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Thread: Moritaka - how long?

  1. #111
    Senior Member dreamsignals's Avatar
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    my first japanese knife ever was a moritaka 240mm gyuto ordered directly through akiko around november 2009, no special requests. i went for it after a few weeks reading on KF ITK since it was so much cheaper than the 'equivalent' takeda (the moritaka was $225). it wasn't until i ordered the fact it wasn't until the knife was shipped that i found the more grave threads on the infamous holes. since i was a completely inexperienced i sent the knife for Dave to 'analyze' and sharpen, and dave told me it was a dud and sent it back to me. i emailed akiko immediately and explained what was going on, basically paraphrasing what Dave had told me. she apologized copiously and immediately offered a refund, including costs of shipping back to japan.

    when i got the knife back i looked for the defect and convinced myself that it was there, but would not have bet my life on it. having no experience, i felt comfortable relying on Dave's professional opinion (he actually shipped the knife back to me on his own money). around the same time, i got talking to Mark from CKTG and he was just starting to sell the takeda kiritsuke shaped gyuto so i jumped on that and was a happy camper.

    in the end, i still wish that it had worked out with the moritaka. akiko is just that nice.

    now that i've told my story, let me try to make this a bit more informative. here is akiko's answers to me pointing out the grind issues. you'll notice the language barrier played a role and perhaps i was not great in expressing the issues:

    Dear Thiago,

    Thank you very much for your many support.

    I've recieved the gyuto, today.
    I showed it to our blacksmith immediately.

    ''1) The tip seems to be hanging lower than the rest of the edge, so
    that a portion of the front edge does not come in contact with the
    board when laid perpendicular to it;

    2) The heel of the knife also hand a little lower than the rest of the
    edge, leaving again a small gap between the edge and the board towards
    the last half inch of the edge near the heel;''

    As to 1) and 2), our gyuto has a belly the best suited for drawing and
    cutting.
    Therefore there're some gap on the tip and heel originally.
    Japanese get used to do drawing and cuting.
    But, Soba-kiri (knife) has a dead flat edge because it's used while
    pressing and cutting.
    If a customer ask us to make a straight edged knife, we'll make it as a
    customer wants.
    Excluding it, we make our original shaped knives.

    ''3) The edge seems to be somewhat 'wavy' when looked at with the knife
    in vertical position, holding the tip towards your face, with "curves"
    along the side of the edge. I fear that once the knife is sharpened,
    this "wavy" may cause some areas to wear differently than other,
    creating gaps between the edge and the board when cutting;''

    As to 3), after it's hardened (quenched), it turns somewhat wavy. Therefore
    we remove distortions with a special hammer after ''Tempering'' process.
    We make it flat (level off) as far as there is no problem within the
    practical use.
    If we make a sword, we must make it dead flat while we put the edge on the
    glass board and check it.

    In your knife case, we don't consider it a defect. We admit it has wavy
    part. But it is leveled off enough for the practical use.
    Of course, it can be fixed by hand.
    It isn't special that hand-made (forged) kitchen knives have somewhat wavy
    parts because it's hand-made, not machine-made.
    We've experienced to sharpen other maker's knives have similar conditions.
    Even if it has much wavier blade, we sharpen and straighten it with a
    whetstone while checking and adjusting the conditions of the blade.
    You may well say ''I fear that once the knife is sharpened, this "wavy" may
    cause some areas to wear differently than other, creating gaps between the
    edge and the board when cutting''.
    But we're sorry but we have to hand-made our knives considering necessity of
    work.
    If we pursue to make perfect knives, we have to spend much more time to
    check blades. But, as a result, we can't sell our knives at the present
    prices.
    Our goal is, our knives are used by as many customers as possible. We'd like
    to sell our knives with cheaper price compared with other makers.

    We would appreciate it if you could understand our thoughts.
    -thiago

  2. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by olpappy View Post
    While certainly not desirable, I have to point out that overgrinds are not as rare as one might think, and they are certainly not confined to Moritaka. I have seen them on other knives as well, it is inevitable that with a product which is being ground by hand on power equipment that sometimes a craftsman will screw up and overgrind. Undesirable, but part of the reality of producing large numbers of knives. Quality control of the maker should catch the worst examples, however it is also duty of the consumer to inspect a new purchase to see that it meets their expectations. A knife blade road will never be completely perfect as long as it has been ground by human hands.

    In most cases the flaws are so small that they are difficult to notice and do not affect performance. In cases where overgrinding is more noticeable, basically what you will have is a Granton or cullen that goes to the edge. Not what you would want, but the knife will still cut. Sometimes you just have to live with flaws.

    I challenge anyone to take a bar of steel and try grinding it into a knife blade. You will quickly find out how difficult it is. Who knows what kind of crappy grinders they have in Japan, maybe we should chip in and send Moritaka a KMG or something. Did anyone who visited Moritaka happen to notice the equipment they were using for grinding??

    BTW I have a lot of Moritakas and haven't had problems so far.
    what's a standard process to detect overgrind, especially for rustic kurouchi finishes?

