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My TF Denka Journey

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I'm pretty new to Japanese knives, having bought my first in Japan from Aritsugu in Kyoto just before the pandemic hit. The pandemic and some dietary restrictions drove me to seriously focus on cooking - while always a foodie, at 60 yrs I had cooked very little of any complexity and used only better brand name German knives.

Fast forward to wanting to move on from my old Henckels after touring Japan and using my Aritsugu, and as a former research company owner, I researched the heck out of Japanese knives (this forum and others, vendor sites, and numerous shops in southern ontario canada being key sources).

One day I was in a Toronto shop looking at everything with the patient owner who calmly answered all my newbyish questions.

Then I happened to pick up a 195mm TF Denka Gyuto with that notch and octagonal handle. It literally fell into my pinch grip and, unlike any knife I'd held to that point, felt like an extension of my arm and hand. I know that's a cliche, but I found myself looking down at my arm - hand - knife connection wondering how the knife 'did this' - the lines between instrument and body melted into one - I was momentarily mesmerized. It felt perfect and then I looked at the price $768 CDN! Geez... why I asked, okay Aogami Super, but still.

The shop owner said, it's a knife you'll give your grandchildren. The maker is 5th generation and came from samurai sword lineage and a couple other details about the knife - no hard sell, just some info. There were a couple other small knives I was interested in as well: Anryu #2 75mm Petty and a Kotetsu Petty 135mm Type 3. I was torn about the Denka only due to the price - about twice as much as the other two combined.

Everything else in the store including gyutos from other makers felt 'dead' in my hands - no connection to me - not the same balance - no extended arm feel - no primitive hand-hewn beauty like the Denka. I relented and bought all three with a discount of 10% on the petties and 5% on the Denka. At home, to test sharpness in the past, I had set up a piece of photcopy paper folded on its edge and cut down to see if it would slice through and how far before the paper folded over - the Denka went through at least half and more than any other knife I tried.

A day or two later, I took a knife sharpening course from a local Japanese knife shop; I searched the net for info on Denkas and found all the horror stories. Then, armed with more knowledge, looked closely at my Denka fearing the worst. I found some bad: the handle wasn't set centered on a handle facet, there was a small overgrind on the face of the heal about 3/8 sq. inch in diameter in the corner, the first 3/8" of the heal edge sat off the cutting board, and worse, the knife was slightly bent. I also read about grind issues upon later sharpenings, delaminations, the lemons, etc. I thought, if this is what I see now, what might come up later and that slight bend sickened me.

After some panic, I decided to show the knife to a trusted shop I bought another knife from. The vendor calmed me down and said yes there is a slight bend (I'm picky and neurotic with a past collecting vintage watches, and much earlier Asian antiques, so I have a decent eye) but he said he could fix it and didn't at all seem appalled or worried (like I was). Fix it? I asked if he had done this before. Answering in the affirmative, he reached behind the counter and produced a wooden slotted device specifically for the purpose. I was so worried, I couldn't even watch and literally turned away expecting to hear a horrible ping sound. When done, he called me over to look at the knife and pointed me to a board with a large carrot. It was perfectly straight with only the hammering surface showing very very slightly on one side when scoping down the blade, and it cut well without any bind (the previous bend was relatively slight, but seemed to bind slightly cutting down through a large carrot previously).

I thanked him and returned home. But it still bothered me. I called the shop I bought it from and then dropped by with it showing the faults and asking if I could return it - I was thinking analytically - $800+ and Im dealing with this nonsense? The woman in the shop called the owner as the knife was used in testing at the other shop and at my home, and had very light patina over a couple of inches of the core steel. In this age of google live or die reviews, he told her to give me my money back. I was relieved and felt I got away with a close call.

Over the next week or so, I did more research, visited more shops, looked at more knives and even bought a couple: a Shiro Kamo Super tall nakiri 165mm and a 210 mm Konosuki HD2 with rosewood. But, for over a week, I couldn't get that Denka out of my mind. It popped up over and over - when I looked at my magnetic knife bar, I actually felt sad, like a family member was missing, the head of the family; I beat myself up a bit, thinking about WHAT A KNIFE IS FOR: cutting, making food with passion, having the knife motivate you to cook more - the Denka excelled in these areas and I actually felt stupid that I let the internet and my neurosis decide what I wanted; I missed the artistry, the lineage history, and of course the feel in my hand and cutting performance. I also have a history with blades: Ive collected pocket knives and used to study Filipino Kombatan (Escrima) martial arts which involves knife offence and defence skills.

