I bought this knife from Pierre about five or six months ago, and figured I might get around to telling you guys a little bit about it.
Here are the glamor shots Pierre took before shipping the knife:
I first contacted Pierre when a late-night Google Image Search for "custom chef's knife" brought me to his gallery in the old ITK forum. I knew very little about knives at the time; had owned, at most, a crappy set of Henckels the dog had chewed up, and was fresh off a rather unfortunate experience with New West Knifeworks. Falling in love with the profiles and styles Pierre offered, I shot him an email and the ball was rolling.
Given the remarkable cutlery ignorance I possessed, I have to say Pierre was was exceptionally patient and understanding with the boundless ideas--most of them stupid--I entertained. He encouraged me to join ITK, to do some reading, and get a better understanding of knives in general. I hold him personally responsible for my complete immersion in this hobby and for the subsequent retail therapy I have enjoyed as a consequence.
Beyond the introduction to the hobby, Pierre showed stellar customer service from start to finish: answering questions, explaining the process, accepting my ideas when they were good and gently steering me away from those that were bad. Speaking of which, I found this sketch-up I made of my first handle idea:
On to the prize:
The blade itself is ground from 3/32 CPM-154 stock, heat treated to 62 RHC. It features a gradual distal taper from the bolsters to the tip, as well as an even flat-grind from spine to edge. Spine and choil are both rounded. The blade stands 60mm tall at the heel--it's a big boy, folks--with wide and slightly asymmetric edge bevels.
I can't give precise measurements as I lack both a scale and any sort of calipers, though I will say this is a "Mighty™" blade; being a gigantic lumbering oaf, I've always shied away from the "laser" subsection and wanted something with a lot of meat on it's bones. Affectionately dubbed "the Power Sword" by Pierre and I during it's construction, the knife has served as my chef de chef ever since I got it. Honestly, I exercise no caution or consideration when taking this knife to the board: if it gets in my way, it gets cut down. It's a bit chunky behind the edge compared to some of the more "delicate" knives around these parts, though I've never felt the urge to thin it as I've never experienced any wedging.
The profile, which I've always seen as "Watanabe-eque," allows for a good deal of edge to contact the board at once, and it's an excellent push-cutter. The blade has a hand-rubbed 600 grit finish, meaning whatever I'm hacking away at can almost see itself as it perishes.
No doubt most of you reading would love some insight as to the steel's performance on stones; unfortunately, I cannot provide any. I chickened out after a few minutes of my first--and only--attempt at sharpening the knife. What can I say? It's gonna take some time before I have the confidence to sharpen this guy. I'm still recovering from practically ruining my Masamoto.
I will say, though, that I used the knife for a few weeks professionally and then quite often at home for 5 months, no stropping or sharpening, and the edge--while in an awful state of disrepair--was still capable of shearing paper. Since getting it back from Dave's Luxury Knife Spa and Day Retreat, it's a whole new world of awesome.
This could just be my attachment to the knife speaking, but the handle is outrageous. The construction is as close to flawless I believe a hand-crafted item can be made; there are no gaps, no uneven areas, no scratches or hairline cracks. It's Pierre's hybrid style, which is something of a taller, elongated hexagon with the sides smoothly blended together.
Pierre stated that the handle contains 19 separate elements; combined, they include (but are not limited to) micarta bolsters and endcap, exhibition-grade desert ironwood scales, as well as three mosiac pins with stainless and micarta liners.
In keeping with the trend of this being a "Mighty™" knife, a Power Sword, the handle is big. As I said, I'm a big guy with big (big) hands, and after much deliberation we chose a handle that might be unwieldy to a smaller person but felt--for once--appropriately sized for a mountain man. While I use a pinch-grip for most things, the handle fits comfortably against my relaxed palm and provides a good deal of control when I need it. And, despite the size, the balance point of the knife is still a few millimeters forward of the handle making the knife just slightly blade-heavy.
I love this knife. It's heavier than your standard 270mm gyuto but the balance is excellent and it does a lot of the cutting for you; it's thick enough to withstand abuse but it doesn't wedge; it's unique, one-of-a-kind, and I may have been caught just staring at it from time to time.
The few "problems" I have with it--if they can even be called problems--stem from my own decision making rather than Pierre's craftmanship: since ordering it, I've developed a fondness for carbon knives with more pronounced points; this knife is stainless, or course, and not quite as agile at the tip as I would like. That said, it's nice to know it wont rust on me if I'm accidentally careless with it, and since it's primary function is my chef-de-chef, intricate tip work is rarely needed.
Lastly, I want to reiterate that the experience of buying this knife was almost as awesome as the knife itself. Pierre kept me involved and educated, and most of the time laughing my ass off as well. When the knife finally showed up, I felt my excitement tempered by the knowledge that I wouldn't get to check my PMs anymore for updates or pictures. There's no questioning if I'd buy from him again, it's when will I.
Thanks again, Pierre.