Hello all, my first post, coming as it does after a year or two of newbie collecting and many years of serious, sometimes pathetic, home cooking. I live in New York and work as an academic (in Stefan Kellerís field) and have far less counter space than Iíd like to saw through roasts or chop onions the way they do on YouTube. No tuna swords here. Itís pretty much 180ís and 210ís including Devinís mid-tech gyuto and a surprisingly useful, western-style kitaeji Shig. Not that you can actually see the damascus pattern through the patina. It kind of peaks out from behind the subtle blues, and I do wonder sometimes why I sprang for a knife that loses its virginal beauty with a few swipes through meat and citrus. . . .
I thought Iíd start by asking you experienced guys the following question. What are some of the unpleasant surprises youíve encountered when you open the package and hold in your hands, for the first time, that beautiful high-end, custom knife just off the Wells Fargo wagon, aka the big brown truck of joy? What are the issues, what are the deal breakers (heart breakers?) that you couldnít possibly have anticipated from the image on the web site or the emails negotiating the sale that broke your bank account? Let me begin.
1. Imbalanced and often handle-heavy knives. The maker has used a heavy material in the handle or in the scales or, in full-tang designs, didnít bother to thin-out the stock that became the tang, let alone taper it. This seems to be common and occurs in reverse, too, that is, excessively blade-heavy knives, seen especially with stick-tang design and in 240+. Of course, itís all a matter of preference. But this oneís been a real deal-breaker for me.
2. Poor fit and finish, which Iíve found even on a Nenox S model in which the burl-wood scales didnít quite reach the bolster. The gap filled up quick enough, not with humidified wood but gradually with food, glad as I am I canít tell you what the hell the filler was. Also common: painfully sharp-edged spine and choil, unstabilized and curling buffalo horn, general asymmetry, and the result of mass production or an individual who too closely followed a philosophy of craft that finds the Best the enemy of the Good. Isnít there a Japanese philosophy that says something like this? Capture the spirit of the thing (a functional, round bowl) without laboring for perfection (perfect roundness)? Donít know if I want him building my knives!
3. Damaged in transit, especially the point, which wasnít sufficiently protected. But Iíll tell you, Iíve also struggled to free knives from *over* protected packages and in so doing actually damaged the knife myself. When the roles are reversed and I ship a knife for sharpening I use a blade guard secured with rubber bands with lots of newspaper wrap and then include a letter in the package telling the guy whoís opening it just what he can expect to find. No gloves required.
Any thoughts welcome. And many thanks for a forum that is unfailingly friendly, funny, helpful and just plain fun to read.