Damascus Steel Knife to Celebrate PhD

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

Brian Heligman

New Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Location
Austin, Texas
Hey everyone! I just finished my PhD in metallurgy/battery science. For my research, I worked on laminated metal composite materials and used them to make high-energy batteries. I love cooking, and specifically want a Damascus steel chef knife to celebrate (a laminated metal composite). Not super knowledgeable about the high end of kitchen knives, so would love some feed back.


LOCATION
What country are you in?
United States


KNIFE TYPE
What type of knife are you interested in (e.g., chefs knife, slicer, boning knife, utility knife, bread knife, paring knife, cleaver)?

I'd like a beautiful but practically useable chef knife. Aesthetics are clearly important but I would like to use this for more than just show.

Are you right or left handed?

Right

Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?

I currently have used a Misono UX10 for my entire cooking career and have enjoyed it. I've not used a western Japanese handle, but I am open to it as well.

What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?

I really have only used this one knife for years, it's 7 inches and seems like a reasonable size.


Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)

Feels like stainless would be better? I would hate to see this thing accidentally rust, and I know that can happen.

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?

$500-600 seems like a reasonable budget.


KNIFE USE
Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment?

Home

What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for (e.g., slicing vegetables, chopping vegetables, mincing vegetables, slicing meats, cutting down poultry, breaking poultry bones, filleting fish, trimming meats, etc.)? (Please identify as many tasks as you would like.)

Dice onions. Break down chicken by cutting through joints, not breaking bones. Chiffonade herbs. Cut raw fish. Pretty general purpose cooking stuff, I branch out across a range of cuisines.

What knife, if any, are you replacing?

Misono UX10.

Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)

Pinch grip

What cutting motions do you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for types of cutting motions and identify the two or three most common cutting motions, in order of most used to least used.)

I use a rock and push cut the most I think? Occasionally chop, occasional walk, occasional slice. I'm not 100% sure on this, but having played with my knife a bit I seem to use a mixture of everything.

I am willing to work on my technique a bit with the UX10 before really using this new knife.


What improvements do you want from your current knife? If you are not replacing a knife, please identify as many characteristics identified below in parentheses that you would like this knife to have.)

I'm not really sure other than aesthetics. This Misono UX10 is the only knife I really used for the last 5 years. I'd occasionally use a random Victorinox chef knife my roommate had and didn't have a huge problem with that either.

Damascus is a must.




KNIFE MAINTENANCE
Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)

Large teak edge grain cutting board

Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)

Yes. I am still learning, but I have a few whetstones and have sharpened my knives 4-5 times over the last 2-3 years. I am not perfect, but no longer scratch the blade, and would probably be really careful with this thing at the start.

Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)

I want to buy that Bob Kramer sharpening set. It just seems like a kinda beautiful object to be honest.

SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS


I am interested in learning to make some nigiri at some point in my life, as that seems kinda fun. Other than that I just love to pick and cook random projects, and would like a reasonably robust beautiful knife to do it with and remind me of the PhD experience. I can answer any more questions, and really appreciate you guys taking the time to help me on this. Thanks!
 
Last edited:

daveb

Staff member
Administrator
Global Moderators
Joined
Mar 12, 2012
Messages
13,688
Reaction score
6,673
Location
St Pete, the one in Florida
Welcome.

Our resident Doctor, Larrin Thomas, also has a PhD in metallurgy and spends a lot of time with knife steels. His father, Devin Thomas, is a resident knife maker extraordinaire. Seems like a knife from Devin with steel from Larrin would be the holy grail of your search.

There are other good choices and the page will soon fill up. You'll get responses (mostly) tailored to your requirements if you fill out the "which knife" questionnaire.

Edit: I finished this before I saw you had done the questionnaire. Carry on.
 

Corradobrit1

Senior Member
Joined
May 2, 2015
Messages
4,924
Reaction score
3,915
Congrats on the PhD. I got mine in 1993 in Chemistry. Still remember the moment I passed the viver being such a momentous occasion. Battery tech was a smart choice IMO as we move from ICE to battery powered vehicles.
 

Delat

Dazed & Confused
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
999
Reaction score
2,078
Location
Phoenix
Congratulations!

The standard version of this in 210mm was my first real j-knife. I still have it and pull it out when I want a solid midweight feel and confidence in the edge for tougher tasks. This is the 7” / 180mm version and full stainless.
Syousin Suminagashi R2 Damascus Santoku 180mm by Shiro Kamo

I have a Kato petty in AS that I really like and wouldn’t hesitate to snag this one. His knives are more lightweight laserish, so the edge is more delicate. Here’s the more standard 8” / 210mm version in full stainless.

