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View Full Version : Damasteel Review - Open Discussion



Lefty
05-22-2011, 07:42 PM
Now that a few people have handled the knife, I've decided it's a good idea to start a thread for us to post our thoughts and questions/answers in one place.
This should end any confusion with what to do once you have used the gyuto, or where to ask questions regarding it.

Lefty
05-22-2011, 07:43 PM
My Damasteel Gyuto Review

I'm breaking this review into a few different groups in an attempt to keep my jumbled thoughts somewhat organized!

Initial package:
The knife came in very nice little red cloth bag with an edge protector on it. There was also a nice little touch - a certificate with steel type, model, production number, care, etc. I really found this to be a pleasant surprise that I would definitely keep if it were my knife.
Overall, great presentation and it was a lot fun to open and added to the suspense!
4/5

Factory Edge:
The factory edge on the knife was truly as good as it gets!*
It was done on a 30000 grit paper wheel and would be equivalent to (I'm guessing by bite, polish, etc) a 6k-8k stone. The edge actually was done VERY nicely with a bit of convexity to it. Hands down, the best factory edge I've seen. *
5/5

Fit and Finish:
This is where Pierre's knives really shine! The F and F is almost perfect, with only the smallest "flaw" in one or two spots. The handle meets up with the spine absolutely flawlessly! It's seamless, smooth and incredibly well done.
Both the choil and spine are nicely rounded and I have no complaints. Very comfortable and attractive (how can a choil be attractive???)
The only spot that I noticed anything to note would be where the spacer and bolster meet up. On one side, the spacer is slightly smaller than the one on the opposite. I will admit, this adds to the uniqueness and overall feel of the knife, but if you're a perfectionist and you hate anything slightly out of whack, this will be it.*
Other than that, f and f is beautiful!
4.5/5

Handle:
What can I say? It was done by a person, not a robot. It is perhaps my favorite part of the whole knife (and that's saying a lot!)
This part might sound a bit strange to most, but the handle feels warm in the hand and a little bit organic. It's almost as if the knife and handle were grown together in a magical land far, far away! The edges are soft and smooth. It is very close to being perfectly symmetrical, with a bit of 'personality'.
There are a few spots where Pierre fixed nature's mistakes, and did a nice job of it. Any holes were filled, and made to feel like they were never there.
The handle has three very attractive mosaic pins, with a great colour match to the rest of the knife.
The bolster has a beautiful look to it, but might be a bit too squared off for some. Depending on grip style, you might notice the bolster up against your palm, but I had no real complaints.
Overall, the handle is my favorite so far.*
4.5/5

Blade (Profile and Grind):
The blade is a cross between a western and a j-knife, in my opinion. It's much closer to a j-knife, with a nice amount of flatness to belly.*
The tip is about halfway between the spine and bottom of the cutting edge and both flow nicely into it. The location of the tip makes it slightly less useable for fine detail work, as a result of the height. However, the tip becomes a non issue once you "get used to it". For people who like a little bit more height at the tip it is great and instills a sense of durability. If you prefer a more pointed tip, just tell Pierre when you order *
The heel at the cutting edge rises slightly (a millimeter) towards the spine and lends itself VERY nicely to my preferred "French Style" of cutting. The blade profile makes your hands feel fast and the knife is an eager cutter! For pure push cutters, the somewhat raised heel can very easily be flattened out, but it's not an absolute necessity.
The grind on the knife appears to be above average, but I didn't take my calipers to it...I know, I dropped the ball on this one! The spine appears to be about 2.3ish millimeters at the heel, with a nice distal taper as well as grind to the edge.*
I'm sure some would thin it out a touch behind the edge, but for me, I'd leave as is. I plowed through sweet potatoes, Yukon Golds and a ton of other product with no real issues. For the sweet potatoes, I used a bit of a guillotine action (think heel of deba on a fish spine) and cut through almost perfectly, with only minor 'breaking' at the bottom of the slice.
The only produce I noticed any sticking with was fresh button mushrooms...portabellos were fine, but the white buttons stuck to the side, until the next slice pushed it off. It was strange and I can't figure out why, but I have a feeling that once the side of the blade has been broken in a bit and smoothed out through use and washing that this mysterious phenomenon will disappear - though I could be wrong.
I'm giving the blade a 4/5 because I prefer a pointier tip and some could complain about the edge profile. Even with these slight issues, I am very impressed and part of the beauty of custom knives is that you get to specify your needs and wants, and these become non-issues. For a "generic" shape, it is great, useable and performs beautifully.*

Edge Retention:
And here is the one we all wondered about. How will DAMASTEEL hold up in a kitchen???
I'm sending the knife on to Caddy with absolutely no touch ups from the minute I got it. It cut a lot of product (produce, fungi, protein, arm hair, paper...) and it is still super sharp. I would love for Caddy to comment on its state once he gets a look at it, just to back up my claim of how the edge held. The edge retained its sharpness at least as well as the vg10 (likely better) I have used, and better than my Misono Carbon. I think this steel is great for a home user, and I can't wait to read what the pros have to say in regards to a commercial kitchen.
4.5/5 (for home use)

Overall Feel:
The gyuto has some heft compared to many j-knives, but is not heavy in any sense. It gives a sense of quality and durability.*
I was trying to think of a knife that I could compare it to as far as weight and balance are concerned, and the closest I can come up with might have to be a Mac Mighty Chef Knife.*
You definitely feel the gyuto in your hand, but the balance is directly in front of the bolster (perfect in my opinion) which makes it feel much more nimble than most knives in its weight class.*
I have the feeling this knife would be a fantastic workhorse. It can trim meat, mince and dice garlic/ginger like an absolute champ and slice literally paper thin slices. In my opinion, it would be an awesome line knife! It can put up with the pounding and do the fancy footwork needed for mise.*
Overall, I'm giving it a SOLID 4.5/5!

