Full Review: Takamura Chromax 210mm

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ModRQC

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Finally!

I’ve been looking at these for a long while, but letting them pass. What was available in Canada was either SG2 or VG-10 when branded Takamura. A whole lot more of the same from Hitohira, plus a few of the Chromax line with the cheap western handle. But the Brown Pakka Takamura Chromax line was elusive.


0000.jpg
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I was still long to come to a decision when a diligent Canadian KKF member, who had shortcut all my vain lookout and gone direct for the C**G 210mm unit, proposed it for sale. IDK why but I thought this maker would shine best with a 180mm unit, as a sort of easy all-around utility-Gyuto that would just breeze through anything brought its way. But… after willing myself not to grab it a fair few times, at one point I just went for it.

Incidentally as I’m writing this Knifewear has one stock. They may have for a while too, I don’t shop there often…

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I’m not convinced anymore it would be ideal if any shorter. It pretty much works splendidly just like that. It recalls me of “generic shape” 210/46 Yo Guytos I owned and liked to better or lesser extents – which quite possibly played into me wanting to rather try the shorter length if that – but it makes much more sense than most, and the mistake of all my fussing about them was precisely in thinking that I was right to think it’d just be another one of these.

Takamura’s design is distinctively genuine much more than generic, the first of such knives that strikes me as the original kind (pretty solid backstory to that shop too) all others try to imitate, perfected to surprisingly acute standards for the price. Seemingly following pretty stringent criteria of both form and function, it’s a perfect cutter out of the box that also is quite undoubtedly the cheapest line of knives with that kind of performance and that kind of HT to that kind of a nice steel and stellar F&F, any competition counted in.

Is it
really good though?
 

ModRQC

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The Past:
001_Past.jpg

From Top to Bottom: Masahiro VC 208/46 181g 125$ CAD, JCK Deep Impact 213/46 180g 225$ CAD, Morihei Hisamoto INOX 209/46 163g 145$ CAD, Masakane Vintage SK 215/46 158g 120$ CAD. Not picturing Zwilling Diplôme 200/46 155$ CAD and Misono Swedish Carbon 220/44 190$ CAD as to stick to something closer to the 210/46 generic but… yeah, seen a few. Two first were with me for a good while, so showing them at some intermediary stage of all the work I’ve done on them as to set them apart. For who may wonder, Takamura Chromax price range is pretty similar to Deep Impact of the same length.

Below, our main contender – in flesh & specs:
002_Start.jpg


MAKER
Takamura
TYPE & LENGTH
Gyuto 210mm
STEEL & BLADE
Chromax SS Clad
FINISH
Tsuchime
WEIGHT / BALANCE
160g / +5
HANDLE MATERIAL
Pakka / Half tang with bolster
TOTAL LENGTH​
338​
BLADE LENGTH​
212​
EDGE LENGTH​
212
HEIGHT AT HEEL​
45
HEIGHT AT MID BLADE​
37​
HEIGHT 35mm TO TIP​
23​
SPINE
THICKNESS
HEEL​
1.8
MID BLADE​
1.7​
35mm TO TIP​
1.6​
10mm TO TIP​
0.7
EDGE THICKNESS
@ 10 / 5 / 1mm over
HEEL + 10mm​
0.9 / 0.5 / < 0.1​
MID BLADE​
0.8 / 0.4 / < 0.1​
35mm TO TIP​
0.8 / 0.4 / < 0.1​
TIP​
0.8 / 0.4 / < 0.1​


Handle: 0.5/1

Fit vs. Balance

I veered towards a full point almost as much as the actual score.

003_Handle.jpg


There really is very little to say. I registered a few complaints about it being too small, but to me that’s far from being its problem. One or two rivet holes might be a bit too wide for the actual rivet. Bolster is a bit sharp. A bit plastic feeling, but it’s generously lacquered, so that could be modified. It’s quite a nice handle quite nicely integrated, while the knife still has a clear forward-the-bolster balance that is rare and welcomed.

However, that sharp bolster is really average; not that the bulk really does better, but better there is in my experience: Deep Impact has a smoother, more welcoming bolster, the same clear forward-it balance, a bit more space at the neck still, and with all of that blows the Takamura handle away and would have been full score. As a side note, Zwilling Diplôme isn’t nearly half bad for comfort, especially the bolster. Their view of balance and space at neck is a bit offset backwards and forwards though.

