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Mike Davis
07-02-2012, 05:06 PM
Is it me or is there a stigma against american knife makers producing single bevel stuff? I understand that it is not "traditional" but nothing american makers create is. I am curious about this. I want to do a bunch more single bevel stuff, but honestly am a little worried about being able to sell them.

P.S. i would like to see this turn into a discussion please :)

VoodooMajik
07-02-2012, 05:16 PM
If the price is right I can't see why they wouldn't sell. Once they are proven performers I would assume any "Stigma" will be shed. If I had extra cash I would buy one.

Birnando
07-02-2012, 05:18 PM
I would think the market for it is out there.
Why not single bevel, when double-bevels seems to be in some sort of demand?

That said, I for one would probably be a bit cautious when selecting a non-Japanese single bevel.
After all, some of those traditional Japanese smiths have been doing them for decades, and that must count for something..
Anyways, that's my take on it.

Andrew H
07-02-2012, 06:20 PM
Stigma is a strong word. I think that most people are wary of buying single bevel knives from US makers. If you want to start why not do a pass around with a yanagi or something?

knyfeknerd
07-02-2012, 06:27 PM
Go for it Mike! I know Stephan Fowler recently did a batch of honesuki's which I believe he made single bevel. I don't know how well they are selling, but I would love it if more North American makers did single bevel. I posted about a US made kamagata usuba a few months ago and I think the only N. American maker whose name was mentioned as doing a single-bevel was Carter.
Have you done anything single-bevel yet?

GlassEye
07-02-2012, 06:33 PM
I think the issue is a question of whether the US maker understands the traditional shapes, why each dimension of the blade is how it is, how the blade is designed to be used. I do not doubt that some of the western makers have the skill to do it, but I think some may not have a thorough understanding of the reasons for the blade like some of the traditional Japanese makers, that have generations of experience behind them.

Murray Carter seems to know what he is doing, though he seems to name the blade types whatever he feels like.

If any western makers do a single-bevel passaround, I would like to get in on that.

Deckhand
07-02-2012, 06:34 PM
I do think I would buy my single bevel knives from Japanese makers. This is odd since I have no problem at all buying what I consider incredible sujihikis and gyutos form US,Canadian, and British makers.

mhlee
07-02-2012, 06:46 PM
Murray Carter seems to know what he is doing, though he seems to name the blade types whatever he feels like.

Murray trained for years in Japan and learned how to make single bevel knives. I think that's one thing that sets him apart from other knifemakers - he learned from people who have done it for years. Granted, I've never used one of his single bevel knives, but I don't recall reading that his single bevel knives do not perform well.

With respect to single bevel knives, if I recall correctly, he uses the traditional names for these knives.

Marko Tsourkan
07-02-2012, 06:46 PM
Is it me or is there a stigma against american knife makers producing single bevel stuff? I understand that it is not "traditional" but nothing american makers create is. I am curious about this. I want to do a bunch more single bevel stuff, but honestly am a little worried about being able to sell them.

P.S. i would like to see this turn into a discussion please :)

I don't think there is a stigma by any means. Rather it is a fact that single-beveled knives are not applicable (by and large) to Western cuisine, and people realize it rather quickly.

That doesn't mean there is no room for single-beveled knives. I think a yanagi or deba or garasuki made out of good steel, with a good heat treatment will be hell of a knife and will sell just as would a good double beveled knife. However, to compete with Japanese craftsmen's bread-and-butter product, one has to grind as well as they do (width of the bevel consistent along the whole edge, properly shaped ura, proper profile, weight, etc.) That would be the hardest, but if you succeed and knowledgeable users can attest it, sky is the limit. I suggest to copy a tried and true design rather than to "design" one's own.

I for one, have plans for both single-beveled and double-beveled knives.

M

PS: Want to add that making a single-beveled knife (stock removal) is not that much harder than making a double-beveled knife if you put time in studying the original, and come up with technique that will produce the same result as on the original. The potential issues to deal with will be bending after a bevel is ground, and possible warpage. If you clay coat W2 you might see less of those.

Eamon Burke
07-02-2012, 08:12 PM
Murray Carter does it. You could learn to--it'd be an enriching hobby, for sure. But it takes a horrendous amount of skill, practice, and education that is not available here. It doesn't hurt to have tools that you can't get here(like those big wheels). You couldn't grind a Yanagiba on belts and make a living selling them for $300 like a lot of Japanese makers do.

I say there's no reason to do it commercially, since demand for it is nothing like what it is in Japan, and global trade is so easy these days. Just let the Japanese continue to kick ass at doing what they do.

Not really a stigma, just a realistic expectation level of quality and style. I would never buy an American-Made Deba sight unseen, from any maker. I'd buy one from Shigefusa no problem, and I've never seen one in person.

tk59
07-02-2012, 08:25 PM
I think Glass, Marko and Eamon covered it. I generally associate American makers (Murray doesn't count.) with a little too much creativity and too little substance/experience with regard to blade design.

