PDA

View Full Version : Please!



Salty dog
05-02-2011, 10:31 PM
There has been a trend with some American knife makers to explore kitchen knives. It's a good thing.

But PLEASE! do your homework. A kitchen knife is very different from what you may have produced in the past. They generally are used every day and are sharpened often. Unlike most "art" blades which may never be used or hunters that are used once a year if you are lucky. So in my humble opinion I believe that kitchen knife users are really the bad a$$es of the knife world.

More importantly the makers that can hang with them are the bad a$$es of the knife makers world.

Dave Martell
05-02-2011, 11:15 PM
Scott, when I was asked to speak at Ashokan Knife Seminar this past Sept I was thinking what in the world can I say to these guys that can make a difference to "us". I had to of course talk about edges and all that crap but I used this oppurtunity to say something that's been on my mind for a long time which is basically what you just said. :)


My message to custom knifemakers looking to get into kitchen knives is this:

1. Do your homework!!!!!!!!

2. Geometry, Profile, Ergonomics are of the utmost importance

3. Cutting Board Interaction - No holes in the edge allowed from over-grinds from the sides of the knife. No one likes an accordian made of foodstuffs.

4. Testing - Ask a professional chef/cook who is a known kitchen knifenut to test your stuff. They cut more in a few days than you can dream of doing yourself in months and they know what's good and bad. Listen carefully to what they tell you even if it's criticism and learn from it.

5. If you're not down with learning the right way to do things and making a kitchen knife "correctly" then don't bother because we have enough people already doing it wrong, we sure don't need another.

6. If you make it correctly - they will sell. :thumbsup:

Eamon Burke
05-02-2011, 11:16 PM
Yep. It's just SO demanding. It's like wanting a straight razor you can dress an elk with in a room full of steam. I'd like to see a kitchen knife maker make a hunting/field knife and comment on the challenges.

Dave Martell
05-02-2011, 11:44 PM
While I'm thinking on this subject I recalled a few great examples of some very high priced miserable examples of kitchen knives made by some noteworthy custom knifemakers. I've had the mis-fortune of being burnt by handling/tweaking many custom kitchen knives over the years. I've lost mass amounts of time and in some cases cash too by futsing with these knives trying to help people make something out of them that they could actually cut food with. More difficult than that though is delivering the bad news to a customer that their expensive new knife is crap, that's hard to do, although it's getting easier with all of my experience I've had. :)

A couple of prime examples (and I won't share names so don't bother asking) that come to mind...


Cleaver - same thickness at spine/corners/middle of the blade/& edge!!! This was simply a plate of steel with a beautiful handle that had been sharpened. Price - Big Bucks


10" Chef's Knife - Blued blade, beautiful handle, simply perfect if it was a Bowie knife. The heal section was shorter in height than the middle and curve and the tip stuck up in the air and the handle swept downwards driving knuckles right into the board. The only way to not hit your knuckles was to work the knife with the handle hanging off of the counter top!


In both cases, like most I see, the makers thought little of kitchen knives and made the assumption that they are simple to make which we know is wrong. They look simple but are very complicated to do correctly.

Salty dog
05-02-2011, 11:46 PM
Have you ever brought this up? Are we getting into a Pandora's box here?

Salty dog
05-02-2011, 11:47 PM
or should we go on a crusade?

Dave Martell
05-02-2011, 11:57 PM
Have you ever brought this up? Are we getting into a Pandora's box here?

Most of the things like this that I have seen I have never talked about for a couple of reasons. I'm not looking to slam anyone would be the first, the second is that the knife owners often ask that I don't say anything, the third is that some people have themselves posted and/or brought these issues up to the knifemakers which almost always brings about immediate improvements via changes or they simply stop making kitchen knives.

Salty dog
05-03-2011, 12:00 AM
I kinda like Moritaka (except for that weird weld) Probably getting too much for them.