Some others to look at:
Saji Rainbow Damascus for something really striking in appearance, but you pay a premium for the appearance more than the performance.
Yoshikazu Tanaka - definitely on the higher end (and more expensive), most of his damascus is iron (i.e. not stainless) but I believe he has a stainless-clad damascus as well.
Kurosaki has some nice VG10 damascus but out of stock most everywhere.
I believe Shigeki Tanaka makes a nice stainless-clad damascus as well.
Tsunehisa / JCK Natures / Harukaze (?) are oem versions of the same manufacturer and make an inexpensive damascus generally in VG10.

My pick of the litter might actually be the Yoshikane Black Damascus mentioned previously. I have a Yoshi in SKD that I love, but my Kurosaki comes pretty close.
 

Jovidah

Vocal amateur
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
2,500
Reaction score
2,069
Location
Netherlands
Something to keep in mind is that most of the 'affordable' damascus knives are made of pre-made laminated billets. Performance wise it won't make a difference and it's purely from aesthethics, but given your background I can understand why in this case you still want to go for it.

I really like Dave's suggestion of going with DT but I'm not sure it'd fit in the budget or whether you could get on his list.
 

jedy617

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2019
Messages
499
Reaction score
1,044
Sukenari ZDP-189 Damascus would be a cool pick. A high end, interesting powdered metallurgy steel with a great profile and fantastic mirror finish. If you want something a little tougher, the SG2 would also be a great pick.

sukenari10.jpg
 

icanhaschzbrgr

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Messages
1,348
Reaction score
302
Location
‎‎‎
Do you want real Damascus or Damascus cladding is also an option?

Because if you want real Damascus, stainless... then your budget probably wouldn't allow it. Check out Damasteel prices to get an idea

But if you are ok with Damascus cladding, then there should be plenty of options. Not sure if new knife would be a better cutter than your misono :)
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
577
Reaction score
402
Within your budget, you're not going to find a better damascus chef's knife/gyuto than these two from our buy/sell/trade board:


 

Brian Heligman

New Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Location
Austin, Texas
From these initial comments, I am torn between the Yoshikane Black Damascus and the Saji Rainbow Damascus in the buy/sell/trade board.

From glancing at reviews on these boards, the Yoshi seems like the better knife from a technical perspective. But the Saji seems beautiful, and making multi-layered copper/metal composites was literally what I did for my thesis; given the damascus finish is all about aesthetics anyway, a knife that literally represents my PhD work is super attractive.

People complain about the chunkiness of Saji's blades and the distal taper, but given my more limited technical expertise would I even really notice? Or is this more of the type of thing only a true knife aficionado would notice when comparing these two blades.
 

captaincaed

(____((__________()~~~
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Messages
2,818
Reaction score
4,029
Location
Pacific Northwest
Hinoura and Mert Tansu have also done copper-family rainbow damascus knives. Upper tier makers, but could be worth it.
 

Jovidah

Vocal amateur
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
2,500
Reaction score
2,069
Location
Netherlands
I think Kurosaki has a rainbow damascus too? Or some other maker. If you look around you'll at least find a few more, Saji isn't the only one.
 

Delat

Dazed & Confused
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
999
Reaction score
2,078
Location
Phoenix
From these initial comments, I am torn between the Yoshikane Black Damascus and the Saji Rainbow Damascus in the buy/sell/trade board.

From glancing at reviews on these boards, the Yoshi seems like the better knife from a technical perspective. But the Saji seems beautiful, and making multi-layered copper/metal composites was literally what I did for my thesis; given the damascus finish is all about aesthetics anyway, a knife that literally represents my PhD work is super attractive.

People complain about the chunkiness of Saji's blades and the distal taper, but given my more limited technical expertise would I even really notice? Or is this more of the type of thing only a true knife aficionado would notice when comparing these two blades.

There’s several smiths working with rainbow damascus as pointed out. Saji does have a rep for being thick, but knives are personal - you might love it.

If you love the look of rainbow damascus then go for it. Be aware that the one on BST is 240mm or 9.5”, so it’s on the longer side but is definitely one of the prettier, more colorful ones I’ve seen.

If you can find a kurosaki rainbow damascus it would probably be a better cutter but even regular kurosakis are hard to find, never mind the elusive rainbow versions.

Here’s a few more to browse.

 

Brian Heligman

New Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Location
Austin, Texas
I'll keep thinking on it.

Found this one which seems wildly cool but I don't really think it makes sense to stretch my price range to that level


I really appreciate all of this feedback!

