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MSicardCutlery

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First thing up, my very first gyuto. 240x45, W2, ebony, brass, and some pyritic serpentine/quartz as a spacer
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MSicardCutlery

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Your first gyuto was a honyaki? Props

Thanks, but I had made a few knives with hamons before that one....as well as many knife shaped objects that became pieces of knife shaped objects in the quench before those 🤫

Something about that "tink" curdles my blood
 
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MSicardCutlery

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My first good damascus blade, a carving knife made from 29 layers of steel twisted 8 times. It was a combo of old sawmill blade (15n20), some high tensile steel strapping (1026 or 1045, I calculated the overall carbon content assuming it was 1026), and some commercial 1095 flat bar. The spacers are brass and nickel, and the handle is stabilized maple burl. The final carbon content of the billet should have landed between .70% and .75%. Tempered to 350f it would still skate a 63hrc file. The final blade length was around 10".

This was done before I had a press and I did the entirety of the welding and drawing by hand.

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MSicardCutlery

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My most current project. I haven't done a batch of more than 3 knives in a while. These are all 52100. The more I use 52100 that more I like it, it's a remarkably well balanced steel for its simplicity. It's easy to grind and sharpen, it gets really hard, and it's quite tough for a hypereutectoid low alloy steel.

These will be my first ever bunka, and my first suji in over a year. I Still remember how many times I got cut on the first one I made, it was a 260, or a 265, and narrow, 38mm with a fast taper, it was needle like. There wasn't much blade to hold on to and it seemed for a while like I couldn't pick it up without bleeding. It was a record for me, 7-8 cuts I think, still the customer was happy, and he swears he's never had a sharper or more effortlessly cutting knife in his life, so all in all it was worth it.
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M1k3

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I agree. I think 52100 is a really good simpler carbon steel.
 

timebard

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Are you planning to do any work with thicker stock? I like the look of the simple AEBL/52100 blades you're producing but I'm not really picking up laser/lightweight gyutos these days. Just curious and good luck with this batch!
 

MSicardCutlery

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Not immediately, mostly just because I have stock for another....2 dozen or so blades at .093" before I need to make another order of steel. Just out of curiosity, what do you envision by thicker, 3mm, 5mm at the neck? Full taper to laser-like dimensions at the tip (<1mm @1cm and so on), or more robust blades?

And thanks, it's coming along swimmingly.
 

timebard

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Not immediately, mostly just because I have stock for another....2 dozen or so blades at .093" before I need to make another order of steel. Just out of curiosity, what do you envision by thicker, 3mm, 5mm at the neck? Full taper to laser-like dimensions at the tip (<1mm @1cm and so on), or more robust blades?

And thanks, it's coming along swimmingly.

Good question. I just measured several of my favorite 210-240 gyutos (Kippington, Dalman, Kono MM, Spare, Yoshikane) and they're very consistently right in the 3 to 3.5mm range above the heel, and about 3.25 to 4.25mm out of the handle. Below 3mm I tend to find most knives too light and insubstantial to cut as aggressively as heavier but thin behind the edge midweights.

I definitely prefer some distal taper, but I think there's a place for both intense taper to a really thin tip (think <0.75mm at 1cm) and more moderate taper (1-1.25mm at same) that still works reasonably well for fine work but are sturdier. The Shihan I had a little while ago was a good example of the latter--not a super thin tip but also not thick and wedgy like a Toyama, for example.
 

MSicardCutlery

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Good question. I just measured several of my favorite 210-240 gyutos (Kippington, Dalman, Kono MM, Spare, Yoshikane) and they're very consistently right in the 3 to 3.5mm range above the heel, and about 3.25 to 4.25mm out of the handle. Below 3mm I tend to find most knives too light and insubstantial to cut as aggressively as heavier but thin behind the edge midweights.

I definitely prefer some distal taper, but I think there's a place for both intense taper to a really thin tip (think <0.75mm at 1cm) and more moderate taper (1-1.25mm at same) that still works reasonably well for fine work but are sturdier. The Shihan I had a little while ago was a good example of the latter--not a super thin tip but also not thick and wedgy like a Toyama, for example.

Hey thanks for the detailed reply, a little information goes a long way for me right now. I had no idea people were even interested in thicker knives, most of the posts I've seen talk only about lasers. I'll definitely keep this in mind whenever I get around to drawing down some of the O1 stock I have, and this oroshigane knife I started...eesh...3 years ago.
 

M1k3

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Hey thanks for the detailed reply, a little information goes a long way for me right now. I had no idea people were even interested in thicker knives, most of the posts I've seen talk only about lasers. I'll definitely keep this in mind whenever I get around to drawing down some of the O1 stock I have, and this oroshigane knife I started...eesh...3 years ago.
Lasers can be cool. But the thin spine at the pinch grip can get uncomfortable, especially for those that work in restaurants. And for some ingredients, having some weight to it can help, especially when cutting a lot of it.