Dave Martell
05-03-2011, 12:04 AM
I removed the Moritaka reference from my post (sorry Scott) :)


On a side note - how about that pass around knife we had recently? I should PM you what I found when I sharpened it. Yikes!

Bill Burke
05-03-2011, 12:09 AM
Yep. It's just SO demanding. It's like wanting a straight razor you can dress an elk with in a room full of steam. I'd like to see a kitchen knife maker make a hunting/field knife and comment on the challenges.
How much are you willing to pay for one?:ohmy: Oh wait maybee I am not a kitchen knife maker.:lol2::lol2::chefcut:

JohnnyChance
05-03-2011, 12:42 AM
There has been a trend with some American knife makers to explore kitchen knives. It's a good thing.

But PLEASE! do your homework. A kitchen knife is very different from what you may have produced in the past. They generally are used every day and are sharpened often. Unlike most "art" blades which may never be used or hunters that are used once a year if you are lucky. So in my humble opinion I believe that kitchen knife users are really the bad a$$es of the knife world.

More importantly the makers that can hang with them are the bad a$$es of the knife makers world.

I actually brought this up to David Broadwell here. (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php?864-Work-In-Progress-Thread-Damascus-And-Wood-For-The-Kitchen) I remember you bringing this up before. Pretty sure it was awhile ago on another forum and don't recall anything else from the thread or what it was about. Again, kudos to David and other experienced smiths who do their research and ask experienced kitchen knife makers and users rather than just making a Bowie and calling it a chef's knife.

Chef Niloc
05-03-2011, 01:16 AM
While I'm thinking on this subject I recalled a few great examples of some very high priced miserable examples of kitchen knives made by some noteworthy custom knifemakers. I've had the mis-fortune of being burnt by handling/tweaking many custom kitchen knives over the years. I've lost mass amounts of time and in some cases cash too by futsing with these knives trying to help people make something out of them that they could actually cut food with. More difficult than that though is delivering the bad news to a customer that their expensive new knife is crap, that's hard to do, although it's getting easier with all of my experience I've had. :)

A couple of prime examples (and I won't share names so don't bother asking) that come to mind...


Cleaver - same thickness at spine/corners/middle of the blade/& edge!!! This was simply a plate of steel with a beautiful handle that had been sharpened. Price - Big Bucks


10" Chef's Knife - Blued blade, beautiful handle, simply perfect if it was a Bowie knife. The heal section was shorter in height than the middle and curve and the tip stuck up in the air and the handle swept downwards driving knuckles right into the board. The only way to not hit your knuckles was to work the knife with the handle hanging off of the counter top!


In both cases, like most I see, the makers thought little of kitchen knives and made the assumption that they are simple to make which we know is wrong. They look simple but are very complicated to do correctly.

Don't forget the one I showed you, got to be the worst knife made by " reputable maker ". What's worse is th maker knows very well his knives are crp but still sells them as of they are masterpieces, even calls himself a " master smith " LOL

so_sleepy
05-03-2011, 03:01 AM
I've been thinking about this lately. How would you suggest that a knife maker learn the ropes with kitchen knives? Should he take a knife with a good reputation and try to copy it? Isn't that how an apprentice usually learns? I think guys that have already themselves in another area balk at this approach.

Michael Rader
05-03-2011, 08:54 AM
This is a great thread... and challenging. Well, I hope learning from the people that actually use knives for hours every day will help me become a better maker. There is a lot that can go wrong and I know I personally have a lot more homework to do. That is why this is a good thread, because, it does help focus the mind a bit here.

And the advice of having actual users/chefs use the knife and give feedback is very important. And that is making me want to get my pass-around going here pretty quick. I'm ready for some tough-love.

-M

Marko Tsourkan
05-03-2011, 12:51 PM
This has been a point of contention in my several posts here and on KF (before this forum).
I think many cross-over knife makers are more concerned to come up with a knife that is distinctively "theirs" in appearance than a knife that is an all-around good performer. Japanese makers use similar profile on their knives for the reason that it's tried-and-true, not because they are unimaginative.