I became increasingly distraught and thought about going to buy it back if it was still there. And, I tried to rationalize to talk myself out of it. But the cost and the minor flaws melted away - I needed that knife!

In Toronto for another reason ( I live an hour away), I decided to call the shop - I noticed it was no longer on their site (as I had looked several times over the past days as if looking for a lost child) and feared the worst. I didn't know if I was going to buy it, but I needed to at least look at it again. Calling the shop from my car, the woman said they did have it and that it wasn't on the site as it was now B-stock and being sold for a discount: $700 CDN even. I felt relief and ecstasy at being able to confirm or deny this aching feeling that I needed that knife.

I drove right over - she had the knife ready for me - inspecting it, it felt like an old friend - the owner (who is Japanese) then happened in and gave me more info on the knife: he had ordered only 2 of the rarer Japanese-handled model; I also found in my research that most Denkas come with Western handles (in North America anyways). We talked about the flaws - that the 'lift' in the heel would come out or be reduced upon a sharpening or two, the nature of TF's style, and that steel and heat treating. We looked at a Denka Nakiri and Gyutos with western handles - they had flaws, one with a mild curve, worse than my Denka after the adjustment. Hefting it, 'shadow cutting', imaging using it, I was falling in love all over again. I decided to buy it - I was given a second chance and wasn't going to let it slip away again.

I felt serious relief after the purchase as he cashed me out, and that I had bonded not only with the knife, but with the owner, the shop, the universe. I felt a wholeness, a completeness and a sense of calm. As he was checking me out, the owner said under his breath, "it was waiting for you" - I felt a chill of truth overtaking me - he was right, he was so right. Driving home I was giddy: I couldn't believe the knife was in my car - I felt for the bag and knife box in it behind my seat - it was really there - no dream - more relief. When I arrived home, I played with it, then put it on my knife bar and felt the family is now all here - no need for more knife purchases for a while - there are no holes, I can relax, all is well...
 

Jovidah

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I mostly don't understand why people are willing to shell out those amounts of money for what sounds like project knives that are at best a gamble. At those price points it's fair to either expect absolute perfection or a complimentary happy ending. Plenty of manufacturers who will deliver either for a lot less.
 

Nemo

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Rather than trading insults, perhaps those that are interested in the thread can participate in a civil fashion.

Those that are not interested in the thread can ignore it. No one is forcing you to read the story. If you find it boring, don't read it. No need to comment.

C'mon guys, this not rocket science- it is basic manners.
 

Phip

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From desire to obsession with a dose of superstition on top, what's not to like? Sounds like something I could have done except I wouldn't have had the added excitement of being in-person as it would have been thru the mail.
 

ModRQC

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@canuckknifeguy don't be deterred by some reactions. Any post going over 10 words is bound to be shot down around here.

Your story isn't boring if a bit long, I think it underlines well the relation TF owners and lovers have with their knives. Some of them went cherry picking one in Tokyo, some could verify the unit in store before buying, some could rely on a nice vendor online to "sort this out" and find a nice(r) unit, but some still went through a bit of a situation like you.

Mine Mabs wasn't perfect - but everything you said made it perfect even there. Blade of mine didn't carry much fault though, mostly the handle.

Sold it recently - and will miss it hard, do miss it already.

Will buy a Denka one of these days. I don't mind a project knife if the base is solid. I sure want another one at one point. Unlike you though, I have a lot of knives and find them all pleasing in some ways or others. Mabs wasn't the only one to feel just right - but still an experience to behold.

Good luck and be happy.
 

tcmx3

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man now I feel compelled to chime in, too.

OP I enjoyed reading your post. I hope that reaction doesn't discourage you from spending time here. Most folks here are not like that.
 

daveb

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Just don't understand why selling off the TF & go buy back the same knife even after realize the problem... Really don't understand.
Why do you need to understand what someone else does with their money? You've polluted this thread when you could have, should have, just scrolled on by.

No response required.
 
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ModRQC

OhNoNyaki
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Perhaps if read throughout the OP would have enlighten "someone" that said unit was repaired at another shop, so the OP just sort of "undid" his going back to have it refunded. Easy to guess by then he still wanted the knife, didn't want to take the chance of a new unit going into this all over again.
 

mcwcdn

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I hear they are fantastic pieces...congrats on getting it back!
 

nakiriknaifuwaifu

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Man buys knife.
He loves it, but it is flawed.
Conflicted, he returns it
But cannot forget the feeling of it in his hands.

