Massdrop III: Kamon

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Delat

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Super excited! That looks like the sharpest OOTB I’ve seen personally and much sharper than I was expecting.

One question on the 36 degree inclusive microbevel. Is there a particular reason you use this angle? Are you looking to reduce OOTB issues with less than careful users, or do you recommend it for this steel/grind combo perhaps due to the zero bevel main grind? Most here sharpen their knives anywhere from zero to 30 inclusive, with 30 degrees considered pretty conservative.

I really want to express my appreciation for this rare opportunity to get insight straight from the bladesmith on sharpening angles for his work.
 

Eloh

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Congrats to all participants, Ben's knives are truely great value for the money 👌👌👌
 

gregfisk

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That’s a beautiful knife Ben, just wow! Could you explain the flexibility you were showing of the edge with your thumbnail? I’ve mentioned this before but I’m a hobbyist knife maker and when I first made a knife with that type of flex on the edge, I thought I had made a mistake in heat treat of the 25n20. My first knives were made with 1095 and the edge didn’t do that at all. I also have been using much thinner steel to begin with and my edges are about 15 to 20 degrees. Thank you again for showing us in such detail what you do. I find it extremely interesting. -Greg
 

gregfisk

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That’s a beautiful knife Ben, just wow! Could you explain the flexibility you were showing of the edge with your thumbnail? I’ve mentioned this before but I’m a hobbyist knife maker and when I first made a knife with that type of flex on the edge, I thought I had made a mistake in heat treat of the 25n20. My first knives were made with 1095 and the edge didn’t do that at all. I also have been using much thinner steel to begin with and my edges are about 15 to 20 degrees. Thank you again for showing us in such detail what you do. I find it extremely interesting. -Greg
This should say 15n20, didn’t catch the typo until it was too late to change it.
 

KAMON Knives

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Super excited! That looks like the sharpest OOTB I’ve seen personally and much sharper than I was expecting.

One question on the 36 degree inclusive microbevel. Is there a particular reason you use this angle? Are you looking to reduce OOTB issues with less than careful users, or do you recommend it for this steel/grind combo perhaps due to the zero bevel main grind? Most here sharpen their knives anywhere from zero to 30 inclusive, with 30 degrees considered pretty conservative.

I really want to express my appreciation for this rare opportunity to get insight straight from the bladesmith on sharpening angles for his work.
I'm definitely not looking to mitigate any issues with less careful users ;).
My knives have a thin edge so there are certain things they are very good at, and others for which they can't be used at all. They are tools specialized for certain tasks, which makes them very good at those. Opposed to the allround knives the industry offers. Those are usable for pretty much every task, but good at none 😂.
I deliver a DOS & DON'TS sheet with my knives which explains what can and can't be done with my knives. If one damages them, that's pretty much always due to abuse or inappropriate use. I haven't had a single case yet where the customer didn't directly and honestly approach me with "I made a mistake" or similar when something happened.
Or let me put it this way... You don't drive up a mountain through the mud with a sports car and if you do, that's on you 🐒. So I don't see any reason to build uneducated customer proof knives. I'm building knives that perform great in certain tasks and I expect the customer to educate himself on how to proper use the tool he buys for a lot of money.

Sry... That needed to be said. Don't mean to be rude to you and nothing against you. Just a general insight into my philosophy. You triggered me ✌😂

Regarding the actual angle and your question. The 36° (18° per side) seemed to be the recommendation of many people within the German kochmalscharf forum. I didn't ever really question if 33° or even 30° would make more sense. In that I didn't ever fine tune it. I took the 36° degrees total and had good results with it right from the start so I sticked with it.
However I have my unscientific theory about very flat angles like below 20° total (10° or lower per side).
Roman Landes described in his book how lower angles stay sharp for a longer time period and there is logical reasoning and test results behind this. But I think this reasoning resulted mainly from tests with guided machines like CATRA. What they lack is cutting board impact and angle changes (kind of jamming) during cutting.
Think about Rock chopping for example and how much side forces have to beared by the edge when doing that. Or chopping and the impact forces on the edge. Very often not at perfectly 90° to the board which also means side forces.
I want to say - this lower angle stays sharper for longer theory makes sense for guided blades used in machines, not so much for hand used tools and all the variables that apply in this scenario.

