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Bill Burke 240+ mm midtech prototype review 1.0

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tk59

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Aesthetics B
The hamon and the lines of the knife are elegant and the finish is handsome, imo. However, the bolster looks sloppy. Bill pulled off two pins very well, but it is well documented that three pins would look better to more people.
Fit and finish C
The bulk of handle is comfortable but it is not very symmetric. Most of the spine is rounded except for the divot two thirds of the way down the blade toward the tip. The choil is not rounded and has what I would characterize as a burr on it. The bolster-blade transition is poorly finished with cracked solder that appeared to leak out of the bolster/tang joint. The bolster also has sharp corners on it that did bother me with certain grips, esp. sharpening. The heel was nearly flat ground and the choil view appears very thin but the knife thickens up near the edge and becomes more convex as it approaches the tip. Other than that, the grind was a little wavy in places but I thought they were within reason and the coarse grinding scratches were clearly visible under all of the polishing. They are closer to gone than what you would see on a Carter but they are there.
Performance B
The geometry is very good in some places and merely good in other places. The knife is not super thin and the taper isn’t dramatic but it cuts very well without feeling clumsy in spite of the tall heel to spine height. The profile is quite curved which is hard to get used to and the tip is very high. The actual tip work is very good to excellent as long as the cutting surface is low. Heel work is nice but there is a lot of sticking in that part of the blade. The knife felt a little thick toward the middle of the blade. The edge was very nice and stayed nice over limited use.
Sharpening A
Bill’s version of 52100 sharpened quickly and easily and took a very nice edge. I didn’t use the knife enough to really get a grip regarding edge retention but I can say I observed no noticeable chipping or deformation in light use over a couple of weeks.
Overall B
This is a nice knife by most measures. Depending on individual preferences, it may arguably be the best cutting custom gyuto I have used that was NOT made by Murray, Devin, Rottman or someone in Japan. Perhaps I am too picky or a cheapskate but at $850, I find this knife is intolerably uncomfortable and it really shouldn’t be this sloppy.
While these comments are 100% my own opinion, I have made every effort to obtain unbiased feedback from the six other knifeknuts (with considerable experience among them) whose hands and eyes examined and used this knife. The feedback was quite consistent with my own. One person appreciated the extra thin heel and a couple of them were more upset about the bolster than I thought was warranted.

I'll be making an addendum to this review once the knife has made an east coast trip (if it happens) and again once everything with the knife is finalized.
 

tk59

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These are some line-up shots of an Ittossai kotetsu 240 (Hattori HD), a 240 TKC, the 240+ Burke, a 270 Carter HG and a 250 Devin.
lineup-side (1024x680).jpglineup-spine (1024x680).jpglineup-choil (1024x680).jpglineup-tip (1024x680).jpg
 

tk59

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Here are some pics of the offending bolster-choil area...
bolster-choil (1024x680).jpgbolster-spine (1024x680).jpgburr-closeup (1024x680).jpgsolder-burr (1024x680).jpgsolder-overgrind (1024x680).jpg

...and a couple of the rest of the handle.
handle-bottom (1024x680).jpghandle-top (1024x680).jpg
 

mr drinky

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Thanks for the report. Very interesting.

k.
 

tk59

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Here are a couple of shots of the "divot" on the spine and an example of some minor sharpening scratches (not mine).
spine-dip (1024x680).jpgspine-dip2 (1024x680).jpgsharpening scuff (1024x680).jpg
 

RRLOVER

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An in depth review with pics..........I am giving this post an -A!!!
 

rsacco

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Thanks for the review - I wish it was a better outcome.
 

Bill Burke

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Thanks for the honest review Tinh.

I find this knife is intolerably uncomfortable and it really shouldn’t be this sloppy.
You can always return it for a refund. I would not want you to keep this knife if you are not happy with it.
 
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I found this review very interesting and one that should help newbies like I know what to look for when examining a knife. Great photos and details in the review.
 

