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View Full Version : Marko Tsourkan Designs 240 mm Wa Gyuto 52100



Darkhoek
04-25-2012, 02:34 PM
My good friend, Řivind, just got a blade from Marko Designs. A 240 mm Wa gyuto in 52100 steel with a new type of D handle. Marko's own design.
In the package was also a Marko Designs diamond loaded felt strop with a very nice hardwood base with rubber anti-skid feet. He requested me to try it out and do a review on it, and as I had really been looking forward to try out Marko's knives, I jumped at the opportunity. If I kept it long enough, just sitting perfectly still, maybe he would forget all about it.... :D

Marko Tsourkan from NY should be no stranger to any of us knife nuts. He is a well renowned and very skillful maker of handles mainly for kitchen knives. Further he is a perfcectionist to his very fingertips and his impeccable work stands as a reference to many of us in the knife collecting/ using/ sharpening business.

As you know, since last year Marko has expanded his business, toning down the handle making and starting up the design and production of his own line of knives for the professional chef and the discerning home cook. His goal is to equal or surpass the cutting ability of the Shigefusa using modern PM steels that will allow for an unbeatable edge wear resistance and ease of sharpening. Just what you want in a professional kitchen. You want a knife that cuts about anything pretty effortlessly (is that a word?), is easy to sharpen and stays sharp for a full shift in a busy kitchen. You want a knife with these qualities that is versatile, so you can do with fewer knives. (Who would possibly want fewer knives, you ask, but you know what I mean).

All this sounds amazing, and when I learned that Marko would start making knives, I knew that something great was in the making. Marko spares nothing to make things perfect. He designes his very own line of knives based on the best production and semi custom knives out there, choose his steels after extensive testing and discussing with the most renowned makers in the business, and finally experimenting shamelessly like a mad scientist with heat treatment to get the exact results he wants; the perfect blend of edge retention, sharpenability and sharpness. Add all that to Marko's perfectionist mind when it comes to design, fit and finish, and you have the Marko Designs line of knives. Ta-daaa!

http://i50.tinypic.com/w1wuah.jpg

Judging by this knife I have been able to review for a while now, Marko is getting very close to attaining his goal in all of the above aspects. Looking at the picture above it is easy to see that one of Marko's main sources of inspiration is the japanese gyuto and in particular the shape of the Shigefusa. However, Marko has refined the design further making the blade a tad thinner and lighter, thus making the knife lighter on the hands and arms during extended use. As you can see the blade takes a beautiful patina pretty quickly but it has very low reactivity to most foods (all I've tried anyway).

http://i45.tinypic.com/98x89l.jpg

The handle design is pretty new for Marko, who is best known for his octagonal Wa handles. They are as perfect and beautiful as they are simple. The new design is no exception in this regard. Perfect but simple, simply perfect. :detective:

http://i50.tinypic.com/2i7xngo.jpg

http://i49.tinypic.com/2gwu82p.jpg

http://i49.tinypic.com/2mng9si.jpg

http://i49.tinypic.com/98ve6q.jpg

As mentioned, on this particular knife the octagonal handle is replaced with an experimental (yet traditional) D shaped handle but with a Kramer-ish taper to the ferrule, which aids the pinch grip on the blade. The perfectly rounded choil and spine aids this even further, making the knife an absolute joy to hold and use for extended periods of time, and the perfect tapering from heel to tip gives the blade a very good and balanced feel in the hand. It just falls right into a very comfortable pinch grip while also serving those who prefer to grip the knife just by the handle. Well done!
Regarding the thickness of the blade, it falls nicely inbetween the Shigefusa, which some may find too hefty, and my refurbished 240 mm Shiro #3 laser gyuto, which some might find too light. I believe Marko has found a shape and a thickness that will suit a lot of users perfectly.

After using the knife for several different tasks in my home kitchen for a couple of weeks I decided to put it to a more comprehensive test to get a feel of what this knife was able to do and to uncover its strengths and weaknesses.

http://i46.tinypic.com/34zngqv.jpg

I used my professional hard polyethylene cutting board which is pretty heavy on the edge, but which is found in many professional kitchens. This would test the edge wear resistance pretty good. I also chose different vegetables to test different parametres of the blade. Chillies with tough skin, Cabbage and swede cabbage to test wedging, tomatoes to test edge sharpness and some overgrown fibery sugarsnaps to test chopping-ability. Finally I added some pork cutlets to the setup to test the blade on the sticky raw protein.

