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More Knife Maker Than Cook

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello!

I wanted to introduce myself.

Im a part time knifemaker who loves to cook. I've worked in a few commercial kitchens in my day, but am by no means a Chef!

 

I have been making Chefs, and other culinary knives for several years. I am now in a position where I can focus more on knives and would like your opinions on what you like in a Chef knife.

 

Some of these questions are:

 

What steel? I have been using O-1, 52100 and W-2 for my carbon blades as well as 1084/15n20 mix in my damascus blades. For stainless i have been using PM154-CM, PM D-2 and looking strongly at ABE-L although I havn't tried it yet.

 

Handle material: I prefer stabilized wood, and Linen Micart, but have used Rosewood and Wendge unstabilized with an oil treatment.

 

Bolsters or no bolsters? I do both and like the look of each. Ive done some Sabitier clones that had a diffrent smaller bolster that I like the look of.

 

Handle shape: More of a Euro style, Japanese D style, or Octaginal Wa? Or Straight with radius sides?

 

Blade Shape and Length? I've done from 3" paring to a 14" French Chef. What is a useful size in a Large Chef? Is there a need for a small Chef or Petty (@5")?

 

Blade Thickness: I've been making a few Japanese style knives and am ending with a finished stock of .75 - .80 at the spine with a flat grind down to .08 to .10 , I have made them thicker, but the trend seems to be in the thinner "laser" type knives. My worry is this a good all around thickness, or is breakadge a worry?

 

Sharpenability: This seems to be a trade off area, some steels make a good working knife with a 61-63 RC but are a bear to sharpen. Would you rather have a knife that will take a screaming sharp edge but needs special care to sharpen, or a servicable edge that needs touched up more often and can be done inthe kitchen?

 

I appreciate any and all comments, as I am trying to put good quality working knives into the hands of people that wll use and appreciate them.

 

Thanks and God Bless

Mike

post #2 of 6
154 cm has. Nice fine grain and would be my pick from what you've listed. Good hardness too. Linen micarta absorbs moisture which wouldn't be my choice for a kitchen knife. Stabilized wood's not bad, but I would take g-10 over anything you've listed.

10 inch length, thin, very little belly, more Japanese than anything else in profile. I'm not as picky as many about handles.
post #3 of 6

Tell me more about hardening before making me choose an alloy.  I'd also like to know a lot more about thinness. 

 

Alloy:  Of the choices you've given, I like the carbons and maybe the D2 semi.  I've never tried a PM D2 -- interesting.  Sharpening characteristics -- both as to easy edge taking and feel on the stones -- mean a lot to me.  Edge holding is important, but I'm not as much of a hardness freak as many.  Some of my favorite knives are old Sabatier carbons with an RCH (I hope you get the joke) lower than 56, while some (Konosuke HD semi-stainless) are around 61.  I don't think I've ever liked a knife harder than 63-64.  

 

Chef's Profile:  French.  But very French.  No Germans need apply.  My "ideal" chef's profile is Sabatier/Masamoto or perhaps very slightly flatter.  I don't want the tip higher than mid-line, but don't want it completely dropped either -- so at least some belly in the front.  I sometimes use a slicer/suji for chef's knife work, which is fine as a goof; but don't want anything that streamlined as a dedicated gyuto.  For instance, a Misono UX10 is too streamlined for me; while a Shun is impossibly tubby and awkward.

 

Petty:  5" is too small for a petty, 6" is a minimum -- at least for me.  7" is probably ideal. Because petties get so much citrus (at least mine do) I prefer a stainless blade. 

 

Handle:  The grip styles I use to hold a knife (pinch and other) are extremely soft and consequently very adaptable.  With the exception that I don't like tiny handles on short knives, put me down as a resounding "whatever." 

 

Got pix?

 

BDL

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post #4 of 6
I hate sharpening D2. Hate, hate hate.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input guys!

Im still looking at diffrent steels and providers while Im working out some shop wiring issues.

 

I have been discussing 13C26 with a supplier of mine,it is also a Swedish stainless that is a Very close runner to AEB-L, but takes a higher finish and is much more "sharpanable" at @ 60 RC. (havnt tried this yet so i can speek for it!)

 

On another steel note, Is Damascus more of a "Bling" thing for a Chef? I've done a fair share of it over the years, and while a fine steel (as good as the materials its made from) I dont see the added expense of a damascus blade. Am I missing somthing here?

