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Zerob
07-06-2012, 04:54 PM
I have a budget of $1000 or $1600 for 2 if people are willing to work with me on pricing. I have the money and its ready to go once I find the right knife. I am willing to get a custom knife because this would be a present for the wife and I. My worry on American knife makers is if they are as good as the Japanese for the same pricing. We've been married 2 mo now and we are renovating the kitchen. We would like to start off with a beautiful knife or 2 to match. We love to cook and grew up in a family of chefs, although we aren't professionals or anything.

I love the look of Damascus and hope my budget could afford it. My question is if it makes a difference in the sharpness of knives or just looks? I want Damascus for the looks. My wife and I were married this year which is the year of the dragon, so some type of dragon/phoenix motif on a Damascus knife would be ideal. If I can't afford it, I'd like some awesome handles. I can give the knife maker free reign on that. If Damascus isn't worth it, I could spend the money for additional knives (just an idea).

I am looking for a knife that is multipurpose; slicing meat and cutting vegetables. After doing some research, I think a gyuto would be best. My additional knives for later would be a paring and boning knife.

I hold the knife with my thumb and pointer finger pinching the blade with the other fingers curled under the handle. I would want a blade where I won't hit my knuckles. I don't have a preference on blade weight. I don't know if I prefer a flatter edge or more curvy. I don't know about a belly up or flat blade.

I want a handle that's easy on the hands; round or hexagonal.

I would prefer a super sharp knife and I do not fear carbon steel.

I have no sharpening equipment. However, I wouldn't mind sharpening a knife and can use advice on a starter kit.

I want a knife that is 50/50 since I a left handed and my wife is right.

Sorry for the long post, but I want to give you guys as much information as possible so all you knife nuts can help me better. Also tell me where to buy, as I am big on supporting family businesses. I looked on the knife maker forum, but I'm not knowledgeable enough on who the buy from. I just want the best knife I can afford at my budget.

Thanks in advance.

PierreRodrigue
07-06-2012, 05:16 PM
You have answered all the important questions. There will be lots of options offered here shortly. The members of this forum are very educated in all things knives, and will give you sound advice. For your price point, you should be able to find some very nice options. You can also check the subforums of many talented vendors who will be more than willing to work with you.

As far as damascus goes, it is more about aesthetics than performance. It is the top level of the craft, and several makers here excel at it. Devin Thomas, or Bill Burke for example, as well as others. It is much more expensive than a mono stainless or carbon steel knife, the reason for the higher cost, is the hours, and materials used to forge the blade. Look at some photos, find a style you like, then start a conversation with the maker you select. Any vendor on this forum, will be more than willing to work with you, and answer questions.

Oh yeah, welcome to the forum!

chinacats
07-06-2012, 05:16 PM
Welcome,

Many high end knife makers reside on this forum, you will be able to find a few people here that can offer the best in North American knives. You will get better answers though from others who know much more than I do.

Cheers and good luck in your quest!

VoodooMajik
07-06-2012, 05:35 PM
Let us know what you end up getting! :knife: :doublethumbsup:

Pabloz
07-06-2012, 06:02 PM
Welcome to the forum.

It's very impressive that you come so prepared about what you want in a custom!!! WAY TOO COOL!!!

PZ

Deckhand
07-06-2012, 06:02 PM
Hmmm....
Well Devin Thomas feather Damascus is my favorite for a custom he has a forum section here.

For etching Jon at Japanese knife imports has some great etching and is a nice guy with high quality knifes.
Etching examples in this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr6M9gsstFw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

99Limited
07-06-2012, 06:21 PM
Don't let Pierre Rodrigue's modest post through you off. His damascus work rocks and he'd be an excellent choice to make what you want! Having your funds to commission a custom knife or two is great, but there is one thing you will have to consider. You're going to have to wait for delivery. Maybe a year or more depending on who you choose. Don't let this throw you off though. Once you have you knife in your hand, your wait will be forgotten and you will be just beginning years of pleasure using your one-of-a-kind custom piece of cutlery.

