/products/new-west-knifeworks-mini-paring-knife/reviews/4018

 

Mini chopper

http://www.cheftalk.com/products/new-west-knifeworks-mini-chopper-chef-knife/reviews/4019

 

Chopper

http://www.cheftalk.com/products/new-west-knifeworks-fusionwood-chopper/reviews/4017

 

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #2 of 16
All three of your reviews pack are very fair and well done. I get tired of hearing nothing but raves. Not EVERY fairly sharp knife is great, and it's nice to get a reaction from someone who knows enough to see the flaws and able to set them forth.

The purpose of itty bitty choppers is obscure, as is the rationale behind a thick paring knife. They must have target customers in mind -- I wonder how New West would describe them.

Generally, I'm not a big fan of New West. Nicko, Jim and some other CT people rave about them but I'm mystified as to why. The design and profile of the knives I've tried have been okay but nothing special. Ditto the (third party) construction, although F&F was very good. What you wrote in your reviews makes perfect sense, and is what I would have expected going in if they'd sent the knives to me. But since I've never actually tried the New West iterations, I'll leave it at that.

Thanks again for the excellent and informative reviews.

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/30/11 at 11:05am
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

The Chopper sells well  for them, mostly to people who aren't experienced with large knives.

 

The mini is marketed to cooks who are devoted to the paring knife. Not that J. Pepin is devoted to the paring knife, but watching him on Jacques and Julia, he often did things smoothly and easily with a paring knife where I would have reached for a larger knife.

 

My mom did a lot with a paring knife, especially over the pot or pan directly.

 

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

RE: Third party construction

 

I'm not sure how much they farm out.

 

For small knife makers it's pretty common to outsource the CNC(usually laser cutting) of the steel billets as well as the heat treating. Those are two processes that require quite a bit of special equipment and would stand idle too much for the investment on site. Paul Bos does heat treat for a lot of the small US knifemakers for example.  Mike Stewart outsources his heat treatment but specifies a non-standard regimen reflecting his personal insights into steel. Any cryo aspects of heat treat requires still more equipment. Makes sense to sub contract these things to me.

 

Mike once posted a great pictorial of the whole process on Knifeforums but was sadly lost in various upgrades.

 

Design, shaping, grinding and finish are usually in-house though.

 

New West has a video of them abusing a flawed blade from Seki that's been cut and heat treated but no handles or anything yet.  Mildly interesting.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 16

I like the colorful handles on some of their knives.  These particular three look like...

 

An inferior steel.

Bad geometry.

Bad profile.

Bad grind.

Some fit and finish issues which might be straightened out by the next run.

 

Is that about right?

 

Very thorough reviews with good pics to illustrate some of the points -- thanks for being thorough and honest!

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

The steel actually behaves pretty well, fine grained, good balance between hardness and toughness.  I have great respect and enjoyment with other steels in the same general grade.

 

I think bad grind is an overstatement based on the one sample with a grind problem.

 

The production values are quite good especially for as much handwork goes into making these.

 

I disagree with the design more than anything and New West does make knives with a more professionally oriented design that I would probably enjoy using.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 16

Thanks phatch -- I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough about steels to be as snooty as I just was; and I'm sorry for the other overstatements.

 

I know they do other designs that look better.  That chopper almost looks like it would serve as mezzaluna.... maybe that's what they were going for.

post #8 of 16
New West mostly uses (or used to use) AUS8, which is a common stainless alloy, more similar to an annealed 440B than to 440C. As a generic steel, AUS8 is decent but nothing special. New West hardens to 58-59 HRC; a nice, practical level, and again decent but nothing special. AUS8 at the same hardness is frequently found in entry-level Japanese knives (like the Fujiwara FKM) which sell for less money but are made with lower F&F.

New West knives are made for them by Lamson in the USA. From a construction standpoint, a New West knife is a good but not a great value.

What New West really brings to the table is design. They are a forward looking knife company, doing well thought out, non-traditional designs. You either like them or don't. New West is part of a renaissance in commercial, American, kitchen knife design and manufacture.

I hope this background helps.

Not to make this about me, but I'm one of those who doesn't like their designs. Not even one of them. I find their "improvements" mystifying. My mystification doesn't mean I don't understand what New West is thinking in terms of a given design. Nor does it mean I don't understand the purpose of a given profile. For instance, I know what a parer does and how to use one. I also understand why New West would design a parer with a thick spine. Honest. What I don't understand is how the advantages of their design differences compensate for their inherent weaknesses (like wedging); nor what New West's design will do for someone with technique similar to mine -- you know, me. None of them work as well for me as more traditional profiles. Hence, my mystification. If that's unclear, I'm also mystified by santokus in general and most "ergonomic" handles. If you like New West knives, santokus and/or complicated handles, that's great.

Phatch's reviews rock.

BDL
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

They used to use AUS 8 when they were making them in Japan.  Now they're using BD-1 I've discovered in the US manufacture.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

... I find their "improvements" mystifying. My mystification doesn't mean I don't understand what New West is thinking in terms of a given design. Nor does it mean I don't understand the purpose of a given profile. For instance, I know what a parer does and how to use one. I also understand why New West would design a parer with a thick spine. Honest. What I don't understand is how the advantages of their design differences compensate for their inherent weaknesses (like wedging)....
BDL


So is it fair you don't understand why they don't see that the thicker spine creates more problems? (I really think they must not.. but maybe they do, and just have a different idea of how things balance).

 

Certainly they have some cool looking knives; it just seems that apart from handles, it's almost always at the expense of function.

