Pierre, please add my name to the passaround for this new suji
Pierre, please add my name to the passaround for this new suji
David (WildBoar's Kitchen)
Review of Pierre's Passaround Damasteel Gyuto, "The Grey Ghost"
First, I'm sorry for violating forum rules and good etiquette and not having any pictures. I tried to borrow a camera, but to no avail.
In my hands, the knife saw a week of use in my home kitchen, where I used it moderately to cut lots of summer produce. I compared it mostly to my Dave Martell handled Hiromoto AS Gyuto, which was once 240mm but--due to a snapped tip--is now about 230mm.
My general impressions of the knife were very favorable. Even after several users and lots of travel, the damasteel pattern remained arresting. After polishing and re-etching, I'd bet it will look phenomenal. As a quibble, there are some dark spots in the pattern that seem to throw off the general aesthetic a bit. Still, it's a viable technique for making beautiful kitchen cutlery, and I'm interested to see more examples from Pierre and other makers of what this steel can do.
The fit and finish are excellent. I found the blade a bit more flexible than I might prefer due to its distal taper, but that same geometry did result in a very thin and useful final 2 inches of blade at the tip. Unlike most reviewers, I found the handle quite comfortable to use, and liked that in a pinch grip, the trailing three fingers of my knife hand felt "full" because of the handle's height. In purely aesthetic terms, I like the direction Pierre has taken with the suji shown above by adding copper bolsters, and I think copper liners between the tang and handle scales would look great on this knife as well.
The knife is light and well-balanced, which allows knife to feel very much like an extension of the hand even when using the final few inches. I was very happy with the thickness at and behind the edge; it's not laser thin at the edge, but it stays thin well up the blade, making thin, precise cuts manageable.
Sharpening this knife was a joy. It came to me in pretty good shape, so I gave it a few passes at 1200 grit, and finished the edge on a Takenoko 8000 followed by a felt strop. The steel responded as well as any stainless knife I've used on the stones, and burr removal was very easy. The final edge was easily able to pierce a tomato with no downward pressure by pushing forward and using only the weight of the knife to make the cut. It didn't quite perform as well as Salty's Masamoto honyaki gyuto after TK59 had sharpened it--that edge was falling directly through ripe tomatoes with no pressure in any direction--but I chalk that up to my shortcomings as a sharpener.
So how did it cut? The extremely flat profile and ratio of blade height to edge length made this knife a monster at push-cutting large stacks of pineapple batonnet into cubes as well as speedily chiffonading basil. I liked the long, flat edge, but prefer knives with a more triangular overall geometry; in this knife, the edge and spine run nearly parallel until the spine drops dramatically to meet the tip. While I'm not sure this caused any limitations in performance, it did require an adjustment in feel, and over long use, I wonder if this wouldn't cause more fatigue than a design that allowed the wrist to point downward a bit more. When cutting shallots into very small brunoise, I found the tip servicable, but felt that my Hiromoto did a better job with cleaner cuts that required less force. Most impressively, the knife left very clean cuts in some ripe summer heirloom tomatoes. I was able to cut these into small cubes using a combination of vertical and horizontal cuts (like when dicing an onion) and the tomato--which had been halved and seeded but not skinned--held together with minimal loss of shape. I can only achieve this with my Hiromoto when the edge is at its sharpest.
In conclusion, this knife has a whole lot going for it. During its week in my kitchen, it performed extremely well, and my only complaints stem from the knife's status as a custom knife that was not built to my own design specifications. Since purchasers obviously can request their own preferences, this is not a real issue. I hope that Pierre continues to explore the possibilities that damasteel offers.
Pierre, thanks for your willingness to submit this knife for a passaround!
Just picked up this beauty from David last night. I'll put it's through it's paces and post a review in the next week or so.
Did somebody steal this knife?
Nope, I think the reviews/comments are just be directed to Pierre, rather than everybody. I know exactly where it is!
Sorry guys. I've been trying to work on the review but the day job keeps getting in the way. Anyway, I'd passed it on to Pensacola Tiger a bit ago, but he may have in turn sent it on by now. I've given my preliminary comments to Pierre already, I just need to work on the right phrasing for the full Review.
Ok I'm finally getting around to doing this! I managed to use this knife to feed about 5-6 thousand people, so that's a pretty solid workout. As always, I am stating my opinions as fact.
When I opened the package, I was surprised by the bag it came in. PensacolaTiger did a good job tying the string, it was a cool looking little knot, though I don't know that it was done on purpose.