And thus that half-point was removed. I’d just suggest to find a way of using the welded bolster as to thicken the spine a bit at pinch while giving some more comfortable spine taper out of the bolster? Just that would be a tremendous improvement. Rest could be dealt with easily to smooth things out


Blade: 0.5/1
Acuteness vs. Comfort

Acuteness is outstanding, that blade can really put any high-end streamlined one at shame. Comfort is fidgety as to find a nice pinch, where the spine and choil feel rather sharp too. I got that one pictured below that suits it well: being a nimble laser of outstanding abilities, it really doesn’t require much force nor momentum to most cuts, and that grip avoids pressure on the angular spots.

004_Blade.jpg

In my usual “blade” picture (above), all sharp angles intersect and can rather easily be distinguished; in the pinch grip pictured below, balance is at pinch.

Good news is that there is absolutely no flex with that very narrow blade. For that matter, Morihei Hisamoto and Masakane were no favorites of mine precisely because too flexy. I found a way to hammer-pinch it that was okay too. Any position required some adjustments from a truly natural grip towards finding some comfort zone, but not in excessive ways. I’d say, none of its competition does much of anything better, and most do worse: Deep Impact’s choil was rough with a wedge of steel protruding right where your finger wanted to nestle, and so much could be said of a few of the other ones; none at all figuring much work towards any easing of spine or choil outside of a somewhat rough cutting and grinding to shape. Zwilling Diplôme was a bit more polished than average, but only so.

Spine is neatly finished but sharp, choil is very well smoothed, but the narrowness of the blade itself makes for most of the discomfort and would require more rounding and smoothing at the sensible spots – possibly without ever completely alleviating some of the sharpness felt. So once again there isn’t much to say really, but still it can’t warrant a full score despite being outstandingly well cut, ground and finished.


Finish: 1/1

Craft vs. Usage

Working towards high standards really starts to shine against most competition in the end: truly, no other blade of its pricepoint will offer nearly as much focus there in my experience. No hairline the quality of Sukenari or Konosuke, but it’s always a matter of price too, and in its range Takamura vertical polish is really neat.

005_Finish.jpg


Finish plays nice with food release and is easy to clean, while the primary beveling is very well defined for whenever a bit of maintenance thinning is due, so that all in all, it rocks the maintenance aspect as best as can be. Here, the tsuchime adding to the great work carried throughout really deserves a full point, especially for the price. Common and rather plain perhaps, but very well done like the rest. Supposedly, the shop was the first to come up with a hammered finish back in the days.


Grind: 2/2
Geometry vs. Performance

006_Profile.jpg


As we could gather from the specs, there’s no spinal taper here until getting to the grind nearing the tip. For a blade that’s less than 2mm thick to start with, there wouldn’t be much point to it in any case. Quite the laser for sure. Profile is pretty typical of this Gyuto shape, with very little flat spot; here we can still appreciate that the belly is very gradual, which makes that flat spot we see in the picture also present backward and forward the blade some too, depending on the angle of approach.

007_Choil.jpg


Admittedly, I’ve seen a few of these with “lesser grinds”. I’d say it has a tendency to happen more with the VG-10 lines or the cheap Hitohira Chromax, very loosely based on vendors pics. With these units, most common is that the grind will be somehow flatter which may impair food release. A few seem ground a bit out of symmetry, which is pretty common with J-knives of all trades. Fact is that with a thin blade, “somehows” and “bits” can alter the cutting experience quite noticeably, so I can’t be entirely sure, but if you get one that is exactly like above, it’s a tremendously good, slightly convexed wide bevel geometry with excellent food separation and good food release in its category. Primary beveling is impressively consistent and the overall geometry highly well defined.

008_GrindRS.jpg
009_GrindLS.jpg


Deep Impact could do well but it was mostly flat with rather poor food release, and nowhere near as good a cutter without a good deal of thinning. Masahiro was more interesting with a very asymmetrical convex grind, which was thick as hell behind the edge but worth the thinning work with great cutting and great food release; however OOTB it’s a very crude knife. Zwilling Diplôme was a more or less concave and asymmetrical “V-grind” that performed average. Morihei Hisamoto was ground almost ura-flat on the left side with a pronounced asymmetrical edge, and steered like crazy OOTB. Masakane was a very thin “ I “ with an obtuse edge bevel. I’m not impressed with Misono and I much preferred the Masahiro if that: Misono is a lesser convex with slightly better F&F. This is what I mean when I say Takamura makes sense: compare this geometry here to just about any offer of its price range and its clarity and purposefulness are undeniable. Even a “lesser grind” as described above would put its direct competition to shame, and would still hold its ground against many units twice its price.

