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Pensacola Tiger
08-06-2012, 09:08 PM
Those of you who drop by FoodieForums may know that I picked up Don Nguyen's prototype gyuto a couple of weeks ago. I am impressed with the knife and would like to share Don's work with the forum by doing a passaround.

I won't link to a thread in a competing forum, but if you are interested, the sale thread is in "The Trading Post" and it's fairly easy to find.

Here are a couple of pics I took:

http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx226/Pensacola_Tiger/Don%20Nguyen%20%20gyuto/e4d3d544.jpg?t=1344301368

http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx226/Pensacola_Tiger/Don%20Nguyen%20%20gyuto/f7a25969.jpg?t=1344301375

The usual rules apply - keep it a week, sharpen it only if you know what you're doing, insure it when shipping to the next person on the list. Post in this thread when you get the knife and when you send it to the next person. No need to write a review, but if you want to post about your experience, please do.

Preference will be given given to Site Supporters. You should have a minimum of 50 posts or be known to me.

PM me or reply in this thread if you're interested.

Rick

SpikeC
08-06-2012, 09:19 PM
Oh, what the heck! It looks very interesting! I would like to try it out!

chuck239
08-06-2012, 10:03 PM
Rick,

I'd love to check it out and be on the list.

-Chuck

brainsausage
08-06-2012, 10:04 PM
I'd love to take her for a ride:D

Pensacola Tiger
08-06-2012, 10:14 PM
Spike, Chuck and brainsausage, you're all in.

Spike, I have your name and address from the Harner passaround.

Chuck and brainsausage, please PM me yours.

Rick

SpikeC
08-06-2012, 10:16 PM
Coolio!

Pabloz
08-06-2012, 10:58 PM
Please cout me in.

Thanks,
PZ

Lefty
08-06-2012, 11:13 PM
Rick, I'll pm you my address. Haha

I'm in too :D

Crothcipt
08-06-2012, 11:49 PM
OOO I'm a sucker for a knife. Exp. if no one here has tried it. So I'm in.

Btw nice new pic spike. :)~

sachem allison
08-06-2012, 11:56 PM
You know, I wouldn't mind being in on this if you'll have me.

Eamon Burke
08-07-2012, 12:24 AM
I am very excited to see how this goes! I miss that guy being around.

I dont get to cut as much anymore, so it takes me too long to evaluate a knife. Can I be put on the list as a second, or a standby or something?

jm2hill
08-07-2012, 04:06 AM
Depending on when this gets to Lefty I'd be real interested. I might be on vacation though...

Pensacola Tiger
08-07-2012, 09:50 AM
So far, here's the list:
Vertigo
SpikeC
chuck239
brainsausage
Pabloz
Lefty
Crothcipt
sachem allison
Burke Cutlery
jm2hill

Don Nguyen
08-07-2012, 10:44 AM
Ooh I'd like to try! Kidding :)

Thanks for doing this Rick! Looking forward to some feedback from you all.

El Pescador
08-07-2012, 11:24 AM
I'd like to be in too!

Pensacola Tiger
08-07-2012, 11:49 AM
I'd like to be in too!

You're in.

Vertigo
SpikeC
chuck239
brainsausage
Pabloz
Lefty
Crothcipt
sachem allison
Burke Cutlery
jm2hill
El Pescador

Justin0505
08-07-2012, 01:13 PM
Oh cool! If there's room at the end, Id really like to check this one out too. If not, it's ok because you've got quite the all-star line-up already and Im sure that every detail will get covered.

Pensacola Tiger
08-07-2012, 09:28 PM
Just for a change, Iíve decided to start with our Canadian brethren, so the knife will be sent to Tom (Lefty) in the morning.

Josh (jm2hill), you can have it after Tom if it fits into your schedule. PM me your address if you can take a turn.

After that, it will move down the east coast, then across the country and up the west coast.

Son (sachem allison), Justin (Justin0505) and Chuck (chuck239), please PM me your addresses so I can determine where you fit in the list. Thanks.

Eamon, if you want a turn, just let me know and I'll put you in. There's room for everyone.

Rick

Pensacola Tiger
08-07-2012, 09:29 PM
Oh cool! If there's room at the end, Id really like to check this one out too. If not, it's ok because you've got quite the all-star line-up already and Im sure that every detail will get covered.

You're in.

tk59
08-07-2012, 11:41 PM
I'd like to be in too!Didn't you try this one out at my place a couple months ago, Pesky? Don, did you make any changes to it or is it a different one altogether?