We all have our own preferences though.
 

timebard

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Hey thanks for the detailed reply, a little information goes a long way for me right now. I had no idea people were even interested in thicker knives, most of the posts I've seen talk only about lasers. I'll definitely keep this in mind whenever I get around to drawing down some of the O1 stock I have, and this oroshigane knife I started...eesh...3 years ago.
Lasers can be cool. But the thin spine at the pinch grip can get uncomfortable, especially for those that work in restaurants. And for some ingredients, having some weight to it can help, especially when cutting a lot of it.

We all have our own preferences though.

Definitely worth emphasizing that all of this is a matter of preference. Some people love lasers and thin midweights, some people want big beefy workhorses, some people like stuff in the middle or a little bit of all the above.

It can hard to tell what's most popular vs what just gets attention, but if you spend some time watching what moves fast/commands high prices on BST, I think you'll see heavier/ workhorse knives (or the thick heel/thin tip hybrid style a la Mazaki, Kamon etc) are well represented in the most in-demand segment.
 

MSicardCutlery

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Ages ago, or seemingly now, (April 2019) I started working on a hearth steel knife. The process for making hearth steel is not unlike that of bloomery steel, but it's usually a smaller enterprise, and done with either scraps of steel, or chunks of bloomery iron instead of ore. The Japanese did this to carburize steel and turn tamahagane into oroshigane for use in blades.

This stack is much higher than it needs to be but it worked, and turned a bunch of plugs from an industrial hole puncher into a blistering mass of carburized steel.
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That's the end reult of the smelt sitting on a 175lb anvil next to my old 4lb hammer. A massive thing, I needed to make a set of tongs especially for it. It weighed almost 10 lbs, and lost about 4 lbs by the time I got it consolidated.

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The consolidated mass. It took ages to work it down, and working steel like this is like trying to manipulate hot shorting copper or lead, it just wants to crumble and crack. It has to be babied a lot at first, but eventually it starts to act like steel. The plus side is it welds very easily so fixing breaks isn't too hard.

Keep in mind I was doing all this by had at the time, and that's at least a 6lb block of steel. I remember one arming an 8lb sledge for a while to try and get it to move, but eventually ended up cutting it in half, and then halving one of the halves to work by hand. After that I put the project on hiatus for a while.
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Last December a 30ton press arrived in my shop so I resumed working on it. I realized that my initial melt was way too high in carbon, probably near 2% so I made another smaller melt to make a lower carbon mass to integrate into the first and work things down to a saner range, and started refining the steel. In order from the top, is the low carbon billet, and two high carbon billets. The top two have had 6 folds, the bottom only two. After 4 more folds I'll integrate them all together and fold them another 4-6 times, possibly cut and stack them 3 at a time, for a total layer count in the 8k-20k range.

Originally the plan was to make a proper tanto with this steel, but the way things have been going I may use it to make a gyuto or a suji if I have enough steel. It if turns out to be too low in carbon by the end for either I'll probably use it as cladding around a shallow hardening steel core, most likely W2.
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Lasers can be cool. But the thin spine at the pinch grip can get uncomfortable, especially for those that work in restaurants. And for some ingredients, having some weight to it can help, especially when cutting a lot of it.

We all have our own preferences though.

Continuing with this thought... I'm not convinced that laser performance needs to equal bulimic spines. Surely Yoshikane delivers outstanding slicing while retaining a thicker top side. My Watanabe Pro is thick out of the handle as is an Ittetsu X-Hammer (SHARP's house brand so not sure of the actual maker) that comes out of the handle with almost a flat shelf before tapering off.

I think if you can find a balance of thicker at the handle area for comfort but still tapering enough to give that laser-like performance, that is a sweet spot for many folks.
 

MSicardCutlery

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Continuing with this thought... I'm not convinced that laser performance needs to equal bulimic spines.


I've wondered this myself. It seems there's a point at which the weigh reduction from a thinner spine begins to impact the handling characteristics of the knife such as to make it feel like it requires more effort to use. I think there's probably a case to be made for "felt" laser-likeness vs perhaps a repeatably measurable amount of force required to complete a given cut in much the same way there is "felt" recoil, vs the actual calculable recoil of a given firearm.
 

M1k3

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I've wondered this myself. It seems there's a point at which the weigh reduction from a thinner spine begins to impact the handling characteristics of the knife such as to make it feel like it requires more effort to use. I think there's probably a case to be made for "felt" laser-likeness vs perhaps a repeatably measurable amount of force required to complete a given cut in much the same way there is "felt" recoil, vs the actual calculable recoil of a given firearm.
Super flat beveled lasers also tend to have high friction on dense foods. Increasing the pressure needed to cut.
 

MSicardCutlery

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I recently finished this as a semi custom for one of our members here. Stabilized purple heart on a 2k hand finished 280mm sujihiki made from 52100. I wish I'd taken a closeup of the colors on the neck before I wrapped it up.
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Delat

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I've wondered this myself. It seems there's a point at which the weigh reduction from a thinner spine begins to impact the handling characteristics of the knife such as to make it feel like it requires more effort to use. I think there's probably a case to be made for "felt" laser-likeness vs perhaps a repeatably measurable amount of force required to complete a given cut in much the same way there is "felt" recoil, vs the actual calculable recoil of a given firearm.

