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Thread: Masakage Koishi Ko-Bunka

  1. #1
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    Masakage Koishi Ko-Bunka

    Introduction:

    As promised some time ago, here comes my review of the knife I bought a few months ago. I wanted to get some use out of the knife before I would go on with the review, including a sharpening session. Now that promise is to come true

    The reason why I bought this knife was, that I was not very happy using 150mm petty as "serving knife" - meaning it is to be used with a small cutting board to cut cheese, salami, etc. directly on the dining table. I did not need a long blade, but I did need blade wide enough so that I would not hit the board with my knuckles every time I try to push-cut cheese. I was looking for a blade that would deliver that and finally found the bunka and ko-bunka knives that do exactly that.

    How I got it:
    I think it is fair to say that I have bought this knife from https://cuttingedgeknives.co.uk While their webpage and knife information is not as detailed as one is used to with EE, JNS or JKI, the contact with their stuff was very friendly and I was promptly provided with the information I have asked for. In short - the shopping was smooth and pleasant.

    So, the knife:

    Masakage Koishi line are AS (super blue steel) core clad with stainless with kurouchi finish. The handles are made from cherry wood (not stabilised) and the ferule is from black pakka wood.

    Size/weight/shape:
    - 72g
    - blade (heel to tip): 130mm
    - blade height at the heel: 37mm
    - blade width (handle): 3.2mm
    - blade width (heel): 2.5mm
    - blade width (1/2 to tip): 1.6mm
    - blade width (1cm from the tip): 1.2mm

    Fit&Finish:
    The kurouchi on the blade is very nice - I would be hard to guess that it is stainless - it looks very 'stable' - meaning I do not expect it to flake off over time. The transition from the kurouchi to the carbon cutting edge is matter (reminds sand blasted) stainless surface. The knife was delivered reasonably sharp with quite a distinct micro-bevel (which was more than necessary), but I used it that way for quite a while. The spine of the knife was polished. The edges of the spine are not rounded, but are not sharp either. The coil is completely rounded and has very comfortable shape.



    The handle was very nice when the knife arrived, but first use of board butter got made the handle slightly rough so I want through 2 cycles of washing and polishing and now it is much nicer. The fit of the handle and the blade is clean.

    In total - the knife was nicely finished, I did not find any relevant flaws.

    How does it work:
    The blade has a gentle curve - there is no flat spot so this knife is no 'petit-nakiri'. The blade is wide (tall) enough so there is enough room for your knuckles and the tip is pointy enough to be actually useful. I find the blade work very well for push-rock cutting (motion in which first the tip makes contact with the cutting board and than with a single rocking motion the heel. The 130mm blade is on the short side, but for the job intended it is completely sufficient. Since all the longer knives I have will soon be for sale and were taken off duty for that reason, I have also used this knife on other tasks for which it is not a perfect match (meet prep, salads prep) and I was surprised how good job it did in spite of the very short edge. That is simply the advantage of the taller blade.

    The blade has quite particular cross section (see the coil and tip photos below) - it is thin behind the edge and then gets thicker at the point where the kurouchi starts. This is perfectly fine for this type of knife, but I would be concerned about wedging with a gyuto design. This is just a speculation - I can not confirm that myself. I would only like to stress that I find the blade design great for the tasks intended. The blade also has verily little flex - useful when slicing some harder food (had salami or cheese).

    As I mentioned - the knife came with somewhat more pronounced micro bevel (the angle was too large). I took it to the stones yesterday (Gesshin 2000 and 6000). This is my first AS knife and I was surprised that it resisted sharpening more than I expected - no comparison to white #2 or even R2 (SG2) steel. While the Gesshin 2000 did not have any particular difficulty to set new secondary bevel (not visible in the photos below as these were taken prior to the sharpening) - which is still not particularly wide (some 1.5 or 2mm), I was surprised that with the Gesshin 6000 I need around 30 strokes on one spot to raise burr. Still - it was not hard to sharpen and removing burr was easy. The knife got perfectly shaving sharp and cuts pretty much incredibly.