I'm sad to see it go, but I am truly looking forward to reading everyone else's reviews.*
I was picking on everything I could, and I had only the few minor 'negatives' to mention.
Beautiful knife. I love the pattern. The handle is terrific!
To the rest of the guys in this pass around - Please take care of my gyuto. I'll miss it! But, as they say, *"absence makes the heart grow fonder"!

Lefty
05-22-2011, 07:45 PM
From dmccurtis:
I got a chance to handle and briefly use this knife today (thanks Lefty!). The only produce I had on hand to test it with was an apple and a garlic clove, so I was by no means comprehensive in my testing, but it was an interesting look. My thoughts echo Lefty's to a great extent. First off, fit and finish was superb, absolutely no complaints there. Any imperfections were simply the nature of a handmade product, and in no way affect the function of the knife. The finish of the handle was the first thing that impressed me, very nicely fitted and polished. While I didn't love the feel of it in the hand, I also didn't notice it in use, if holding it in a pinch grip. I'm a wa handle user though, so my opinion is coloured by my preference. Regarding the blade, the edge as delivered is one of the best I've seen. I'd agree that it is somewhere equivalent to 6000. The polish looked higher, 8K SS-esque, while the edge had bite like a 3K or so. It cut smoothly, but you could feel the knife in the cut. Again, I didn't exactly have ideal product to test it on, so it will be interesting to hear how it performs on other foods. It will also be interesting to hear how it responds to various stones. Profile wise, I like the long flat spot, though I'd like to see the slight rise at the heel flattened. I found the tip too tall, and too radiused. It has no flat at the tip, which I like to have for detail work. The knife is not too tall at the heel, but doesn't narrow much towards the tip, making the knife feel taller than it is. Lefty described the profile aptly as 'snubnosed.' Again, a preference issue. Those who like Watanabes or Shigefusas will probably find it ideal. While I'd like the knife to be thinner behind the edge, the knife has heft to it, giving it good momentum through the cut. Mighty fans will like it. Overall, I thought the knife was exemplary for a maker relatively new to kitchen knives. Craftsmanship is superb, and it seems like the Damasteel is a very decent performer. I'll be very interested to hear what others who use it have to say.

Jim
05-25-2011, 01:50 PM
Just picked up the knife from Matt, here are some photos.

http://badgerandblade.com/gallery/displayimage.php?imageid=26885

http://badgerandblade.com/gallery/displayimage.php?imageid=26886

http://badgerandblade.com/gallery/displayimage.php?imageid=26887

http://badgerandblade.com/gallery/displayimage.php?imageid=26907


http://badgerandblade.com/gallery/displayimage.php?imageid=26888

mattrud
05-25-2011, 03:04 PM
nice photos Jim!

Lefty
05-25-2011, 04:30 PM
Those are VERY NICE!

mattrud
06-03-2011, 09:40 PM
So here is my write up for the pass round damasteel knife. I do not have the knife with me as I am writing this and have not used the knife in a week, so I may miss a couple things and I apologize.

Off the bat the knife reminded me very much of the euro-style knives. But upon handling it more I felt it was really a blend of both euro and Japanese design. The construction of the knife is very very nice. The handle is flawless. The handle is beautiful in construction and smooth in all transitions, maybe a little big for my taste but barely noticeable. While both the choil and spine are nicely rounded there is a small area right in front of the bolster that is not rounded. This almost happens to be where my finger at times rests so it can become slightly uncomfortable.

I ended up quite liking the blade profile. I thought at first it might be a bit too rounded for my cutting style but there is enough flat space for a chopping motion. I think a lot of people with really enjoy Pierre’s blade profile. I like the damasteel pattern but for me personally the more I used it the less I cared. It was not a matter of not liking it but I just did not really matter to me. I think it looks great, but not a big concern of mine.

The knife came with a sharp edge and I went straight to work with it. The knife has good distal taper, I would not call it a thin knife/laser but not beefy at all, not issues with cutting anything or wedging issues. My one issue is that I found that there was a bit of an over grind on the front side blade near the heel.

Used it for a day then I decided I wanted to put the edge that I normally use on it to compare it for edge retention and performance. I actually had the rare opportunity to sharpen the knife next to 6 other blades, 5 carbon one stainless. So the knife sharpened up similar to many stainless I have done, most similarly vg-10. It took some work to get the knife sharp. On some stones the edge that it left was no where near the level of some of the carbons, EX. The edge after the kitayama was not really all that good. By the time I got to the end of my progression the knife was very sharp. Not the level of my carbons but certainly on the better side of stainless I have used. I would say somewhere between vg-10 and aeb-l, but much closer to vg-10. Burr removal was much easier though compared to other stainless knives.

Performance after that was what I expected after the stones. Very nice performance and edge retention overall. On the better end for stainless but not carbon or pm steel. Being stainless is obviously also a big plus in the kitchen especially a pro one. Overall it is a really nice knife. Not my personal style but someone that uses a german knife would be beyond blown away. And people that uses slightly heavier knives (not big or heavy just not lasers which seem to be the big thing right now) will very much like this knife. I very much like this knife I am just more of a carbon guy. But I also look forward to trying other steels that Pierre uses especially his cpm154 and s35v, Pierre really knows how to make a nice knife. And the damasteel does have a place in the kitchen.

Jim
06-04-2011, 12:30 PM
Initial package:
I do not have the original packaging.
This knife was handed to me in a nice silk bag with a tie. The knife had a plastic edge protector on it. The knife included a manufactures certificate outlining the construction and materials.

Factory Edge:
Not applicable/ has been re-sharpened.

Weight & measurements:
Weight- 280 g
Cutting edge- 250mm
Tip to butt- 390mm
Tip to bolster-260mm
Bolster to butt-130mm
Balance point- 260mm from tip

Fit and Finish:
The knife was obviously constructed with some great effort and skill by Pierre. As a test knife I am not sure how to rate this, for example the makers name is not on the knife, I cannot comment on that, is it going to enhance the knife or detract? There are some small defects/ fitment issues on the bolsters, liners and wood that cumulatively would have me sending the knife back at this (?) price point. One serious issue is the spine is not rounded where you need it most, the first inch and a half in front of the bolsters.


