Fredrik Spåre Impressions

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timebard

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It's here...

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Haven't had a chance to use it yet, but since there's been a lot of discussion as people get their orders from his Modern Cooking collab, I thought I'd put up a thread with first impressions. In no particular order:

- It's quite light and nimble feeling in hand but still has a good solidity to it.
- The tip is wicked thin and pointy. Definitely looking forward to horizontal onion swipes with this guy.
- I'm digging the handle shape and weight. I like dense, solid handles but also prefer a forward balance AND dramatic distal taper; this feels like a great compromise between those competing priorities. Feels good in hand and I don't think the shorter neck will be an issue for me.
- The hamon pops more than I expected from photos, which is great!
- I was a little worried the sweep back of the heel would be too dramatic and liable to catch on everything, but I don't think that'll be the case.

Can't wait to put it to use.

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esoo

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I'm down for batch 2 of these, so will be watching this thread.
 

tomsch

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Thanks for the initial review and look forward to updates. I'll be on the look-out for the next batch but it may be a challenge to pick one up.
 

timebard

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So I'm working from home today and was way too impatient to wait all day to try it out...

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Made a quick cucumber tomato salad with shallots. This thing can ***** cut! I had heard Spare's knives tend to come with poor initial edges but I can say that is definitely not the case with this one. Over ripe tomatoes were no problem, murdered the shallot, great feel in use. I had tried to rein in my expectations for performance on this purchase but that clearly wasn't necessary.
 

Delat

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I’m expecting one from batch 2 in January as well so very excited to hear about both the MCX and his regular work.
 

tostadas

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I have one of the 230mm ones from the MCX. Here's my initial observations

Dimensions
234x53, 185g. 3.5mm/2.6mm/0.7mm spine. Grind behind edge at midpoint 0.25mm/0.7mm/1.1mm/1.7mm (@1mm/5mm/10mm/20mm), fully convex on both sides, and tapering from heel to tip. The grind is pretty similar to my Watanabe SS. The profile is slightly flatter than average. The flat spot in the back is approx 40-50% of the blade length, and a very slight rise toward the tip.

Fit and Finish
F&F on this guy is one of the best I've seen. There are no rough edges on the blade, and the finish on the blade is simple horizontal sanding. Handle feels really nice. Dense bog oak, a spacer of some sort, and a brass ferrule, all perfectly transitioned. The handle is only 121mm long, compared to 135-145mm which I normally see on this length of blade, but it works perfectly to balance the knife about 25mm forward of the choil notch. That brings me to my one main gripe about the knife, which is the distance between the handle and the choil notch. It's really short, which makes the grip feel kinda cramped. I think a little bit of adjustment to the notch by grinding it another couple mm would make this perfect.

Overall
My expectations were high, and this exceeded them. This is really a complete package that can easily stand toe to toe with knives I've had in the $500 range. Grind is perfect for me, dimensions are excellent, and the fit and finish are well above average. A couple minor tweaks such as on the choil clearance, and maybe some polishing to bring out the hamon will make this even better. I have another custom already lined up with Fredrik, and I can't wait to see what other stuff he puts out in the future.
 

Rainman890

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Man, I really am sorry I missed out on this drop. I have two customs from him:

180 bunka in 2092 Steel. I asked for a more workhorse grind, and I got it. I love this thing. It's a bit taller than the other bunka I have (Yoshimi Kato AS), but this thing cuts so nice. Out of the box edge was a bit odd, but I touched it up on a Roma 3k, and it just flew through whatever I put on my cutting board. The 2092 steel is crazy reactive, but I have a nice patina now. I'm still new at this game, but cutting with it just makes me happy, so I guess that's a good thing.

Cleaver (180?) In 1.2419. It's my first cleaver, and I love it too. It's a Chinese style cleaver, so it's thin. I used it to make cole slaw, and it flew through the cabbage. I really like cleavers now...

Overall, I am super happy with them, and am thinking of ordering another one from him because of all the excitement. But I really want to try some other western makers. The upside of Spåre is that his books are still open, and you can actually get knives from him. It seems impossible everywhere else...
 

tomsch

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Thanks for sharing the progress! I'll be on the hunt when the next batch is released. I'm a little soothed since my Yoshi 210mm SDK arrived today to keep me busy for the near term until I can pick up a Fredrik Spare.
 
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timebard

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How's the stiction and food release?
Honestly I don't pay that much attention to release as a home user unless it's particularly bad, which this one is not. If I had to evaluate I'd say "about the same as other convex midweight gyutos" e.g. Toyama or Kipp WP.
 

birdsfan

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Great review from @tostadas! I used my MCX 230 today for a full shift. Made 2 soups, so cut about 10 lbs of onion, 5 hefty carrots, a head of celery, 3 lbs of bell pepper and some raw beef, and 5 lbs of mushrooms. Also made some slaw so I got to take the Spare to some fairly dense cabbage (though I used my Zwilling to cut the chunk off the head)

Some reactions:

I LOVED the handle. I am partial to heart shaped handles to begin, so there is bias. I thought it might be a little small, but it was very comfortable through a morning of intense cutting. It has a fairly textured finsh that made me thing of a finer grained burnt chestnut. Even when my hand was wet or greasy, the grip was solid. I replace the handle on just about every knife I buy (cuz I like to make cool handles for them) but I will not be swapping out this one. The F&F, and the general asthetics, coupled with great performance, makes this a keeper. The short neck didnt really bother me, the spine and choil are nicely eased so there was no biting edge, but I can get how that short neck could disrupt a grip.