By the way, Welcome to the forum.

heldentenor
07-06-2012, 06:27 PM
We would all like to be in your shoes, ZeroB. I think both Bill and Devin run a little bit higher than your budget for damascus, but for straight steel you'd be well within your budget from either of them. I don't know what Michael Rader charges for his damascus work, but he's also worth considering for a custom made knife at that pricepoint. Check out their respective web pages and pick the maker whose work looks closest to what you have in mind. You cannot go wrong with any of those options.

markenki
07-06-2012, 06:49 PM
Marko Tsourkan, another member here, would be my first choice if I were in your shoes.

Welcome to the forum!

Regards,

Mark

Justin0505
07-06-2012, 06:56 PM
For that price, you could get 1 custom Damascus, but probably not 2. Mono-steel or san-mai will give you the same performance, but might allow you to fit 2 in your budget.

If you want Eastern style, but American made, Murray Carter is probably your best option. (He's Canadian, but trained / lived in Japan, and is now in the US). You will pay a premium if you want a knife with really high levels of finish, but even his most basic / plainly finished knives are known to be unsurpassed cutters.

When it comes to more of a fusion of styles and what I think of as the ultimate in terms of handle design, comfort, and ergonomics, Michael Rader makes the best that I've used. He also works with a guy that does some really beautiful engraving.

Also, be aware that for any top / well known maker in the USA, you will probably have to spend months or even years on a wait list.

Stephan Fowler is newer and less popular, but his work has really progressed. I've been super happy with my recent custom order from him. His pricing would be well within your range and his turn-around time is very fast. Just be specific the specs and design that you want; some of his designs are pretty unusual, but he can make whatever you want.

On this forum, there are quite a few very talented hobbyist-level makers. I have a few knives with handles from Mario (user RRLOVER) and they are very, very nice. He recently started grinding blades too, and while I haven't had the chance to use one yet, I believe the reports that they are spectacular in their workmanship and performance. His knives usually don't last for more than a few seconds when they go up for sale (they're priced at "how are you not losing money on this?" levels) so you probably need to PM him if you want to get in line.

Adam Marr is another maker that strared on forums (not this one, but he has a website now). He's awesome to work with, a very creative and thoughtful guy, and he has a very nuanced understanding of what makes a good knife. In particular, I really like the ergonomics and little details that he puts into his handles. His pricing is also low enough that you feel like you are taking advantage of him.

Johnny.B.Good
07-06-2012, 07:05 PM
Marko Tsourkan, another member here, would be my first choice if I were in your shoes.

I love Marko's work (and am patiently waiting for a few of his knives as we speak). Check out his gallery: http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/3558-Tsourkan-Knives-Gallery

If you have your heart set on Damascus, you might see if he can do something for you with Devin Thomas's steel: http://www.devinthomas.com/damascusSteel.cfm

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the makers here, so take your time and check out all of their work. I would also look at the galleries of member owned knives, as there are many stunning pieces to be seen: http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/forumdisplay.php/72-Knife-amp-Gear-Galleries

What are you cutting with now? I would definitely use the time between now and when your masterpiece arrives to learn to sharpen, as you will want to have the skills and confidence to keep it in tip top shape.

Jon Broida (a member and vendor here) has great videos on sharpening, as well as a large selection of high-end knives from Japan (in case you change your mind and decide to buy something off the shelf): http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/media

Welcome to the forum!

Deckhand
07-06-2012, 07:09 PM
Don't let Pierre Rodrigue's modest post through you off. His damascus work rocks and he'd be an excellent choice to make what you want! Having your funds to commission a custom knife or two is great, but there is one thing you will have to consider. You're going to have to wait for delivery. Maybe a year or more depending on who you choose. Don't let this throw you off though. Once you have you knife in your hand, your wait will be forgotten and you will be just beginning years of pleasure using your one-of-a-kind custom piece of cutlery.

By the way, Welcome to the forum.

+1 he is making me one right now:D

Johnny.B.Good
07-06-2012, 07:15 PM
My wife and I were married this year which is the year of the dragon, so some type of dragon/phoenix motif on a Damascus knife would be ideal.