Handle:
For my cutting style and preferences, everything that is wrong with this knife is in the bolsters and handles. Not that there is really anything wrong per se, just for me it’s wrong. The bolsters are sharp faced; the handles are slabby and just too deep. The overall weight and poor balance of the knife is primarily caused by the handle. The balance is way behind my pinch grip, making the knife feel dead and unresponsive in the hand.

Blade (Profile and Grind):
I like it a lot! The grind is sweet and even, really nice distal taper and thin just behind the edge. The blade thickens quickly as it moves up the knife. Perhaps a bit too quickly. The blade has an ever-so- slight over grind on the left side of the heel. I would imagine this is just starting to show after it was sharpened.
The contact patch of the edge is a real joy on the board; it rolls cleanly and evenly all the way to the tip. The tip is a little high but not by much, sliming the front of the knife down, taking some metal from the spine down may lighten the look as well as the feel.

Edge Retention:
One word- WOW

Cutting performance:
The knife works really well on the board, the blade shape is not something I have used before. It bears a resemblance to the Ino, but cuts much livelier. I prepped 50 Lbs of # 28 potatoes for steak fries and 20lbs of onions with it. No wedging at all. The only item that gave me the slightest wedging and steering was when I was shaving apple slices, no idea why though.

Conclusion:
While some of my comments could be seen as harsh, I really like the knife, if we could say this is an experiment with Damasteel than we have a successful result. If we are testing a blade shape and design, than we need some small tweaks. If we are testing a complete new knife design -then there are issues.
I would urge Pierre to recreate this knife with a simple Wa handle, slim the nose and drop the tip just a scootch, raise the grind a little behind the edge, you will have a fantastic knife for me!

Thank you for the opportunity to use this knife Pierre!

Lefty
06-04-2011, 01:50 PM
Good stuff! I think those are all great points to think about. Thanks again for all your efforts and thorough assessment, Jim.

mattrud
06-04-2011, 02:12 PM
I agree with Jim on the blade being slightly handle heavy for me as well. But The profile and blade really is a winner!

oivind_dahle
06-04-2011, 02:15 PM
Could this be cause of the full tang?

JohnnyChance
06-04-2011, 02:27 PM
There are tons of full tang blades with good balance points. Westerns are just trickier because there is more metal in the handle. Wood density/weight, size of handle, size of bolster, and grind of the blade will all affect the balance point, so if you have a slightly bigger handle with a thin blade it quickly becomes handle-heavy. A tapered bolster and smaller handle (height wise), which would correct other already stated issues, would also bring the balance point back towards the blade. Kill three birds with two stones.

Lefty
06-04-2011, 02:27 PM
I'd attribute it to having a dense, stabilized handle.
Balance is such a matter of personal preference, I don't think Jim or Matt necessarily see the balance point as a negative overall, but rather a negative to them. Personally, I like where it balances and found it to give the knife an overall sense of quality and durability.
Theoretically, to make an extreme point, if the same exact handle were made with ho wood, the knife would become blade heavy, as some prefer.
I think a Larch handle would look pretty sweet, and be a nice middle ground. Hmmm.

JohnnyChance
06-04-2011, 02:31 PM
Lefty is right, if you wanted the same size handle/bolster, a lighter wood would help as well. I don't know how Pierre constructs his handles, but additional holes drilled in the tang can help lighten the handle as well.

oivind_dahle
06-04-2011, 02:31 PM
Tangs for info :)

Lefty
06-04-2011, 02:39 PM
Well played, sir! Haha

Lefty
06-04-2011, 02:46 PM
Oh yeah, I should say that Johnny is right too. It depends how you want to go about it.

PierreRodrigue
06-04-2011, 07:49 PM
Jim, Matt, thanks for the reviews! Nicely done. There have been some points raised, tip, bolster, weight, size of handle, etc, that were ok for some, not so for others. Keep in mind for any one ordering a knife from any custom maker, these points are custom as well. A knife made for Jim, might totally be wrong for Matt, or Lefty. This knife will not be everybodys cup of tea, some will like it. The critiques/reviews are a great tool for me, and likely being read by other makers. They will help refine what myself, and maybe a couple others, work int0 future designs. Thanks for taking the time to write these reviews, I for one appreciate it!

As for the steel, the main reason this knife made pass around status, sounds like it has a place in the kitchen, I look forward to hearing more about edge retention, ease/dificulty of sharpening etc.

As to balance point, if I remember correctly, its between the bolster, and the heel. For a pinch grip, where would you guys like to see it? How many like a blade heavy/handle heavy/neutral balance? (Again, points to mention if you are looking to get a custom built.) This has my curiosity, any thoughts?

Again, thanks so much for putting your time into this!!

JohnnyChance
06-04-2011, 10:20 PM
I prefer the balance point to be between the heel and the bolster. Usually anywhere in there is good. Even in front of the heel a little can be fine.

When a knife is too handle heavy, it does feel "solid" like was said previously, but I feel like the tip gets "lost" when I am using it. I don't know how to describe it really, but with a slightly blade heavy knife I feel like I have more control.

EdipisReks
06-20-2011, 11:51 AM
I inserted the Damasteel gyuto into my normal rotation and used the knife for small tasks like cutting apples, as well as for larger whole meal preparation. The knives I compared it to were a Shigefusa kasumi 240 wa-gyuto, Mizuno hontanren 270 wa-gyuto, Konosuke white steel #2 270 wa-gyuto, and a Hattori FH 240 yo-gyuto. Given that the knife was a stainless yo-gyuto, I mainly compared it to the Hattori. The Hattori is the only one of a number of stainless yo-gyutos that I've owned that is still in my inventory, and I think it's a tough, though fair, benchmark.