Burl Source
07-02-2012, 08:43 PM
I think Glass, Marko and Eamon covered it. I generally associate American makers (Murray doesn't count.) with a little too much creativity and too little substance/experience with regard to blade design.
Like my Yanagi?

Mike,
I think that anything that you make will sell if it performs well, looks good and is realistically priced. I don't mean cheap. I mean in accordance to the materials, workmanship and performance. As long as it is just you making the knives and not a mass production, I would bet most if not all of what you make will find happy homes.

eshua
07-02-2012, 08:59 PM
Imo Single bevel knives do a few specific tasks extremely well, but most working cooks could not get though their shift with one single the way I can with one 240 gyuto.

As to stigma, I have heard so much on the forum about how maker X or Y has really improved their profile, or grind over time.
First run knives can seem like a gamble, becoming either a collectors bragging rights, or something you want to thin dramatically.

Maybe think of it as an opportunity to work on something creative and not just a copy. Single bevel slicers tend to steer, especially when you are new to ura sharpening like me. To assuage that concern, run a few 190-210 line knife style slicers. It could be a popular project...steering is less an issue if its carving proteins all night, a smaller knife is less of an investment for buyers, and its tasked to work that all restaurant cooks would do a lot of. I enjoy my usuba, but it comes out of the bag for daikon, cucumbers, carrots, and that's it.

Marko Tsourkan
07-02-2012, 09:54 PM
I think the best way would be to make one and to send it to somebody in a pro kitchen who uses single bevel knives as intended. Say, make a mioroshi deba and send it to Theory. He uses his Konosuke mioroshi regularly, and should be able to compare the two and to point out any improvements to be had (if there are any). There are sushi chefs here as well, if you were to try to make a yanagiba.

As for tremendous skills involved in making single beveled knives as some said, well, those are different skills, but within maker's ability - making a double beveled knife requires more work for that matter (and tremendous skills as well) - more metal to remove, more distal taper, bevel ground on both sides, etc.

If you have a 36" radius platen, and can grind an uniform width bevel to mirror the edge profile, you are in business. If you want to make as close to as Japanese, flat grind the bevel to .016-.020 and then convex to the edge by hand. You will get a hamaguriba edge

I would say go for it, but do a prototype run before you start a production. There is nothing worse in my opinion, when a maker makes knives he doesn't understand the design, the profile, the geometry and the purpose. It takes time and a few back and forth with knowledgeable people before it 'clicks'

M

ecchef
07-02-2012, 11:23 PM
I'll be more than happy to test out your work Mike! :D

& pass it around to the local Chefs as well.

RRLOVER
07-03-2012, 12:02 AM
I just do not see a stigma.There is not that many american knife makers making chef knives,specially good ones let alone a specialized japanese knife.The market for single bevel knives is very small know matter who makes them.That being said I think getting some lesser expensive steel to hone your skills would be a great idea.Good luck and remember I am only a few away if you want to put two heads on a project.:)

VoodooMajik
07-03-2012, 12:52 AM
Imo Single bevel knives do a few specific tasks extremely well, but most working cooks could not get though their shift with one single the way I can with one 240 gyuto.

As to stigma, I have heard so much on the forum about how maker X or Y has really improved their profile, or grind over time.
First run knives can seem like a gamble, becoming either a collectors bragging rights, or something you want to thin dramatically.

Maybe think of it as an opportunity to work on something creative and not just a copy. Single bevel slicers tend to steer, especially when you are new to ura sharpening like me. To assuage that concern, run a few 190-210 line knife style slicers. It could be a popular project...steering is less an issue if its carving proteins all night, a smaller knife is less of an investment for buyers, and its tasked to work that all restaurant cooks would do a lot of. I enjoy my usuba, but it comes out of the bag for daikon, cucumbers, carrots, and that's it.

Seems like a decent Idea. If you do decide to do one, I'd love to give it a shot. We have a couple guys around that bring out a Deba or Yanagi on occasion that might be able to offer some feedback as well.

Lefty
07-03-2012, 06:01 AM
Mike, and everyone, I quite honestly think the idea that American (or Canadian) makers don't understand single bevel knives enough to make them is complete crap.

Yes, a maker from Japan will have grown up using and seeing these knives, while in North America, the concept is new and definitely foreign. However, if any of the talented craftsmen on this forum studied multiple single-bevels and learned what makes them tick, then copied (as Marko suggested) a tried and true deba, for example, I have every confidence that after a few attempts, there would be success.

Just like switching from hunting knives to kitchen knives, there will, no doubt, be a learning curve a few near misses. However, once the kinks are worked out, I trust that eventually, any single-bevel you make will be every bit as good as a Japanese made one.

To bring it back to something I have experienced, this reminds me of a European telling me that North Americans can't play soccer, because it's "not in their blood". Personally, that just made me and and my Canadian teammates dig deeper, and and show that skills are not determinate upon who/where we come from, but the amount of time we put into our craft.

Someone needs to break down the single-bevel barrier, and I know how much studying you've done in regards to the topic. Hey, why not let it be you?

knyfeknerd
07-03-2012, 08:08 AM
Someone needs to break down the single-bevel barrier, and I know how much studying you've done in regards to the topic. Hey, why not let it be you?