Here are examples of both from Japanese maker Watanabe (not Damascus however): http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/special/dragonphoenix.jpg

And a phoenix on Damascus (also from Watanabe): http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/special/phoenix1.jpg

Zerob
07-06-2012, 08:23 PM
Great insight guys. I am willing to wait for a knife. It'll be even sweeter once it comes. I am using some standard Henkels chefs knife which is ok, but I could use something better.

Here's who I like so far:
DevinT-amazing steel and damascus work
Marko- I like the shape of the knives I've seen from him
Pierre- Awesome stuff

Others:
Mario (RRLover)- trying to find more info on his work
Adam Marr- I see that he does a lot of handles, how are his knives?

Anyone know more on Mike Davis?

echerub
07-06-2012, 08:26 PM
If you want a great performing knife **with a killer edge right off the bat**, Dave Martell's gotta be a front-runner :) He doesn't do damascus much, but I think he could snag some and work with it.

tk59
07-06-2012, 08:39 PM
Great insight guys. I am willing to wait for a knife. It'll be even sweeter once it comes. I am using some standard Henkels chefs knife which is ok, but I could use something better.

Here's who I like so far:
DevinT-amazing steel and damascus work
Marko- I like the shape of the knives I've seen from him
Pierre- Awesome stuff

Others:
Mario (RRLover)- trying to find more info on his work
Adam Marr- I see that he does a lot of handles, how are his knives?

Anyone know more on Mike Davis?

Having seen and used examples of nearly every knifemaker's work, I would choose Devin, Marko and Mario, in that order. That said, knifemakers here are always looking to progress and I wouldn't be surprised if some others ought to be in the mix. I would also consider Dave Martell and possibly Murray Carter. I hope I'm not missing anybody. I consider Mike Davis somewhat unproven but his early work suggests his knives will be (if they aren't already) excellent performers. I also think he has a very good aesthetic sense. I think Murray's knives are excellent but I agree with detractors that the edge retention on his knives leaves something to be desired.

JBroida
07-06-2012, 08:47 PM
it might just be me, but i think there will likely be some problems coming from henkels and whatnot to a super-high-end knife like any of the above mentioned... you may want to buy something better than what you have now to learn on (use, sharpening, care, etc) so you can be ready for whatever you end up with down the road... just a thought.

Crothcipt
07-06-2012, 08:49 PM
Wow I am surprised that no one has mentioned Randy, and Randy Jr. with HHH Knives. I have not tried any of his work but what I see with his damascus and the handles they would also go well with what you are looking for. I also think that your budget would be right on with them too. My fav. knife on this forum is his meteorite he made. Don't get me wrong everyone here mentioned is just as good, I am just surprised he hasn't been mentioned. Link to his gallery

http://www.hhhcustomknives.com/gallery/

tk59
07-06-2012, 08:54 PM
Wow I am surprised that no one has mentioned Randy, and Randy Jr. with HHH Knives. I have not tried any of his work but what I see with his damascus and the handles they would also go well with what you are looking for. I also think that your budget would be right on with them too. My fav. knife on this forum is his meteorite he made. Don't get me wrong everyone here mentioned is just as good, I am just surprised he hasn't been mentioned. Link to his gallery

http://www.hhhcustomknives.com/gallery/ Have you ever used one? Perhaps HHH knives have improved but those I've tried have not been first class cutters. Same goes for Fowler and Rodrigue although I think there's a lot of evidence for Pierre making better cutters of late.

Deckhand
07-06-2012, 08:56 PM
Wow I am surprised that no one has mentioned Randy, and Randy Jr. with HHH Knives. I have not tried any of his work but what I see with his damascus and the handles they would also go well with what you are looking for. I also think that your budget would be right on with them too. My fav. knife on this forum is his meteorite he made. Don't get me wrong everyone here mentioned is just as good, I am just surprised he hasn't been mentioned. Link to his gallery

http://www.hhhcustomknives.com/gallery/

Good point. They have made some truly amazing knives. Don't know why I didn't mention them too. Sorry.

Crothcipt
07-06-2012, 08:59 PM
Have you ever used one? Perhaps HHH knives have improved but those I've tried have not been first class cutters. Same goes for Fowler and Rodrigue although I think there's a lot of evidence for Pierre making better cutters of late.

