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  1. #1
    Senior Member Benuser's Avatar
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    French asymmetry

    European blades symmetric, I'm not so sure.

    A few weeks ago, I did some work on Son's 290mm Trompette chef knife, I didn't want to entirely reconsider it's geometry - about 120 years of uneven regrinding, some overgrind suspicion, felt uncertain about my own knowledge, didn't want to waist material, wanted to keep the logo intact. Left side flat, with a convexing at the end; right side thinned, but still relatively convexed, and about a century of steeling. Arrived with a strictly symmetric edge that performed well to one who is used to it, but not to me. I've used it some time in my private kitchen and finally put a asymmetric edge on it, some 80/20, and to me, it performed much better.

    Is it about the a skilled chef used to a symmetric bevel vs. an amateur who got used to asymmetry?

    I've seen traditional sharpeners in Europe who kept the entire left side flat excepted for the very edge.

    So, when our Japanese friends introduced gyutos and followed the French geometry of chef's knives, did they incorporated their own asymmetriy regarding the profile or did they just follow a French practice?

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    sachem allison's Avatar
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    Ben,
    I think it has to do with the sharpener. If he is right handed, he tends to sharpen better on the right side and if he is left handed, the left side. If you are not aware of it and don't correct for it. Right handed sharpeners have larger bevels on the right side edge and left handers on the left edge. I sharpen all of my symmetric European and American knives and eventually, naturally end up with asymmetric right hand bias knives if I don't compensate for it when I'm sharpening. I don't mind at all. I have grown used to how my knives feel to me. I can have Dave or Eamon sharpen my knives and put a phenomenal edge on it and the first thing I do after spending that money is to put it on the stones and put my fingerprint on it, so to speak.

    I find that on a lot of older chef knives you will find sections of the blade that are symmetric and sections that are asymmetric. Some chef's would put a symmetric edge near the heel for general rough prep, (were a hardier more stable edge works best) an asymmetric middle were finer work is done and back to a symmetric edge at the tip for really fine work and board contact (since the tip is so much thinner, the symmetric edge adds stability and keeps the edge from crumbling.

    Most of those unevenness and potential overgrinds were more then like caused by the guy on the street with his cart and sharpening wheel, get an edge on it that will shave hair by any means necessary and move on. That's why even though millions of those knives were made only a fraction survive, they were literally ground away.
    I haven't lived the life I wanted, just the lives I needed too at the time.

  3. #3
    Senior Member brainsausage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sachem allison View Post
    Ben,
    I think it has to do with the sharpener. If he is right handed, he tends to sharpen better on the right side and if he is left handed, the left side. If you are not aware of it and don't correct for it. Right handed sharpeners have larger bevels on the right side edge and left handers on the left edge. I sharpen all of my symmetric European and American knives and eventually, naturally end up with asymmetric right hand bias knives if I don't compensate for it when I'm sharpening. I don't mind at all. I have grown used to how my knives feel to me. I can have Dave or Eamon sharpen my knives and put a phenomenal edge on it and the first thing I do after spending that money is to put it on the stones and put my fingerprint on it, so to speak.

    I find that on a lot of older chef knives you will find sections of the blade that are symmetric and sections that are asymmetric. Some chef's would put a symmetric edge near the heel for general rough prep, (were a hardier more stable edge works best) an asymmetric middle were finer work is done and back to a symmetric edge at the tip for really fine work and board contact (since the tip is so much thinner, the symmetric edge adds stability and keeps the edge from crumbling.

    Most of those unevenness and potential overgrinds were more then like caused by the guy on the street with his cart and sharpening wheel, get an edge on it that will shave hair by any means necessary and move on. That's why even though millions of those knives were made only a fraction survive, they were literally ground away.
    Very interesting post Son, it gave me a little more insight into what I(as a noob sharpener), am doing right/wrong as perceived by me. Thank you.

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    I will just add that at one point I worked on an old English knife also from Son and that knife was clearly asymmetrically ground. It was a slicer-looking thing and bore resemblance to Japanese single bevel knives, iirc.

  5. #5
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    sachem allison's Avatar
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    my favorite knife, where is that thing?
    I haven't lived the life I wanted, just the lives I needed too at the time.

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    Beats me. My guess is it's probably just hanging out waiting for Chuck to get around to giving it a little more TLC. I heard he's been dealing with some stuff, lately.

  7. #7
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    sachem allison's Avatar
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    yeah, I know how that is.
    I haven't lived the life I wanted, just the lives I needed too at the time.

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