    Summary:
    So far I really like the knife. It is my first experience with this type of design and I have to admit that I really like it. I am still considering getting a longer one (around 170mm) - ideally with a flat spot at the heel - for more veggie work. But I first need to get my hands on the Haburn gyuto that German customs still keep from me But back to the topic. The knife is well made, the steel can be made scary sharp. It sits well in hand and works great when there is not too much space. For me it is more practical than a petty of 120-150 mm length.

    If you have any questions just ask

    Now for the photos:

    (click on the photos if you want access larger photos - although new Flick design makes it hard to access)











  2. #2
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    Very nice review, thanks for it, Matus! I am looking for a very similar knife type for my wife as I think, it would be ideal for her purposes, however, there doesn't seem to be any available in stainless:-(..And there are also only few (semi)stainless 150 mm petties that would be tall enough!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    I am glad you found the review helpful - and I have one more good news. One of the KKF vendors - http://knifewear.com has the full range of Masakage lines inclusive Masakage Kumo. This is stainless line with VG10 core clad in stainless damascus. And ko-bunka is available too. Just check it out!

    Since I have been using the knife for some longer - I have no issue to keep the cutting edge rust free. In fact - even the patina is very weak - and I have used the knife to cut onions, tomatoes, etc. So I would not see it as a problem. I do not know how the VG10 from Masakage "behaves" - my only experience with VG10 comes from Shun Classic - and it is not easy to de-burr during sharpening. When sharpening the super blue steel one notices the hardness, but de-burring is rather easy.

    One more comment on the handle. It is nicely finished, but will appreciate waxing (use some sort of board butter - mixture of was and mineral oil) which will not only make it look and feel much better, but will also improve the resistance to water. Still - I would not leave the handle dripping wet after use. Wiping it quickly is all that is needed - and if you do the same for blade there is absolutely no reason to worry about rust.

    Hope this helps.

    P.S. - dorozumieme sa aj po Slovsky alebo Cesky

  4. #4
    Senior Member zetieum's Avatar
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    I am reading this review, because I am interested in the masakage line. Very nice write-up! I also have had very good experience in the past with Masakage (yuki, since they are from different smith) and http://cuttingedgeknives.co.uk .

  5. #5
    tienowen's Avatar
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    Nice review. Which angle and bevel for that line, i try to save up for sujihiki Koishi.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mucho Bocho's Avatar
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    Matus, Thanks for the write up. You're right, by looking at the unsharpened knife, that more than generous microbevel. Like to see what you did with the edge.

    Also, curious why you are trying to raise burr with a 6K? After a good burr is raised and cleaned on the 1K, why don't you just refining that edge by stropping on a soaked prepped 6K? Think about it, other than remove metal, what's the point of using a 1K if you're going to erase those teeth with a 6K?

    For me the goal in sharpening is to create a near invisible sticky toothy zero bevel while of course being true to the blade geometry. Then between sharpening I use my Takenoko as a wet strop to maintain the edge, but never sharpen on it.

    As a general rule I believe most people to overwork the edge of their knives in both sharpening and thinning. Especially home cooks (which I'm one).


    I spend 80% of my sharpening time polishing and removing the sharpening marks to restore the knives original finish. The actual thinning and sharpening part one takes a few strokes on the JKI 1/6K diamond. Most of the time, that's all that is needed, a few impeccable deliberate strokes. I'd go as far to say that learning to feel a burr is as important a skill as is grinding your knife over and over at a given angle.

    Now if your sharpening a quality single bevel knife, different rules apply.

    Thanks again for the write up, sorry for the tangent.
    One thing you can give and still keep...is your word.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    Mucho - you are making a (actually several) valid point. It may not be necessary to raise a burr on 6k (or whatever your finishing stone is - my go-to stone for finishing is since a few months Gesshin Synthetic natural, the 6k was giving me edge smoother that I liked), but if you do not do that you may miss the edge completely and be left with pure 1k edge.