Appearance:

The knife looks quite striking. The handle material is well grained, and goes very well with the pattern of the steel. It looks like a high end knife. My girlfriend is my go to for aesthetic judgements and, after she snarled that I had better not have bought it, she agreed that it was good looking. That's quite the judgement, given that she generally shrugs at this stuff.

Fit and finish:

The knife was obviously not brand new out of the box and had some small use scratches, so I can't make a complete judgement on the knife. There were some small flaws with the fitting of the handle liners, as mentioned by Jim, but they weren't functional problems, though it definitely dinged it down a point aesthtically. The scales were well fit to the tang, and I didn't notice any sharp edges in the hand. I would have preferred that the spine be rounded, but I didn't find it to be a particular problem, though I probably would have broken the edges with sandpaper had it been my knife (it was comparable in this regard to my Hattori FH). All in all, fit and finish wasn't terrible, but it wasn't up to the standard of the FH (though both knives had sharp spines), which is the knife I mainly compared this to.

Handle:

I found that the handle was too tall for me, and wasn't fat enough. Part of why the Hattori has stayed in my arsenal is because its handle is fairly narrow, top to bottom, and has a generous thickness, which works well going from wa handled knives. I would have preferred the scales and bolsters to be more rounded, but It wasn't a bit deal. The balance was a bit off at first, though I didn't find it to be bad, once I became used to it. I agree with Jim that the balance could be improved by a smaller handle. I have pretty big hands, but I find that tall handles get in the way, as I use a pinch grip most of the time. All in all, I think making the handles narrower, spine to choil would be a good idea.

Edge:

The knife arrived shaving keen. I didn't put my own bevel on it (see geometry, below), though I did immediately put the edge through my strop progression (.5 CrO on balsa, .25 diamond on balsa, scant .25 diamond on split leather, raw split leather). The edge acquired a couple small chips during my time with it, which were quickly ironed out on my 10k Naniwa superstone. The steel definitely was easy to sharpen on that stone, though the steel felt a little weird on the stone, almost mealy, if that makes sense. I've mostly been sharpening carbon, so it might just be me not used to stainless anymore. The edge retention seemed to be quite good, and probably better than the VG-10 of the Hattori. The edge never turned, and I never felt that it became dull on me during use. I did run it over my leather strops after every use, as I do with all of my knives, and that maintained it just fine.

Blade geometry:

The first thing that I noticed, immediately upon examining the knife, is that it was too thick behind the edge. A normal sharpening session wouldn't have addressed this. This wasn't a problem most of the time, but it meant that the edge angles are fatter than they could be, without removing quite a bit of steel. If this were my knife, I would have thinned the knife to about halfway up the blade and then put tall bevels on. The blade makes good contact with the board, and has a good flat section. The blade seemed tall, but this gave good knuckle clearance. Overall, the blade is quite thin, and has a fine distal taper. The tip might be too high for some people, but I like curve towards the tip, so I didn't find it to be a problem at all. Other than the grind not being steep enough towards the edge, it compares well to the FH.

Cutting performance:

The thick edge wasn't a problem most of the time. The knife made quick work of potatoes and onions and apples, and the like, with no or minimal wedging. The good contact patch and fine tip made garlic and shallot mincing easy and accurate. Carrots jullienne and brunoise was easy. The knife made a good meat slicer, and did a good job carving a roast. Most of the time it was a joy to use, and I was pleased to have it on my magnet. However, I find that edge thickness and associated inclusive edge angle has at least as much to do with cutting performance as edge keenness on many foods, and I found that things like soft tomatoes and squash became a little bit squished. I found myself grabbing one of my knives when cutting soft food.

Conclusion:

It's a good knife. Make the grind steeper and make the handle narrower top to bottom and a bit more rounded and it'll be a great knife.

PierreRodrigue
06-23-2011, 12:06 AM
I hav been doing some testing with this steel since the knife left the shop. I was aware that the edge thickness was likely going to be brought up. This is the first large knife I ground from this steel, so left it a tad thick to be on the safe side. I am comfortable taking it thinner now for sure, and have one down to 0.007" prior to sharpening. Pics will come soon.

Interesting on the handle. To tall, to thin. I will likely question future customers as to handle preference, thanks. How did the bolsters sit with you, do you see a need for adjustment, if so what are your thoughts? This is the first knife that the bolsters have been brought into play. If a redesign is necessary, then I would like to here more opinions.

Overall, a great review, thankyou, I am learning and considering options with each one.

Pierre

EdipisReks
06-23-2011, 05:35 PM
i don't remember the bolsters presenting any particular problems, i think you're fine in that regard. i really think it just needs some tweaking, and it'll be there.

Lefty
07-03-2011, 03:13 PM
I'm not calling you out, but I hope to see a review after you've recovered from a food induced stupor, after the 4th weekend, Robin ;)
Just kidding, take your time...I am curious to read what you thought, though.

oivind_dahle
07-03-2011, 05:27 PM
I have to say that these passaround is not what Ive expected.
There is almost none pictures and hardly any reviews. Its rather funny as the bladesmith puts a lot of money, energy and time into it. All Pierre wants to do is to get better based on the feedback, and there is none?

Big disappointment. Lesson learned to other bladesmiths that wants to do a passaround: Choose only 5-6 people that you know are able to do this review.

Pensacola Tiger
07-03-2011, 05:31 PM
I have to say that these passaround is not what Ive expected.
There is almost none pictures and hardly any reviews. Its rather funny as the bladesmith puts a lot of money, energy and time into it. All Pierre wants to do is to get better based on the feedback, and there is none?

Big disappointment. Lesson learned to other bladesmiths that wants to do a passaround: Choose only 5-6 people that you know are able to do this review.

Not to be flippant, but how would you know that ahead of time?

oivind_dahle
07-03-2011, 05:41 PM
If you are completely newcomer then you could ask Dave to find the candidates. However I could name 5-6 candidates I could send the knife to ;)

But you have to agree, that sending a knife around and hardly getting feedback is a positive thing do you?

