AWESOME Pierre! Can't wait to see it!
Yep just decided I'm setting this for my wallpaper on my phone. :fanning:
Now which pic to use???
Here are my thoughts on Pierre's knife. Forgive the delay - I had a rather substantial move in the middle of this, which got in the way.
I'll primarily compare it to the Kramer of the same length, because that's the most similar one I can compare with that I have. Both knives are on the beefier side; both are taller than the typical chef's knife; both are custom.
Fit and Finish:
Both are, as you would expect, generally excellent. Pierre's came perfect. Great sharpening job, flawless handle construction, nicely rounded spine and choil, really perfect. The Kramer's handle is perfect as is the area where it meets the blade, which is usually the part I care about the most because it is the least easy to fix. The Kramer's spine was not very rounded, so I had to take care of that. The sharpening job on the Kramer was also one of the more poorly done, but that is obviously fixable too. Pierre's win's here, but both are great.
I haven't had to do much in the way of sharpening Pierre's, since it came with a pretty nice edge and the edge retention is pretty good. Kramer's sharpens up a bit easier, probably because I think the heat treat is to a lower hardness. Both sharpen up to razor sharp edges. Pierre's is CPM154, and I've found it to sharpen pretty easily as far as stainless goes. The Kramer wins here in terms of sharpening ease, but both get to the edge I want.
Pierre's wins here definitely. Again, I think Kramer heat treats his knives on the softer end of what I'm used to, and it shows on the edge retention. I would put Pierre's at the level of some of my nicer stock knives. It doesn't blow me away, but I also asked him not to go crazy so I'd still be able to sharpen it.
Both have very nice edge profiles, and both are pretty different. As I mentioned, both are taller than the average chef's knife. The Kramer's edge slopes up rather dramatically, and I find there's not a lot of flatter profile for mincing herbs, cutting pepper strips, etc. Pierre's is the opposite in this respect. The back third or so is almost dead flat. We talked about profiles and opted for something like that, which I haven't used in my other chef knives but wanted to try something different, and I'm glad I did. It's almost cleaver-esque, which is great because until Pierre's arrived I'd migrated over primarily to cleaver use. Pierre's gives me the flat profile I like where I need it, and a great tip for finer work. Both Pierre's and the Kramer have whisper-thin tips. The Kramer's tip is definitely narrower, which is better for some uses. I don't really find myself doing fine detail work with a chef knife where it would make much difference, so for me Pierre's works better (nice job with designing, Pierre!) With the flat back of Pierre's profile, I had to compromise on the relatively less narrow tip.
Pierre's handle looks a lot more impressive, as you can see from the pictures above. He puts a lot of effort in here, and I appreciate it. From a comfort perspective, I prefer the Kramer, since it's fatter and I like a fat handle that fills the hand. I know Pierre is often working with scales, and it's tough to get a fat handle with pre-cut scales since they're usually too thin. Pierre's handle is also a bit longer than the Kramer, and for me that's unnecessary length since I'm using a pinch grip all the time. To keep the weight distribution the same, I'd prefer to shorten it up and fatten it up. Pierre's handle certainly isn't thin by any means - it's comparable to the thickness of a stock handle - and it works fine, but my personal preference is something fatter. I've had no issues using Pierre's for (what for me is) extended lengths of time.
As you can guess from Pierre's presence on the forum, he's passionate about knifemaking, happy to discuss issues, and is great to work with. Like his knives, his customer service is great. My general experience with knifemakers has been pretty good, so I generally go in expecting no issues, but dealing with Pierre goes beyond those expectations. He keeps me updated, when questions about various options came up they were easy to figure out - everything went great. Dealing with Kramer was much less satisfying. Interactions are primarily with his secretary/assistant. It feels much more like a business deal, and potential customization options (tweaking profile, hardness, etc.) were decided for me without input or questions. Perhaps I am not proactive enough, but then again with the other custom guys I've worked with there have been no issues, so I don't know. I was disappointed in the interaction and with various aspects of the process, and unfortunately that colors my use of the knife. With Pierre, you won't have that problem. He's a great, stand-up guy, and I wish him the best of luck with his future making (not that he'll need it!)
Both are great knives. For my technique, Pierre's is superior. Is it my favorite beyond just compared to the Kramer? We'll see; maybe someday I'll get a damascus cleaver! I still really like my current cleaver, but I can see Pierre's hitting a lot of the same buttons I like. Compared to some of my super-thin chef's knives, Pierre's definitely feels a bit heavier and more solid in the hand, which I like but we'll see if I prefer. My wife will never budge from the TKC, and I really like that one as well (it's also noticeably lighter and thinner), but I really like the added height of Pierre's, and of course with extra height comes extra width and weight. Overall, I'm very impressed!
Is it a custom kramer? Or a William and Sonoma version?
Excellent review Peter.
Edit: Out of curiosity, what kind of cleaver do you use?
Yeah the Kramer is a custom.
I've worked through a few cleavers, but all I have left is an Ashi Hamono, white steel designed to certain specs. It's slightly longer and less tall than the standard Chinese cleaver dimensions, and I like it a lot.