A customer asked
What's the difference between the ITK's, sanmai and the damascus knives you make?
The ITK's are the work-horse knives offered in AEB-l stainless or 52100 carbon steel. These have simple handles. The blades have my best heat treatment and grind but are not finished as fine so that we can keep the cost down. Both steels are moderately priced and make very good knives. I've made these mostly with wa handles.
The sanmai knives have more expensive steels clad with stainless. This gives the customer more of a choice when it comes to what they like, stainless vs carbon, wear resistance vs sharpen ability, degree of toughness etc. These have varying degrees of upgraded handle materials and spacers, usually selected by the customer. The blades have more overall toughness because of the cladding, are visually appealing because of the core showing through, and have a slightly higher finish. Heat treatment and grinds are the best I know how.
The damascus knives are the heirloom grade knives. These have all of the extras like mokume guards, pins and butt caps, premium handle materials and spacers, if the customer wants. The damascus can range from simple to very complex. These are my show case pieces and are meant to be shown off and handed down to your kids and kept away from those who have no idea how to take care of such a knife.
Hope this helps,
Thanks for that information Devin. I feel luck to have one of your 240 ITL AEBL and am patiently waiting for my 210 (that I'm hoping you make oversized like me 240). Hopefully I'll move up to your Sanmai someday.
I don't mind saying that I was the customer who asked, or at least one customer who did. So what I'm gathering is your heat treatment and grind for all three "levels" are pretty much on par with one another? What really stands out and separates each are the materials and craftsmanship?
Now I think I understand more as to why others rave over your sanmai as better performers over the ITK. Just a "better" metal on edge able to take a "better" edge and hold it longer. Other then that and the extra finish (which I'm sure helps a bit performance-wise) the grinds are pretty much identical.
Thanks for the help, Hoss!
In my limited home cooking experience, the san mai gyuto does everything just a little bit better than my AEB-L ITK gyuto. It's hard to quantify, but it feels slightly better in the hand and has slightly better food release. It's enough of a difference to be noticeable to me, and as Devin says the handle material and level of finish is a little bit better and the core strip just looks cool. I wish I could say I have a DT Damascus gyuto for comparison, but that is sometime down the road, and it will be more of an heirloom as DT suggests. Marc, the next time you are down my way you are welcome to do a comparison of ITKs and a san mai. Oh, and even the ITKs are not for people who do not know how to treat/ take care of knives; that's why the Wusthoffs are still around :-)