Yes! +1
If you do a passaround, I would love to give it a shot too. I have a kamagata usuba, kiritsuke, takohiki and yanagi -all are used each day(except for tako). I don't do traditional Japanese cuisine by any means, but each of these knives are used on a daily basis and are extremely important in my kit.

Marko Tsourkan
07-03-2012, 09:32 AM
...

To bring it back to something I have experienced, this reminds me of a European telling me that North Americans can't play soccer, because it's "not in their blood". Personally, that just made me and and my Canadian teammates dig deeper, and and show that skills are not determinate upon who/where we come from, but the amount of time we put into our craft.
...

Soccer is played around the world -almost every country has a national league of sorts. However, the titans of soccer (countries who consistently win championships) are few. The point I am making, people can make single-bevel knives, it is not that difficult once you figured out how to deal with some issues. At the same time, to make single-beveled knives cut on par with knives from top Japanese makers is not that easy. Encouragement (and assurance of success) from forum folks won't be enough. :)

Studying, comparing, and getting feedback from pro users (who actually use them at work), is a way to get there, but it probably won't be a quick trip.

At the end, put your knife against a knife from a top Japanese maker, and cut with both. Performance is best indicator whether you made a good knife or not.

I personally believe that people can do anything, as long as they put their mind to it. But I also believe it is not a quick process and could take years to become good.

M

Lefty
07-03-2012, 09:42 AM
I agree, 100%, Marko. Basically, I say, go for it and put yours up against the "best", once you have reahed the level you were after.
I just don't think it's "undoable", that's all.

Mike Davis
07-03-2012, 10:39 AM
Great discussion folks, Thanks for all the participation! Ok, i will get a knife finished out in the next week or so and get it started on a passaround. I do use my yanagi's frequently( i have 3) and my deba at least once or twice a week. I generally cook 2-3 times a day, and i put my knives through a good(for at home) work out. I have been exploring and studying single bevels for quite some time. This is not something i am going into blind, i definitely have put some thought and research into it. It will take some practice, but i think that it will be a road worth traveling :)

Mike Davis
07-03-2012, 11:12 AM
And just to set the record straight...I am far too slow and far too busy to ever do production lol. I will happily keep everything i do as one off, handmade stuff.

tk59
07-03-2012, 12:12 PM
I'm looking forward to checking out your single bevel stuff. :)

zitangy
07-03-2012, 01:17 PM
I do not mind trying out as long as there is a real value proposition...

i)A beautiful handle + a nice blade from the same maker is a value proposition.
ii) A tatooed knife is also value proposition to some people

a) Fully custom made. As mentioned it has to perform as expected.

b)the not to spec pieces.. or under performing outcome if sold at discounted value to cover time and material is fair to both parties. Its still a knife and can still be useful for a home cook or someone like me who cooks abt once a week these days..

c) so.. what is the additional value proposition of your knife?

have fun
D

Crothcipt
07-03-2012, 10:11 PM
I don't use single bevels at all. Am going to try to learn soon. With that said, I would be of no use to you at all as far as feed back. But would be willing to make a fool of myself for the cause.:lolsign:

VoodooMajik
07-04-2012, 07:42 AM
I look forward to seeing what you come up with and hope I can catch a pass around.

Namaxy
07-05-2012, 02:19 AM
Soccer is played around the world -almost every country has a national league of sorts. However, the titans of soccer (countries who consistently win championships) are few. The point I am making, people can make single-bevel knives, it is not that difficult once you figured out how to deal with some issues. At the same time, to make single-beveled knives cut on par with knives from top Japanese makers is not that easy. Encouragement (and assurance of success) from forum folks won't be enough. :)

Studying, comparing, and getting feedback from pro users (who actually use them at work), is a way to get there, but it probably won't be a quick trip.

At the end, put your knife against a knife from a top Japanese maker, and cut with both. Performance is best indicator whether you made a good knife or not.

I personally believe that people can do anything, as long as they put their mind to it. But I also believe it is not a quick process and could take years to become good.

M

I could not agree more...well put.

I use a single bevel knife at least 5 times a week, and have strong opinions, but that's not even close to getting a pro kitchen opinion. Having said that, I'll venture far afield with Chef's knives, and somewhat with slicers....IE trying new materials, grinds, handles etc. it doesn't feel odd for me to have a dozen gyutos at any given time. But a deba or usuba.....for some reason I'd prefer a traditional interpretation....IE find a good/great one and stick to just one.

I assume that comes from our comfort level with what were used to......and I'll bet that would change the more we are exposed to 'new' single bevel makers.

Mike Davis
07-05-2012, 04:10 PM
Ok going to do a righty AND lefty passaround. I will have the knives done by end of next week and will start a list with my guidelines. Thanks for all the input guys :)

Lefty
07-05-2012, 05:29 PM
Might as well end the lefty with me, since it won't be heading back to Jackson, anyhow. ;)