As I said - I can't scientifically proof it, yet my experience with very low angle sharpened edges was always bad. Either they failed very fast through chipping or they folded at a micro level. Never had I the feeling that they would really stay sharper for longer like the data from Landes suggested.
And I'm not suggesting his data would be wrong, I just think it can't be applied to real life applications as the test setup isn't suitable to make real life conclusions. The data is right, the interpretation of it imho not so much.

I would be curious about you guys that read here what your experience with higher vs lower edge angles is?

PS: That might be a hot take right there 😂.

That’s a beautiful knife Ben, just wow! Could you explain the flexibility you were showing of the edge with your thumbnail? I’ve mentioned this before but I’m a hobbyist knife maker and when I first made a knife with that type of flex on the edge, I thought I had made a mistake in heat treat of the 25n20. My first knives were made with 1095 and the edge didn’t do that at all. I also have been using much thinner steel to begin with and my edges are about 15 to 20 degrees. Thank you again for showing us in such detail what you do. I find it extremely interesting. -Greg
Flex is more a function of geometry than steel I'd say. Mild steel will flex to certain amount ground to this geometry. However it won't flex back if bent too far.
My knives will flex and flex even when very high forces are applied however, in opposition to the mild steel, when the force is too high, they will fail and break and not plastically deform like the mild steel would.

Showing that flex just gives an impression on how thin the knives are behind the edge. Therefore one can estimate the geometry a little. That's the only reason I showed that. Just because steel is very hard, doesn't mean it won't flex though.
 
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I deliver a DOS & DON'TS sheet with my knives which explains what can and can't be done with my knives.

Or let me put it this way... You don't drive up a mountain through the mud with a sports car and if you do, that's on you 🐒.
can't stop won't stop
shucking oysters
cracking lobster shells
chopping chocolate
opening cans
cutting stonefruit w/pits

Screenshot 2021-11-27 at 3.18.18 PM.png


edit for different meme
 
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Jville

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I'm definitely not looking to mitigate any issues with less careful users ;).
My knives have a thin edge so there are certain things they are very good at, and others for which they can't be used at all. They are tools specialized for certain tasks, which makes them very good at those. Opposed to the allround knives the industry offers. Those are usable for pretty much every task, but good at none 😂.
I deliver a DOS & DON'TS sheet with my knives which explains what can and can't be done with my knives. If one damages them, that's pretty much always due to abuse or inappropriate use. I haven't had a single case yet where the customer didn't directly and honestly approach me with "I made a mistake" or similar when something happened.
Or let me put it this way... You don't drive up a mountain through the mud with a sports car and if you do, that's on you 🐒. So I don't see any reason to build uneducated customer proof knives. I'm building knives that perform great in certain tasks and I expect the customer to educate himself on how to proper use the tool he buys for a lot of money.

Sry... That needed to be said. Don't mean to be rude to you and nothing against you. Just a general insight into my philosophy. You triggered me ✌😂

Regarding the actual angle and your question. The 36° (18° per side) seemed to be the recommendation of many people within the German kochmalscharf forum. I didn't ever really question if 33° or even 30° would make more sense. In that I didn't ever fine tune it. I took the 36° degrees total and had good results with it right from the start so I sticked with it.
However I have my unscientific theory about very flat angles like below 20° total (10° or lower per side).
Roman Landes described in his book how lower angles stay sharp for a longer time period and there is logical reasoning and test results behind this. But I think this reasoning resulted mainly from tests with guided machines like CATRA. What they lack is cutting board impact and angle changes (kind of jamming) during cutting.
Think about Rock chopping for example and how much side forces have to beared by the edge when doing that. Or chopping and the impact forces on the edge. Very often not at perfectly 90° to the board which also means side forces.
I want to say - this lower angle stays sharper for longer theory makes sense for guided blades used in machines, not so much for hand used tools and all the variables that apply in this scenario.

As I said - I can't scientifically proof it, yet my experience with very low angle sharpened edges was always bad. Either they failed very fast through chipping or they folded at a micro level. Never had I the feeling that they would really stay sharper for longer like the data from Landes suggested.
And I'm not suggesting his data would be wrong, I just think it can't be applied to real life applications as the test setup isn't suitable to make real life conclusions. The data is right, the interpretation of it imho not so much.

I would be curious about you guys that read here what your experience with higher vs lower edge angles is?

PS: That might be a hot take right there 😂.



Flex is more a function of geometry than steel I'd say. Mild steel will flex to certain amount ground to this geometry. However it won't flex back if bent too far.
My knives will flex and flex even when very high forces are applied however, in opposition to the mild steel, when the force is too high, they will fail and break and not plastically deform like the mild steel would.