 

On handles, are the traditional Wa handles favored by most or somthing like the "D" shaped handels on the Shuns? I plan on doing both Western and Asian blade styles but the Asian styles while they seem popular have so many variations! Is the Ovalized Octigon shaped handle that comfortable to use?

 

On handle material, what works in a commercial kitchen? Ive seen what looks to be Rosewood scales on a lot of older cultery pieces, Id like to use natural materials if possible, but woould not be opposed to stabilized woods (have had good luck with them in the past). I also see several of the Japanese knives that have what look like a wood laminate.

 

As far as photos, Im just getting back into this after many years away. The photo in my avatar is a set I made for my Daughter last Christmas. Hope to have some knive finished soon.

 

I appreciate any input you folks may have, as I like ot cook, but Im no Chef! I am wanting to be able to produce a quality product that will work well ina professional envirnonment.

 

God Bless

Mike

post #6 of 6

I have been discussing 13C26 with a supplier of mine,it is also a Swedish stainless that is a Very close runner to AEB-L, but takes a higher finish and is much more "sharpanable" at @ 60 RC. (havnt tried this yet so i can speek for it!)

Not true.  Your supplier has opinions which outrun his knowledge.  In particular, the "sharpenable" and "finish" things are BS of a very pure grade.  Assuming good edge geometry and thickness, with hardness at around 60RCH, both alloys can take outrageously good edges.  Both can take equally ridiculous levels of polish.  Both will have exactly the same issues in terms of edge and polish holding.

 

The differences in formulations and purity of AEB-L (Uddeholm) and 13C26 (Sandvik) are tiny.  To the extent there's a difference between knives made with them, it lies in the knives themselves, and not the respective alloys.

 

Very few sharpeners have the skills or kit to separate out the differences between two similar alloys of similar hardness, let alone two nearly identical alloys at very similar hardness.  As a very good sharpener who cannot, I doubt your supplier is among them.    

 

On another steel note, Is Damascus more of a "Bling" thing for a Chef? I've done a fair share of it over the years, and while a fine steel (as good as the materials its made from) I dont see the added expense of a damascus blade. Am I missing somthing here?

A lot depends on what you mean by "Damascus."  If you're talking about san-mai (three layer laminate), with a soft jigane (exterior) and a much harder hagane (cutting-core) -- then a pattern welded design on the outside  won't do anything to improve performance.  For what it's worth, blades with pattern welded exteriors usually don't cost any more than equivalent blades without; and in that sense the "added expense" thing is a canard.  And yes, within that very common, san-mai context, the pattern is nothing but bling.

 

Without getting too deeply into it -- maintenance issues, for instance -- if you really want a san-mai knife and really like a pattern-welded exterior, you don't lose much if anything because of the design.

 

I'm not a fan of san-mai knives -- especially chef's knives or anything that's going to do much chopping -- but that's a separate issue.  We can discuss it if you're seriously considering one.

 

On handles, are the traditional Wa handles favored by most or somthing like the "D" shaped handels on the Shuns? I plan on doing both Western and Asian blade styles but the Asian styles while they seem popular have so many variations! Is the Ovalized Octigon shaped handle that comfortable to use?

Whether or not any particular handle style is better for a particular cook largely depends on grip, and if you have a good grip and good skills, you probably won't have any trouble with an octagon.

 

For instance, my adaptable grip, gets along with nearly any handle which isn't way too short or too narrow; but I do like some more than others.  I'm left-handed and am not a big fan of right-handed Ds.  I love Sabatier full-tangs, Sabatier "Nogent" styles; octagonal wa, round-over octagonal wa (like the old Konosuke), Wusthof, Henckels, Messermeister, MAC yo, Masamoto yo.  I either merely like or tolerate others, such as Hiromoto, some Kagayakis, etc. 

 

At the end of the day, it's simply taste.

 

On handle material, what works in a commercial kitchen? Ive seen what looks to be Rosewood scales on a lot of older cultery pieces, Id like to use natural materials if possible, but woould not be opposed to stabilized woods (have had good luck with them in the past). I also see several of the Japanese knives that have what look like a wood laminate.

 

Unless a knife has a reputation for particularly unstable scales, it's not much of an issue.  However, the trend is towards "stabilized," laminates and synthetics as they're easier to keep clean, wear better, and don't swell, shrink or otherwise move around as much. 

 

Since you couched the question within the context of a professional kitchen, be aware that you shouldn't put any good knife through a washing machine of any sort.   And if you must use a machine, restrict yourself to knives with handles which are designed for it -- like Forschner Fibrox. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 7/2/12 at 6:07pm
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