Lefty
07-03-2011, 05:51 PM
OD, people are busy with things like making money, to pay bills and spending time with their families. Pierre has gotten a fair bit of great, constructive criticism already.
In the short time the knife has been out, he's addressed at least 3-4 minor issues that will already make his blades even better than they already were.
We've learned that damasteel can take and hold a great edge, can be very thin, and absolutely DOES have a place in the kitchen, when the right smith is using it.
Pierre has been developing new bolster styles, and handle shapes specifically as a result of this passaround, and our members' comments.
I understand where you are coming from, but we have some great people still waiting to try out the knife. Let's not put the buggy before the horse.

Pensacola Tiger
07-03-2011, 06:00 PM
If you are completely newcomer then you could ask Dave to find the candidates. However I could name 5-6 candidates I could send the knife to ;)

But you have to agree, that sending a knife around and hardly getting feedback is a positive thing do you?

Granted that part of a pass around is providing feedback, but it also is about giving someone the opportunity to use a bladesmith's knife without the necessity of purchasing it. This may result in that person ordering a knife from the smith, even though they don't post a review.

In the end, it's up to the bladesmith to set the conditions of the pass around process.

Rick

JohnnyChance
07-04-2011, 12:13 AM
I believe that are 2 purposes of a passaround. One, for the knife maker to get feedback from people who use knives more often they are able to and from multiple sources and points of view. All of us here are customers of high end kitchen knives and deserve to have an opinion about any knife. If they share this feedback with the forum or privately with the knife maker that is up to them. The second, for people to get the chance to see and use a knife they would normally have to buy first to see in person.

Yes, lots of pictures and videos are nice, but sometimes people just don't have the time. Oivind, I know you loved my Rader passaround review, but at that time I was lucky enough to have a good camera and time to do some neat things. I have had the opportunity to use or test other custom made knives and have shared feedback privately with the maker. I actually talked to Pierre in PMs about his passaround gyuto, but since I only handled it for a short time at ECG I didn't think I should post a full review without using it.

It is awesome for all parties involved that so many of our makers are doing passarounds. Let's not insult the makers or the users just because there haven't been enough posts about the knives.

PierreRodrigue
07-04-2011, 01:16 AM
Gentlemen, if I might. The passaround is an idea that was to me, something I had not considered doing. It took a large leap of faith, that is paying off at the moment, for me, and I believe other makers here as well. Us makers have at our disposal, something that makers before us, may have not had. We have a myraid of steels, some of them using chemestry, blending routines, and heat treat regimes that are quite complex. There is the internet. A resource that allows us to research profiles, communicate with customers, advertise, etc. And there is perhaps the most valuable resource, the wealth of knowledge that is available from home users, semi-pro, and professional people, who use the knives we make.

The members of the passarounds are serving two purposes. They get to use a knife, maybe see a new steel for the first time (damasteel?), take something for a test drive as it were. In return we as makers get to see where there is room for improvement, a tweek here or there can make or break a design. Those who let us know their thoughts are appreciated more then they realize. We get to fix an issue, before it becomes a reputation. Secondly, a person gets to see a knife in person, to see if it is worth the money to go custom. Maybe you decide to buy a shun, or cutco. Maybe, because of the passaround, a maker makes a new customer or two. Some comments are made by PM, some in private, all are of a huge value to us makers. This is something that we learned the hard way after selling a bunch of knives we thought were great, only to find out through the grapevine, or a drop in sales, that the knife we thought was great is actually crap. If 5 of 20 take the time to comment, and help us out. its worth it. This is a way to learn, and do it quicker than was ever possible before. I for one want to thank those who have commented, ant to tell future users thanks in advance. I'm sure other makers feel similar, and welcome comments from any of them who read this.

Pierre

RobinW
07-04-2011, 06:03 PM
OK, So here is my review.

Bear in mind that I am only a home cook and as such I have waited as long as I can to write this to maximize my use of the knife before I make statements. My camera is with my family in Europe at the moment so I will need to rely on others to provide pictures. I have tried to stay out of the review thread for the last weeks so that I would be somewhat “untainted” by other reviewers opinions, some things may therefore be repetition.

First some stats:
Weight: 278 grams
Edge length:245 mm
Total length: 385 mm
Height at heel: 53 mm
Height at midpoint: 48mm
Spine thickness at heel:2.3 mm
Spine at midpoint: 2.1 mm
Spine 10mm behind tip: 0.8 mm
Balance point is right in front of the bolster

Handle: Some very nice woodwork went into this. Everything came together nicely and I imagine it is very hard to pick a spacer colour for a wood with such large colour differences. The space is white, which I think is as good a choice as any. The mosaic pins are gorgeous and I’m a bit surprised that I liked them since I prefer plain pins when the wood is multicoloured.
As for the shape I am not that big a fan of it. The handle is too tall and too narrow for me. It feels bigger than it needs to be and it’s too long. The only way to use all of it is to grip the knife like a hammer. The bolster is a bit "sharpish" in the front edge making it not so nice to grip using pinch. Given that I very rarely use western handles, I am not sure that one should place too much emphasis on my feelings on this topic. I’m sure it would be perfect for others.

