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Masahiro and Seki magoroku which is a brand under Kai contact out to makers across Japan, with various levels of price.

More uradashi or hammering theory

Small pock marks work for more control over the bending of the metal, as opposed to deeper chisel type marks. A deeper mark isn't necessary more effective than a lot of shallower marks. Carbide hammers are helpful to bend the hard steel in the front, to correct microbevels on the ura side of single bevel knives. Hammer where the microbevel would be on the other side, to move such that it just becomes part of a normal more planar ura. Check occasionally by sharpening the back. Very easy to chip... So light taps, and extremely light test taps to sense where to hit and not to hit..

When I tried to correct a microbevel by hammering the iron, it wasn't close enough to the microbevel to bend steel there -- it would just make the whole ura deeper, apexed where the hammer marks were made.

It is possible to bend steel without carbide, like with edge deformation.... Just less controlled
Addendum to hard steel

Some steels are chippy and have coarser grain or are very hard. They don't respond well to uradashi of hard steel and crack and chip lol

If steel chips easily or has a chipped tip... Yeah, it'll break

But most steel will bend

Also, just because it's a deba doesn't mean the steel will be softer or tougher . . .

Japanese blacksmith forged iron frying pan


Japanese Plane (Kanna) Competition - Mini Kezuroukai - Sanjo, Niigata, Japan - 15 Microns or Less​

Another film from this carpenter; some nice stones on show and some insight into carpenters ink pots.
Specially made toku sei
Toku Jo
Custom made
Special steel
Specially selected

Stamps on the blade, or stickers, don't necessarily mean it's much better. . . Just some things I've read on blades. Even buffalo horn doesn't necessarily correlate with quality.

The best ones have been where it's just a nice chiseled engraving, or stamps with deep kurouchi. Good sharpening too. . .

Yeah that's helpful, I've seen shobu translation before too, but just wrote whatever Google translate had. Still needing to memorize the kun and on readings of kanji, and kanji in general.
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Tsukiji aritsugu honbadzuke. They say the knife I'll look messier after it, but will be sharper. Anyhow, a common level of honbadzuke seen in Japan, which is way lower in "neatness" and "finish" than the polishes I see on the forum. It's streaky but looks like the high and low spots are evened out.


Many Japanese places use very hard finishers or stuff like naniwa super that don’t leave a kasumi finish. They also charge like 30 dollars, so you can’t really expect that much. The bevel will be flat and that’s it. Kasumi is for forum people basically, no pro gives a crap. Pretty much no one has natural stones and the king/naniwa red brick stones are the most used in the industry id say. Honestly most cooks can’t sharpen to save their lives in Japan. Same as everywhere.
Tsukiji aritsugu honbadzuke. They say the knife I'll look messier after it, but will be sharper. Anyhow, a common level of honbadzuke seen in Japan, which is way lower in "neatness" and "finish" than the polishes I see on the forum. It's streaky but looks like the high and low spots are evened out.


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yes.. this is honestly the norm... some of the guys make fun of me for the kind of effort we have to put into making things beautiful along with functional
Tobacco knife

135mm x 122 tall
1.3mm thick

Looks ni-mai. It's single bevel.


Finally found a tobacco knife with handle attached. One of the historical things I've been interested in. Probably the thinnest single beve type knife I've seen from Japan

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They do not turn up very often - I have seen similar though very thick, perhaps leather knives?
Otherwise; https://www.jauce.com/auction/j1135508198
Japanese proxy guide

So I'm trying to wind down with buying japanese knives but I've been saying that for years, so for whoever this is useful for . . . I'm tired. Anyhow, some comments from my experiences

Among many other blacksmith and retail japanese websites


Advantages of buying from Japan through a proxy
1. Possibly lower cost per knife
2. More selection through space and time, blacksmiths from different regions and many very very old ones
3. More pictures of knives and how they look and are priced
4. Can occasionally find weird steels, tamahagane, swedish steel, high speed steels, Togo, swordsmith made stuff
5. Many weird knife shapes including whale knives, mulberry knives, all sorts of sobakiri and primitive deba
6. Can see more about what Japanese knives and blades and tools, and all sorts of things really are about

