Need some help: hollow ground chef’s knife

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Jul 11, 2021
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New York, USA
Need some advice from the brethren. I ordered a chef’s knife from a company called Autine in Latvia (Link, presumably set up by a respected smith John Neeman). Wanted to try a knife in Elmax with good knuckle clearance and the price seemed reasonable for a decent grind, handle etc. Risky, but I paid 1/2 up front, 5m wait time turned into 1yr 3m and they are offering me the knife in the pic below (if I pay the balance). Less knuckle clearance and a hollow grind but looks interesting. Any thoughts? Particularly the hollow grind on a chef’s knife. Based on their lack of communications, concerned if I don’t take it, I may be kissing my deposit goodbye.

Are they going to refund you your deposit? That knife looks nothing like the photo on the website, unless they are experts in messing up perspective in photos. It looks both much shorter, and to have a much flatter profile. In the link it looks more like a Kramer. It doesn’t feel like what they’re offering, is what you put the deposit down for in spirit or structure.

Regarding hollow grinds, my own experience is limited. Primarily from pocket knives, which tend to be thick stock, deep hollows and comparatively short blades. They make poor slicers.

I do have one knife that I believe has a hollow based on looking at the choil. It is by far and beyond my worst performing knife. On anything that reaches the top of the grind, it turns into a wedge monster which is simply tragic because the rest of the knife is perfect so I’m stuck in a constant love/hate relationship with it.

I don’t think hollow grind is necessarily the devil, think the large Japanese water wheels used for grinding blades, or the flat platens used on belt grinders to mimic the wheel diameter. A well done hollow should perform well in the kitchen, or the those things wouldn’t be so prevalent. Hollows also get used for things like S grinds, which if they are to your taste are supposed to perform quite admirably.

The issue is that when someone uses a small diameter wheel and creates a deep hollow where the curvature changes quickly, as that can lead to wedging.
To me, the whole thing sounds like a down hill slide. The knife appears to be thick behind the edge in the photo. The hollow grind will make it hard to thin aesthetically without a belt grinder. I guess how badly you want to try Elmax would be the deciding factor in whether to get off the slide now, or take it all the way to the bottom.
I think it comes down to what you're willing to risk.

The general profile of the knife looks good to me. So it comes down to the hollow grind. From what I've seen, most wide bevel j-knives are hollow grind as they are working on the "big wheel" which imparts some hollowness in the bevel. Even something like a Yoshikane is hollow ground. But that is only part way up the blade. The grind on the pictured knife is more like a razor grind. If the hollow is deep, it will wedge when tall product hits the top of the grind. But that said, for shorter product as it hits that edge it should release, so welcome to the trade-off of knife making.

To "thin" the knife, I suspect you'd have to treat it like a straight razor - lay it on the stone and go to work. Can the steel handle a zero grind (with maybe a micro-bevel) at the edge? Someone smarter than me needs to answer that.

If that knife is $350USD, I'd skip it. it would have to be less than that for me to risk playing with it, but it would be a curiosity to try it.
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I think you’d be throwing good money after bad.

Don’t fall for the sunk cost fallacy. Take a step back and ask yourself if that unknown knife as pictured is worth $350. They’ve already ripped you off for $175, don’t give them another $175.

Ask for your money back, then fill out the questionnaire and ask us to recommend a respected j-knife for under $200 (assuming you don’t get a refund) with the money you saved from dodging this bullet.
If you pay by PayPal, you can request refund though PayPal. Hollow grind tend to wedges to one side, especially when you cutting roots vegetables.
Thanks to all for the very valid points. I don’t think PayPal will reimburse down payment since it was over a year ago. Knife looks a little short and combined with the hollow grind, I don’t think it will make for a good kitchen cutter. Also concerned about the stubby looking handle. Will be super hard to thin the blade if it is thick behind the edge too. Been very difficult dealing with this vendor. It was a spur of the moment order, I normally only buy from established and vetted vendors/smiths. Will ask them for choil and spine pics, confirmation on the steel and measurements, an alternative knife option, or a refund. Wish me luck- lesson learned.