The blade: This is my first experience with Damasteel (although it is from my home country, it is not widely used there either) and all I can say is WOW! It is very beautiful! Do not expect a traditional damascus pattern, but for someone who wants something unique this is absolutely a candidate. If Pierre was not halfway done with my own gyuto I would have changed my mind.
The knife came to me somewhat dull so I sharpened it going through 2k/5k/Kitayama 8k/JKS 10k but no stropping. You can feel it is stainless on the stones, but better than the average stainless (I mainly use carbon). The edge it takes is great (and it was fast getting there) and I did not have any problems deburring it. The shiny edge contrasts the blade sides very nicely. A negative is that the etching almost has Pierres logo hidden, you really have to look for it. I assume this could be remedied by making the logo deeper.
Even being a carbon fan, I would definitively put Damasteel on my shortlist of nice steels to have and Pierre has done a very nice job hammering it!
The profile is fairly tall, with a long flat area in the back half, I like this a lot, board contact is king. It came to me slightly oversharpened in the heel section so a flattening job might be in order. It was very slight though and not something that bothered me in use.
The tip is a tad high for my taste, I like a flatter profile in my gyutos, but I think for someone who sometimes rock it may be ideal.
The spine is almost flat for 200 mm making it very good for “board management”.

In use: This is a sturdy knife but it cuts very nicely. I actually thought it was a 270 in use, mainly because my only 270 reference is a Takeda 275 mm gyuto and that actually is quite a lot lighter. Things stick to the blade sides, pretty much as for every other polished knife I have, not worse but not better either. The tip is thin enough to not wedge most foods although most of the knife would benefit from being thinner behind the edge. As I did not want to ruin the etch job (duh!) I did not do this. I would be surprised if the steel could not take a thinning, I saw absolutely no tendencies for chipping. After a few days of use the weight of the knife stopped surprising me and it felt very natural to use it. With a good edge it goes through food easily just by the weight alone. I;d still prefer the balance point a bit further forward though..

Lastly I applaude Pierre (and the other makers) for taking the effort and doing a passaround. I believe that it is an excellent way of learning and I think making kitchen knives are more complicated than most makers believes (hopes?). Getting it absolutely right will take lots of practicing, thinking and feedback. I think this is a good way to go.

Bottom line: Pierre is a very talented knifemaker and although this specific knife is not perfect for me I am going to be very sad seeing it go tomorrow. F&F is excellent as to be expected from a full custom maker. The steel is great and the esthetics is brilliant.

PierreRodrigue
07-04-2011, 07:54 PM
Robin, thanks for the great review! This one I just finished up, and thought this would be an ok place to discuss it.

270mm sujihiki Heimskringla pattern, a variation on a traditional twist. HRC 61

Copper bolsters. Now on these I tipped the face back, to correct the square face I had on the passaround

Black and white vulcanized fiber spacers, mosaic pins, and desert ironwood scales

This blade is thin behind the edge, between 5 and 7 thousandths of an inch.

Ballance point is near the heel.

http://i631.photobucket.com/albums/uu37/bladebuilder/Picture1805.jpg
http://i631.photobucket.com/albums/uu37/bladebuilder/Picture1806.jpg
http://i631.photobucket.com/albums/uu37/bladebuilder/Picture1808.jpg
http://i631.photobucket.com/albums/uu37/bladebuilder/Picture1809.jpg

Comments welcome!

Pensacola Tiger
07-04-2011, 07:59 PM
Comments welcome!

Uh, umm, aahhh... I'm speechless.

Rick

EdipisReks
07-04-2011, 09:44 PM
Comments welcome!

since you thought my review was good and all, can i give you my address? that's a killer looking knife.

Jim
07-04-2011, 11:22 PM
Pierre, that is a very handsome knife!:thumbsup:

Darkhoek
07-05-2011, 04:07 AM
Man, you learn fast! All major issues adressed on the first knife after the passaround. I love the new bolster shape and the shape of the tip of the suji. Very elegant indeed. That also seems like th perfect handle for a suji as it leaves maximum knuckle clearance as well as having metal bolsters easier to keep sanitized. And it has become your signature handle. Great work as usual and great progress, Sir!

DarkHoeK

mr drinky
07-05-2011, 12:18 PM
Sure is perty. Is that bolster design going to become standard or are you still playing with it?

k.

PierreRodrigue
07-05-2011, 04:12 PM
THis was a "revision", to address the square face mentioned in the reviews, I'm kinda looking for opinions or discussion on this...

Pensacola Tiger
07-05-2011, 04:54 PM
THis was a "revision", to address the square face mentioned in the reviews, I'm kinda looking for opinions or discussion on this...

I'd actually want to handle both the older squared bolster and then the new angled one, but based on the knives I do have, I like the new bolster. It looks to be more "finger friendly" than your old style one.

As Harald (Darkhoek) has alluded to, it's not that much of a departure from the old style bolster that it changes what has become a design element of a Rodrigue knife. It's more an evolution than a revolution.

Rick

Lefty
07-05-2011, 05:10 PM
I agree! It is quite obviously the signature Rodrigue handle, but it's just been updated. Kind of like the grill of a BMW - We can all spot one without hesitation, in our rearview even though the grill has slightly changed over the years.
It's kind of a neat way to spot the classics from the new versions.
I think it's a great "evolution", as Rick put it.

WildBoar
07-05-2011, 05:13 PM
Pierre, please add my name to the passaround for this new suji :happy2:

heldentenor
07-28-2011, 06:13 PM
Review of Pierre's Passaround Damasteel Gyuto, "The Grey Ghost"

First, I'm sorry for violating forum rules and good etiquette and not having any pictures. I tried to borrow a camera, but to no avail.

In my hands, the knife saw a week of use in my home kitchen, where I used it moderately to cut lots of summer produce. I compared it mostly to my Dave Martell handled Hiromoto AS Gyuto, which was once 240mm but--due to a snapped tip--is now about 230mm.

My general impressions of the knife were very favorable. Even after several users and lots of travel, the damasteel pattern remained arresting. After polishing and re-etching, I'd bet it will look phenomenal. As a quibble, there are some dark spots in the pattern that seem to throw off the general aesthetic a bit. Still, it's a viable technique for making beautiful kitchen cutlery, and I'm interested to see more examples from Pierre and other makers of what this steel can do.