I think I’m probably like a lot of others in that I initially gravitated towards traditional thin lasers, like Shibata, Yu Kurosaki. These days I like a bit thicker spine with a little more weight, but still want the laser-like feel through food. I get this from knives that are a bit thicker at the neck, like my Kamon is around 5-6mm, I think my Birgersson and Markin are in the 3-4mm range. In fact I think all my knives from Western smiths are >3mm at the heel. But then most all of them hit around 2mm by mid-spine, and 1mm or less by 1” from the tip.

You get a little more robust feeling in the back 1/3 of the blade along with a comfortable grip, while the front 2/3rds that I use 95% of the time slices effortlessly (assuming they’re thin enough behind the edge). My “lasers” all weigh in <145g, while these “hybrid” Westerners are usually >170g.

For small jobs, say less than 15 mins of cutting, I’m grabbing a 180mm laser or nakiri. For anything bigger I’m reaching for one of the Westerners with a little more heft and length.
 

MSicardCutlery

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I think I’m probably like a lot of others in that I initially gravitated towards traditional thin lasers, like Shibata, Yu Kurosaki. These days I like a bit thicker spine with a little more weight, but still want the laser-like feel through food. I get this from knives that are a bit thicker at the neck, like my Kamon is around 5-6mm, I think my Birgersson and Markin are in the 3-4mm range. In fact I think all my knives from Western smiths are >3mm at the heel. But then most all of them hit around 2mm by mid-spine, and 1mm or less by 1” from the tip.

You get a little more robust feeling in the back 1/3 of the blade along with a comfortable grip, while the front 2/3rds that I use 95% of the time slices effortlessly (assuming they’re thin enough behind the edge). My “lasers” all weigh in <145g, while these “hybrid” Westerners are usually >170g.

For small jobs, say less than 15 mins of cutting, I’m grabbing a 180mm laser or nakiri. For anything bigger I’m reaching for one of the Westerners with a little more heft and length.


Hearing this over and again completely blows my mind when I look back. All I kept reading on forums years ago was that even 3mm was excessive at the heel, I even had one of my blades referred to as "chonky" because it was 3mm at the heel and was told that stock should not be thicker than .100" to start....my how things change. This certainly compels me to make a few forged blades and experiment with tapers.
 

MSicardCutlery

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Here's those three bars of folded steel consolidated into one.

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Even through the crust and scale you can get some intimations of what the pattern underneath looks like. It's currently sitting at 256 layers...if you don't count the ones that have scaled off, and it will get two more restacking's of 3 for a final layer count of about 2300.

I had wanted to go higher, but it isn't apparent to me that there's much merit in doing so. At the point where the individual layers are .0002" thick, the carbon will have completely evened out, and unless I have a bad section of weld to move away from the edge, it's just going to cut down on the amount of steel I have to use and the amount of carbon I have in it. This would also work out to about 2*11 folds in the traditional system, in which, as I hear it, 12 folds seems to be the point of diminishing returns.

Assuming it still sparks well enough, I'll draw it out into a gyuto or a suji, and clay harden it to see what kind of hamon I can coax out of it. If it looks like the carbon content has fallen below the .8% mark, I'll turn this into cladding for a chunk of W2 tool steel and do basically the same thing but as san mai.


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MSicardCutlery

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5/7 completed 52100 knives I started a couple weeks back. I never got to take a picture of the lot, the suji went fast. Still not a bad class photo.
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HansCaravan

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Hearing this over and again completely blows my mind when I look back. All I kept reading on forums years ago was that even 3mm was excessive at the heel, I even had one of my blades referred to as "chonky" because it was 3mm at the heel and was told that stock should not be thicker than .100" to start....my how things change. This certainly compels me to make a few forged blades and experiment with tapers.

Yeah, I was pretty interested in one of your earlier gyutos in W2 until I saw how much flex the blade had. Having a moderately thick spine for a pinch grip tends to give a better balance (in my opinion) but also more comfort/confidence for attacking dense foods.
 

MSicardCutlery

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I definitely see it helping balance. I'm 3/4 of the way done a 210x50, that tapers from 4.5, to 3.5, to 1.5. I thought it would be really wedgy, but frankly I'm quite impressed with how it cuts. I have some theories about the dynamics of cutting I need to explore more thoroughly now. I'll probably never go quite that thick at the neck again on such a short blade, but this has been instructive.
 

MSicardCutlery

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The aforementioned blade. It has happily found itself a home.

My impression is that the spine thickness at the spine, doesn't matter so much, so long as the knife is thin enough at the edge and tip/tapered smoothly enough to initiate and maintain a cut smoothly, and provided there is sufficient convexity to peel the food away from the blade face before it starts to drag. I also suspect that the heavier the grind bias, the thicker the blade can be before it starts feeling like it's wedging. Of course the proportions have to be kept within reason, but this is all very interesting to me.

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