Don Nguyen
08-08-2012, 01:23 AM
I touched up the handle and saya a bit, which included the pin. Otherwise its the same knife.

Pensacola Tiger
08-09-2012, 12:25 PM
Okay, the knife is on its way to Lefty, and jm2hill. The US participants are, in order:

brainsausage
sachem allison
Justin505
Crothcipt
Vertigo
SpikeC
chuck239
El Pescador
Pabloz

Burke Cutlery

I hope you enjoy seeing and using Don's work.

Rick

Lefty
08-09-2012, 12:50 PM
Can't wait! Thanks, Rick (and Don)!
I have a good feeling about this number. :)

SpikeC
08-09-2012, 05:31 PM
Thanks for doing this, Rick!

Vertigo
08-09-2012, 05:32 PM
Yep, thanks Rick!

Pensacola Tiger
08-09-2012, 09:34 PM
One late addition, JohnyChai.

brainsausage
sachem allison
Justin505
Crothcipt
Vertigo
SpikeC
chuck239
El Pescador
Pabloz

Burke Cutlery
JohnyChai


Rick

Lefty
08-15-2012, 10:32 AM
Just got this badboy, this morning. I haven't done anything other than hold and look at it, but my initial impressions are very good. Nice taper, great handle, the grind looks nice, and we'll have to see how it goes from here.
I'm looking forward to putting it to work. :)

Lefty
08-15-2012, 07:42 PM
Alright, this is early, but I'm already impressed! I used the gyuto to make dinner and got this wonderful patina:

http://i1209.photobucket.com/albums/cc399/Lefty-T/62A7B4D5-6A17-4F84-90F7-056C24328D4E-35353-00002E81CB4A84BC.jpg

And this wonderful meal :) :

http://i1209.photobucket.com/albums/cc399/Lefty-T/042DEABB-CE3D-4292-BB13-131CD20E7332-35353-00002E81EF0F13B9.jpg

Gotta love Canadian beef and summers!

Lefty
08-25-2012, 02:56 PM
Ok, this baby will be getting sent out to brainsausage (whatever that means ;) ) on Monday.

I'm not going to post a full review, as there is one more thing I need to do before I ship it out. However, I will say that I fell in love with this gyuto! It's light, lean, cuts beautifully, release food very well (both left and right handed) and best of all, if just looks and feel damn good while doing so.

I'll be sharpening it tomorrow, before shipping it out, so I'll address that in a day or so.

Overall, this is one heck of a knife, and people need to watch out for Don's handiwork!

brainsausage
08-30-2012, 12:15 PM
Just recieved a package from Tom, with the knife and my new shaving kit! Best way to start the day! I'll post some info in a couple days, after a get a chance to put her through her paces, but my first impression: Wow that handle is frikkin beautiful....

Lefty
08-30-2012, 12:26 PM
Don does very nice work. :)

Hey, how did the edge feel, by your standards? I packed it up and wished I had wrapped it separately, with paper around it, rather than the saya.

Pensacola Tiger
09-17-2012, 11:57 PM
Any updates? Who has the knife now?

Rick

brainsausage
09-18-2012, 03:38 PM
Don does very nice work. :)

Hey, how did the edge feel, by your standards? I packed it up and wished I had wrapped it separately, with paper around it, rather than the saya.

Felt good to me Tom! I'll be mailing this out to Son tomorrow. With a review to follow later in the week. Which reminds me- anybody have any suggestions as to what the best photo host is for uploading iphone pics?

Lefty
09-18-2012, 03:48 PM
Photobucket, for sure!

Glad the edge was good :)

GlassEye
09-18-2012, 03:52 PM
Felt good to me Tom! I'll be mailing this out to Son tomorrow. With a review to follow later in the week. Which reminds me- anybody have any suggestions as to what the best photo host is for uploading iphone pics?

Yep, photobucket, there is an app to upload straight from the phone.

brainsausage
09-18-2012, 05:02 PM
Thanks guys.

sachem allison
09-22-2012, 01:57 AM
I got it today , Rick.

sachem allison
09-22-2012, 02:04 AM
here are some pics. I got to handle this back during the ECG and was very smitten by it then and still am.

Pensacola Tiger
09-22-2012, 08:20 AM
Thanks for the update and the pics, Son. Enjoy!