The fit and finish are excellent. I found the blade a bit more flexible than I might prefer due to its distal taper, but that same geometry did result in a very thin and useful final 2 inches of blade at the tip. Unlike most reviewers, I found the handle quite comfortable to use, and liked that in a pinch grip, the trailing three fingers of my knife hand felt "full" because of the handle's height. In purely aesthetic terms, I like the direction Pierre has taken with the suji shown above by adding copper bolsters, and I think copper liners between the tang and handle scales would look great on this knife as well.

The knife is light and well-balanced, which allows knife to feel very much like an extension of the hand even when using the final few inches. I was very happy with the thickness at and behind the edge; it's not laser thin at the edge, but it stays thin well up the blade, making thin, precise cuts manageable.

Sharpening this knife was a joy. It came to me in pretty good shape, so I gave it a few passes at 1200 grit, and finished the edge on a Takenoko 8000 followed by a felt strop. The steel responded as well as any stainless knife I've used on the stones, and burr removal was very easy. The final edge was easily able to pierce a tomato with no downward pressure by pushing forward and using only the weight of the knife to make the cut. It didn't quite perform as well as Salty's Masamoto honyaki gyuto after TK59 had sharpened it--that edge was falling directly through ripe tomatoes with no pressure in any direction--but I chalk that up to my shortcomings as a sharpener.

So how did it cut? The extremely flat profile and ratio of blade height to edge length made this knife a monster at push-cutting large stacks of pineapple batonnet into cubes as well as speedily chiffonading basil. I liked the long, flat edge, but prefer knives with a more triangular overall geometry; in this knife, the edge and spine run nearly parallel until the spine drops dramatically to meet the tip. While I'm not sure this caused any limitations in performance, it did require an adjustment in feel, and over long use, I wonder if this wouldn't cause more fatigue than a design that allowed the wrist to point downward a bit more. When cutting shallots into very small brunoise, I found the tip servicable, but felt that my Hiromoto did a better job with cleaner cuts that required less force. Most impressively, the knife left very clean cuts in some ripe summer heirloom tomatoes. I was able to cut these into small cubes using a combination of vertical and horizontal cuts (like when dicing an onion) and the tomato--which had been halved and seeded but not skinned--held together with minimal loss of shape. I can only achieve this with my Hiromoto when the edge is at its sharpest.

In conclusion, this knife has a whole lot going for it. During its week in my kitchen, it performed extremely well, and my only complaints stem from the knife's status as a custom knife that was not built to my own design specifications. Since purchasers obviously can request their own preferences, this is not a real issue. I hope that Pierre continues to explore the possibilities that damasteel offers.

Pierre, thanks for your willingness to submit this knife for a passaround!

bprescot
07-29-2011, 11:48 AM
Just picked up this beauty from David last night. I'll put it's through it's paces and post a review in the next week or so.

oivind_dahle
08-17-2011, 02:17 PM
Did somebody steal this knife?

Lefty
08-17-2011, 04:06 PM
Nope, I think the reviews/comments are just be directed to Pierre, rather than everybody. I know exactly where it is! :D

bprescot
08-17-2011, 04:54 PM
Sorry guys. I've been trying to work on the review but the day job keeps getting in the way. Anyway, I'd passed it on to Pensacola Tiger a bit ago, but he may have in turn sent it on by now. I've given my preliminary comments to Pierre already, I just need to work on the right phrasing for the full Review.

Eamon Burke
09-13-2011, 11:02 PM
Ok I'm finally getting around to doing this! I managed to use this knife to feed about 5-6 thousand people, so that's a pretty solid workout. As always, I am stating my opinions as fact.

--------Aesthetics--------
When I opened the package, I was surprised by the bag it came in. PensacolaTiger did a good job tying the string, it was a cool looking little knot, though I don't know that it was done on purpose.

The knife is impressive to hold, it feels like a big knife. The edge bevel is super shiny. I was surprised to see that the wood is a bit less dramatic in person than in the photos, but the steel is extremely striking, it cannot be understated, for better or worse. I actually didn't like it visually as much as I initially did in the photo, because it is so overwhelming, neither did my boss(who is female and has more sensible taste in cosmetics). But my coworkers, all male, LOVED it. The one who has not liked any knife I've ever shown him, liked it because it had the “bling” he is looking for. It is certainly the most-noticed knife I've ever had at work.

The spacers are nice, though they seem to have shrunk a little already. The angled bolster is a really neat touch. The wood is smooth and the cracks were well filled in. The busy figuring and the damasteel kind of overloaded the look, but if someone's looking for a single knife to take up the one spot on the wall, this would be it.

---------The Edge------------
The edge I got was very very sharp and even. It worked for several days. I noticed there was a little microchipping, so I took it to the stones. This thing was crazy abrasion resistant. Took FOREVER to build up a small burr and several passes to deburr it completely. Stropping...I just committed to the idea that I'd be standing in my kitchen for a long time and stropped away. It did take forever. Worth it? Totally. Sharp as a straight razor, toothy enough to bite into tomatoes asap.

I started to work with it, and noticed a few more tiny chips on the edge, and predicted that it would continue to chip(as it did before) and soon disappoint me. What I was surprised to discover was that there were a few chips, then it held the edge at about 85% for the entire time I had it, no stropping or anything..I didn't even need to have sharpened it. The conclusion I came to was that this bevel had somehow gotten thinned and probably shouldn't be so steep. A blended microbevel might be better than the shallow convexity that it had. The steel was pretty hard to budge, but once it got to where it was happy, it stuck around forever.

I can't say that I loved working with it(lol), but I did like the way the damasteel performed. Several days after sharpening it, without any touchups in the meantime, I cut up 45 quarts of white onions without a single tear, and they were still fresh-looking and opaque for 10 days, when the ones I set aside started smelling a little weird and I had to toss them. I've never had onions last so long at work, that is a great sign for this steel.

---------Design--------------
The balance, though indeed more handle-heavy than I like, was in exactly the right place to please the crowd. It is RIGHT in front of the bolster. I noticed that this knife performed a lot better if handled with a stiffer wrist than I am used to using. I offered it to my coworker who holds knives properly, but with an attitude like one would hold the neck of a chicken they were slaughtering, as if it might run off somehow. He loved the balance of it, as I thought. This knife just needs to be handled with mas cajones.