Overall Score: 4/5

010_End.jpg
 

ModRQC

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Personal take: Yeah… it is good. It defines its target price as much as it shatters it: not perfect, but a stunningly well-made knife with outstanding cutting abilities. Most of the Takamura “imperfections” are rather a result of its inclination as a thin laser blade than from a lack of proper care, which can’t be said of any other I compared it with in this review.
 

Chang

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I've been debating between grabbing a 210 Deep Impact or this Takamura as a cheaper beater line knife, so this reviews helps me tremendously. Thanks!
 

ModRQC

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Beater go Deep Impact without a doubt. Work that thicker edge to withstand your abuse, convex it a good deal, and you’ll find good mileage and food behavior with it. Tak is a pure laser and turning it to a beater is likely to necessitate a toll on blade width you won’t be happy with when starting 210/ barely over 45. Deep Impact was a comfy 46-47mm high and thick enough to leave room for some personal improvments on bte geometry.
 

ModRQC

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If you want a cheap carbon beater for home use my vote is rather a Masahiro VC 240mm. But for any PROlonged use, Deep Impact of the length of your choosing.

Warning: Deep Impact is not easy to thin. Go rough stones on the bevel and still -400 for any direct bte fine work. Masahiro is thicker, and will need more touch ups, but it comes cutting clean out of anything beyond spitting on it, and it will be a true beater once you fine tune it, with outstanding food release. For half the price, it's a righteous contender. Softer steel goes well for a beater, and you'll be surprised: it's darn good steel HT.
 

M1k3

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I've been debating between grabbing a 210 Deep Impact or this Takamura as a cheaper beater line knife, so this reviews helps me tremendously. Thanks!
If you don't need something more tank-like, the Chromax is a good option. Otherwise I'd go with something else.
 
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pavhav

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Thanks for the thorough review. And I'm a little bit in love with your cutting board - someone took great care arranging those blocks.
 

ModRQC

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Thanks for the thorough review. And I'm a little bit in love with your cutting board - someone took great care arranging those blocks.
Made in Canada by Larchwood Co. Guess what it’s made of… 🤪

It has the most satisfying and delicate edge contact feedback I ever used, especially with very thin and acute edges.

Mind you, other end grain I own are cheap. I’m sure it’s nothing so special compared with any good quality board.
 

ModRQC

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If you don't need something more tank-like, the Chromax is a good option. Otherwise I'd go with something else.
BTW for how long did you own one and use it professionally? Your POV is much more interesting than mine… Did that very thin edge hold well to repeated kitchen « abuse »? Any anecdotal **** happened to it that may enlighten as to how tough it is? What did you use it for in preference of other blades?
 

M1k3

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BTW for how long did you own one and use it professionally? Your POV is much more interesting than mine… Did that very thin edge hold well to repeated kitchen « abuse »? Any anecdotal **** happened to it that may enlighten as to how tough it is? What did you use it for in preference of other blades?
I used it on the line. About 1 1/2-2 years. Mainly slicing stuff to be plated. Some prep. I didn't find it chippy. I didn't sharpen it at an extremely low angle, just normal 15 or so degrees. For a laser, it's tough.
 
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phoka

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Thanks for spending time writing the review, very informative!
 

Hz_zzzzzz

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This knife is the best laser out of all the Takamuras, Shibatas, and Sakai monosteel lasers I've tried in terms of the combination of food separation and food release. It also feels stiffer than the Takamura R2. And it's also the cheapest out of all these. If you can get used to the tiny handle and tiny blade (compared to a regular 240), it's simply amazing.
 

ModRQC

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It was pretty amazing. Now making a fellow KKFer/Canadian happier than it could make me. Or I hope.
 

Jason183

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After been using this knife for the past 3 months straight in pro environment. My impression went down a little bit.

I was really impressed by the ease of sharpening ability and edge retention. I was able to work it through the first 2 months without serious stone sharpening, only maintened by stroping.