Don Nguyen
09-27-2012, 12:24 PM
Hey everyone, I'd like to thank you all for this. Any and all feedback is much appreciated! :)

Some things I would like for you to consider about my own thoughts about the knife (spoiler alert):

-----

Things that I like, or am keeping for now:


Profile
Handle
Steel/HT

Things I don't like, and am changing:


Thickness at choil

-If I remember right it's slightly over 2mm at the choil, and this makes it too light. I'd like to get closer to 3mm ideally. Right now the balance is right at the front of the handles, above the choil. I'd like for it to be one inch forward or so.

Thickness at tip

-The tip area (one-two inches from actual tip) is really thick for me. Ideally they will be noticeably thinner, and will transition into a Full Flat Grind towards the tip.

Grind (Little details, slight changes)

-I'd like to get a more asymmetric grind. For a right handed user this means a flatter left face, and on the right it means a more definitive blended grind, that transitions into a full flat grind towards the tip.


Of course construction wise, fit and finish, will gradually get better with each knife I hope. Choils will be rounded better, spines will be rounded better, etc. They will also be straighter and more even all around.

-----

Thoughts?

Lefty
09-27-2012, 12:54 PM
Yes. I think you're nuts! It's a Konosuke, with a much nicer handle, done by an American MEMBER maker, and I love the tips on the two I've handled.

You knifemakers are a weird bunch.... ;)

Don Nguyen
09-27-2012, 12:57 PM
Thanks Tom!

I would like to say the tip comment pertained to more the Prototype than the ones with the black handles; the tips on those are much closer to where I like them to be, but all other observations still apply :)

sachem allison
09-27-2012, 02:37 PM
That tip is just about right for me, it glides through onions like nobodies business and what fit and finish issues? This is a damn fine knife and one of the best prototypes I've seen.

sachem allison
09-29-2012, 05:53 PM
Well, I'm about to send this out on Monday or Tuesday to Justin. Here is my review. I was fortunate enough to handle this for a little while at the ECG and was immediately smitten by it. The look is unique, I haven't seen anything quite like it. I don't normally go for that modernist look, but this one has style. It is nice and thin and still a little stiff with some flex. I like the tip the way it is. It sails through prep like nobodies business. I used it exclusively all week for everything from hulling strawberries to cutting NY strips. I got very little sticktion on anything, It loves onions and tomatoes. I got very clean cuts on carrots and large sweet potatoes. It is surprisingly nimble and actually looks smaller than it really is. It has a beautiful electric blue patina right now. I have not sharpened it once since, I got it. The only thing I have done is run it once a day for about 10 seconds on the new jadeite stone to freshen the edge and I'm good to go. I will actually send it off unsharpened to Justin and see what he thinks. I liked this knife so much that within 10 minutes of recieving it I hocked a few things and bought one. Might as well get one while I can still afford it.
Good job Don, I can't believe this is the prototype. Can only imagine what the other one is going to be like.
thanks, Son

sachem allison
09-29-2012, 05:59 PM
fit and finish is impeccable, choil is rounded on the right side , but only eased on the left. The spine is nicely eased also. The handle is crisp and feels remarkably well in the hand. It is shaped well for a pinch grip. The blade has an oh, so slight curve to it that is not noticeable at all in the cutting process. It is probably some stress in the steel from heat treat. I mean slight as in if you didn't know to look for it, you might miss it.You might miss it anyway. I love this knife.

Lefty
09-29-2012, 06:49 PM
My feelings were much the same, but I wasn't in a position to say so. However, now, I agree :)

Johnny.B.Good
09-29-2012, 11:33 PM
High praise.

Congratulations, Don.

Pensacola Tiger
10-01-2012, 09:13 PM
One participant has dropped out, and another has been added. The list now is:

brainsausage
sachem allison
Justin505
Crothcipt
Vertigo
SpikeC
chuck239
El Pescador
Pabloz

Burke Cutlery
Cuttty Sharp


Rick

sachem allison
10-01-2012, 09:34 PM
Rick, I just sent this out to Justin today. Thanks, again.

Pensacola Tiger
10-01-2012, 09:36 PM
Rick, I just sent this out to Justin today. Thanks, again.

You're welcome, Son. Thank you for the excellent review.

RRLOVER
10-01-2012, 09:43 PM
You knifemakers are a weird bunch.... ;)


Quote of the month winner!!!

Pensacola Tiger
10-17-2012, 06:32 PM
Any updates?

sachem allison
10-17-2012, 08:36 PM
I sent it to Justin, it was sent back to me for insufficient address, I sent it back out after confirming with Justin his address last week and I emailed him yesterday I think. waiting to hear if he got it. I seemed to have misplaced the tracking number with the events of this week.

