Cris Anderson 24 cm custom XH gyuto
When I first got into Japanese kitchen knives, I was not only impressed by the hardness and the edge retention of their blades and the ease with which they could be sharpened, but also by their thinness. Only later I discovered thicker knives like the Masakage ones, a Terayasu Fujiwara and a Kochi. And when I discovered a Kato (Yoshiaka Fujiwara), I got a smile on my face.
Then Cris Anderson announced he was going to make a real workhorse knife in AEB-L. This is my favorite stainless steel, since it can take a wicked edge and sharpens up very easily. And I had heard many positive things about Cris’ knives before, so I did not know how quickly I should order one.
Cris is a great guy to deal with. He kept me up to date with the progression he was making, continually asked me about my preferences, and we were even making jokes about the knife. In the end our conversation about the knife was 9 pages long and this included many photographs. And fortunately I could bypass Cris’ waiting queue (which is over a year long, I think), so just a few months later I had the knife in my house.
The knife looks gorgeous. It is very well finished with a faultless transition from the handle to the blade. It is needless to say that the spine and the handle are well rounded. The handle itself deserves special attention. It is Cris’ dual tapered handle made out of ironwood. Cris told me that he sometimes got questions from customers asking whether it isn't too short. This is probably based on a comparison with other wa handles, which are usually longer, but I can say I have never had a handle in my hand that felt more comfortable. The rounding of the choil towards the cutting edge also helps in this. And the handle is beautiful: it is made out of ironwood with a nice drawing and three brass spacers.
The profile of the knife is geared towards push cutting and slicing. The balance point of the knife is about two centimeters in front of the choil (so where the edge starts, not where the blade starts). So it is quite a bit blade heavy, but that is exactly what I wanted for a 24 cm workhorse knife. The blade is 510 mm high at the heel, which is in line with its 24 cm length.
The grinds on Cris’ knife are proprietary and he has asked me not to say too much about them. But his grinds bear some similarities to those of Kato knives (even though they are different). See this discussion on Kitchen Knife Forums for more explanation. Pay particular attention to post #16 and the following discussion. A special feature of the grind is that it is not uniform along the length of the blade. This causes food not only to be pushed away to the sides but up and down as well.
This is one of the things that makes their cutting performance so great. The blade is also pretty thick near the handle (4.4 mm), but then has a gradual and wicked distal taper: at one centimeter before the tip the blade is only 0.8 mm thick, which makes it one of the thinnest tips on all of my knives. And the blade is very thin above the edge as well. At half a centimeter above the edge it measures just 0.5 mm, which again makes it one of the thinnest knives I know just above the edge.
When the knife arrived it was very sharp, so there was no need to sharpen it first.
The cutting performance of this knife is absolutely phenomenal. In spite of its thickness at the spine, it cut through everything with ease. It also went through harder foods like carrots and white winter radish almost like butter and without any wedging. And its grind makes it have great food release, too. Even potato slices only occasionally remained stuck to the blade.
Here are some pictures Cris made during the manufacturing of the knife.
And then... a new knife
I told Chris I liked his knife very much and it worked great in almost every respect. The only thing I was not so happy about was its profile: it has a very straight cutting edge. And I do like to rock chop from time to time. Even without me asking, Chris offered to make me a new knife for free. He wants every customer of this knife to be happy about every aspect of his knife. It was a very generous offer and I hesitated whether I could accept it. But I did. And now, a few months later, I have a new knife. Here it is...
It is very similar to the other knife, only it has a different profile. As you can see the profile is more rounded with a bit more belly.
This is one of the best knives, if not the best knife, I’ve ever used. It is a workhorse knife, but one with a great distal taper and very thin above the edge. And it has great food release. It is a great looker as well. In many ways it reminds me of a Kato knife, but where the Kato put a smile on my face, this knife put a big grin on my face. And if you also do rock chopping, the new profile is perfect. But to really everyone I can say: get this knife! You'll wonder how you could ever live without one.
Unlike my other factsheets this one does not give any details of the blade grind.
All comments welcome! I also posted this review on my blog, where you can read it a bit more nicely formatted, along quite a few other reviews.
And I just got a remark from Cris he hasn['t sold the original knife yet. It's got a more traditional Japanese profile, so should appeal to more people here. SO grab your chance...
As someone that spent 20 years in the Air Force, I really love his designs. Very aeronautical in design.
Thanks Mark, I've heard nothing but good feedback on the performance of Cris' knives, and it's nice to have another source of confirmation.
Like the knife. Looking at the board feels like I've been drinkng.
Cris's attention to detail is off the charts. And his need to make his customers happy is unmatched by some. He goes above and beyond which just goes to show he stands behind his product.
In the end you have an amazing knife and a new friend. What's not to like?
You know I started chatting with Chris about getting a knife, for the most part, due to your 1st one Mark! I agree with you 100% that the guy is fantastic to work with and really wants the customer 100% happy / his desire for that is, as you say, off the charts.
Originally Posted by marc4pt0
FWIW I was able to chop up a few things with your knife (& several other Chris had about including my future one without the handle) a couple of weeks ago when I stopped in on him to check out the one he was fabricating for me (sorry for the crappy iphone pic). Very, very damned near just bought yours from him as the profile is fantastic IMO. Really talking about minor differences between the two profiles as you mentioned above ... still an amazing blade and gorgeous Ironwood! I just had to have my Honduran Rosewood Burl (block on the top) handle so Chris continued his work ... end result is sweet!
Will attempt to write up something similar (likely to fail miserably but ***) to what you have here since the guy is awesome to work with and his passion for his trade is quite amazing. That "little beastie" in the low middle kinda stole my heart as well but that is something for the not to distant future ...
Glad you seem to have gotten a good knife.
I was able to, without trying particularly hard, find the performance limits of the knife I received from him. It may just be that I am very accustomed to personally tuned, optimized geometries that work better for the harder things I cut. I'd mentioned offhandedly in another thread that my thoughts on the knife were mixed, and there was some pressure to keep mum about it except in private. A handful of others with tempered feelings also shared with me (apparently I am a magnet for such things), but have not wanted to say anything publicly to avoid censure or awkward interactions with the maker. I think the "risk" is low and Cris will refund or rework a knife to the customers' satisfaction if possible; I know of one fellow who sent his knife back for a regrind, and Cris repeatedly (and proactively) offered to refund me (which I am reluctant to do, because I do not want to lose the decent knife I do have).
Mine seems a good knife with generally good heavyweight performance, but I hesitate to use so many superlatives. It does appear that my opinion is a minority one, however, and should not detract from others' happiness or interest in potential purchases.
Thanks for the review Mark.
Now thats a board I could skate all day on. BS or is Chris making those as well?
X, I think you found exactly the right chord. And not the first time.
Couldn't agree more marc4pt0 . Great review mark76
Originally Posted by marc4pt0