In his longing he sets out
in search of the knife that stole his heart,
and finally finds it
languishing in a bin of rejects.

He picks it up, and lo!
The flaw has been corrected!
The price has been reduced!
He takes her home in his arms.​






This is a real nice story. There's a lot of romanticizing that goes on with makers and knives and stuff, and I welcome stories like this.


Edit: I was going to add "He takes her home in his arms.........and then keeps her in the kitchen" as a joke, but after the "knives of wives" thread not sure how well that joke would be taken here...anyways 🙈🙉🙊
 
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tchan001

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People who decide to purchase TF should have done their research and known what to expect. They should probably also know that there are specialists out there that will help them tune up their TF to perfection if they don't want to do it themselves.

The story seems a classic love story: finding your first love, breaking up due to unfulfilled expectations, and eventually getting back together happily in marriage.
 

ModRQC

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That final cut, painless?
The rubies of truth confess
To a longing heart, restless and homeless.
 

Midsummer

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This is not a paralysis by analysis story, but rather how analysis caused doubts and eventual action despite an emotional (for lack of a better term- lets say a feeling or sense) attachment.

Our world is full of examples where groups of connoisseurs or experts offer opinions on daily living. We seem to often internalize their points or analysis. It seems that most intelligent people understand that they do not know everything (anything?). We quickly learn to apply the standards of the "experts" in our attempt to understand things. I have heard that this attribute seems to be a particularly strong trait of the western culture, to reduce our experiences to a set of observations or parts. It seems that often we miss the whole.

We miss- does it fit well in my life?, does work for me?, and other observations that are fundamentally important like does it bring me joy? and does she have anything on under that?

Thanks for sharing your story.
 

adam92

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People who decide to purchase TF should have done their research and known what to expect. They should probably also know that there are specialists out there that will help them tune up their TF to perfection if they don't want to do it themselves.

The story seems a classic love story: finding your first love, breaking up due to unfulfilled expectations, and eventually getting back together happily in marriage.
You describe like a romantic movie😳😳 feel like marriage at the last. 😳😳
 

4wa1l

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It was nice to read and resonates with me. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure a lot is down to hype and marketing but for me there has always been something tempting about his knives. I thought that tiramisu should be served cool but maybe the "warmth" is what starts multi page threads about a single knife. I'm semi joking but I figured I'd add my brief TF story.

Screenshot_20201205-184231.png


When I purchased my first Japanese knife a few years ago they had a couple of them in stock. I bought something else but asked about them and was told all about how they're the sharpest knives in the store, made by a multi generation sword maker etc etc. I knew it was the standard sales pitch but there was something about them. They looked unique with the yo handle, notch and to a noob white #1 was the best, purest and of course ultimate steel. Since then it had been on my one day wishlist.

Moving forward to the present (still very much a noob) and I've just purchased two new knives, a gyuto and nakiri. I had considered a TF in each case but others stood out so it stayed on the wishlist. Even though the knives are great, I couldn't help but wonder what the TF alternatives would have been like.

Just the other day I was in a store and had the opportunity to handle a Morihei TF. I thought it was cool to see one again in person but the last thing I needed was another knife so I didn't even consider buying it. Unfortunately I had now felt the "warmth". Even after my recent knives I couldn't get it out of my head. So... I went back and bought it like a fool.

Anyway I now have my ugly duckling TF. I've finally scratched the itch and am a content fool with too many knives. Time will tell if I become a fanboi but so far it feels pretty bloody nice to use and I don't regret my decision at all. I'm sure now that I've tried the white steel a Denka will be on my wishlist...
 

daddy yo yo

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People who decide to purchase TF should have done their research and known what to expect. They should probably also know that there are specialists out there that will help them tune up their TF to perfection if they don't want to do it themselves.

The story seems a classic love story: finding your first love, breaking up due to unfulfilled expectations, and eventually getting back together happily in marriage.
...until you find a new one, different one, better one, with nicer geometry and better fit and finish. Then you get an expensive divorce and start babying a new partner at your side! And it starts all over again!
 

gcsquared

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I thoroughly enjoyed the story because it related to me on so many levels. I grew up in Toronto, I am a research before purchase kinda guy, and all those feelings of going back-and-forth and twisting-and-turning is real.

OP: if you are bother by the “flaw”, send the knife to a professional who can replace the handle, fix the overgrind, etc.

And the “No need for more knife purchases for a while” part at the end, I hope it’s true for you! Cos it certainly isn’t for me lol.. despite telling myself that many times over the past 15 years I’ve been collecting knives
 
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