Showing that flex just gives an impression on how thin the knives are behind the edge. Therefore one can estimate the geometry a little. That's the only reason I showed that. Just because steel is very hard, doesn't mean it won't flex though.
Yeah, I’ve noticed certain knives that are thin and sharpened at steep angles or can even be very hard steel and steep angles can sort of “ting” when you come it at angles that aren’t straight perpendicular to the board, meaning hitting at an angle. I kind of thought yours might be like that during the beginning of your reply, but it seems you’ve sharpened them to be a little tougher. Can you rock chop with your without being very careful to stay straight up and down? Not that I really rock chop, but that is one of those motions that a lot of thin hard steel knives don’t really do well at. Those are knives that you have to pay more attention to technique. I actually like being able to come in at different angles and not have to be so gentle going into the board.
 
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KAMON Knives

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Yeah, I’ve noticed certain knives that are thin and sharpened at steep angles or can even be very hard steel and steep angles can sort of “ting” when you come it at angles that aren’t straight perpendicular to the board, meaning hitting at an angle. I kind of thought yours might be like that during the beginning of your reply, but it seems you’ve sharpened them to be a little tougher. Can you rock chop with your without being very careful to stay straight up and down? Not that I really rock chop, but that is one of those motions that a lot of thin hard steel knives don’t really do well at. Those are knives that you have to pay more attention to technique. I actually being able to come in at different angles and not have to be so gentle going into the board.
I've heard mine can sing too ^^.

No but truly... I didn't want to spread confusion or make someone unsure. My do's & don'ts can be seen on my website (High Performance Custom Kitchen Knives | Benjamin Kamon | Korneuburg). It's nothing super special I think. Just the usual "don't cut on hard surfaces" stuff.

To give some examples: I don't recommend bone contact with my knives. I wouldn't recommend cutting a lobster in half. I don't recommend cutting really fresh hard crust dark sour dough bread with one of them (you know... The kind of crust you loose teeth to. I don't recommend for the knifes, and your safety in this case btw 😅).

But of course Rock chopping and all kinds of other cutting techniques work fine. I don't have a dedicated special knife for anything in my kitchen. Means... I myself use it even for stuff I wouldn't recommend using it for and usually it stands up to the task.

Trying to say - use this thing! It's tool built to be used. But use it with some thought and feel because after all it's also a thin edge and very hard steel.

To stay in the car analogy: your Porsche manual won't tell you at which speed and curve angle the car will slide out of the curve. You have to get a feel for the thing and you'll know what lines not to cross. (I hope so much this is true... I've never read a Porsche manual 🐒)
 

WildBoar

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To stay in the car analogy: your Porsche manual won't tell you at which speed and curve angle the car will slide out of the curve. You have to get a feel for the thing and you'll know what lines not to cross. (I hope so much this is true... I've never read a Porsche manual 🐒)
The way you learn the limits is to cross them :D
 

KAMON Knives

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Larrin is listening. And judging.
I don't know his opinion on the topic but judging by both their books, Roman Landes researched this topic a little deeper. And it's no hit on either of them. I just come to experience Roman's results in real life with those very low sharpening angles always failed faster with me. Buuut... He also writes that a huge factor is how the knife is used so this may as well be specific to me or in other words, my fault.

Just in general to explain my approach to ship out sharpened knives - for some time I considered even sending them out without any edge at all. The reason for that is, that I know many of my customers don't even test my edge. They go and sharpen the knife guided to their angle on their stones establishing their edge before even testing my edge. It makes sense for them too. But it tells me that my OOTB edge won't satisfy everyone anyways so I came to the conclusion to just put a solid good edge on it and then the customer can still adapt it since it's small or use as is.

Update:

http://instagr.am/p/CW44hcSMcLE/
 

Jville

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I don't know his opinion on the topic but judging by both their books, Roman Landes researched this topic a little deeper. And it's no hit on either of them. I just come to experience Roman's results in real life with those very low sharpening angles always failed faster with me. Buuut... He also writes that a huge factor is how the knife is used so this may as well be specific to me or in other words, my fault.

Just in general to explain my approach to ship out sharpened knives - for some time I considered even sending them out without any edge at all. The reason for that is, that I know many of my customers don't even test my edge. They go and sharpen the knife guided to their angle on their stones establishing their edge before even testing my edge. It makes sense for them too. But it tells me that my OOTB edge won't satisfy everyone anyways so I came to the conclusion to just put a solid good edge on it and then the customer can still adapt it since it's small or use as is.

Update:

http://instagr.am/p/CW44hcSMcLE/
I always test ootb edges. If they are good, I use them. Never seemed right to me to waste them. Heck, even if they aren’t that great I usually use them a little bit, just sharpen much sooner. A great ootb edge helps give you a great first impression of the knife too. Not that you can’t see past a not so great ootb edge. You just sharpen it and get your first impression then. But it makes easier to be able to instantly use it.
 

KAMON Knives

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I always test ootb edges. If they are good, I use them. Never seemed right to me to waste them. Heck, even if they aren’t that great I usually use them a little bit, just sharpen much sooner. A great ootb edge helps give you a great first impression of the knife too. Not that you can’t see past a not so great ootb edge. You just sharpen it and get your first impression then. But it makes easier to be able to instantly use it.
@alterwisser convinced me of exactly that some time ago. First impression. Hope it holds up 🤞😂. It's important and I can see how, even though some people "waste" it.

To have said something about the guys putting their own edges on right off the bat: they have guided systems and have the same angle on all their knives. As I understand it, they therefore spend way less strokes to reestablish a used edge again. And in general an edge that is sharpened guided seems to hold up longer so they don't risk fails from very low angle edges like some Japanese knives come with for example. So they just go ahead and make all the knives they receive just their edge angle and that's that. I could see me doing that too if I was a customer just to establish a baseline and be also able to compare the steels and all that ^^.
 

Eloh

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. He also writes that a huge factor is how the knife is used so this may as well be specific to me or in other words, my fault.
From my own experience thats true for the vast majority of users. Unless you are very experienced and all you do are delicate push cuts (see usuba) you are probably better off with a conservative micro bevel.
 

Delat

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I always test ootb edges and if they’re decent then I’ll do a little light stropping on leather and put them to use. Every once in a while I get an edge that’s not great, and those I just touch up on a 4k stone. My standard 15 dps seems to always be higher than every japanese-knife ootb edge so basically I’m just putting a tiny little microbevel on top of the OOTB edge bevel.

Some guys on this forum will go with progressively lower angles (sometimes with thinning) until they get chipping, then back off. I doubt they do this straight away though. Edge retention discussions usually center around steel type rather than bevel angle, possibly because most here are comfortable sharpening and are happy to trade a sharper-feeling lower angle for slightly more frequent touchups (outside of a pro environment).

For my Kamon massdrop I plan to maintain the original 36 degrees until my strop and 4k no longer work (i.e. the original bevel is worn away) then when I need to do a full progression I’ll switch to my usual 30 degrees for consistency due to my muscle memory at that angle. With my light usage that’s probably a year away though.
 
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I don't know his opinion on the topic but judging by both their books, Roman Landes researched this topic a little deeper. And it's no hit on either of them. I just come to experience Roman's results in real life with those very low sharpening angles always failed faster with me. Buuut... He also writes that a huge factor is how the knife is used so this may as well be specific to me or in other words, my fault.

Just in general to explain my approach to ship out sharpened knives - for some time I considered even sending them out without any edge at all. The reason for that is, that I know many of my customers don't even test my edge. They go and sharpen the knife guided to their angle on their stones establishing their edge before even testing my edge. It makes sense for them too. But it tells me that my OOTB edge won't satisfy everyone anyways so I came to the conclusion to just put a solid good edge on it and then the customer can still adapt it since it's small or use as is.

Update:

http://instagr.am/p/CW44hcSMcLE/
Incredible distal taper of the blade in that photo -- can hardly wait!!

Just curious, is that a 225mm or a 260mm blade in the photo?
 

captaincaed

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I don't know his opinion on the topic but judging by both their books, Roman Landes researched this topic a little deeper. And it's no hit on either of them. I just come to experience Roman's results in real life with those very low sharpening angles always failed faster with me. Buuut... He also writes that a huge factor is how the knife is used so this may as well be specific to me or in other words, my fault.
I hope my comment came across as tongue-in-cheek!

In my experience I totally agree, there is a somewhat intimate relationship with the knife when cooking food. That sensation isn't always well-described by CATRA testing, although it's very useful in general. In many cases I really am happy to sacrifice "ultimate edge retention" for a good cutting feel and ease of tuning-up the edge quickly.
 

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