The tip is very pointy and nice and thin. Horizontal onion cuts were effortless and the shallow tip made it easy to draw though my beef cuts. It has good distal taper. I would put it in the middleweight range in terms of how sturdy it feels, It felt authoritative on the big ol' carrots that I intentionally selected, and on the fairly dense quarter head of cabbage. Overall, it exceeded my expectations as a cutter, after my test cuts from yesterday. @Corradobrit1 asked about food release and stiction. Stiction didnt impede cutting, even through the wet beef. Food release was middling. It is a wide bevel knife with little or no convexity. Food tends to cling to the blade until it reaches the top of the grind. It doesnt have the food release issues of a Sakai laser, but it doesnt shed cuts like Heiji. Food release issues did not impede my cutting, except for a little when I rocked. Which brings me to my only criticism of the knife. The gentle curve at the tip of the profile allows for a rock cut, but the heel gave a yoshikanesque thunk at the bottom of the rock. Not as bad as a Yoshi, mind you, should one lapse into an ill advised rock, but it was there. It didnt affect any of my cutting. Things I usually rock through, celery and carrot stalks, I continued to rock through, but if I could define my ideal profile, I might want the heel to sweep a bit, if that makes sense. For push cuts, and draws, it was freaking awesome!

Obviously I had no need to freshen the edge, since it was only one day, so I can't speak to edge retention or sharpening characteristics, but the steel was not super reactive. It developed an attractive patina, with blue and orange hues.

On the whole, I am very pleased. It punches waaaaay above its weight! Part of me wants to insert it into my regular rotation, yet another part of me just wants to polish it so I can enjoy it's beauty on my rack.
 

tostadas

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A short update after using it to prep almost 10lbs of root veggies for soup.

Food release is similar to any thin midweight grind knife. There were no stiction issues. When I checked with a straightedge, my example seems to have a gentle convex along the entire blade face. It goes through regular size carrots with ease, but on the larger ones, there's an ever so slight cracking throughout the cut. No wedging though. Balance is great, sort of neutral right at the pinch grip. Overall performance is excellent. I think it will only improve as the knife develops some patina.

The handle is a little bit narrower than normal at 18mm (compared to 20-22mm that I typically prefer), but makes up for it in some extra height, giving it a similar overall circumference. I found the handle to be very comfortable in use in terms of dimensions and material. The bog oak provides a nice amount of grip due to the texture. I found that the initial handle coating came off after the first wash, so I think it was a simple wax and buff. With the wax gone, I think the handle feels a bit dry, so I will probably apply some sort of oil on it, maybe smooth out some of the splinters with a scotch brite pad and apply a few thin coats of Tru Oil.

My main gripe is still the short grip clearance at the choil. I can adjust my grip to make it work, but I may have to eventually grind it down a tad in order to correct it. I don't know if this was standard from the maker, or if this was a special design choice by the vendor. I can compare when I get my custom from Fredrik, where I left most of these kind of design decisions up to him.
 

JayS20

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Totally get you @birdsfan regarding profile and heel, seems we have similar preferences.
Would like to see some photos of the short grip clearance and how you hold it @tostadas
I have been following Spare's work since the days he only posted in Swedish. I was intrigued and ordered a custom from him. He asked me several times about dimensions and profile alterations and I also told him how I would like the handle regarding shape and materials. Great custom experience, great guy.
This is one of his earlier knives
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The fit and finish was already really good back then and I recommended his knives to some guys. Happy he grew his customer list. I also ordered another one from him. Curious how much he evolved.
 

Jville

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So is it convex or wide bevel? I was under the impression it was convened.
 

timebard

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technically both.

the shinogi is VERY high though, think Shi.Han.
Seems about right. There is some convexity in the back ~60% of mine, mostly in the last cm above the edge, then more or less flat past the hamon up to the last cm or so before the spine. As you get towards the tip the convexity more or less disappears. So yes, it's convex, but not really fully convex up the whole grind (or if it is it's really subtle).
 

birdsfan

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I just took a straight edge out to look at mine. On mine there is subtle convexity up the whole length of the grind. I could really see it looking down the choil, but the straight edge shows its there.
 

Dull_Apex

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For those with the MCX version, could you please measure the neck length. I'm curious as to how short it is with all the comments.

Thanks.
 

Barmoley

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My 250‘s neck is 11.4 mm. It is not just that the neck is a bit short, but it feels shorter because the choil curves back to the handle making it feel even shorter. It is fine unless you like deep pinch grip where your middle finger is against the choil. Other than this the knife looks to be very well made, definitely very impressive for the price.
 

xsmx13

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My observation falls very much in line with what others have posted, though perhaps the neck is even a bit shorter checking in at a 10.5mm neck length (250mm version). I'll see how it feels after a larger meal prep, but initially it still feels comfortable and I really like the profile.

As for the grind, it appears to have a mild convex across the majority of the profile until it really tapers down towards the tip.

Overall, this feels very nimble and much shorter than the actual length very much like a similarly sized Kamon. That said, this cost less than 1/3 the price (which I would pay again in a heart beat!).
 
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timebard

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Regarding neck measurements, mine is about 11.5mm ferrule to heel. I checked five other wa gyutos to compare and measured 13mm-21mm, with all but one at least 15mm. I haven't found it a problem in use (and I do use a choked up pinch grip), but it's an odd choice in an otherwise really thoughtfully designed knife. I do think it makes for a more nimble feel but a neck that extends the full width of the handle on the bottom might make it more ergonomic... though then that moves the balance backwards a hair. Tradeoffs!
 
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