Shun Bob Kramer Meiji 6"
I continue to be stunned and bemused by the sheer beauty of the knives posted in this thread - the blessed Yoshikane above looks good enough to eat by itself. Even though my brain <knows> better, there's something so luscious about the damascene, that I keep thinking "Hmmmm - perhaps a delicate nut-like flavor with hints of pear and chocolate."
So, from a far less elegant, but more frugal (aw, 'fess up Jim - the word is cheap - the total cost was less than $50...) and utilitarian perspective here are two pretty simple knives that have found a home in our kitchen:
First is a Bunmei 180mm Usuba - a simple, plain working tool - nicely balanced, good heft, and it sharpened up well with my limited skills. It was a $20 Craigslist find, and had been somewhat abused with lots of small nicks and some visible fold-over on the edge. An afternoon's work with waterstones, followed by a ceramic honing rod, and stropping across an egg carton seems to have brought it back to a usable condition with a few chips remaining to be worked out over time.
Aside from vegetables, it has already earned its keep by quartering enough apples for about 20 quarts of applesauce, and split an entire winter's supply of Italian Plums which are drying in the basement - its ability to just cruise through pits and apple cores made these tasks far easier.
The other knife was an eBay impulse purchase - wife K. accuses me of being "An Invertebrate eBay abuser..." Sadly, I think she's correct, I just don't have enough spine to stand up to a bargain. This was a raw blade that had never had its tip shaped nor a final edge ground, and because it looked so odd, I got it for a song - well, maybe an EP single - it cost $16. I roughed out an edge with a slightly coarse garnet stone, finished it on several waterstones, threw on a Hoh wood handle, and ended up with this:
Which 'ecchef' took one look at in the intro forum, and admonished me - "Welcome! Fix the tip."
"Uhm, er, ah - Yessir! - is this any better?"
Actually, my neighbor Ernie Leimkuhler - who is reckoned to be a pretty dab hand with a knife grinder - saw me using the blade said something along the lines of: "That's just too ugly to live..." took it home like a stray puppy, reground a functional edge, finished it with an Edo-style tip, and now its a Bunka Hocho or something similar.
It's fairly thick at the spine, but not particularly heavy for its size (now about 210mm) - my hunch is that it's a white steel, which it seems fairly hard, and it does take a very decent edge.
So there they are, two rather modest knives without backstory or pedigree, not even vaguely pretty - but which for a very small cash outlay have made my cooking life much more effective, and even more, enjoyable