Omg. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started out with this knife. I took it to work for a few days, and it was fun to have. I just used it like a Gyuto. I love the height of it, it goes will with the length. The balance you would think of as awkward but it isn't. The only thing I had a problem with was some wedging with potatoes. I posted some pics here when I had the Yamawaku Nakiri with it.
The Saya is absolute great protection. The fit is great. No need for the pit, yet.
I decided to do some cubing of a potato, in light of a vid. in the you tube knuckelhead thread.
And some new patina pics. I am not sure how I got the thumb print on there.
When it got here the edge was getting a little dull. With stropping it came back. But I fatigued the edge to much so I did do a 1.2k sigma stone, 4k water stone progression. I can't believe how easy it was to get it a burr.
Well my time is done with this, so if who ever is next will pm me their addy. I will get this out on tues. (payday)
Chewie's the man.
Glad you had fun, and thanks for the write up and pics.
Ty VM for the pass a round.
Chewie's the man.
In the thread opener the link goes to
I am just going off of what was posted.material is O1 steel, and the scales are ironwood burl.
Chewie's the man.
That means I'm next! Wooo! PM sent.
Just made it in time today to get this off. Should be there fri. just because of the holiday.
Chewie's the man.
I was out of town and there was a minor issues with my shipping address so i just got the knife today.
I havent had a chance to cut anything, but I fondled it thoroughly and have big plans for the weekend involving lots of quality time at the cutting board.
Ill post more after. Ill ship the knife oit on Monday or Tuesday, so next person (spike) please pm me the address.
Due to the extra time already spent in transit to me and the fact that I'm headed back out of town this week, I just spent a very intense weekend with the knife and then got it in the mail and on it's way to the next stop (Spike).
Here are my thoughts:
I tried my best not to peek too much at other people's thoughts on this knife so some may be repeats of other people's, but I tried to approach this review with as few preconceptions and biases as possible.
During my time with the knife, I put it though as much cutting as possible: fruit, veg, protein (both cooked and raw). I tried to challenge the edge as much as possible without actually damaging it. I peeled old limes with leathery skin, then did a fine julienne of the skins, then thinly sliced the flesh. I broke down a few melons and a pineapple and fine diced the rind. A few pounds of potatoes, raw beets, radishes, fresh peppers, dried chillies, tomatoes, apples, avocado, a bag of onion, garlic, ginger, a few chicken breasts, a half-dozen strip steaks, a dozen tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber. All and all I'd say I spent maybe 4-5 hours with the knife actually in my hand over a fairly short period of time. -Not quite like living with it for months or a tour though a pro-kitchen, but I feel like I gave it a good workout and got to know it pretty well.
I'll get the simple, obvious, straight-forward stuff out of the way first:
Materials, build quality/ F&F:
As I expected from a custom-level knife from a highly regarded maker, the materials used and the way that they are put together and finished are all top-notch. I won't count the crack in one of the handle scale as a mark against the build quality, but just something that can happen when using natural wood. The crack is very sad though, because the scales are some of the nicest looking iron wood that I've ever seen. Hopefully, it can just be filled with some type of clear epoxy resin.
The real stand-out material-wise though was the steel. This is my first more-than-just-passing encounter with O1, and I was REALLY impressed. Again, I don't have another maker's O1 as a comparison point, but I would have a hard time imagining that anyone could do a better job with the HT as this steel was pretty much exactly what I like: amazingly easy to sharpen, insane "why would anyone aside from eye surgeon actually need an edge this sharp" sharpness potential, very easy to touch-up with good resistance to chipping and good edge retention. It's also worth mentioning that the grind work looked very nice. I know that tall, thin blades like this are very difficult to get even and this one looked and performed very well. While the flatter grind did give up some ground on food release, it made up for it by tracking very straight and precisely though the entire cut(ZERO steering). In that way, it did feel very nakiri / cleaverish.
More on steel, sharpening, and performance:
When I received the knife, it had an edge that felt sharp and fairly toothy / aggressive, but there were some sections that felt duller and out of alignment and that stuttered a little when cutting paper. I tried honing, stropping, and all of my touch-up / re-alignment tricks, but then I started to see what appeared to be a bit of a wire edge. After running through a de-burr routine, I thought that the issues where resolved but stropping quickly raised what felt like another wire edge. What I think was actually happening was that the steel along the edge was just fatigued from use and touch-ups but still too tough to just give up and fall off. So, I felt that I had justification to take the blade to the stones. I didn't think that I needed to remove much steel, so I started with my JKI Takashima Awesedo. This my favorite stone, and I have yet to find a steel that doesn't feel good on it, but the O1 was really exceptional. It cut quickly and easily, gave great feedback, developed very little burr, and got VERY sharp. I decided to see what the steel's potential was so gave it a spin on my JNS Atagoyama. The Atagoyama is not nearly as universally good as the Takashima, but the Harner O1 felt AMAZING on it. This is the best match to this stone that I have found so far. The resulting edge was burr-free and probably the best edge that I've ever achieved directly off of a stone (with no de-burring and/or stropping). The edge sailed though every sharpness test that I tired: 3-finger, tree-topping hair, free-standing folded paper, falling though tomato skin, and being just plain scary.
