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andoniminev

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Been thinking of getting a honyaki but little confused if it is any better than San Mai knives. If I go for one which brand should I chose. Do not know if Watanabe makes them. What should I know about honyakis before getting it apart from the fact they are more expensive and difficult to sharpen.
 

James

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edge holding is generally a bit better than their non-honyaki counterparts
 

andoniminev

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Have it all but most probably a santoku. I havent tried the PM steels but most likely I am gonna go for Shirogami if I find something. I do not have xperience with PM, never had one and I guess they will be pain in the ass to sharpen.
 

Mingooch

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PM isnt as bad as many make it out to be. Some stones dont work well with them, others work just fine. I love my PM knives, have R2, SG2, ZDP, and enjoy them all.
 

Rottman

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JCK has a Mizuno Tanrenjo 180 mm white#2 Wa-Santoku in stock ($450). It's burried in the specials page so scroll down a bit.
 

maxim

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Yahh i will go for Yanagi if i wanted Honayki
 

bieniek

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Why is that Maxim?

On zknives theres review of Watanabe Honyaki. Knife looks really gorgeous, just not sure if it works any better ...
 

James

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Have it all but most probably a santoku. I havent tried the PM steels but most likely I am gonna go for Shirogami if I find something. I do not have xperience with PM, never had one and I guess they will be pain in the ass to sharpen.
I don't think pm knives are that much harder to sharpen than honyaki; frankly, sharpening my takagi honyaki blue#1 scares me more than my zdp189 knife.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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This is my take on honyaki, take it for what it is worth.

Honyaki is basically overhardened monosteel.

Japanese shallow hardening steels have few alloys in them, so to improve edge holding, a honyaki is hardened to higher RC. The claim that it holds edge better than san mai can only be true if some carbon is lost to the low carbon cladding in san mai (less carbon=less wear resistance), but you would need to lose a lot of it, to have a significant difference. The difference in sharpening (if any) should not be that noticeable (if both are hardened to same RC), but over time, you will need to thin it, and that will be harder. Same applies to flattening - it will be much harder to flatten honyaki than a clad knife, as you will be removing metal from a larger surface.

Why yanagi and not not santoku? Most double-beveled honyaki knives are not hardened to 63-64RC. You would have many unhappy customers, when they find out that 1" tip (or more) can break off just by accidentally dropping a knife. So, I would be surprised if a budged honyaki gyuto (oil quenched) is over 60RC (of course there will be exceptions). An yanagi, especially an expensive honyaki yanagi, one is expected to take a greater care, so those can be hardened to 63-64.

Steel in 63-65 range is very brittle. I can break a blank in that range in several pieces with a single hammer blow.

So what is this fuss about honyaki? The answer is what makes honyaki so much more expensive (and valuable to some) is the difficulty to make it. To put is simply, there is a high rate of failure (fracture, warping, etc), even by experienced makers when quenching monosteel in water in that thin cross-secion. So, buying honayki, you are paying a failure premium.

M

PS: A knife in W2 steel quenched in Park 50 (in quenching speed approaches water) with a clay coat will show hamon that is similar in appearance that that on White steel. Is this a honyaki? Yes, if you go by Japanese definition, but to me it's a monosteel knife in a shallow hardening steel differentially heat treated. Simple and clear.
 

tk59

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I don't think pm knives are that much harder to sharpen than honyaki...
The fact that a knife is made from a pm steel has nothing to do with how difficult it is to grind an edge into it. It has to do more with the HT and carbide volume.
 

maxim

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Why is that Maxim?

On zknives theres review of Watanabe Honyaki. Knife looks really gorgeous, just not sure if it works any better ...
Everything what Marko just said :)
 

Marko Tsourkan

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I just want to add that to me honyaki means that the knife is Mizu honyaki, water quenched and heat treated in traditional way. I was told once that in Sakai there is one a handful of people who could do it well (low failure rate).

Suisin stainless honyaki line is just semantics (honayki=monosteel) :)
 

maxim

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I have Yanagi, Suji, Gyuto and petty in white steel water quenched Honyakis.
I like my Yanagi a lot wile it is very beautiful and take extreme sharp edge and i use it only for slicing things, but for Suji, Gyuto and petty its just to fragile for me.
Maybe it is just my personal preference :) But i just like san mai or mono steel better for double beveled knives.
Also it is hell to thin them :curse:

But still i enjoy the looks of beautiful Hamon on Honyakis :D
 

NO ChoP!

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Very interesting, Marko. Thanks!

Are there exceptions to the RC for different steels; example AS = 64, or ZDP = 66, etc...? Or are these truly more susceptible to cracking, etc...?

I'm pretty ginger with my knives, so I'm not too worried, but I do have an affinity for harder steels.
 

Salty dog

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Generally speaking a knife with a true honyaki blade (In the traditional sense) will be a representation of that maker's finest work. Not only the blade but fit, finish and polish.

In my experience that has held true.

And I'm not bashfull about treating them as badly as I do my other knives with no issues.
 

James

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The fact that a knife is made from a pm steel has nothing to do with how difficult it is to grind an edge into it. It has to do more with the HT and carbide volume.
good point; I was generalizing a bit too much
 

andoniminev

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Will take some time to process all these interesting opinions.thanks for replies.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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It would be good to see ZDP graph on hadenability. I don't know much about ZDP, but suspect that small carbide size and even distribution allows for higher hadenability. Carbides type and size will also affect sharpenabilty. However, this is something I am still learning about, so I will leave it to the experts.

I would say that I find 62RC be the optimal hardness (it's actually 61.5-62.5RC range on my tester). 63RC could be stable, but it would depend how a knife is heat treated. If a blade was heat-treated at a higher temperature and quenched to obtain highest hardness (in case of 52100 it 67RC) and then tempered to 63RC, it would be more brittle than if it were heat treated at lower temperature, and quenched to 65RC and then tempered to 63RC at lower tempering temperature. In the first case, you have a larger grain size that that will affect elasticity of the blade, thought blade will have more wear resistance, as more alloys are dissolved into a matrix.

Traditional heat treating (eyeballing) depends on experience, but even experience doesn't guarantee a consistent result, so as Salty pointed out, it's the difficulty of making honyaki is what makes it valuable. Fit and finish has to be better for that price range.

I made a knife in W2 differentially heat treated (with a clay coated back) quenched in Park 50 oil and it came out 62RC on the edge and with hamon. I however, didn't eyeball HT, and therefore, I would not call it honyaki, even though, the end result is similar to many budged honyaki (not Mizu, like Salty's Beast) on the market. Very few makers quench in water, because of the high failure rate, so most affordable honyakis are oil quenched.

M
 

bieniek

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Thanks a lot, good read.

To make longer story short, not suitable for professional kitchen...? I mean a chefs knife?

Good to know...
 

mpukas

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This is a great thread! Thanks to Marko for all the info, and of course Salty for sharing his experience.

Owning a honyaki is on the "some day" list for the reasons Salty outlined - the pinnacle of the craftsman. mpp
 

bieniek

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Ye ye I can imagine some famous restaurant where there is the pinnacle of stress and 40 chefs on 60 customers, nobody ever dropped a knife by accident.

Or you mean chefs who dont ever use their knife anymore? Yes, when you work with spoon then its perfectly safe to own honyaki
 

Marko Tsourkan

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Just to add, one disadvantage of san mai construction, as compared to honyaki, is that you can bend a san mai blade with your fingers. San mai knives with thicker core would be a little harder to bend, while with a thinner core (including Shigefusa) would be pretty easy.

Exception would be a san mai blade with a stainless or a semi stainless core, and stainless steel cladding, as those steels heat-treat at higher temperatures, and stainless cladding gets hardened to a higher RC, in some cases to mid 40's, so it's a pretty stiff knife as compared to a carbon clad, carbon core san mai blade. So, in this case, the advantage to honayki is that it would not have bending issues, provided it is straight to begin with.

M
 
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