How to assess knives in person

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Hualicopter

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There is a knife maker coming to one of the local markets, and I'm intrigued by the products, but I was wondering if there's some good tips as to how to assess whether or not a knife is worth the value. Online, I can usually just pull up reviews from here or like Reddit. This is the maker in question: https://www.instagram.com/zimknives/?hl=en

They look good for the photos, but I figure it's not too difficult to make a knife look good. As far as I can tell, he uses 26c3 for everything. That said, his knives cost more than and Eddworks knife so I'm not really too inclined to make a purchase.
 
Feel the grind. Run your finger and thumb from spine to edge along the blade. Feel the weight and the balance. Do these things with the knives you like for a basis of comparison.

Lots of people make nice looking knives but it's the grind that sets makers apart.
 
Personally, I no longer like reading knife reviews online and think that you have to handle (or ideally trial) the knife in person to really get a good sense for it. I recognize that my personal opinions and desires for a knife differ from other people. I've had knives pass through my hands that were not my favorite and then later beloved by the person who had it after me.

I agree with @HumbleHomeCook , that's a great way to assess a knife in person when you don't have the opportunity to cut with it. The grind is what really matters the most at the end of the day. I'd also add on that you can get even more nit-picky and look at F&F aspects: the way the handle is installed, the actual design of the handle, if the spine and choil are rounded off/polished smoothly, etc. Small aspects that go a long way.
I'd also pay attention to the overall taper of the knife. I find choil view + spine taper gives a decent sense of the knife, but not perfect
 
Looking at his chef knives on insta, i would definitely check if you like the profile.
Some of his knives have unusual profiles. Not saying they don't work but definitely special.

There are lots of makers out there that make chef knives but far from all of them are really practical in the kitchen.
 
Thanks! Really helpful advice. I agree the profiles seemed atypical. I'm hoping he has some stuff I can try to cut to see if it's something I like or not.
 
I think it depends on what’s important to you in a knife. Personally I’d bring or buy the biggest sweet potato I could find and ask him if I could cut it in half with whatever knife you’re interested in. Or substitute a thick carrot if you don’t eat sweet potatoes.
 
I think it depends on what’s important to you in a knife. Personally I’d bring or buy the biggest sweet potato I could find and ask him if I could cut it in half with whatever knife you’re interested in. Or substitute a thick carrot if you don’t eat sweet potatoes.
This. I’d bring veg and a cutting board.
 
I think it depends on what’s important to you in a knife. Personally I’d bring or buy the biggest sweet potato I could find and ask him if I could cut it in half with whatever knife you’re interested in. Or substitute a thick carrot if you don’t eat sweet potatoes.

This. I’d bring veg and a cutting board.
Alternatively if this isn't an option, use a card or something straight to check out the blade face. If it's dead flat, hard pass.
 
Not sure if it would be weird to measure the knife there. People will probably think and call you a nerd. Cutting is the best. If I can’t cut, a caliper and a credit card would give me pretty good idea about how a knife would cut. Use credit card to check the geometry on each side, use the caliper to measure 3mm from the edge, 5mm from the edge, 10mm from the edge, the spine in multiple places, etc.
 
Yeah use a plastic card to check grind, and grind symmetry. Check for straightness. On a well ground thin behind gyuto, the geometry should feels like the knife thickness vanishes toward the edge. If edge profile works with your cutting style. Handle shape and grippiness . . . Sometimes handles are too smooth. Balance. Ease of being able to direct and move knife. . . Some super pretty handles are slippery and don't respond well to hand movement. Thin tip if desired. On this level of knife price is expect a finer polish than the pictures suggest . . . Level of polish on blade face, if too coarse there will be some grabbiness. As for value, it's whether or not you actually buy it and want it. For price to value ratio, in favor of more value. . . Idk. I think the value peaks with tosa kurouchi nakiri, and japanese monosteel carbons.
 
Is this bad? I always thought it was kind of a badge of honor ... then again I've also been called weird :cool:
I’m old enough that it was not a good thing during my youth.

(The fact mama had me rockin a bowl cut and lederhosen might have been a compounding factor, along with my tendency to spout arcana about the space race.)

edit: gif only works when tapped on. Behold the face of the enemy.
 

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Personally, I no longer like reading knife reviews online and think that you have to handle (or ideally trial) the knife in person to really get a good sense for it. I recognize that my personal opinions and desires for a knife differ from other people. I've had knives pass through my hands that were not my favorite and then later beloved by the person who had it after me.

I agree with @HumbleHomeCook , that's a great way to assess a knife in person when you don't have the opportunity to cut with it. The grind is what really matters the most at the end of the day. I'd also add on that you can get even more nit-picky and look at F&F aspects: the way the handle is installed, the actual design of the handle, if the spine and choil are rounded off/polished smoothly, etc. Small aspects that go a long way.
I'd also pay attention to the overall taper of the knife. I find choil view + spine taper gives a decent sense of the knife, but not perfect
THIS!

One thing to bear in mind as well is how good can you sell the knife if you find out you don't like it? At least for me this has also become an important factor in my knife purchases.
 
When I got a Steelport, there were about a dozen knives in the case. I knew the grinds were all good, the geometry were spot on. Fit and finish, some were better than others. I narrowed it down to my top 3 candidates.

Asked for a piece of paper and started slicing them up and listening to which were whisper quiet when slicing. Chose the quietest.
 
I don’t think a nail-flexing edge is a sole indicator of a good performer. It’s one indicator for sure, but the grind could get thick more quickly than you’d like.

If you combine a nail-flexing edge with measurements at 5 and 10mm then those all together would be a good indicator for me.

A choil shot is also a strong positive but has a high rate of false negatives. That is, a good choil shot is good but a bad choil shot is not necessarily bad.
 
I don’t think a nail-flexing edge is a sole indicator of a good performer. It’s one indicator for sure, but the grind could get thick more quickly than you’d like.

If you combine a nail-flexing edge with measurements at 5 and 10mm then those all together would be a good indicator for me.

A choil shot is also a strong positive but has a high rate of false negatives. That is, a good choil shot is good but a bad choil shot is not necessarily bad.
Some of my knives exuberantly fail the nail-flexing test.

And yet they rock (figuratively!) on the boards.

Disclosure: I got weak-ass nails.
 
Some of my knives exuberantly fail the nail-flexing test.

And yet they rock (figuratively!) on the boards.

Disclosure: I got weak-ass nails.
I thought that was assterisks for sure.
 
Try to gauge the thickness of the grind by pinching both sides with your fingers. If you have knives at home that youre familiar with, you can try on those first and see if you can tell what a thick or thin grind feels like. This will give you some indication on how it would pass thru various things.

For profile, if there is a board available to use, try and set it at the same height as you normally use at home and see how it feels thru your cutting motion. Check for flat or uneven spots.

Then check for comfort. Stuff like balance of the blade, weight, any sharp spots on the spine and choil that might bother you. Is the handle sized well for your hand, is it slippery, or maybe too rough and needs touch up sanding? Do you like the feel of the blade finish?

And lastly the looks. Is it something worth the price on your eyes?

That's how I would begin approaching the evaluation. Maybe some other things you can think of that are important to you, but hope this can give you some ideas.
 
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