The handle was a solid western design with no flaws to speak of. Comfortable and secure. A win!

The blade had MAJOR stickage issues. I mean, it felt 5 times duller than it was on stuff like potatoes and cantaloupes. Beef, chicken, a breeze. But this thing could split a 1 lb russet and then just pick the whole thing up. It made me a little nervous getting potatoes off of it, since the edge is so sharp and the food is stuck so hard. I don't know if it was the texture of the damasteeel, or the flat grind, but it was the one thing I really didn't like about it.

The grind.
Was.
Perfect.
Dead flat. I'm seriously impressed by the skill level Mr. Rodrigue showed grinding this huge blade so competently, it makes it look easy. I spent a lot of time just holding it up to a light source and wiggling it back and forth with one eye closed.

The profile was just how I like em. I felt like sending Mr. Rodrigue and Lefty a letter saying “Your knife is not coming home. It loves you, but isn't ~in~ love with you. It's found someone else and is moving on. I hope you understand.” The balance made tip work a little bit less robust, but this knife is a bit large for cutting grapes in half, so that's not a big draw.

-----------Overall-----------

This knife didn't scream “kitchen” to me, but you can call me Susan if it didn't scream “Quality”. I doubt I'll be able to forget about the workmanship displayed here, and really appreciate the chance work with it for a busy week. About all it needs improving on is food stickage. Thanks to Lefty and Mr. Rodrigue for this passaround!

Eamon Burke
09-13-2011, 11:20 PM
Forgot to add, I didn't mind the squared bolster at all. The beveling on the edges was enough that I don't notice. But, being a pro cook, I don't often notice anything past the heel.

tk59
09-13-2011, 11:21 PM
...As always, I am stating my opinions as fact. Haha! Good one. Nice review, btw.


...The edge I got was very very sharp and even. It worked for several days. I noticed there was a little microchipping, so I took it to the stones. This thing was crazy abrasion resistant. Took FOREVER to build up a small burr and several passes to deburr it completely. Stropping...I just committed to the idea that I'd be standing in my kitchen for a long time and stropped away. It did take forever... Exactly what was your sharpening routine? Where did you spend the most time? I'm curious because I've been sharpening some very wear-resistant blades recently and I haven't seemed to have any problems developing burrs but oftentimes they don't really seem to want to come off. I'm also curious to know how much the toothiness of the edge is due to the characteristics of the steel and how much was your sharpening job.

Eamon Burke
09-13-2011, 11:30 PM
Shapton Pros, up to 5k(that one I really don't like), then homemade strops.

It's not like it took half an hour to get a burr going, it just wasn't instantaneous like I am used to--the advantage is that it makes building an even burr easier. But deburring it...well, I don't have any deburring felt, so I've been using rubber and cork, and I cleaned the blade a few times before deburring passes, because I was convinced there had to be swarf on the edge--nope, it just doesn't deburr in one pass. Not sure what that is about. Combine that with the somewhat heavy handle and you've got a knife that feels like foreeeever to sharpen. It does perform pretty dang well for quite a while though, so at least you won't be doing it every weekend.

Oh yeah, I spent the most time on the 5k stone, but that's because I have to keep a close eye on what I'm doing since sharpening on that stone is like playing patty-cake with Helen Keller.

tk59
09-13-2011, 11:38 PM
You started at 1k then 3k, 5k?

Eamon Burke
09-13-2011, 11:41 PM
No, I didn't take it below 2k. I don't like to put the passarounds on the 1k, for safety's sake. I'm paranoid with these things. The chips I'm talking about are the kind you can only see when you hold it up and look really close, so it's not like I had to really hog off some steel. I love my Shapton 2k, I learned to sharpen on it and still love the way it sounds.

PierreRodrigue
09-14-2011, 12:33 AM
Eamon, thanks for the great review! Sorry this one was a bugger on the stones. The flat ground blade faces, combines with the damascus pattern, are likely a culprit of the sticking, recent work has taken advantage of convexing of the face. The old learning curve as it were. I beleive the edge was taken steeper by an earlier user in the passaround, as it was felt the steel might benifit from a steeper bevel. This would likely account for the microchipping. All in all, do you feel the Damasteel has a place in a harduse kitchen?

I spit my coffee out again, Hellen Keller playing patty - cake! lol :lol2:

Eamon Burke
09-14-2011, 12:49 AM
I think it did well holding up to poly boards and horrendous amounts of food. This thing was literally cutting actively probably 5-6 hours a day for 7 workdays. It degraded pretty far from where it was off the stones, but it held it's ground at about 85% like a champ. I kept expecting it to start sucking at some point, but it kept on ticking. It didn't scream through food for days, but it was certainly likeable.

Side note, it made very little sound on my stones. I know this has more to do with the dimensions of the blade and the steel it's made of, but what's up with that? It was very quiet.

Glad to hear that convexing the faces has helped with food stickage. Does it really make that big of a difference?

JBroida
09-14-2011, 12:52 AM
yes

tk59
09-14-2011, 01:11 AM
...Glad to hear that convexing the faces has helped with food stickage. Does it really make that big of a difference?You're kidding, right?

Lefty
09-14-2011, 08:04 AM
Thanks for the review. As always, I enjoyed reading it quite a bit. Thanks again for taking part, and just as importantly, letting us know how it all went down.
It's crazy what convexing the grind of a knife can do in terms of food release. In fact, Pierre, once this is back in your hands, I bet it could be taken to the grinder and some convexivity could be added fairly easily.

Eamon Burke
09-14-2011, 10:15 AM
You're kidding, right?

Well, I know how it works and why, but I didn't know it would be a total game-changer. Then again, I've never used a knife that sticks this hard, and did a before and after with it.