Pensacola Tiger
10-17-2012, 08:46 PM
I sent it to Justin, it was sent back to me for insufficient address, I sent it back out after confirming with Justin his address last week and I emailed him yesterday I think. waiting to hear if he got it. I seemed to have misplaced the tracking number with the events of this week.

I'll bet one of the cats ate it.

Thanks for letting me know what's up.

Did I have a bad address for Justin?

sachem allison
10-17-2012, 08:59 PM
I don't think so. The address confirmation that he gave me was identical to what I have written on the box. The post office couldn't give me an explanation as to why it was stamped all over with insufficient address. They still made me pay the shipping and insurance all over again.

Pensacola Tiger
10-17-2012, 09:30 PM
Let's hope it gets to Justin this time.

Justin0505
10-19-2012, 07:28 PM
Finally got the knife today!!!!! YAY!!

I got right down to business and have already started putting this knife to work. I head back out of town for work next week, so my plan is to drop this knife off Sunday night so it goes out Monday AM and hopefully all of Son's cat-cursed (I'm not sure how, but it was clearly their doing) shipping issues are over and the pass-around time-line isn't impacted too adversely.

Eamon Burke
10-23-2012, 02:17 AM
I just checked out one of Don's other knives and had to check this thread. I forgot I signed up for it, but MAN am I glad I did! One of the biggest knifemaker surprises I've ever had, I think.

Lefty
10-23-2012, 02:35 PM
His work is pretty special...just sayin'.

Oh, and get this, I found the address list in my boxes for the store. Oops! I can mail it out, or email it, or...well, let me know!

Crothcipt
10-23-2012, 02:37 PM
It's on it's way to me if you want to ship it ahead.

Lefty
10-23-2012, 04:29 PM
Will do, tomorrow. Sorry, guys.

Pensacola Tiger
10-23-2012, 04:51 PM
Will do, tomorrow. Sorry, guys.

Tom,

Save the postage, I'll email or snail mail the list to Shane.

Rick

Justin0505
10-27-2012, 04:36 PM
I'm traveling a lot for work right now, and during my week off the post office decided to play ping-pong with it rather than deliver it, so I only really had 48hrs to play with it before I was heading back out of town again and needed to ship it on to the next person as to not hold up the line any longer. Still, this knife made quite an impression on me in that brief time and I spent as much time as I could using it or just holding and staring at it.

Let me start off by saying that I really, really liked this knife and that while I do have some (hopefully) constructive criticism, I am in awe of just how good this knife is considering that it is a prototype from a maker who is still very new in comparison to the master knife-makers to who's work his will inevitably be compared. The down-side of this knife being so good in so many ways, is that it invites judgement and evaluation on a much higher and more minute level than one might typically impose on a knife in this price range.

Perhaps what struck me most was that there where many design elements that where unusual or unique and they where technically very demanding. Normally the combination of those elements with a new maker results in some pretty big fails. But that was definitely NOT the case here.

My favorite, and IMO, most impressive part of the knife was the handle. The handle was even more striking in person. The extreme angles and geometry really added to the knife's over-all stealth-fighter or f1 car aesthetic: even sitting still, it just LOOKS fast and dangerous. This is a seriously bad-ass looking handle, but often non-traditional, cool-looking handles don't feel as good as they look, or, very good at all. Again, that was not the case here. The handle feels like a combination of maybe a tapered octagonal wa and angular western handle, but really it feels like nothing else that I've ever held before... and in a good way. There are dozens of little details: like the slight tear-drop cross section and the extra flat spot on the underside right behind the coil that shows that Don has a really sophisticated understanding of ergonomics as they pertain to holding onto a kitchen knife in a variety of grips and techniques. Seriously, his design work on this handle puts him right up there with Adam Marr, and Michael Rader (two of my favorite and, IMO, most innovative handle makers). However, there where a few, very minor technical issue with the execution of the handle design: the 2 sides where not perfectly symmetrical. I took some pictures, but Son's show it just as well. If you look at the shot of the end, and near the top and bottom, you can see that the flat spot is wider on one side than the other. There where a few other areas around the handle where you can see, if you really look carefully, that the bevels don't line up the same way on both sides. I admit that this is totally inconsequential in terms of feel or function and fully understand that making a handle like this without any visible flaws / asymmetries is orders of magnitude more difficult than your traditional wa or western shapes. One last note / bit of personal preference was that they handle was just a bit skinny for my xxl paws. The length was fantastic, perfect even, but girth-wise it was clearly designed with small-to-average hand sizes in mind. I admit that

