I’ve never been so uptight about receiving a knife. I have a tendency to prepare for the worst and I’ve been disappointed quite a bit, of late. Also, I’ve been on Devin’s custom list for about 8 months without a call and I was getting antsy. So, when the prototypes showed up one night, I had to inquire about them. It really wasn’t much of an exchange. Essentially, I wanted to know if the knife would impress me and he said he’d make one for me sometime down the line. I didn’t realize it might not be a long wait at all. A few weeks later, I started bugging Rick about reviewing his knife. A day or two after that, I got a pm from Devin letting me know that my knife was ready. He did not ask me for any specs, handle options, etc. ZERO. He didn’t send a pic, either. I supposed this was his way of letting me know that he knew what a good knife was and he picked up enough about me that he was confident he could meet my expectations. (The point is, this may or may not be a custom knife depending on your definition.) If I recall correctly, I paid for it and a little while later, he posted a pic. On a Thursday, Devin advised me to cancel my classes on Friday, in preparation for the arrival of my knife.
The knife I received was:
Blade length heel to tip 250 mm
Spine thickness (heel) 2.67 mm
Spine thickness (midblade) 2.07 mm
Spine thickness 1” from tip 0.81 mm
Average thickness 4 mm behind edge 0.48 mm
The knife’s appearance is understated which is very much my preferred style. The edge Devin put on it felt ~1k and very toothy. I decided to refine it further so I could more directly compare its performance to that of my other blades. I took it to a Gesshin 5k, a few strokes on an 8k SS and stropped a little with 0.25 micron diamond on leather (Dave’s). The knife was easily push-cutting tomatoes at that point.
The cutting performance is some hybrid of the best cutters I’ve experienced. It makes most cuts with absolute ease. The tip work is fantastic except for doing very fine work on small, hard objects (ie lateral cuts when superfine-dicing ginger). The tip is fairly flexible but it hasn’t bothered me. Food release is decent but not outstanding. The grind is very consistent. There are a few minor overgrinds but nothing that comes close to going through the cladding. There is a very slight right-handed bend or possibly an overgrind near the tip that you can see from the distal taper pic but it actually works well for me. Probably the only other thing I’d change about it is the rounding of the corner at the heel. I like crisp, clean-looking corners and points. As with other cladded blades, scratches show up pretty easily and often.
The most impressive thing about this knife might be how nicely it holds an “acceptable” edge. Everyone has a point where they really want to sharpen their knife again to get that new-edge feel. Like all the others I’ve tested, this knife lost its tomato push-cutting sharpness pretty quickly but for once, I actually have used an edge pretty much exclusively (with a lot of poly board contact, I might add) for 3+ weeks without feeling like it needed sharpening. I have stropped it a handful of times on both 0.25 micron diamond and 0.5 micron Cr2O3 to see if I could detect much of a difference. I also realigned the edge on a glass-rod a couple of times when the edge rolled in a couple of very small (~1 mm) sections. So far, I have observed no chipping or deformation behind the edge in spite of the low angle (“by ear” the bevels seem to be ground under 15 deg per side. There are other great steels but I am liking this flavor quite a bit and (I probably shouldn't say this but…) probably more than the AEB-L on my DTITK. I can’t wait to really sharpen this knife for the first time.
Overall, I'm not sure I can say that this is the best knife I've ever used. I can say that it did and continues to impress me quite a lot (esp for a stainless knife) and if the house was burning down and I could only grab one knife, it would be in the running to come out with me if I didn’t perish in the flames thinking about the decision. Thank you, Devin.
These are some pics with my 270 DTITK gyuto in AEB-L (between 2nd and 3rd batch) for comparison.