The knife is impressive to hold, it feels like a big knife. The edge bevel is super shiny. I was surprised to see that the wood is a bit less dramatic in person than in the photos, but the steel is extremely striking, it cannot be understated, for better or worse. I actually didn't like it visually as much as I initially did in the photo, because it is so overwhelming, neither did my boss(who is female and has more sensible taste in cosmetics). But my coworkers, all male, LOVED it. The one who has not liked any knife I've ever shown him, liked it because it had the “bling” he is looking for. It is certainly the most-noticed knife I've ever had at work.
The spacers are nice, though they seem to have shrunk a little already. The angled bolster is a really neat touch. The wood is smooth and the cracks were well filled in. The busy figuring and the damasteel kind of overloaded the look, but if someone's looking for a single knife to take up the one spot on the wall, this would be it.
The edge I got was very very sharp and even. It worked for several days. I noticed there was a little microchipping, so I took it to the stones. This thing was crazy abrasion resistant. Took FOREVER to build up a small burr and several passes to deburr it completely. Stropping...I just committed to the idea that I'd be standing in my kitchen for a long time and stropped away. It did take forever. Worth it? Totally. Sharp as a straight razor, toothy enough to bite into tomatoes asap.
I started to work with it, and noticed a few more tiny chips on the edge, and predicted that it would continue to chip(as it did before) and soon disappoint me. What I was surprised to discover was that there were a few chips, then it held the edge at about 85% for the entire time I had it, no stropping or anything..I didn't even need to have sharpened it. The conclusion I came to was that this bevel had somehow gotten thinned and probably shouldn't be so steep. A blended microbevel might be better than the shallow convexity that it had. The steel was pretty hard to budge, but once it got to where it was happy, it stuck around forever.
I can't say that I loved working with it(lol), but I did like the way the damasteel performed. Several days after sharpening it, without any touchups in the meantime, I cut up 45 quarts of white onions without a single tear, and they were still fresh-looking and opaque for 10 days, when the ones I set aside started smelling a little weird and I had to toss them. I've never had onions last so long at work, that is a great sign for this steel.
The balance, though indeed more handle-heavy than I like, was in exactly the right place to please the crowd. It is RIGHT in front of the bolster. I noticed that this knife performed a lot better if handled with a stiffer wrist than I am used to using. I offered it to my coworker who holds knives properly, but with an attitude like one would hold the neck of a chicken they were slaughtering, as if it might run off somehow. He loved the balance of it, as I thought. This knife just needs to be handled with mas cajones.
The handle was a solid western design with no flaws to speak of. Comfortable and secure. A win!
The blade had MAJOR stickage issues. I mean, it felt 5 times duller than it was on stuff like potatoes and cantaloupes. Beef, chicken, a breeze. But this thing could split a 1 lb russet and then just pick the whole thing up. It made me a little nervous getting potatoes off of it, since the edge is so sharp and the food is stuck so hard. I don't know if it was the texture of the damasteeel, or the flat grind, but it was the one thing I really didn't like about it.
Dead flat. I'm seriously impressed by the skill level Mr. Rodrigue showed grinding this huge blade so competently, it makes it look easy. I spent a lot of time just holding it up to a light source and wiggling it back and forth with one eye closed.
The profile was just how I like em. I felt like sending Mr. Rodrigue and Lefty a letter saying “Your knife is not coming home. It loves you, but isn't ~in~ love with you. It's found someone else and is moving on. I hope you understand.” The balance made tip work a little bit less robust, but this knife is a bit large for cutting grapes in half, so that's not a big draw.
This knife didn't scream “kitchen” to me, but you can call me Susan if it didn't scream “Quality”. I doubt I'll be able to forget about the workmanship displayed here, and really appreciate the chance work with it for a busy week. About all it needs improving on is food stickage. Thanks to Lefty and Mr. Rodrigue for this passaround!
Forgot to add, I didn't mind the squared bolster at all. The beveling on the edges was enough that I don't notice. But, being a pro cook, I don't often notice anything past the heel.
Shapton Pros, up to 5k(that one I really don't like), then homemade strops.
It's not like it took half an hour to get a burr going, it just wasn't instantaneous like I am used to--the advantage is that it makes building an even burr easier. But deburring it...well, I don't have any deburring felt, so I've been using rubber and cork, and I cleaned the blade a few times before deburring passes, because I was convinced there had to be swarf on the edge--nope, it just doesn't deburr in one pass. Not sure what that is about. Combine that with the somewhat heavy handle and you've got a knife that feels like foreeeever to sharpen. It does perform pretty dang well for quite a while though, so at least you won't be doing it every weekend.
Oh yeah, I spent the most time on the 5k stone, but that's because I have to keep a close eye on what I'm doing since sharpening on that stone is like playing patty-cake with Helen Keller.