After my initial sharpening, it certainly didn't need to see a stone again during the work I put it though. It really didn't even "need" a strop, but I gave it a kiss with leather or balsa a few times just to see how it reacted and because it's fun to go from "really sharp" to "stupid sharp" in just a few seconds.
If what you like in a steel is glass-like hardness and super abrasion wear resistance, this is not the steel for you. However, if what you like is steel with a fun personality that "likes" being really sharp, that's resistant to chipping, and quickly forgets mistakes or fatigue, then I have not used a superior combination of steel and HT.
Now for the more subjective matters of personal opinion:
I like it. It's certainly not traditional or quite like anything else. But, while a bit extreme, the design is also clearly very purposeful and deliberate. It's an interesting combination of angles and curves and it looks both brutal, yet elegant: like some type of modern fighter-bomber jet. Oh yeah, the steel takes some really electric-looking patinas too.
Design, Ergonomics, and Use:
From pictures, it's obvious that Harner's design is very unique: High-heel, unusual looking curved, high handle, curved spine, drop-tip kiritsuki tip, and a thin, fairly flat grind. I was expecting it to feel maybe like a low, long cleaver with a point, but western handles are very difficult to judge from pictures.
It turns out the the handle is much larger than it looks. it's actually about the same length as most western handles, but it's much taller and thicker, especially near the butt were it flares quite considerably. I have large hands and am forever complaining about small, cramped western handles. So, I was happy when I first pulled the knife out of the box.
However, when it first put it in my hand if felt... "odd." -no bad, not uncomfortable, not ultra comfortable, just different.
The curve of the handle was obviously designed with the curve of the palm in mind:
However, I usually find that the more "ergonomically designed" a handle is, often the more restrictive/ limiting it is in terms of grip variations. I found this to be the case here as well.
for one the cure on the underside of the handle, combined with the dramatic flair towards the butt did 3 things:
1)it forced my finger closer together and closer to the blade:
normal finger spacing:
compressed to fit grip:
2)it forced my pinkie to be much more open / extended in order to fit around the very tall and thick section at the end:
-3)It rotated my grip around the side an under the handle more than I normally hold, so my knuckles where much more "under" the handle
So, the end result in terms of hand position was a grip that felt rather far forward on the blade: basically on/ around the balance point vs behind it:
Balance point and where I had to pinch in order to grip the handle:
The other unpleasant surprise is that while the handle looks like it supports a high grip, the arch of the handle actually results in a low grip where the heel of my hand flet lower than the spine. Most of my cutting motions come from my arm / elbow with minimum wrist flick. However, this grip angle made my arm feel out of alignment with the blade. I also felt that this girp and wrist angle was not very conducive to the tip-on-the-board rock n' roll motion, which leads me to....
Blade profile, board contact, cutting motions:
Looking at this knife, it appeared to me like it had a fairly flat and "Japanese" profile with a decent flat section near the heel followed by a gently increasing arch though the belly and to the tip. However, when actually held in the hand, the section that contacted the board first, was the belly, not the heel. When positioned in the hand, the heel of the blade actually felt higher than than the mid-point.
Heel contact: (hard to see but there's maybe just 2" or so of contact)
Mid: (no section with >1" of contact though the entire curve of the blade between heel and tip)
How the knife naturally wanted to contact the board:
-Draw cuts where perhaps the most difficult as I felt like I had to bend my wrist and lift my arm awkwardly to finish the cut.
-Straight vertical push cuts/ chops where also difficult do to the slim board contact pattern and naturally tendency to hit belly before heel.
+Thrust cuts and diagonal hybrid thrust/push cuts worked well as long as the cut was started well in front of the midpoint / belly
+By far the most efficient and natural cutting motion for the blade geometry was the traditional French, tip-on-board slide-rock-and-roll motion. However, I find that a more rearward-biased grip is most comfortable for this motion, and the handle did not support that hand position well.
This is a beautifully made and thoughtfully designed knife with superb materials, construction, f&f. The ergonomics are bold and unconventional, but unfortunately do not work well for me. Again, it's not to say that the design is "BAD," just not for me. The complaints that I had would not prevent me from compensating and adjusting technique for a few 5-10minute quick home cooking sessions, but the fundamental issues became more apparent and more uncomfortable when used for longer sessions. Harner is a custom maker and I'm sure that he would have no problem making a few minor tweaks to the handle design and grip orientation that would transform this design into an ultra-comfortable all-day cruiser of a knife.
I want to give a big thanks to PT aka Rick for doing this pass-around and sharing a really nice and very interesting blade by a maker who's work has long been of interest to me.
full gallery with high res images: https://picasaweb.google.com/1176006...eat=directlink
Almost forgot: the saya work by Eamon (Buke Cutler) was really excellent. Photo's don't do it justice, it's really clean, simple, perfectly fitted and beautifully made.
Last edited by Justin0505; 07-17-2012 at 07:54 PM. Reason: almost forgot!