The blade design is less revolutionary, but still pretty extreme and ambitious in terms of technical difficulty. It's a gyuto for someone that likes suji's and flat, pointy, sleek, low-tip profiles. There's enough belly to rock, but that clearly is not what it was made to do. The profile is set up well for push, draw, and diagonal cutting motions, but I did notice the the back 1/3 or so of the edge was dead flat. This means that when rocking, or using any stroke where the heel is coming into even / full contact with the board, it results in the "clunk" feeling where a big enough portion of the edge is all hitting at the same time that all of the momentum ends at once. I think Dave had a thread about true flat edges and the problem with the "clunk" but I'm having a hard time finding it.

The grind seems to be a compound blended-bevel design with a transition to almost full-flat near the front. As far as I could could see the grind was flawless and even and any hint of grind or scratch mark was polished away with a very high-grit finish.
However, when it came to function and cutting performance, I think that the the grind really fell short. This is a pretty thin blade, so I really expected wedging to be a non-issue and effort to be very low. However, I found that rear 1/2 or so of the blade was pretty difficult to push or slice through taller product. I did some testing with a cucumber-sized zucchini and found that when cutting 1/4" thing circles, the final 5-10% of the vegetable actually snapped and broke off before the cut was complete. Potatoes and carrots didn't feel very good either. This high-drag, wedge-inducing geometry combined with a blade that is fairly thin and light meant that I had a very difficult time building any kind of speed or momentum though my cuts and the perceived cutting effort as much higher that I would expect for any knife, much less one with dimensions like this one. The front 1/3 to 1/2 of the blade is much thinner and the grind seems to be different as well and I did not experience any of the same issue as I did with the rear of the blade, but this forward section of the knife is not very rigid and an some flex is noticeable. I understand that making a long, low, sleek blade cut well, release well, minimize drag, and also still be rigid and have a blade-forward balance point is a very very difficult thing to achieve. So, the fact that Don didn't manage is crack the holly grail of grinds on this blade is no surprise, and I really commend him on attempting such a difficult design. The blade did work amazingly well slicking both cooked and raw chicken, pork, and beef.

Lastly I mentioned that the steel was really a joy to use. It came very sharp from Son, which is impressive considering how little he did to it. I'd say that it was a very "functional" level of sharp, but not hair-popping or "silly sharp." So, I took it to my highest grit j-nat finisher for a few stropping passes just to see what would happen. It felt great on the stone, and 30 seconds and a quick cork-de-burr later hair was flying off my arm and newprint was running away when the edge so much as looked at it. I was weary that all I had done was sharpen a burr or re-align fatigued steel, but the edge held up just fine though all of my hard testing with no rolling or sudden drop in performance. The edge managed to get very fine while still holding onto it's teeth.
I'd say that Don has the HT figured out for this steel...
The patina was not particuarly heavy when I got this knife, and I did notice some reactivity to/ browning of onion, but nothing terrible. I'd say that the steel is more reactive than 01 but not bad or noticeably worse than W2 or white #1.

Bottom line: really impressive work that means I will be watching out (with very high expectations) for more from Mr. Nguyen.


Thanks to Lefty for another awesome pass-around!!!

Vertigo
10-27-2012, 05:55 PM
Awesome review, can't wait to try it!

Pensacola Tiger
10-27-2012, 06:09 PM
Thanks for the review, Justin. Sorry you didn't get more time with it.

Rick

Johnny.B.Good
10-27-2012, 06:12 PM
Another great review, Justin.

Don Nguyen
10-28-2012, 01:17 PM
Thanks for the criticism Justin, I really appreciate it! Tons of things to ponder and revise for me - I get excited just thinking about it.

Does anyone have any gripes/concerns about the natural, un-stabilized handle wood?

kalaeb
10-28-2012, 02:56 PM
Thanks for the criticism Justin, I really appreciate it! Tons of things to ponder and revise for me - I get excited just thinking about it.

Does anyone have any gripes/concerns about the natural, un-stabilized handle wood?

Don, most woods will have shrinkage unless stabilized with the exceptions of the very oily dense woods like cocobolo or ironwood. In climates with low humidity "shrinkage" can take place in as little as a week. So I guess unstabilized would be a no go if I were to order one. Also consider the weights of many woods vary so you may have to compensate for heavier woods by drilling some additional tang holes to keep balance more forward.

Crothcipt
11-01-2012, 04:46 PM
Going in the mail today to vertigo. Will post more later tonight.

