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Thread: Custom Maker - Overview

  1. #1
    Senior Member skiajl6297's Avatar
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    Custom Maker - Overview

    So you want to consider ordering a custom blade but are new to the world of kitchen knives. You stalk kkf vendor galleries and works in progress. You read BST listings, and read reviews of specific knives that folks take time to offer impressions of. Wondering if we could gather some general information about makers, along with specific user feedback on items of note.

    I'd like to ask anyone with a custom knife made by a KKF Vendor (or other vendors) to consider offering the following:
    1. Maker, Steel Type, Knife Style, Handle info, Other Info of Note on Style, Finish, etc.
    2. Knife Highlights - e.g. Best profile of any 240 gyuto I have ever seen, or amazing grind that prevents stiction, most comfortable handle I have ever used, most visually stunning damascus pattern of any knife maker, if you want a super thin custom carbon with hard to find extinct animal horn handle, this is the guy to buy from, go to this style if you want to portion fish for weeks, this style of finish has super reactive cladding but worth the effort, etc.
    3. Photo, if possible.

    And finally - if there are any vendors who want to chime in on what they like to make, or think they are the best at, e.g. my heat treat on white steel is what I am most proud of, or I like nothing more than making custom 210 Damascus gyutos with integrated damascus bolster with funky animal part handles, etc. that would also be great to know.

    Thanks KKF - excited to learn more (centrally) about the wild world of customs! Also hoping to become an owner of a custom myself!

  2. #2
    Senior Member turbochef422's Avatar
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    I've only been lucky enough to have a couple but Delbert ealy makes the best pairing knife I've ever owned. Also his gyuto has an unconventional handle so it might take some getting used to but the grind is great and so is the profile. While your talking to him you might as well pick up one of his Damascus church keys. My personal favorite is from Mario Ingoglia. The fit and finish, grind and profile are all amazing. It's well hardened stainless and takes a great edge and holds it. I also had a Fowler which I loved the profile and steel but food release was a problem but that's probably not an issue any more. I have a few more coming in and can't wait to try them. In my opinion you couldn't go wrong with any maker on the forum. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Chefdog's Avatar
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    skiajl6297,
    This is a good idea. Especially having the makers tell prospective customers what they like to do and do best. That should make it easier for someone to know who to ask if they're looking for something very specific.

  4. #4
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  5. #5
    The only customs I have at the moment are a:

    L R Harner (butch) paring knife, fairly sure it's in CPM 154, mine has a giraffe bone handle. Fit and finish is perfect the blade is not polished but shows perfectly even grind marks perpendicular to the length of the blade. No smoothing or the spine, little choil there is but because this is a paring knife not something that i notice .Handle hasn't moved a bit, no shrinkage, warping, twisting nothing. As its a stainless paring knife that has never seen a board I have yet to touch it up besides miner stropping and it holds a perfectly aggressive yet smooth edge that it came from Butch with. If I had to do it again I would choose a less curved profile but that was my choice so I can't fault the maker. The grind is wickedly thin and is probably the best cutter I own. I really would like to purchase one of his nakiris one day as I imagine it would play to his talents perfectly.

    Mario (RRLover) 260mm gyuto biggest regret with this knife is I bought it weeks before he started using a makers mark, I think this may also be CPM 154 but am not at all positive it is stainless with buffalo horn/mammouth tooth/ironwood handle. I think Mario might have the best profile of any maker I've seen its fairly short in comparison to all my others which makes it almost a gyuto/suji hybrid in my mind. 260-270mm is probably the perfect length for one of these, with its light weight/ short high/ and beautiful profile it could easily take the place of 2-3 knives (gyuto/suji/yangi/bread) without losing much to any of them, only problem is who would want one knife when you can buy three different ones! It is a fairly thin knife though which leads to my one criticism the grind does leave a little something to be desired when it comes to sticktion. Fit and finish are awesome not quite mirror but definitelyhas been polished my guess would be up to around 500 grit spine and choil are perfectly radiused for an excellent look. I have sharpened this one although I am still working on sharpening constantly, and am fairly pleased I have a feeling the steel can go a lot farther then my sharpening skills can at the moment, but it sharpens easily and fairly quickly.

    Del Ealy 240mm gyuto, I bought one in carbon from his first batch, steel maybe 1095? Handle is redwood burl with blackwood ferrule single mokume pin. I bought an extra tall one believe it is about 55mm and absolutely adore it. The profile is unique, as is his full tang wa handle but I love both. It may take awhile to get use to but it's certainly worth it. Steel is a pleasure to sharpen, it's so easy this is my go to knife when I want to practice sharpening or try a new stone. I absolutely love the grind on this knife even though its considerably taller then my Mario it has less sticktion because of the grind. The patina is beautiful plenty of blue that really pops if your into that. Fit and finish is good although the edges on the spine and choil are only rounded off not completely radiused, just as comfortable although it doesn't look quite as nice.

    There's a reason I bought these three new, both the Ealy and Harner were bought as semi custom group buys through this site, Mario was bought through this site new. I love them each for there particular talents and don't plan on selling. Hope this helps anyone in the market.

  6. #6
    Senior Member turbochef422's Avatar
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    That's interesting with the Mario gyuto. Mine is 270 and I just got it new and nothing sticks to it. Maybe he's just gotten better with a little more time.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Salty dog's Avatar
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    Surprising, I've never known a Mario guilty of stiction.

  8. #8
    It's quite possible that Mario has gotten better or that my expectations are unreasonably high, I haven't played with my Shigefusa's in over a year, they were packed away and are now getting rehandled but if memory serves me they were slightly better and as I said the Del is great. I can imagine much worse then my Mario when it comes to stiction just with my current lineup his falls behind Del's. if I was comparing it to the flat ground Harner, Mario would win easily.

    PS one thing I forgot, Mario's knife came with hands down the most secure packaging I've ever received with a knife. Cardboard sleeve, piece of scrapewood with knife dimensions written on it, all tucked inside a knife case then peanuts in a shipping box. It may not be a big thing but I appreciate it when a knife maker that has spent countless hours crafting something ensures it gets to me in perfect condition.

  9. #9
    Have I agree with everyone about the Mario best knife I've used for non sticking and I have the hybrid suji/gyuto so a full gyuto should be better than mine.

    I have used many blades in a pro environment: shigefusa, heiji, kato, Kramer,Mario, Marko T, mike Davis, ealy, fowler, carter list goes on.

    The best of the best to date go out to two makers mario and Marko it really comes down to what you like better and steel.

    Mario- cpm154 stainless, amazing profile lowest sticking of any knife, gets super sharp and best edge retention to date. Responds well to stropping. He polishes very nice almost mirror and one of my favorites that every part except edge is completely rounded very comfortable. Easy to sharpen. Best packaging job as well for shipping.

    Marko- 52100 carbon, takes an edge like white steel but holds it very long about 2+ weeks in pro kitchen with stropping. Great grind, slightly asymmetric very hard but extremely tough steel. The are the beautiful knives you can really push and won't let you down. Steel is not very reactive either. Easy to sharpen. His handles are the best around.

    If you want the best performers that's them. Mario stainless or Marko for carbon.

    Other makers are good as well in all aspects but these are just above and beyond in my opinion.

    - Jordan

  10. #10
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Take a look in the individual vendor forums. There is already a wealth of comments and reviews from numerous customers and pass arounds. In fact, start in the pass around threads where you can find multiple reviews, pictures and videos in each thread.
    Starting this harvest I'm a starving startling artist/
    Lyrical arsonist it's arduous spitting this smartest arsenic/

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