Was gonna stop by a restaurant store and try out a longer knife before making a final decision on the other one. I'm 5'11 and the forearm test and stuff all say 9.5" isn't crazy, so while it would be a longer knife it doesn't seem like it would be too far out of what I am accustomed to.
 

Nagakin

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
709
Reaction score
852
Location
Hell
Kemadi does copper damascus too. Dunno how their list works since I've only bought secondhand, but there was a sweet one for sale last year in budget that's worth inquiring with the maker about.

 

captaincaed

(____((__________()~~~
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Messages
2,818
Reaction score
4,029
Location
Pacific Northwest
I'll keep thinking on it.

Found this one which seems wildly cool but I don't really think it makes sense to stretch my price range to that level


I really appreciate all of this feedback!

Was gonna stop by a restaurant store and try out a longer knife before making a final decision on the other one. I'm 5'11 and the forearm test and stuff all say 9.5" isn't crazy, so while it would be a longer knife it doesn't seem like it would be too far out of what I am accustomed to.

9.5" aka 240mm is a great size for big prep work. It'll feel like a grown-up knife. It's a classic size
 

captaincaed

(____((__________()~~~
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Messages
2,818
Reaction score
4,029
Location
Pacific Northwest
I tried to love my 275 Kochi, just a bit too big. I think I'm maxing out at 260. #firstworldproblems

Also, some Tansu knife porn for the thread. Not my personal flavor, but I think it's a handsome example,of the style.

 

EShin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2020
Messages
134
Reaction score
330
Location
Osaka, Japan
I'll keep thinking on it.

Found this one which seems wildly cool but I don't really think it makes sense to stretch my price range to that level


I really appreciate all of this feedback!

Was gonna stop by a restaurant store and try out a longer knife before making a final decision on the other one. I'm 5'11 and the forearm test and stuff all say 9.5" isn't crazy, so while it would be a longer knife it doesn't seem like it would be too far out of what I am accustomed to.

If you stretch your price range, exclusivity (materials, availability etc.) and aesthetics (mainly fit & finish) will change but it doesn't seem like these are your primary concerns so it probably doesn't make sense, you're right. What might make sense though is to go for a bit a different knife than the Misono UX10 you currently own and that you might as well continue to use for certain tasks. In that case, a 240mm (9.5") could be a very good choice if you have enough space around your kitchen so that you don't tip it accidentally while washing or when quickly putting it down to move some other stuff. Like others, I'd go for the Yoshikane SLD or the Saji rainbow, quite different knives but either would be a very good choice!
 
Last edited:

Delat

Dazed & Confused
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
999
Reaction score
2,078
Location
Phoenix
If you’re not familiar with Damasteel, you might like the story behind it. AFAIK it’s the only powdered metal damascus, not made via forgewelding. Knives made from it are coreless, unlike the san-mai knives that’ve been suggested so far. Various custom makers also make their own coreless damascus as well via traditional forge welding. But in the coreless category you’re usually talking over 1k. Unfortunately you just missed a Damasteel on BST, I think it was going for $875 or thereabouts.

If you’re thinking about a 240mm, be sure to try one at a local store (e.g. Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table). The jump from a 7” is pretty significant, imho. I have a couple 240s, but 210 is still my go-to unless I specifically need the extra length.
 

Michi

I'm having a status just so I don't have no status
Joined
Jan 13, 2019
Messages
4,566
Reaction score
8,977
Location
Brisbane, Australia
If you’re thinking about a 240mm, be sure to try one at a local store (e.g. Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table). The jump from a 7” is pretty significant, imho. I have a couple 240s, but 210 is still my go-to unless I specifically need the extra length.
I second that. 240 mm is nice. If you have a large work area and are preparing food for four or more people. The jump from 210 to 240 is surprisingly large, and the knife will feel huge when you first handle it. Most of the time, I find a 210 mm more convenient and more than adequate.

Going to a store and holding both a 210 and a 240 is a really good suggestion. It might save you a big disappointment later.
 

Matt Jacobs

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
305
Reaction score
421
Location
Washington
I'll keep thinking on it.

Found this one which seems wildly cool but I don't really think it makes sense to stretch my price range to that level


I really appreciate all of this feedback!

Was gonna stop by a restaurant store and try out a longer knife before making a final decision on the other one. I'm 5'11 and the forearm test and stuff all say 9.5" isn't crazy, so while it would be a longer knife it doesn't seem like it would be too far out of what I am accustomed to.
Epic edge has Saji Rainbow at the best pricing I have seen in multiple sizes
 
Top