1. Need to recognize kanji, furigana, and use google translate, this was really overwhelming for a good while
2. Proxies often have bad customer service
3. Possible to lost packages, get ripped off, have to deal with ****** customs brokers, need to know some import/export law
4. Need to recognize quality of knives, severity of defects, and repair them for use
5. Not many clad gyuto and santoku. If you're looking for these, they are scarce, but there. By far, it's single bevels, then stainless and carbon monosteel
6. Possibly more cost due to repair tools, breaking stuff, injuries, etc
7. As much as it brings you closer to japanese culture and tools, it's often isolating – many people, knife hobbyists, won't necessarily be interested in this stuff
8. So much time sink

Price history

Check yahoo auction market price: you'll need this to see how much plan to bid for certain items. New condition, honyaki and famous name brands drive the price way way up. Nenohi, masamoto, aritsugu, yasuyuki, kuniyuki are some of the most high priced names. Bonus increase in price if the blacksmiths name is listed, assuming they're famous. I would get outbid a lot at first. Think hard about how much you want something popular and bid really high. . . Some knives keep on relisting over and over again, not sold . .


Quality indicators

Buffalo horn ferrule, more and deeper engraving as opposed to stamped without kurouchi, higher polish without being necessarily a mirror, no sandblast, wavy lamination line.

Sometimes cheaper quality knives get dressed up with a buffalo horn handle. There's a lot of Sakai dealer knives with kanji that I've seen over and over again, hontanren, josaku, tokujo, specially selected, specially made. Trademark registration. Octagonal handles are with newer knives, shinogi handles are on older knives and more common. You can see the color and dryness of the handle and horn to help date the knife somewhat. Sometimes there are weirder knife handles, like forged metal ferrules. Plastic, thin steel or brass ferrules are common on cheaper knives, or blacksmith direct knives who don't care for more expensive handles. There's a bit of a difference between retailer knives and blacksmith made knives and how they're marketed a bit, the retailer ones often have more stamps, not always.

For me personally, I look at steel sheen, sorry that's hard to quantify or qualify . . . But like how something coarser in grain doesn't polish easily, but something finer does, idk. I look at choil kurouchi. I look at machi and choils differences or trends. How rounded the radius of the choil is. If the choil is chamfered by the blacksmith and has kurouchi, or if the sharpener worked on it. Machi can be rounded, eased, have a C shape instead of a sharp step. . . Necks can be narrower or tall.

For kurouchi, there's different sheens . . . Matte and deep dark have been some of my favorites for resulting steel feel. Kurouchi with uneven hammer marks on knives usually have been some of the nicer steels I've liked. Expect these rustic knives to often have terrible grinds though.

For ura, there's horizontal grind marks, often on deba. Usually it's a sign of higher quality. The grind mark depth and coarseness and polish can vary. Most single bevel knives will have diagonal grind marks on blade face and ura though. If the uraoshi sharpening has been done and has smooth consistent thin edge contact, that's the highest guarantee of a good ura. . . Just need to be able to spot it visually.

Boxes are neat . . . Sometimes have the written quality indicator on it . . .honkasumi, etc.

Defects and damage

Oh boy. Yeah there's lots of this. So many ways knives are messed up. This is the biggest deterrent. Bends, bad heat treats where the steel is coarse or overhard and undertempered (chips ragged and easily), rust that's too deep and causes chips, handle damage, tang rust, chips, lamination defects. If there's light rust it's not the biggest deal. . . New old stock knives have almost all been bent. B stock knives . . . Sometimes have fundamental grind or steel issues, sometimes aesthetic only. But sometimes you find messed up but very very cheap honyaki. Avoid really worn down knives, but they're cheaper. Avoid single bevels with heavy ura back bevels.


There are a bajillion Sakai affiliated or made knives. Either Sakai engraved, or in the Sakai standard blade shape. Seki Magoroku, under the Kai company that makes Shun, has a lot of stuff put there that they seem to subcontract out. Sometimes there are weird collector things, like deba diorama, each piece in the process of manufacture . . .

Lots of monosteel carbon gyuto. Masakane and sukehisa are the most common old ones. A decent amount of Takahashi Hamono OEM knives labelled for retailers.

Some other japanese retail names I recall are Sakai Ichimonji Mitsuhide, kikuichi, miyabun.