Eamon Burke

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Looking forward to a future report on edge retention. That is really what people are after with Bill's knives, edge performance. Colin's certainly talked it up and I've never gotten to sling one around at work.
 

tk59

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it's close to being very nice, i think.
I am inclined to agree. Most of these issues would be easily solved by eliminating the bolster or pinning it instead of welding it. In my interactions with Bill, it seemed like the rest of the issues are the trade-off for going with a midtech over a custom. I could probably make this knife a lot more comfortable in a relatively short amount of time as long as I don't want to have that original finish but I don't think I should have to at this price point. I'd also lose sleep over messing the knife up.

With regard to edge retention being the only thing people really want out of a Burke, I beg to differ. I've heard a number of things about Burke knives. Yes, Colin said he sharpens once every several months but the truth of the matter is that a belt grinder strop loaded with 2 micron abrasives is a good way to sharpen something that isn't chipped out. Bill says he can cut a ton of rope with an edge before having to resharpen. I have no reason to believe this isn't true. Other renditions of 52100 have been very good and I have no problem with Bill's being the best in that regard. Looking at all the posts people make on Burke knives, most of them center around san mai and an awesome look. Frankly, I was hoping for something that would cut effortlessly, hold an awesome edge forever, feel like an extension of my body, AND have that awesome hamon and Bill Burke look. Why would you want less that that? It doesn't make sense. (Not that having a couple dozen gyutos does...)

Regardless, I really haven't decided what to do at this point...
 

ecchef

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Frankly, I was hoping for something that would cut effortlessly, hold an awesome edge forever, feel like an extension of my body, AND have that awesome hamon and Bill Burke look. Why would you want less that that?
I see your point, but being Devil's advocate, why would Bill charge less for that? Great & honest review though. Bet you wouldn't see that kind of candor on some other sites.
 

tk59

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...why would Bill charge less for that?...
Haha. I said I was HOPING for that. I was EXPECTING something that cuts effortlessly. Obviously, Bill did not take my hand size, cutting style, or any other preferences into account. That is where the lower cost should come in. One size fits all.
 

ecchef

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Johnny's calling sloppy seconds? :D
 

Bill Burke

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Tinh,
I am more than happy to flatten the profile and grind the bolsters into the blade farther for you. the finish is nothing special just ground on a my grinder to an x16 with almost no care removeing all the scratches from the previous grit. (That is why you can see some "heavier" scratches in the finish.) then a ten minute etch and a thirty second buff and call it good. One thing that I ask you remember, this is not a full custom knife. It was not made "for you" In fact it was done before you contacted me with no thought of any particular hand size or preferance on blade profile. You gave me a B overall and from your post it seems to me that you are comparing this gyoto to your customs so although a little chagrined I feel ok with it. If you think that you want to keep this knife and give the "performance" a test lets try and solve your issues with this one since I think they are somewhat valid.
 

EdipisReks

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the finish is nothing special just ground on a my grinder to an x16 with almost no care removeing all the scratches from the previous grit. (That is why you can see some "heavier" scratches in the finish.) then a ten minute etch and a thirty second buff and call it good.
i'm assuming that this won't be the case for non-prototypes?
 

Bill Burke

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It will be something close, I am going to try a different finish on the next one though. the new one i am hoping will look close to a 600 grit hand rubbed finish, but will still be a machine finish.
i'm assuming that this won't be the case for non-prototypes?
 

Cadillac J

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The profile, oh the profile.
That is exactly what I was thinking. As someone who has generally loved the profiles on Bill's custom work for sujis and gyutos, I was very surprised when I saw TK's comparison shots above.
 

tk59

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...One thing that I ask you remember, this is not a full custom knife. It was not made "for you" In fact it was done before you contacted me with no thought of any particular hand size or preferance on blade profile... ...it seems to me that you are comparing this gyoto to your customs...
It seems we have some misunderstandings. I just sent you an email. I'll give you a call.
 
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