Second sentence says

I have not tried any of his work but what I see with his damascus and the handles they would also go well with what you are looking for.

tk59
07-06-2012, 09:02 PM
Second sentence saysMy bad. :)

pitonboy
07-06-2012, 09:12 PM
Would second the idea of having HHH in your list of contenders; have a very nice Damascus which so far has been a great cutter. Can't really say who is better than who in this list of stars

JasonD
07-06-2012, 11:11 PM
I think I'd be a little disappointed if my first major knife purchase was a really expensive custom made masterpiece. It took me a while to get competent (I still wouldn't say im all that great) at sharpening with stones, for one. Wouldn't want to scratch the hell out of my shiny new *insert awesome knife here.*

Why not check out the Misono Swedish Carbon line and get yourself a 240mm gyuto. It'll be much better than what you're probably using now, will let you get used to caring for a carbon knife, will give you a reference point for what you do/don't like in terms of flat/belly profile and overall weight/balance, and it even has a pretty sweet dragon engraved on the side of it (if you get a 240mm or larger, I think).

This is just a suggestion, and there's are tons of other great choices out there in the $200-350 range that will give you excellent performance and, more importantly, a good reference point. Not to mention, you might be happier with some solid performers in a few different styles than just one uber knife to do it all. How often do you use a paring/bread/slicing/boning knife? Often enough to warrant buying a nice one? Don't forget to budget for your sharpening kit, too.

All that being said, if this is what you two really want to get yourselves, I totally understand that and you've found the right place to get something truly awesome made. Welcome to the forums.

SpikeC
07-06-2012, 11:26 PM
These are good points- there are many aspects to a custom knife that you will not be aware of until you have more experience with what is available.

Zerob
07-07-2012, 01:12 AM
Thanks for everyone's concern on jumping to a high end knife. The reason I didn't want to jump to an intermediate knife was that I feel like I could spend a little more and get better. When I purchase things, I have a budget already set aside and I'll use all of it to get the best possible within that budget. It's just my way of thought on buying the best in my price range.

Also, I figure I can use my current knives to play with sharpening and if I do need a pro, there's a bunch on this forum who I can send out to sharpen.

I'm not afraid of carbon steel and taking care of it. I grew up around carbon steel or cast iron everything. I even have an older cleaver that requires some tlc.

If damascus is just for looks, I wouldn't mind a carbon steel knife. I've seen how they form a beautiful patina.

I think my top 3 gyuto makers so far is:
Devin
Marko
Mario (does he have a website?)

I have a lot of emails to make. LOL it takes more work than one would think to find a great knife!

kalaeb
07-07-2012, 01:38 AM
I have a lot of emails to make. LOL it takes more work than one would think to find a great knife!

Nah, its not hard to find a great knife around here, many of them are...its crazy hard to find YOUR great knife...thats the trick.

I looked for three years until I found mine.

Zerob
07-07-2012, 01:45 AM
So true.

chinacats
07-07-2012, 03:39 AM
Have you seen any of Bill Burke's work? Beautiful knives and he too is on the forum...not sure of the costs, but he has a subforum as well...

The hekler
07-07-2012, 05:10 AM
You say that handles are important to you, my two favorites as far as what I have seen are devin's and marko's. Devin for his western types and marko's for his wa type handles. As far as steel I have never used one but from what I hear devin is a master... Not to put others down or say they aren't great but it seems that devin puts the time in and understands the nuances of heat treating, which makes the steel. I would side with others with the buy a good knife first to practice with before getting a masterpiece. Depending on who you go with it might take 6 months or a year before you get the masterpiece anyway. Don't think of it as lesser quality, a good 200-300 dollar knife really should be top notch you may add a few percentage points (less then five) to fit and finish/edge retention/overall quality with a $1000+ knife but not as much as you probably expect. Most of what you are paying for is aesthetics which are nice but easily marred by in experience. Another note is that before going to a high end custom it makes sense to know what you want. You said you dont know how much belly you want on a knife, what kind of grind, length. Before making a large purchase on a full custom it makes sense to figure out what you like by experimenting with other good knives at a lower price point. If your near other members you might try to set up a meet where you can toy around with some of there knives and see what suits you. There are plenty of guys here with those $1000+ knives and the $200-300 ones and I'm willing to bet they reach for the less expensive ones as often if not more so then the masterpieces. Obviously it's a big expenditure take some time, hang around here and you will learn slot that should help you in your decision.