I think understanding what makes a good performing knife is as important as understanding about heat-treatment and metallurgy in general. Many have posted on the subject, so I won't repeat.

Getting feedback from a forum like this is a good start, however one should take it with a grain of salt, as preferences for use (pro or home), style, geometry, makers will not very subjective and might reflect a current trend. For instance, the latest trend is for thinly ground knives. I would not consider a knife like Konosuke HD or some other "lasers" I have seen lately an all-around good performer.

M

mhlee
05-03-2011, 04:10 PM
This is a great thread... and challenging. Well, I hope learning from the people that actually use knives for hours every day will help me become a better maker. There is a lot that can go wrong and I know I personally have a lot more homework to do. That is why this is a good thread, because, it does help focus the mind a bit here.

And the advice of having actual users/chefs use the knife and give feedback is very important. And that is making me want to get my pass-around going here pretty quick. I'm ready for some tough-love.

-M

I'm going to really start looking at what you make Michael. I can only imagine how good your knives are based on your open attitude and willingness to learn.

Eamon Burke
05-03-2011, 05:28 PM
I've been thinking about this lately. How would you suggest that a knife maker learn the ropes with kitchen knives? Should he take a knife with a good reputation and try to copy it? Isn't that how an apprentice usually learns? I think guys that have already themselves in another area balk at this approach.

I think the best way to do it is to start by modifying something that's already done. Like getting comfortable using knives in a kitchen, so you know what you are talking about, and then changing the profile on an inexpensive knife, or rehandling a few. Then start by doing some simple knives like parers or even steak knives stock-removal style, and then move on as your confidence increases. This seems a no-brainer to me. I would not jump into the project of trying to make a piece of steel that's a foot long and only .04"thick(at some parts) and worth hundreds of dollars unless I was doing it for myself only.

But I really think that it is important to either become friends with someone in a busy restaurant(and do passarounds), or else learn to do it yourself, and listen to your customers. Some folks don't like high-performance knives, and if I am not mistaken, the goal here is to sell them to someone for money.

RRLOVER
05-03-2011, 09:43 PM
Looks like I will have to do a pass around when I get this blade finished.

Michael Rader
05-03-2011, 11:49 PM
I'm going to really start looking at what you make Michael. I can only imagine how good your knives are based on your open attitude and willingness to learn.

Thanks Mhlee. My kitchen knives are just starting to get to form here. I made a lot of swords in the past and then the last six years or so, I've been making a lot of ABS style knives in order to pass my mastersmith test (we have the whole "mastersmith" topic going in another thread). Anyway, I was really involved with Blade Sports for a few years and was quite competitive there, and all of that helped get me to this point. I do have some bad habits left over, like leaving my blades a little softer and maybe a little thicker than you guys like. I'm working things down here and really trying to get the heat-treating just right for kitchen knives. Burke has helped me a bit with the 52100 and I'm closing in on much better performance. The funny thing is that I could use a pretty mediocre knife and do very well at the cutting competitions - I can't get away with that here can I?

The bottom line is that I want to make knives that get used and any maker that wants to make knives that get used in real kitchens for hours on end needs to, "kick things up a notch."
-M

Marko Tsourkan
05-04-2011, 09:19 AM
... bottom line is that I want to make knives that get used and any maker that wants to make knives that get used in real kitchens for hours on end needs to, "kick things up a notch."
-M

That is the ultimate test.

tk59
05-09-2011, 01:58 PM
...The funny thing is that I could use a pretty mediocre knife and do very well at the cutting competitions - I can't get away with that here can I?... That's a good question. Obviously, design issues are easy to spot but I've been wondering about this: We all use knives that made out of material that all looks the same. It would be interesting to send out two knives for a passaround that are identical in design and differ in only one thing such as the quality or hardness, etc of the steel and see if we can guess which is which.

BTW, Mario, I'm in on your passaround. :biggrin2: