Iron San-Mai or Honyaki for Gyuto?

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Tien

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After owning a few san-mai construction knives with iron-clad and stainless clad, I am interested in getting into the realm of Honyakis.

What I usually heard about true differentially hardened carbon steel Honyakis are words like 'brittle', 'chippy', 'expensive', 'show-off pieces', 'hard to produce', ,'better FF', 'high failure rate', and 'harder to thin'.

Some people also say that Honyaki makes sense for single-bevel knives because they warp and twist less compared to ni-mai single bevel.

However, what I am curious about is if Honyakis tends to offer performance in terms of heat treat, feedback, etc. compared to san-mai construction knives?

Putting price tags aside, would you use an iron-clad or a Honyaki?

Edit:

single bevel clad is actually called ni-mai since there are actually 2 layers instead of 3 of the san-mai. Thanks to the Forum members for correcting me.
 
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Qapla'

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Putting price tags aside, would you use an iron-clad or a Honyaki?
There are yet other choices. Non-honyaki monosteel knives exist, as do stainless-clad knives (which you state that you have experience with). And among laminated knives, there's sanmai vis-a-vis warikomi. And countless choices of steels...

What kind of knife are you considering?
 

Tien

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There are yet other choices. Non-honyaki monosteel knives exist, as do stainless-clad knives.

What kind of knife are you considering?
True that they exist, but I am not really looking for one in those categories, except for maybe the KS, if they ever become cheaper.

I was very much decided on buying the Munetoshi 210 Honyaki this afternoon from the JNS summer sale. But it sold out too quickly for me to snag it.
 

ian

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Some people say they like the feel of honyaki knives on the board. I don’t really care. Most honyaki are too expensive... some of them are really nice, but probably not because they’re honyaki. But what do I know. I’ve only tried one of them. 🤷

Aside from issues of corrosion resistance and the fact that high hardness mono/honyaki blades are a PITA to thin and refinish, I think the sanmai/mono/honyaki distinction hardly matters for performance, especially in comparison to things like grind and type/treatment of core steel. Some people like the wavy line, though. (Or the not so wavy line, in the case of the Munetoshi.)

But if you’re searching for a knife, buy it because it’s the one that appeals to you the most, not because it’s honyaki. Unless of course you want to try polishing a honyaki, you fool.

Btw, a clad single bevel knife essentially has 2 layers, not 3, so shouldn’t be called san mai. The cladding’s mostly on the front of the blade, to my knowledge, although sometimes I guess it can wrap a little around the back? I was corrected about this at some point too.
 
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Qapla'

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Btw, a clad single bevel knife essentially has 2 layers, not 3, so shouldn’t be called san mai. The cladding’s mostly on the front of the blade, to my knowledge, although sometimes I guess it can wrap a little around the back? I was corrected about this at some point too.
Yep. It'd be called ni mai.
 

Corradobrit1

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You can get 90% of the 'feel' of a honyaki on the board with san mai blades that are given a high HT. My TF Denka for example with its AS core and HRC65-66 hardness is as close as I've come for a fraction of the cost of a well executed honyaki. I think the TF water quench helps achieve that result.
 

ian

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By well executed I mean Togashi, Shiraki, Mizuno Tanrenjo etc. I don't think budget honyaki are comparable. I paid less than $400 for my 210 Denka
Good deal, then. I was thinking the current prices for 240s, which are like more than double that.

But then again, wait for a Bernal sale and an Ikeda honyaki can be yours for $700. 🤷
 

inferno

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After owning a few san-mai construction knives with iron-clad and stainless clad, I am interested in getting into the realm of Honyakis.

What I usually heard about true differentially hardened carbon steel Honyakis are words like 'brittle', 'chippy', 'expensive', 'show-off pieces', 'hard to produce', ,'better FF', 'high failure rate', and 'harder to thin'.

Some people also say that Honyaki makes sense for single-bevel knives because they warp and twist less compared to san-mai single bevel.

However, what I am curious about is if Honyakis tends to offer performance in terms of heat treat, feedback, etc. compared to san-mai construction knives?

Putting price tags aside, would you use an iron-clad or a Honyaki?
talking japanese knives they only make honyakis out of white and blue steel. otherwise it would be impossible to differentially quench the blades.
the difference between clad vs honyakis is that the honyakis are harder 2-4hrc or so. and therefore more brittle.
they could just as well temper the clad blades 50C lower to get the same exact hardness as the honyakis if they wanted. but they dont.

the way i see it is that they want to make a "kitchen katana" just because they can. but real katanas use 2-3 or even 4 or 5 different steels in their construction. then they are differentially hardened (quenched with clay on spine).

supposedly the honakis have higher fit and finish. and they should considering how much they cost. nothing you cant do better yourself though.
and i mean they are all carbon steel so sooner or later (most likely sooner) you have to refinish the blades yourself anyway.

i understand whay they cost more though. because it a single piece of hardened steel. and it takes ages to grind. and in japan they do most of the grinding after HT, on the big wheel.

i make knives myself and i do high hardness monosteel knives. and it takes ages to grinf these your after HT. compared to before HT i can tell you that.
and with clad blades it goes much much faster since the cladding is not hardenable at all. the clad blades are used because its much faster to produce them. much much faster.

