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Thread: Surprises OOTB - The Positive Side

  1. #1
    Senior Member Seth's Avatar
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    Surprises OOTB - The Positive Side

    I suspect that most of us don't get to experience the knives we buy beforehand (Target doesn't sell them) so we rely on credible folks on the forum, vendor descriptions, pass arounds, etc. I think this is why it can be both fun and tragic to receive the long awaited purchase. Our new NY academic posted on the negative side of things so I thought I would post on the positive side as well - the knife you got where pictures didn't do justice, reviews were too understated, and your eyes involuntarily widened. I think the no-brainer for me is anything from Marko; it's difficult to argue with a Marko handled shig. Here is another one:

    This is a 210 yani. Based on comments from Jon and threads on the usefulness of small or moderate sized suji/petty/gyuto I bought this one to fulfill that role. It is best described as a single bevel suji; thin with good distal taper, f&f, and perfect for butterflying hormone laden chicken breasts, cleaning up pork loin, portioning fish, etc. The maker is basically unknown to me but the shape, balance, finish, and utility of this knife is best in class for me.

    So that is the question: Other than DK's girlfriend, what is the biggest surprise on unpacking; the knife that exceeded expectations? - not necessarily your current favorite knife, but the biggest spread between expectation and reality.
    Everywhere you go, there you are.

  2. #2
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    Number one is probably my Glestain 240 gyuto. It was my second Japanese knife, the first one being a Masahiro santoku. Anyway, I was told it would be a great knife but I didn't honestly believe it. I just have a deep seated distrust of anyone trying to sell me something. I take it out for a spin every so often and it's still awesome. I just need Devin to make one out of AEB-L or something.

    Number two is probably my Devin pm stainless prototype. At that point, I'd lost faith in American made custom knifemakers so I honestly didn't expect much. I can now say that in Devin, I trust.

    Number three, I'd say is a Zakuri 240 gyuto. I still can't believe a knife that thick can cut so well.

  3. #3
    Though I harp on it as a "best value western style j-knife" a lot, it's for a reason. The Suisin Inox Western Gyuto. I had a coworker at the sushi bar that had one and it was a great knife, despite being sharpened 99/1, ground flat from bad technique, profile warped to hell and used for weeks without sharpening. I was impressed back then. Well, I proxy-purchased one for a coworker about 5 months ago, and when I opened it up, I expected to see the warts on it like I do with Tojiro stuff(which impressed me back in the day because they were sharp). But no! Great grind, nice fit, overall very well made knives. Extremely good finish and QC for the price IMO.

    Michael Rader's W2 Chef's I expected to be good, but totally kicked ass so bad I still miss it.

    Most Recent that comes to mind is a Tsourkan Gyuto, which I was interested to see how it lived up to the hype--flawless execution. I was surprised that I was surprised.

    The all time winner for me has to be the on-again-off-again relationship with my parent's Sabs. I never thought they were much, then I got into j-knives and when visiting just eyed them with derision. Then the next year's visit, I thought they were vintagey-cool. Now I'm in love with them. I thought they were just some old-fashioned carbon steel whatevers my parents had. They are, in my mind, a living legacy a cutlery era that got slaughtered by McBarbie-Mart culture. Never thought I'd get excited to visit them, but I do. The knives, that is.

    Ok I guess my folks too.

  4. #4
    Senior Member RiffRaff's Avatar
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    I'm the guy who started the thread on unpleasant surprises and I am humbled by the distinction you made, Seth, and by others' comments. Yes, there have also been pleasant surprises, such as a custom Carter gyuto whose profile was, by request, more German than Japanese--a gift for a chef who had trained on Wustofs. It's a perfectly balanced, seven-ounce wonder with exquisite Ironwood scales and an edge that gets razor sharp. I'll post pictures if I can get my hands on the knife again. Other happy unpacking moments: Rader customs, Hattori KDs and my first knife, a Masamoto 240 VG-10, which I still pull out when family or friends are cooking beside me in the kitchen. It's no surprise, but the more advance contact you have with the maker or with the vendor, the better the outcome.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Seth's Avatar
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    It occurred to me that the thread had the potential of offending you but apparently hasn't and wasn't intended to. I've received knives with problems as well, though I think it is worth making a distinction between a shipping accident and a knife that doesn't live up to expectations. (An ebony handle that might as well be plastic....)

    In a more general way, I like the potential for historic significance when I assess the qualities of knife. I keep picturing the secenario: "Yes, this is a great example of an early 21st century Shigefusa, and the original handle has been replaced by a well-known NY artisan who later became a piano recitalist...." I have plenty of knives that cut well but only a few where I can trace the lineage or appreciate the unique character of a hand-made knife. One thread here talked about the line of communication between the knife maker, the cook, and ultimately the family and friends who enjoy the food... A massed produced knife can't create this.

    So, it is important that every custom knife maker on this forum send me a knife or two for safe keeping to insure that their proper place in history is bookmarked.
    Everywhere you go, there you are.

  6. #6
    Senior Member RiffRaff's Avatar
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    +1 if every custom knife maker will also send a copy to me for safe keeping!

    P.S. I also meant to emphasize the importance of the human factor or ergonomics in the final product, everything from thinning the tang to creating a comfortable, grippy (e.g., Fibrox!) handle. I guess I'm saying that as a newbie here I've sometimes had the feeling that our revered craftsmen are put so far up on pedestals in this forum that they and their clients forget the importance of a practical, comfortable knife (as well as a beautiful one that takes and keeps and edge).

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    Senior Member Salty dog's Avatar
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    Nenohi extra wide 300 mm honyaki yanagi with sankewood and silver handle. I still think it's the most beautiful knife in the world.

    Second would be the second Kramer, 240 damascus flip flop ladder gyuto with snakewood handle and salty's pattern blade. (Because the first one was the most disappointing OTB.)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by RiffRaff View Post
    +1 if every custom knife maker will also send a copy to me for safe keeping!
    You guys live way too close to each other. Think of what a Hurricane would do! No, one from every maker has to be sent to me here in Warm, dry, safe, inland Texas. It's for posterity.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Seth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salty dog View Post
    Nenohi extra wide 300 mm honyaki yanagi with sankewood and silver handle. I still think it's the most beautiful knife in the world.
    I agree, at least based on pictures. Either that or the photographer is too good...

    The couple of craftsmen that I have traded emails with I think would be quick to put practicality above bling - though maybe not all. I am not sure about pedestals but I do respect anyone making or doing something with integrity.

    One of my value issue favorites of all time is the suisin inox yanigiba (Korin) that runs (now) about $500 - $700, but if you put an ebony handle on it, it goes for over $1,000 - $1,200, if you put ebony and a bit of silver, it's $3,800..... Really???...
    Everywhere you go, there you are.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Salty dog's Avatar
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    I have a 10K knife sitting on the shelf. Really? Yes. The Nenohi is around 5k these days.

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