But after I sharpened it on 1-8k stones(It gets to the dull point where constant stroping won’t work much anymore) Just liked the Blue 1 and Blue super I’ve tried, it won’t get any sharper quicker than the white steel knives I had.

I would probably rerank it behind my White#1 Lasers. It’s still a super fun knife to have for 210mm or under range tho.
 

M1k3

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After been using this knife for the past 3 months straight in pro environment. My impression went down a little bit.

I was really impressed by the ease of sharpening ability and edge retention. I was able to work it through the first 2 months without serious stone sharpening, only maintened by stroping.

But after I sharpened it on 1-8k stones(It gets to the dull point where constant stroping won’t work much anymore) Just liked the Blue 1 and Blue super I’ve tried, it won’t get any sharper quicker than the white steel knives I had.

I would probably rerank it behind my White#1 Lasers. It’s still a super fun knife to have for 210mm or under range tho.
The steel in it isn't as simple as White steels. Hence the semi-stainless nature of the steel versus White steel.
 

ModRQC

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On the other hand A2 is so easy and satisfying to sharpen and keeps a keen demeanor that much longer that I hardly see the point.
 

Jason183

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On the other hand A2 is so easy and satisfying to sharpen and keeps a keen demeanor that much longer that I hardly see the point.
That’s what I thought during the first two months of use. But Ever since I got rid of that OOTB edge, I have to refresh Takamura Chromax’s edge once a week now, which is the same amount of holding time as my white 1 laser.
 

ModRQC

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So you sharpened it more acutely is what you're saying? But if it cut alright the two first months, perhaps you need to reestablish a bit more obtuse of an angle? It's usually reverse case scenario: ootb edges if any good aren’t the most lasting.
 

Hz_zzzzzz

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That’s what I thought during the first two months of use. But Ever since I got rid of that OOTB edge, I have to refresh Takamura Chromax’s edge once a week now, which is the same amount of holding time as my white 1 laser.
Just saying you might want to work on the sharpening method to match the OOTB edge retention. I’m thinking of foil edge or wire/burr edge given that it doesn’t hold.
 

ModRQC

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Or then again if you finish super fine then perhaps White will behave better. Simpler steel are more tolerant of refinement… to a point.
 

kpham12

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After been using this knife for the past 3 months straight in pro environment. My impression went down a little bit.

I was really impressed by the ease of sharpening ability and edge retention. I was able to work it through the first 2 months without serious stone sharpening, only maintened by stroping.

But after I sharpened it on 1-8k stones(It gets to the dull point where constant stroping won’t work much anymore) Just liked the Blue 1 and Blue super I’ve tried, it won’t get any sharper quicker than the white steel knives I had.

I would probably rerank it behind my White#1 Lasers. It’s still a super fun knife to have for 210mm or under range tho.
I read somewhere that the Takamura factory edge is really acute, like 9 degrees per side, so you could try recreating that if it’s not too fragile. Also, like they said above, an 8K edge might be a bit refined for A2/SKD to hold for a long time. I think the red handled R2/SG2 version comes with a 4000 grit factory edge and there’s a video of one of the Takamura brothers fixing a Takamura Pro and he stops at like 3000 grit so you could try something in that neighborhood.
 
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Benuser

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A factory edge isn't necessarily meant to be used as such. Obviously, a 9° per side won't hold, supposed the steel taking it and remaining stable. See such an edge as a service to the end-user to allow him to put his own one on it with only a few strokes. By the way, what kind of steel is that Chromax? Couldn't find information on it with Z-knives.
 

esoo

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Canada, eh?
If you read just before the table, they call it Cromax

 

kpham12

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A factory edge isn't necessarily meant to be used as such. Obviously, a 9° per side won't hold, supposed the steel taking it and remaining stable. See such an edge as a service to the end-user to allow him to put his own one on it with only a few strokes. By the way, what kind of steel is that Chromax? Couldn't find information on it with Z-knives.
I think chromax is what they call their A2/SKD equivalent. I agree 9 degrees per side is a bit on the low side, but the user I was replying to said he used the factory edge for two months and it held up fine with just stropping to refresh the edge.
 

ModRQC

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Chromax is A2 - same composition except I believe a bit higher manganese range. Which doesn’t mean anything much in those proportions I remember asking Larrin about it. Or did I?
 

ModRQC

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