JBroida
07-07-2012, 05:36 AM
hell, i've used $200-300 knives that outperform knives 5x as much

Zerob
07-07-2012, 10:54 AM
ahh I did forget the time it'll take for the knife to be made. I think I will look at some around the 200-300 mark in the mean time.

Konosuke HD was always on my list to try. =D

Lefty
07-07-2012, 11:52 AM
I hear they cut almost as well as Rodrigues and Carters ;)

In all seriousness, they are a nice knife, but I have one in my home that has gone unused for a while, while my Rodrigue and Carters see daily use.

Andrew H
07-07-2012, 01:12 PM
I hear they cut almost as well as Rodrigues and Carters ;)

In all seriousness, they are a nice knife, but I have one in my home that has gone unused for a while, while my Rodrigue and Carters see daily use.

I thought you only had one Rodrigue. I'm jealous.
You are going to need a knife to use for the ~year you have to wait for a custom. I'd look at konosuke and yoshikane kasumi.

Namaxy
07-07-2012, 03:32 PM
it might just be me, but i think there will likely be some problems coming from henkels and whatnot to a super-high-end knife like any of the above mentioned... you may want to buy something better than what you have now to learn on (use, sharpening, care, etc) so you can be ready for whatever you end up with down the road... just a thought.


I know you said you know what you want, and want it to be fairly high end custom, but I still feel Jon's point is valid. Not so much from the standpoint of sharpening and care, but because I don't think you'll have had a chance to develop a feel and preference for the type of cutter you like. IE heavy vs. light, laser vs. thicker spine, how acute the bevel is, how much belly etc. If you bought some less expensive, more readily available knoves, I think you would have a clearer idea. Then....when you number comes up with the custom maker....you'll have a much better idea of your preferences.

PLUS - in this community - with a little effort you can have your cake and eat it too. There is a very active BST section, and it is easy to sell well kept knives. You could try a Konosuke, Gengetsu, Suisin, Takeda - all within your budget - then re-sell them 6 - 12 months from now when the custom guys you mention are ready to take on your project.

echerub
07-07-2012, 11:44 PM
I don't think you'll have had a chance to develop a feel and preference for the type of cutter you like. IE heavy vs. light, laser vs. thicker spine, how acute the bevel is, how much belly etc.

I think this is definitely something to keep in mind. For me, what I thought I wanted when I started to learn about knives turns out not to be what I enjoy using the most now. The only way to find out something like this is by trying out different knives. What this means is that if you spend a lot on a really, really nice custom knife right off the bat... you're gonna get a really well made knife from any of the guys named so far, but you'll never really know if the design choices you made or let the maker decide for you really were the best *for you*.

A lot of what makes some of us like such and such knives more than those whatever other knives comes down to personal preference. You can't predict in advance what your preferences are until you have a frame of reference.

We all love to get vicarious pleasure from others who get nice knives - hence the strong insistence on photos and/or videos :) - and you'll end up with a really nice knife if you go the custom route. You just won't ever really know if that's really the one that fits you the best. If you're okay with that ... hey, I don't know if a Ferrari fits me the best out of all the high end sports cars, but I sure would be happy with one! ... then that's okay too.

Tristan
07-10-2012, 04:47 AM
Get 2 customs. Enjoy them. Use the heck out of them, then add more customs to fill the gaps. I'm sure that if you get the bug these will not be the be all and end all of your hobby.

If you figure out immediately where you want to go, and you really don't want your customs... you always can sell it off on the BST forums. I figure the hit you'll take on price is about equal or slightly more than the price of a good japanese knife. So either way, if you don't need to shell out for an interim knife, i think you're alright.

Another option is to get a carter. you could get a custom from him with a shite handle, and send it off to get dressed up by marko, stefan or mhenry with a new custom handle.

I like Marko's and Pierre's work too, but I haven't the years of experience that some of the pro chefs do with knives.