I started by sharpening the blade on my trusty Aka-pin stone (#6-10000 range somewhere).

http://i49.tinypic.com/2a9wism.jpg

This little stone has really become my go-to stone for all kinds of steel. It is exceptionally efficient even on very hard steels and leaves a very refined edge, yet with a nice bite to it.
I finished the edge on the Marko Designs felt strop. This stone-strop combo showed to be a match made in heaven and gave me a scary sharp edge that easily shaved the hairs of the back of my hand. I have never been a fan of strops, always finishing on stones, but this diamond loaded felt strop from Marko really opened my eyes. The initial cherry tomato test went flawlessly. Easily slicing a standing cherry tomato only held by its own weight.

http://i49.tinypic.com/2rgc6eu.jpg

After this confirmation of the edge I went to the real test.

The Marko gyuto cut through the swede effortlessly without any apparent wedging or skewing at all. It slid straight through. The blade seems perfectly neutral left to right.Cutting paper thin slices was also easy and the blade handled very well. A skewing blade would easily have been discovered in this test.

http://i48.tinypic.com/2yobezb.jpg

http://i50.tinypic.com/2cgk1nm.jpg

Next up was the white cabbage. This cabbage was exeptionally dense and heavy and would be a real challenge to any knife. The Marko gyuto slid through effortlessly like with the Swede. No wedging nor skewing was apparent. Cutting angel hair cabbage was also an easy task, and the thin strands of cabbage released easily from the blade. Again the knife performed very well.

http://i45.tinypic.com/upks2.jpg

http://i49.tinypic.com/15cd62u.jpg

This was the produce that was really reactive with the Shigefusa kasumi cladding iron. No apparent reactivity on the 52100 steel.

The chillies and the sugarsnaps were no challenge for this powerful gyuto either. The chopping test showed that the flat part of the edge that starts at the very heel and extends almost half the blade to the tip, and with its slight angle relative to the handle, makes for a very balanced and efficient chopping blade. It is easy to find the right chopping motion and as usual it cuts effortlessly through tough chilli skin and old fibrous sugarsnaps.

http://i47.tinypic.com/m7s4qq.jpg

http://i47.tinypic.com/2mepgkh.jpg

The raw protein test was to se how the blade was able to cut paper thin slices of meat or fish without ripping the fibers. The knife sliced through the pork meat like butter and no matter how thin I was trying to slice, the knife performed effortlessly.

http://i47.tinypic.com/344vz8z.jpg

Pretty impressive how versatile this knife really is. If I would have to manage with only one knife in my kitchen, the Marko gyuto is my #1 candidate to date. It is exceedingly good in anything I have tried.

So, to the final test. Would the edge still cut a cherry tomato standing loose on the cutting board? Yes it would! Well partly anyway. The part of the edge that had been banged into the hard plastic during the chopping session had dulled slightly. For regular tomato cutting it was still very good, but this ultra sharpness test got a bit more difficult than before the cutting and chopping party.

http://i46.tinypic.com/2qbgktw.jpg

Now to the amazing part. You see, Marko claimed that after some passes on his wonderstrop the "dulled" edge would go back to crazy sharp just like that. I was thinking "Yeah, Right!". So, just to prove him wrong, I took the blade to the strop, passed it over a couple of times on each side. First with a little pressure and then with almost only the weight of the blade.

Was I ever surprised. The edge was almost totally back to scary sharp just after a few light strokes on the strop. If you get a knife from Marko, get a strop with it! If you are not getting a knife from Marko, still get a strop for your other knives.

When Marko first told me he was going all in on the knife making business I new it was going to go one of two ways. Either he would not succeed in his endeavours and give up the whole thing or he would succeed 100% and become one of the very best out there. One thing you can trust when it comes to Marko. If he decides on doing something it is because he thinks he can make it perfect. And he will not rest until he has. The knife in this review proves that. It depends of course what you personally consider to be the perfect knife. Weight, size, steel, heat treatment, handle. All things matter. What I am trying to say, however, is that this knife is perfect in what it is. The size feels perfect to the weight, the balance feels perfect to the length, the handle feels perfectly shaped and sized to the blade and the heat treatment seems to get very, very close to perfect for the steel.