Check out the rest of stuff on yahoo auction. The scissors are some of my favorites. Kanna and tools in general are great too. Just because something has a cheap handle doesn't always mean its a bad knife.

How does it work?
You find the knife on Mercari or yahoo auction. Place a bid or sniper bid on the proxy site. Make an account of course first . . . Be aware that auctions can be extended another 5 minutes, indefinitely with every new bidder in the last 10 minutes or so. Something like that. The knife gets sent from Japan to a warehouse the proxy has in Japan. It can be stored for a month or so. Then you can choose which items can be shipped to you in the US. Sometimes they’re not very well packed. Sometimes knives are forbidden from being bid on by the proxy.
Great advice.

Very common to get screwed, and there's usually no refund or compensation. Most knives will require major repairs, and many are unsalvageable.

I rarely get single bevel knives since they are usually in the worst condition and not fun to fix (especially debas!)
I learned how to adjust scissors. I'm so happy.

Tagane (carbide chisel hammer). Induce a consistent twist with diagonal hammer blows, for edge contact throughout the motion of the cut. The "heel" of the edge near the pivot is the most difficult part to induce a twist. I always wondered why the pivot wants tight necessarily . . . It's because with sufficient twist, the pivot doesn't need to be super stiff. Induce enough twist and bend so that there's contact throughout the cut, without needing to use the hand itself to force the two blades together.

The resulting cut through paper and Tre branches feels really nice, gliding, nicer than any cut of a kitchen knife through food. Finally am able to relive the cutting feel I had on my chotaro scissors. I did this on a pair of okubo basami (a kind of bonsai scissors), that cut badly, they were unmarked, with too much wiggle.

Sharpening is a pain though . . . Stone in one hand, scissors opened up in the other hand. A lot of bonsai scissors don't have removable pivots. . .
Additional fact to scissor adjusting and hammering. If the blades meet, so that the ura of the two blades make a vertical line, there's a chance that cutting a stiff material will push the blades apart. If I hammer uradashi style, more parallel to the edge, near the edge, I increase the wedging action of each blade as I cut through fabric. The blades wedge more tightly into each other, increasing the effective cutting action despite slightly thicker cutting geometry.

So scissors cutting well with regard to blade alignment are those two concepts, twist, and an angle that wedges the blades against each other during the cut. Oddly, the pivot can be loose but still cut pretty well.
Miscellaneous notes

Scissor handles function best when they apply a closing force on the blades. So the handles should have a slight bend to them for the natural squeezing action or the hand to also push the blades together

High pH liquid on rust arrests red rust, turns it darker, removes some light rust

Very soapy water with the gesshin 220 helps prevent the drying out of the surface of the stone. Maybe a fluid thickener can help more too

Sheet metal scissors bevels are damn obtuse, they seem to come at 70-80 degrees a side. Their heat treat is the least toothy I've experienced and possibly the most tough. Not as soft as nata or axe. Hand laminated ones are cool and common, oxide inclusions in it

Scissors handles are designed to contact. Sometimes where the hand closes and the point of contact are close, and pinching occurs on the hand. . .for high force usage which is more misuse I think

A hard nagura is useful to deburr scissors and what I would recommend . I used the one that comes with the cerax 320.

I sharpen scissors with the stone elevated on a brick . . . The handles get in the way

Possibly restore KU by salt, vinegar, peroxide to rust, then high pH with laundry soda to turn rust black. Need to try this later

Yeah I've messed up a couple blades

Honyaki gyuto when thinning formed a small crack on hamon, went away with more thinning

- 210 usuba straightened with stick, split steel at edge
- Deba snapped tip off 10mm by stick
- Deba snapped tip off as well 5mm by hammer
- Yanagi snapped 30mm off by stick, crack already there
- 210 yanagi with existing crack near tip, hammered it for ura contact inseatd of bending, this one survived
- 270 mioroshi cracked edge from hammering bc steel was very hard
-120 cracked ajikiri


Basically you gotta gamble and decide what kind of hammer blows the steel and geometry might support. Clad knives that don't want to bend usually will crack under hammering the hard steel. Most people don't hammer hard steel. But craftsmen and rough grinders in Sakai seems too, Shigefusa does (in a japanese language blog post or book i read, but idk if before or after quench), and saws are hammered to straighten and tension them . . . And saw hardness is around 54-56, like most old carbon western knives