Vertigo
11-03-2012, 03:31 PM
Just took delivery of the DTN. Won't have time to sharpen it up and really drive it until Monday, though my initial impressions taking it out of the package are exceedingly positive.

Smells kinda like Wyoming though. Gross.

:lol2:

Lefty
11-03-2012, 04:26 PM
Hahahaha. Amazing! :D

Crothcipt
11-03-2012, 06:21 PM
lol. Could have been worse I forgot to pack the towel that was around the knife.

Vertigo
11-05-2012, 07:40 PM
Okay, after two shifts in the office with this charming little rapscallion, I feel comfortable and familiar enough with its performance to share some thoughts:

First Impressions

The profile is exactly what I look for in a knife: extremely flat, appropriately narrow for its length, with a well defined tip. Even if it wasn't the maker's intention, it will have no trouble serving double duty as both a gyuto and a slicer. In hand, the knife feels light, sporty, and agile. The blade has a high grit finish and a decent patina started, though it has acquired a number of superficial scratches from its adventures. At the heel the geometry looks a little chunky: while the overall blade is thin, the majority of its vertical taper begins a little further towards the edge than I'd like. The distal taper is slight and gradual, bringing the steel to a delicate and highly functional tip. There are no obvious overgrinds or undergrinds--in fact, the grind looks just about impeccable in its execution--though I can see the very slight "curve" that Son mentioned in his review.

The handle itself is refreshingly different, and a little bit funky. Funky in the "Sly and the Family Stone" kinda way, not in the "damn, how long has that been in the fridge" kinda way. Straight off the bat I'm in love with it. As Justin said, this was clearly made by someone with a good understanding of ergonomics. It's stupidly comfortable to hold, especially in a pinch grip. The diamond shape of the scales as they terminate at the blade face seems a revelation, like why haven't people been doing this all along? My pinch wraps around it organically, as if I'd been using the knife for decades. If I could complain about anything in the handle--besides the idiosyncrasies in the scales already mentioned--it would be that the pins, bent around the handle's sharp angles, seem a little forced. Aesthetically, a round pin bent at multiple hard angles just doesn't work for me. Hardly a deal breaker though. The bottom line is that holding it is completely comfortable and natural, and Don gets the highest marks I could give for his vision.

The saya is functional and pretty, though the smell I earlier joked as "Wyoming" actually comes from the saya's natural oils, which cling to the blade after its removal, and remind me of being in a head shop. I could do without that. I promptly hid it on top of my cupboard.

Sharpening

The edge as received was a little run down and had a very dark patina built upon it, though there were no rolls or chips that I could detect with my fingers or naked eye. I gave it a few light passes on a Rika 5k, then stropped on unloaded leather, and within moments it was back to full speed and whipping through arm hair. I haven't used a knife in 1084 before (that I know of), but this knife was as effortless to touch up and deburr as any other basic carbon I've used. I wish I could say more about its performance on the stones, but steel this simple rarely proves challenging or nuanced.

In the Weeds

I brought her in for the two hour frenzy of prep before Sunday brunch, then kept her by my side for the remainder of the shift as my line knife; today, being much slower, I shirked my duties as sous and spent ten hours using her to make sweet, sweet love to every single protein, fruit, and vegetable we stock. The poor girl is tired. I admit our affair was one of both love and strife, though the good times far exceeded the bad and I'll focus on them first.

For starters, this baby is a carnivore. The most fun I had using it over 20 hours was as a slicer, bringing her with gusto through scads of chicken, turkey, ribeye, tri-tip, pork loins and shoulders. Cooked or raw, the knife had little difficulty fabricating any portion I demanded. Shaving tri-tip for sandwiches was as functionally effortless as it was with a Masamoto KS; in breaking down primals it was indistinguishable from a Carter. Her second talent is fruits, especially tomatoes: I go through boxes daily, and together we cut down each and every one. While the edge faltered quick against so much acidity, one or two gentle swipes on a 2k ceramic proved enough to bring it back. I gravitated towards using the tip more than usual (more on that later), but had no difficulties slicing and dicing my way into gallons of salsa fresca. Peeling melons, cubing pineapple, hulling strawberries (just like Son! Yay!), anything that was fairly moist fell to her charms. We even made a few orange supremes in hand for fun, just to remember our time together.