  3. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cnimativ View Post
    what's a standard process to detect overgrind, especially for rustic kurouchi finishes?
    Dave is the expert, so let's see what he says.

    AFAIK its just close inspection of the blade road, plus what shows up when you sharpen the blade repeatedly.

    Here is a pic of a Granton slicer with cullens going all the way into the edge, alternating on both sides. You can see in the photo that where the cullen is ground the edge becomes very thin. At the very edge you can see a tiny dip in the edge where the cullen on the opposite side is. It kind of imparts a slight 'sawtooth' effect where the irregularities in the edge are. In some ways a bit like a serrated edge.



    However, I'm still not clear on what Dave describes as a hole in the edge which gets bigger as you sharpen. If he is referring to the phenomenon pictured above, it seems to me that the size of the edge defect is limited by the depth of the overgrind, it would not keep getting bigger and bigger unless the overgrind itself gets bigger and bigger.

    Basically to me it is the same as using a knife which has a slight chip or ding in the edge, if it is very small you won't notice any difference in cutting, but if it's bigger you might find it annoying. The only difference is that with an overgrind like this, you cannot remove it by sharpening. That is why Dave has to tell his customers that he cannot get rid of it, it's just an area of metal that has been removed, and there is no way to put it back once it is gone.

    I have a couple of used knives I got with pre-existing chip/ding in the edge, it's obviously not something I want, but they work OK and it's not much of an issue for me when cutting food. I just try to sharpen them as best as possible, and they work just fine.

  4. #114


    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cnimativ View Post
    what's a standard process to detect overgrind, especially for rustic kurouchi finishes?

    You want to look at the bevel grinds right above the cutting edge. I use a small (2-3" length) straight edge engineer's square laid along the length. I inspect for light under the straight edge when looking down from the spine. You have to inspect very close to the cutting edge and also just above (maybe 1-2mm) the edge. Check both sides carefully.

  5. #115
    Senior Member rockbox's Avatar
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    How do you even sharpen that thing? A flat stone would never even touch the edge. You would have to sharpen it like a serrated knife.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." --Albert Einstein

  6. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by rockbox View Post
    How do you even sharpen that thing? A flat stone would never even touch the edge. You would have to sharpen it like a serrated knife.
    Yeah, that's what I discovered today while "fixing" a $30 knive with a horrible grind... While working on the edge, a part of it just stayed narrow and it looked like a part on the knife isn't touching the stone. I rechecked the blade against a flat aluminium plate and the sun. Yup, the light leakage from the hole makes it kinda obvious that this knife needs more fixing...

    Luckily it isn't overground too high, only a mm or two, and the edge itself had a hole of a cm wide and a hair in height, so I could just push it against a stone with an extra high angle until the whole edge touches the stone again. But if it was any worse, I'd only make the hole larger instead of smaller. Ah well, I knew there's a catch with those super cheap Eden branded vg10 knives

  7. #117


    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booink View Post
    Yeah, that's what I discovered today while "fixing" a $30 knive with a horrible grind... While working on the edge, a part of it just stayed narrow and it looked like a part on the knife isn't touching the stone. I rechecked the blade against a flat aluminium plate and the sun. Yup, the light leakage from the hole makes it kinda obvious that this knife needs more fixing...

    Luckily it isn't overground too high, only a mm or two, and the edge itself had a hole of a cm wide and a hair in height, so I could just push it against a stone with an extra high angle until the whole edge touches the stone again. But if it was any worse, I'd only make the hole larger instead of smaller. Ah well, I knew there's a catch with those super cheap Eden branded vg10 knives

    Sounds in better shape than a $150 Moritaka

  8. #118
    Senior Member mateo's Avatar
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    Speaking of this... I just discovered that my Shun steak knives are mis-ground like this as well >.<

  9. #119


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    Quote Originally Posted by mateo View Post
    Speaking of this... I just discovered that my Shun steak knives are mis-ground like this as well >.<

    I've seen a lot of Shuns with low hanging heals but in all cases that I recall I was able to fix this by re-profiling during sharpening. So in the case of Shuns the issue doesn't appear to be overgrinds from the side of the blades although yours could certainly be that way, all I can state is for what I've what I've seen.

  10. #120

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    Huh...wow...lots of information here.

    Not sure I can add much, but:

    I've owned 3 Moritaka knives...all ordered direct from the maker. At least one of them had the issue being discussed here today. I've also seen Nenox knives with the issue....seen Takeda knives with the issue, seen $1,500 custom made knives with the issue, seen more than a few of Carter's with the issue (all from his SFGZ series mind you), seen my fair share of knives sharpened by people that had the issue caused by their sharpening (push too hard in one spot near the edge of the stone for too long and see what happens), etc. Point is, this is not an issue confined to Moritaka. That's it's disproportionate in the Moritaka's is a shame and something to be concerned about for sure.

    Also, Takeda, the knives everyone is saying are the option to the Moritaka's...but are twice the price...well, there was a stint there where people wouldn't buy them either....they were avoided like the plaque. Bent blades, edges that you could move around with your finger (that was my knife), wavy edges, warped blades, highly inconsistent KU finish.

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