---------------

is it worth it?? up to you imo. a good honyaki is like a grand or so.
i simply bought all the stuff i needed to make my own knives for that money...
 

inferno

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for a home user there is also some advantages with monos and honyakis.

basically for "user knives" you just have to scrub them down with a sponge ever so often when they start to discolor, to keep them looking good.
with KU blades you will ruin the KU. or if you dont do anything they will rust.
with stainless damascus clad blades you cant touch the damascus or you will ruin the contrast, making them look like sh...
with real damascus (carbon) you cant touch them either, not unless you want to re-etch them

and so on. so monos and honyakis imo demand less input to keep looking good-ish. i mean you wipe them down with a fine sponge or scotchbrite, 2 minutes. done.
 

Forty Ounce

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for a home user there is also some advantages with monos and honyakis.

basically for "user knives" you just have to scrub them down with a sponge ever so often when they start to discolor, to keep them looking good.
with KU blades you will ruin the KU. or if you dont do anything they will rust.
with stainless damascus clad blades you cant touch the damascus or you will ruin the contrast, making them look like sh...
with real damascus (carbon) you cant touch them either, not unless you want to re-etch them

and so on. so monos and honyakis imo demand less input to keep looking good-ish. i mean you wipe them down with a fine sponge or scotchbrite, 2 minutes. done.
Are you really suggesting people scratch their knives with the rough side of a sponge??:angiefavorite:
 

RockyBasel

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Yep. It'd be called ni mai.
yes, and I think San-Mai refers to when the blade smith creates a three layer cladding by hand, versus buying a pre-cladded billet. I have a special 250 mm Heiji Sanmai - and that is how they described it - followed by a very traditional natural stone sharpening following a certain process. It is the sharpest knife I have ever held. Beyond belief. But it also stinks, stains, etc. but it’s a work of art
 

parbaked

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I think San-Mai refers to when the blade smith creates a three layer cladding by hand, versus buying a pre-cladded billet.
San Mai roughly translates as 3 flat things. In the case of knife billets, this is the core steel and the cladding.
You can purchase pre-laminated san mai billet.
It doesn't have to be be "made by hand".
It is still called san mai...
 
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RockyBasel

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San Mai roughly translates as 3 flat things. In the case of knife billets, this is the core steel and the cladding.
You can purchase pre-laminated san mai billet.
It doesn't have to be be "made by hand".
It is still called san mai...
You are correct sir - it’s done by hand by some and pre-cladded 3-layer billets by others. Thanks for illuminating!
 

Corradobrit1

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Eg TF Nashiji (prelaminated) vs Maboroshi/Denka (inhouse forged). All san-mai construction
 

Tien

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Happen to cop Munetoshi 240 Honyaki this morning during the JNS summer sale :p

The 210 went on sale yesterday and I thought the 240 might go on sale after.

I heard good things about HT of Munetoshi white steel and the video from Maksim shows some promising performances.

By well executed I mean Togashi, Shiraki, Mizuno Tanrenjo etc. I don't think budget honyaki are comparable. I paid less than $400 for my 210 Denka direct from TF
Honyaki by well-known makers will be for another time.

Thanks for all the inputs so far.
 

Receiver52

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Picked up the 210 yesterday morning. Now have a Togashi, Shiraki and the Mune. Will be an interesting comparison.
 

RockyBasel

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Happen to cop Munetoshi 240 Honyaki this morning during the JNS summer sale :p

The 210 went on sale yesterday and I thought the 240 might go on sale after.

I heard good things about HT of Munetoshi white steel and the video from Maksim shows some promising performances.



Honyaki by well-known makers will be for another time.

Thanks for all the inputs so far.
Great! Excellent choice. I have to wait another year And a half before my Honyaki arrives😢
 

RockyBasel

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Picked up the 210 yesterday morning. Now have a Togashi, Shiraki and the Mune. Will be an interesting comparison.
Togashi honyaki can be hard to find, especially the blue honyaki. - do you have the shirogami or the aogami. They are superlative knives - but I’d love to hear your comparative thoughts. I have two Togashi’s - one is a Togashi-Tosa blue steel, and the other is a stainless clad blue. Former is an amazing knife
 

Tien

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Picked up the 210 yesterday morning. Now have a Togashi, Shiraki and the Mune. Will be an interesting comparison.
Would love to hear the comparison from you when get the Munetoshi. Mind to share when you get the chance?
 

Receiver52

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May take me a while but I’ll get something up at some point. The Shiraki has no edge yet which will be the first step.
 

Alder26

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I think honyaki knives made by western makers are a very nice compromise in terms of price. Kippington, the nine, isasmedjan, etc. are all capable of making excellent differential gyutos and many will come in at a much lower price point than a Japanese honyaki. My sc125 honyaki by TheNine is easily the best made knife I own and it was much less expensive than comparable Honyakis.
 

lemeneid

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Comparing similar knives. My Toyanabe honyaki cuts and feels different to my sanmai. You can't get around that, the cladding steel does not feel as stiff or dense as it is softer so there can be some degree of "flex" which you do not get in honyakis which are absolutely stiff. Its this stiffness that gives honyakis a different cutting feel.

If you can afford it, go for it. I definitely enjoy cutting with my honyakis :)
 

inferno

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Are you really suggesting people scratch their knives with the rough side of a sponge??:angiefavorite:
not all sponges scratch steel. i found this out recently when trying to clean a pot, the sponge material has no abrasives in some sponges.

from what i have seen this is unfortunately the most common way to clean knives.
and to remove discoloration its either sponges, sandpaper, benchstones, rust erasers, finger stones, scotchbrite, buffing compounds, metal polishes and so on. depending on what people have at home.
 

danemonji

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In my mind the hamon line defines the boundary between soft and hard. But is there a transition in hardness as you go closer or further from the hamon?
What i mean is if the hardness of the steel in the 1st cm from the hamon the same as the hardness of the edge?
 
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