When we hit vegetables and more dense, firm objects, the honeymoon was over. My experience in this department was closer to Justin's than Son's: the knife stalled out on me quite a bit, literally dragging to a stop--especially going through fat, angry onions and potatoes--and I found myself using the tip more to compensate. The grind is quite a bit flatter and thinner there, and simply makes the forward third of the knife more functional than the rest for tall and "sticky" foods. It was by no means a bad cutter in this capacity, just provided (finally) the evidence that I was using a prototype.

Reactivity was worse than nicer carbon and nicer than worse carbon. I got minimal discoloration on onions, had no offensive odors (once I washed off the weird saya-juice), and only saw the "oh snap" warning signs of rust when I was elbows deep in a box of limes. Between all the acidity and protein, she picked up quite a bit of color, and is looking pretty damn sexy these days. I'll post up a few pics tomorrow before shipping it out, if we get a little sun.

Conclusion

All totaled, I'm really impressed with this knife. I think Don graduated straight past a lot of the clumsy intermediate steps of knife making, and produced something fully functional as a "prototype" which could, if we didn't know any better, be completely mistaken as the work of someone with much more experience. While I couldn't use it as my daily driver without some tweaks to the grind, it's an exceptional effort, and I'm excited to see future iterations coming down the pipe.

Thanks to both Don and PT,

-Jack

TL;DR

Nice knife!

Crothcipt
11-05-2012, 07:56 PM
The last time I wrote about a makers knife he pretty much said I phoned it in. So this time I am gonna try to be a little more forward about the knife.

First of all fit and finish was very nice. I really didn't see any problems with it. Seemed to hold a edge well. I did have problems with steering. I wasn't paying attention when I looked at the onion I was slicing and noticed the onion was pulling the knife to my right. I didn't do much in trying to see what the problem was at the time. Going on to my second onion my hand started to cramp up. It seems that the handle was too small for my hand. I use a pinch grip at the base of the blade. But there really was no support for my hand until the very back. After playing around with how my hand fit on the handle I finally figured out what I would change the handle.

The handle was too long for the handle to be functional for me. I went to take pic's but ran out of time. I like how the back part of the handle fit in my palm. I would like to think the handle in that fashion would work well with more like a palm swell. I am sure this isn't making any sense, but this is about the only way I can explain it in writing.

I didn't do much cutting at all after I got the cramp, so I won't grade on the steel, ht, and edge.

The saya friction fit was very well done. I didn't need the pin for transport to work.

So as to say did I like the knife no. But I do think the handle has quite a bit of genus boing with it. I did like the workmanship that was involved. I would love to see the next generation of what Don makes, and I do think he will be around for quite a while.

Please ask questions so I can try to be more clear.

Don Nguyen
11-05-2012, 09:02 PM
Very, very, very insightful comments Jack and Crothcipt. I REALLY appreciate your time for writing that up.

I definitely have my work cut out for me. What part of the grind would you say is causing the wedging? From what I remember the thickness behind the edge was minimal, about 0.005" at completion and initial sharpening. It must be a different aspect of the grind I'm not aware of, perhaps the bevel height, or something I never even considered before.

I also have to consider the handle design for larger hands, because several people have remarked about that already. What changes do you think would make the most substantial difference (increased dimensions, shorter length, less taper, etc), or would I have to look at a complete reworking?

Justin0505
11-05-2012, 10:52 PM
Awesome review Jack! I"m always a bit envious of how much you pros can learn in such a short period of time with all the cutting that you do... I might have to start volunteering at a soup kitchen just for when I do pass around reviews.

Way to be direct Crothcipt; I know exactly what you mean about not feeling a lot of support near the front of the handle.

As to Don's questions:
I think that just increasing the handle diameter near the front, might help this a bit. Maybe a tad less taper and a just a hair less length (so the increased handle mass doesn't throw off the balance) I really liked how dramatic the taper looks and long the handle was. So I really wouldn't want to mess with it too much.

As for the grind, I think that the issue was not that it wasn't thin enough behind the edge, but that it started to thicken too much too quickly / close to the edge. Perhaps try keeping it thinner a bit higher up. I understand that this is very tricky to do with a low, sleek blade. I've noticed that some makers like Shigefuesa actually leave their blades much thicker at the spine, but then the thickness drops much more rapidly / less linearly than your grind did near the heel / back 1/2 of the knife. I think that a thicker spine acts like, well a spine, and allows the rest of the blade to be thinner without losing rigidity.