 

On steels, in part I know of AUS8 from prior knowledge of folding knives, and how passe it is in that context (or, alternatively, how less expensive and still very functional knives are made from it).  So... un-earned snootiness there. Because it always "worked", and if it works inexpensively, that's a good thing.   

 

Still it seems the geometry of each of the three being reviewed here, at a minimum,  creates more problems than whatever they were to meant to solve.  And that's a bit mystifying.

 

post #11 of 16
I'd heard they switched or were in the process of switching to Crucible, but didn't get the CTS-BD1 thing -- which I believe is a Carpenter, not Crucible steel. FWIW, despite the big chromium presence, CTS-BD1 isn't a 440C either. Spyderco uses CTS-BD1.

I am not a pocket knife or Spyderco guy, and have no direct experience with BD1 at all. It's supposedly the Carpenter equivalent of Crucible's S30V. If so, a bit better than AUS8, but nothing special, nothing to write home about; fair value for the money; okay but not great. It seems to fit with the rest of what we know about New West knives. But speculation isn't the same as experience. One doesn't know for sure until one uses and sharpens oneself, does one?

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/1/11 at 7:02am
post #12 of 16

Yes, good call -- what I knew of these steels came mostly from Spyderco. As a youngster I was interested in "martial bladecraft".  A long-dead interest, at this point, but I have more worser follies in m history. 

 

I have a Spyderco santoku in MBS-26, too... which is sheathed in a drawer and has been for a few years.  I'm just getting to the point that I know who might use it with appreciation, so will likely give it as a gift soon. My only attachment to it is that it's out of production and maybe some collector out there would appreciate it even more (?).  When I bought the thing, I didn't know what a santoku was, or indeed what any Japanese knife was.  Just, "Hmmn.... Spyderco makes a kitchen knife real cheap.  Can't afford the Chris Reeve kitchen knife, and I'm curious. Maybe She Who Must Be Obeyed will like it more than that Ever-Sharp monstrosity she tears everything with." She didn't.  Seems like a lifetime ago.


Edited by Wagstaff - 10/1/11 at 9:08am
post #13 of 16
Wag,

Pardon me for the personal aside. You're one hell of an interesting guy, and your knife journey is probably even more entertaining and enjoyable for us than it is for you.

How's SWMBO handling your new knives and expertise these days?

BDL
post #14 of 16

Unless things have changed since I last heard -- and it has been some years, anyway -- She is now Being Obeyed by someone who married her, alas.  From what I could tell, he's a very good cook indeed, too.  I'll stop here, because I hate having said anything nice in this context.

 

And by the way, thanks very much for the personal aside. It is most appreciated, given my unholy admixture of compulsion and insecurity surrounding logorrhea.


Edited by Wagstaff - 10/1/11 at 10:28am
post #15 of 16

for the 2.0 series, they're now using CPM S35VN ("crucible")
blanks are cut on premises.
wood used to be Vermont, but their third party handle makers factory burnt down.

They're now working on a new 3.0 line
I understand they will still be suing CPM S35VN

In the last knife show, they beat out Ken Onion and Murray Carter in a juried competition (but Murray only entered a 5 inch, so he probably would have won if he entered an 8 or a 9)
I've got a friend with of their 2.0 chefs. He's a former Bocouse competitor and James Beard Winner so he knows his stuff. I've tried it, but it feels and handles almost like a slicer rather than a chefs. Yes, the handle can get a little slippery, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with it. And I like supporting American made, green, and artistry and craftsmanship and this company has all those values.


Edited by harrisonh - 7/21/15 at 7:18am
post #16 of 16

Instead of a 3.0 line, they are now calling it a "GFusion Line". Steel is CPM S35VN cut on premises, out of sheet steel. It's then fabricated "by hand" so that it's obvious that the knife is not just a cookie cutter knife like the stereotypical "stamped knife". There are many details which give a stamped knife mechanical advantage.
I am currently using their santoku, their utility/petty and their parer.

Just like in the older Fusion2.0 series, the blade shapes are a little different than most people who buy their knives by a set are used to. Many show some Japanese influence and some influence from the hunting avocation.
The santoku is pretty traditional santoku (if you can call a santoku "traditional" since the design itself is a hybrid). The belly is not too pronounced. The petty/utility is closer to a utility than what I'd call a petty. The parer is the big change, It's got a much different profile than I'm used to and after a few months, I'm still not sold on it.

The handles are made of G10 which is common in the hunting industry for it's extreme toughness, slip resistance even with lots of blood or slime. Grip thickness on all three knives is comfortable. They are all very "long" which is a bit strange at first, but gives leverage if you slide down out of a "pinch grip" into the "tennis racket" grip. when using a pinch grip, the balance point is perfectly at the knuckle of your index finger. The knives are very "nimble"

The CPM S35VN takes a very good edge. Feels like SuperAogami Holds that edge VERY well. I've only sharpened the santoku 3 times and the other two twice, so I can't say definitively yet, but the impression I took was that it did take a little more effort than sharpening many other steels, when using a 1000, but there was really no difference at 3K or 6k. Of course it's stainless, so there is minimal care needed.

I'm very happy with the santoku and the utility/petty. I am still finding the paring knife weird to use even after purposely choosing to take prep for a few days. I don't think I'd buy one of the paring knives, but some people like the blade shape better than I do. I'd give the santoku highest marks and the petty very high marks too. I wish it was taller closer to a petty, but as a hybrid between the two, it's very competent. I like these three well enough to buy a 9inch Chef once it's released.

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