Knowing Marko, I am not one bit surprised by the quality of this knife. I am, however, deeply impressed by how far he has come as a knifemaker in the short while he has been making knives. He tells me he is still making adjustments to the grind to make the blade more non-stick to food, but from what I have been experiencing with the blade in this review a further improvement in this aspect would actually make the knife food repellent. :happy1:

I'll round this review off with a couple of "Patinart" pictures showing off the beautiful patina on the 52100 blade and Marko's very clean and stylish brand mark.
http://i48.tinypic.com/jg1tlc.jpg

http://i47.tinypic.com/2va18gy.jpg

Review knife or not, hell, I'm keeping it!!:spin chair:


DarkHOeK

DK chef
04-25-2012, 02:36 PM
great review

Eamon Burke
04-25-2012, 02:38 PM
I have recently been given time with one of his as well(with an octagon handle), and agree with all of the above. They are phenomenal. As close to perfect as I'd ever want a handmade knife to be.

It really was surprising how clean and correct everything was. Handle, heat treat, profile, grind, even the MM...Mr. Tsourkan is making some badass knives.

Crothcipt
04-25-2012, 03:09 PM
Great review. The only way it could have done better is with video, but not necessary. I have liked what I have seen from him since I have started reading this forum, and am very impressed with his masterful work. Keep up the work. I some day wish to try one out.

Johnny.B.Good
04-25-2012, 03:17 PM
What an excellent review, thank you for doing it and sharing it with us here Harold.

And congratulations to you, Marko.

Edit: Since you take such great pictures, I wouldn't mind seeing one of the strop setup he sent you.

Darkhoek
04-25-2012, 03:18 PM
Great review. The only way it could have done better is with video, but not necessary. I have liked what I have seen from him since I have started reading this forum, and am very impressed with his masterful work. Keep up the work. I some day wish to try one out.

I have been thinking about trying video. My camera, however, is not very well suited for that.

DarKHOeK

Crothcipt
04-25-2012, 03:48 PM
Like I said not necessary. You conveyed enough in writing and took great pics. I hope that I didn't offend, that wasn't what I was going for. Not everyone can have a great camera for video. Even having one the set up can be very tough. I know I keep trying.

Darkhoek
04-25-2012, 03:53 PM
What an excellent review, thank you for doing it and sharing it with us here Harold.

And congratulations to you, Marko.

Edit: Since you take such great pictures, I wouldn't mind seeing one of the strop setup he sent you.

You can see the strop in the top picture. The base is dark hardwood (mahogany, maybe) with anti skid rubber feet. I'll try to take a couple of pics from other angle as well, but no promises.

DarKHOeK

Darkhoek
04-25-2012, 03:55 PM
Like I said not necessary. You conveyed enough in writing and took great pics. I hope that I didn't offend, that wasn't what I was going for. Not everyone can have a great camera for video. Even having one the set up can be very tough. I know I keep trying.

No offence taken :D. I would really try to make some short videos, though. It is a lot more describing for a lot of situations. I'll ask Maxim to teach me :)

DarkHOeK

99Limited
04-25-2012, 04:01 PM
Very well done review!!!

WillC
04-25-2012, 04:14 PM
Excellent review Harold, very enjoyable, and well done to Marko:doublethumbsup:

Johnny.B.Good
04-25-2012, 04:18 PM
You can see the strop in the top picture. The base is dark hardwood (mahogany, maybe) with anti skid rubber feet. I'll try to take a couple of pics from other angle as well, but no promises.

I hadn't noticed, sorry. I have a HA magnetic base, but wood makes everything better and might look so good I wouldn't mind leaving it out. ;)

Thanks again for such a thorough (and picture filled!) review.

tk59
04-25-2012, 04:37 PM
Thank you for the review, DH! It sounds like Marko has put the whole package together. Aside from the reactivity, how does this knife compare to the Shigefusa blade you spoke so highly of?

Darkhoek
04-25-2012, 04:53 PM
Thank you for the review, DH! It sounds like Marko has put the whole package together. Aside from the reactivity, how does this knife compare to the Shigefusa blade you spoke so highly of?

On some tasks the Shigefusa has an advantage in the heavier blade and the very special grind of the blade. That said, the Marko gyuto consistently performed equal to or better than the Shig on most tasks, particularly regular prep tasks like chopping and fine dicing. The small adjustments that Marko has made to the profile really seems to play a significant role. Due to the thinner spine the Marko also wedge less than the Shig cutting the big veggies. Edge retention was as good as or better than the Shig (as far as I can remember) and the reactivity is very controlled with the 52100. The Marko quickly builds a nice and robust patina, but totally without the unpleasant reactivity of the Shig. The 52100 also appeared easier to sharpen, but the edge taken is pretty similar when fresh. It is a bit difficult to tell when I don't have them both to compare neck to neck as most differences are marginal, but Marko has really come up with a magnificent design which will suit a lot of different users.