Vertigo
11-06-2012, 12:12 AM
As for the grind, I think that the issue was not that it wasn't thin enough behind the edge, but that it started to thicken too much too quickly / close to the edge. Perhaps try keeping it thinner a bit higher up. I understand that this is very tricky to do with a low, sleek blade. I've noticed that some makers like Shigefuesa actually leave their blades much thicker at the spine, but then the thickness drops much more rapidly / less linearly than your grind did near the heel / back 1/2 of the knife. I think that a thicker spine acts like, well a spine, and allows the rest of the blade to be thinner without losing rigidity.

My thoughts exactly. While the blade itself is thin (roughly 1.8mm at the spine over the heel, according to my old and frequently inaccurate plastic calipers), there is very little vertical taper until around halfway towards the edge. Starting with thicker stock and tapering faster from the spine would allow you to maintain the same sleek height, profile, and stiffness, while making the food separate easier during cutting. As it is right now, once the first half of the blade is in the product, it loses it's ability to "push" the product away and simply binds up from friction.

The handle is perfect. I have big fat Shrek hands, and I wouldn't mess with it. I kept loving it during some tasks and hating it during others, and then it kinda clicked: in applications where the knife is performing admirably, such as slicing proteins or dicing tomatoes, the handle is completely transparent. It's just there, acting as a sexy counterbalance to the blade. When the knife begins to slow down and stall out, though--such as in a larger onion or going through a potato--you kinda need to torque on the handle to finish the cut, and suddenly it seems inadequate. It stands to reason then that you fix the problem with the cut, you fix the problem with the handle.

Just my two cents.

Crothcipt
11-06-2012, 12:42 AM
Wow I was thinking I would be the only one with this problem. I would think that what Justin said about shortening the handle and beefing up the scales would def. fix this.

Don Nguyen
11-06-2012, 11:32 AM
Awesome, thanks everyone. I have a lot of ideas for new grinds to try out. I'll draw some out later and post pictures.

The handle actually, was initially supposed to be slightly larger in diameter with a slightly less dramatic taper anyways - unexpected things happen at the grinder :laugh: I'll keep at it with the designs and hopefully get one ideal to my vision soon.

brainsausage
11-13-2012, 12:15 AM
I should have posted my thoughts awhile ago, but things have been hectic lately...
Most of what I could add has been touched on already. I had the same problems with wedging, and it was EXTREMELY reactive when I first cut into a tomato. The sulphur smell was more intense than I've ever experienced. But it calmed down after an hour or so of use. I have to agree with Jack, this knife is a carnivore at heart, and afraid of big starchy veg. I experienced a lot of stiction as well. But I chalked that up partially to the patina not being quite settled in(as well as the above mentioned grind issues). I really enjoyed the overall profile of the blade. Nice and flat.
The handle was immediately striking to me, straight out of the box. But after an hour of use I started to experience some of the same fatigue as crothcript. I have bigger hands and I just didn't feel that it had quite enough girth. Which is half the reason I like wa handles, due to the ferrule. I experienced the most discomfort on the lower edge of the angle that faces the middle knuckles of the index and middle fingers. I feel with continued use, my grip and skin would become accustomed to it(yet another knife callous), but it wouldn't be my first choice for a handle in its current state.
All that being said- this is an impressive offering from any class of bladesmith, but doubly impressive from one as 'green' as you Don. I look forward to your future offerings:D

Oh, btw- it traveled through both Canada and Maine, so I'm not surprised the saya smelled like a head shop:wink:

Notaskinnychef
11-13-2012, 03:43 PM
what a cool idea

Pensacola Tiger
12-21-2012, 07:50 PM
Who has the knife now?

chuck239
12-21-2012, 10:11 PM
I do. Just touched it up last night on the stones. Getting the next address and i will be sending it out right after Christmas.

-Chuck

Pensacola Tiger
12-21-2012, 10:42 PM
I do. Just touched it up last night on the stones. Getting the next address and i will be sending it out right after Christmas.

-Chuck

PM'd you with the info.

Rick

Pensacola Tiger
01-22-2013, 11:33 PM
Who has the knife now?

jgraeff
01-23-2013, 01:34 AM
how do i keep missing the good passarounds?

brainsausage
08-20-2013, 07:19 PM
What happened with this passaround? No reviews since mine way back when:/

Pensacola Tiger
08-20-2013, 07:40 PM
The passaround was completed a while ago, and the knife was returned to me. Thanks to all who participated and provided feedback to Don.

It is now with Don having a new saya made after the original one was accidentally broken.

Rick

brainsausage
08-20-2013, 08:31 PM
Surprised there wasn't more reviews...

Crothcipt
08-21-2013, 01:06 AM
They seem to go like that. Few post anything. Which is sad, it is what makes reading these fun.