    I see that we follow two distinctly different sharpening philosophies (please correct me if I misinterpret your view here). I sharpen the knife down to my finishing stone and then apply one-sided micro bevel with just a few strokes and remove the burr. You (again, just my interpretationf) sharpen the blade leaving the cutting edge thinner than what I would have with the micro-bevel and then use stropping through out the 'usage cycle' (that is between 2 sharpening sessions) to keep the edge fresh. Effectively that means that you little by little apply microbevel with ever so slightly growing angle (that is what effectively happens during stropping - just my guess/opinion, I did not make a sanity check on it with our sharpening gurus here). I see that both approaches have advantages and disadvantages - mine giving the edge somewhat less chipping-prone, and - yours keeping the cutting edge more consistently sharp between two sharpening cycles and giving more 'cutting time per steel removed'. I have to admit that I have been wanting to try out the stropping on some of my knives, but did not manage to decide yet what kind of strop would be the best to keep the edge as left by my finishing stone. I guess I need to drop Jon an email again

    I agree that simply because the lack of skill/training amateur users remove unnecessarily much material during sharpening. The main reason being that we do not (at least I do not) manage to keep consistent angles during sharpening and, even more importantly, among sharpening sessions.

    Whether we (amateurs) thin too much - I am not sure, I do that very rarely. I have attempted that once with the Koishi ko-bunka mentioned here - with way too little success (the stainless cladding feels strange on stones for some reason). Sharpening wide bevel knives as wide bevel knives is something I do not consider thinning though.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mucho Bocho's Avatar
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    Well said Matus!

    I think we're on the same page. I'm not a fan of micro bevels. I leave a finished 1K edge that's that's consistent with the knifes geometry. I'm shooting for a stable zero grind with zero shoulders. Defiantly scratches up the sides of the knife.

    I do think you get more useful-steel by stropping. But then again, it has to be the right strop for that steel. I use the JKI 6K diamond as a course strop quite a bit. Brings a very aggressive 6K edge with just a stroke or two. But mostly use the 6K Takenoko.

    I find that Diamond or boron on leather or balsa will produce a scary edge, but the overall acuity is lost so quickly I don't think its worth it. Unless you want to impress your friends with freaky sharp knife tricks, and there's nothing wrong with that either ;-)

    Now if your talking about really dull knives, then thinning and more metal with of course need to be removed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Matus View Post
    Mucho - you are making a (actually several) valid point. It may not be necessary to raise a burr on 6k (or whatever your finishing stone is - my go-to stone for finishing is since a few months Gesshin Synthetic natural, the 6k was giving me edge smoother that I liked), but if you do not do that you may miss the edge completely and be left with pure 1k edge.

    I see that we follow two distinctly different sharpening philosophies (please correct me if I misinterpret your view here). I sharpen the knife down to my finishing stone and then apply one-sided micro bevel with just a few strokes and remove the burr. You (again, just my interpretationf) sharpen the blade leaving the cutting edge thinner than what I would have with the micro-bevel and then use stropping through out the 'usage cycle' (that is between 2 sharpening sessions) to keep the edge fresh. Effectively that means that you little by little apply microbevel with ever so slightly growing angle (that is what effectively happens during stropping - just my guess/opinion, I did not make a sanity check on it with our sharpening gurus here). I see that both approaches have advantages and disadvantages - mine giving the edge somewhat less chipping-prone, and - yours keeping the cutting edge more consistently sharp between two sharpening cycles and giving more 'cutting time per steel removed'. I have to admit that I have been wanting to try out the stropping on some of my knives, but did not manage to decide yet what kind of strop would be the best to keep the edge as left by my finishing stone. I guess I need to drop Jon an email again

    I agree that simply because the lack of skill/training amateur users remove unnecessarily much material during sharpening. The main reason being that we do not (at least I do not) manage to keep consistent angles during sharpening and, even more importantly, among sharpening sessions.

    Whether we (amateurs) thin too much - I am not sure, I do that very rarely. I have attempted that once with the Koishi ko-bunka mentioned here - with way too little success (the stainless cladding feels strange on stones for some reason). Sharpening wide bevel knives as wide bevel knives is something I do not consider thinning though.
    One thing you can give and still keep...is your word.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bennyprofane's Avatar
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    I have just started trying microbevels (only on the right side, 40 degrees) but found that it reduces performance considerably. Thought I was doing something wrong so tried doing the MB on my (mostly unused) sharp maker, just to be sure I'm keeping a constant angle on MB. It does still go through tomato skin but just not quite as nicely. Is that normal? Is it okay to do the MB on a 6000 or should it be on a Jnat? What a smaller angle for the MB increase performance?

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