DarKHOeK

bprescot
04-25-2012, 05:11 PM
Great Review!!! Thanks for taking the time to give us such a thorough write-up!

tk59
04-25-2012, 05:14 PM
On some tasks the Shigefusa has an advantage in the heavier blade and the very special grind of the blade. That said, the Marko gyuto consistently performed equal to or better than the Shig on most tasks, particularly regular prep tasks like chopping and fine dicing. The small adjustments that Marko has made to the profile really seems to play a significant role. Due to the thinner spine the Marko also wedge less than the Shig cutting the big veggies. Edge retention was as good as or better than the Shig (as far as I can remember) and the reactivity is very controlled with the 52100. The Marko quickly builds a nice and robust patina, but totally without the unpleasant reactivity of the Shig. The 52100 also appeared easier to sharpen, but the edge taken is pretty similar when fresh. It is a bit difficult to tell when I don't have them both to compare neck to neck as most differences are marginal, but Marko has really come up with a magnificent design which will suit a lot of different users.

DarKHOeK

That sounds excellent, thanks again!

jgraeff
04-25-2012, 05:18 PM
I also agree 100% with this review and that's why when I get mine it'll be my main knife. He is really making some of the best knives out there in my opinion. Also a great guy to work with, goes up and beyond for his customers.

Great review by the way!!!

tgraypots
04-25-2012, 06:00 PM
Great review! I really like D handles, and Marko's look very nice. I'm glad to hear they are so well constructed.

Candlejack
04-25-2012, 06:05 PM
This is just completely awesome. I love this knife.. just as i love almost every knife posted here. (Except that rhino-knife that just got posted..)
Really nice handle, these D-handles was a great choice to change to. (Aesthetically atleast, but i bet they're comfy too.)

AFKitchenknivesguy
04-25-2012, 06:06 PM
I want one!

Johnny.B.Good
04-25-2012, 06:41 PM
I want one!

Just one?

oivind_dahle
04-26-2012, 03:12 AM
Nice Review Harald :)

Congrats with a new knife :fun:

Chef Niloc
04-26-2012, 03:25 AM
Now I want mine! Nice review

Marko Tsourkan
04-29-2012, 05:57 AM
Very generous review, thank you Harald.

Got to extend my thanks to Devin, for all help with knife making he gave me over these past year and a half.

M

PS: Sorry for a belated response, been away from the forum.

phan1
04-30-2012, 10:32 PM
I thought 52100 was a stainless steel... Isn't comparable (as in the same) to Devin's AEB-L?

SpikeC
04-30-2012, 10:34 PM
Oh no! Not nearly!

Andrew H
04-30-2012, 10:58 PM
I thought 52100 was a stainless steel... Isn't comparable (as in the same) to Devin's AEB-L?

You might want to look at Gator's great website: http://zknives.com/knives/steels/steelchart.php?snm=52100

Pabloz
04-30-2012, 11:01 PM
Kramer who...MARKO! MARKO! MARKO!

Bulldogbacchus
04-30-2012, 11:13 PM
Kramer who...MARKO! MARKO! MARKO!


+1

Johnny.B.Good
05-01-2012, 01:37 AM
The stock market hasn't treated me too well over the last few years...perhaps I should retreat and put my money in Marko gyutos.

RRLOVER
05-01-2012, 08:33 AM
Kramer who...MARKO! MARKO! MARKO!


I am sure Marko is aspiring to make a knife as good as Bob Kramer,a very high goal to achieve and I hope he makes that goal.Great review Harold!! Very well written and good pics:doublethumbsup::doublethumbsup:

Marko Tsourkan
05-01-2012, 08:29 PM
...to make a knife as good as Bob Kramer,a very high goal to achieve...

Absolutely.

Reaching level of makes like Bob Kramer, Devin Thomas and others takes years and years, so let's not simplify things and take away from their achievements.

However, I definitely look to these makers for inspiration and ideas.

M

Darkhoek
05-30-2012, 07:33 AM
The stock market hasn't treated me too well over the last few years...perhaps I should retreat and put my money in Marko gyutos.

Yep. It seems like the Stock removal market is a lot more stable. :D

DarKHoEk

tgraypots
05-30-2012, 10:18 AM
Well done, the pics, review and the knife in particular. I may have missed it, but what is the blade height at the heel? It appears to be less than, or right around, 50 mm if my visual acuity is on target. Just curious. Love the profile.

LZ962
12-14-2013, 02:53 PM
very beautiful knife!

ecchef
12-14-2013, 06:09 PM
You really need to go to Marko's sub-forum to check out his latest work.