Took me a little longer than expected to get some time with these knives as I up and broke my toe last week, but I finally got a few meals prepped. I'll get the knives up to @ian shortly. Some notes:
The laser is really well executed--blade and handle both look and feel quite nice, balance is great, etc. I did have some issues with face stiction, especially when cutting a cabbage, that a different finish might improve; otherwise this one was plenty sharp and performed well. I'd guess that laser fans will find a lot to like here, but ultimately that's not me.
The workhorse, on the other hand, really clicked for me. It's super thick out of the spine, but the deep S-grind on the right face is a nice cozy home for the index finger in a right-handed pinch, so at least in my hand the knife was almost uncannily comfortable to grip. The grind performed beautifully for me, blasting through potatoes and cabbage as well as some sausages and steaks, and the startlingly thin tip made short work of an onion. With a quick touch-up polish on an Aiiwatani it took a fearsome, toothy edge with great feedback. The steel is taking a lovely patina and is gonna look super cool as the knife ages. I did find the shape a bit weird, but it's hard to argue with the performance. This knife is very cool.
Sorry, with everything going on in Philly, I kinda got delayed in posting my review. So here it goes:
The laser is a great laser. Everything you could ever want from a laser, the heat treatment holds up so the edge is hard enough to make thin cuts confidently without feeling chippy at all. Handle was smooth and comfortable. Balance and weight felt great in hand. But....that's it. Sorry, lasers are kinda one-dimensional/boring to me, so I didn't actually use the laser too much outside of first two days of testing.
Now....let's talk about the "workhorse"/big daddy shallot knife/love-at-first-sight big boy. The western ergonomic handle combined with the thick spine and insane taper made it extremely comfortable to hold and very eye catching. I kept twirling it around in my hand because I was just so fascinated that such a knife can exist, especially since it's just a "passaround" knife. Of course, the 26c3 delivers in this case, as usual, providing a lot of the "refined bite" that I love so much. The right-side s-grind allowed for just enough food release to make the knife a pleasure to work with. Because of the insane distal taper, I could go from doing rough cuts, like cutting lemongrass, to fine cuts, like a fine and even brunoise shallot, easily. Usually I would switch knives for such tasks, but found no need with this knife. The only down side with this knife was that I felt that the tip was dangerously thin, lol. I carried it throughout the pro kitchen I work in with the utmost caution, checking every 30 seconds to see if the tip was still there. If I was a dedicated home cook, this would be the perfect knife, but because a pro kitchen has the variable of "some random idiot picking up a knife they don't know how to use that's not theirs to open up cans", that constant fright factor is enough to make me bring this knife in to work sparingly.
Anyways, amazing job. I didn't get a chance to touch up the knives on the stones, but I'm sure it would have been an absolute joy, too. Now I really want to grab a workhorse with a western handle from you, @The Edge.
Thank you everyone for the kind words and feedback. I ran out of hard drive space on my computer, and have been switching over to a new one. After 10 days of transferring files to the cloud, we had a power outage, and back to square one. That said, I decided just to buy an external drive, and copied everything over last night. Should have gone that route from the beginning. Anyway, the new system will be up and running in a day or two, but also started working on the bookcase. Here's some "squirrel" pics to distract you.
First part of the project, build a jig to drill holes in pipe.
Holes all drilled, and off to powder coat.
The back side of the shelves, showing the holes for the pipes, and the groove for support rods.
Hey, after 5 weeks, the pipes are finally back from powder coating! Support rods are 1/4" steel rods next to the pipes.
Actually, there will be two sections for the bookcase. All the 4' sections are drilled, routed, and sanded to 400. Now time to stain and seal. If we're lucky, we might actually finish before the new year. The shelves are 3/4" 11 ply plywood out of birch.
First of all, thanks to @The Edge for sending the knives. They're quite impressive. Really nice work.
The wa laser
This one is thiiiiin! I measured it at 1.25mm at the spine over the heel. Given how thin the stock is (hmm, I assume it's from real thin stock) I think Taylor did a good job putting most of the convexity where it counts, around 1/3(?) of the way up from the edge. That said, there's not really enough steel here for any sort of complicated geometry, so it's sticky. The profile’s not quite my cup of tea - it's a little flat for me for most of the blade and I wish the curve to the tip started earlier and more gradually. The choil shape is very comfortable in hand. Horizontal onion cuts with the tip were kind of wedgy, but that might be from our PA sharpenings. It's currently .34mm behind the bevel near the tip, so not uber thin BTE, even though the overall geometry there is thin. The handle is attractive -- I have a soft spot for burnt handles. It's a little too rectangular for me. I think I prefer more pronounced secondary bevels (what do you call them? the ones you cut from the corners of the rectangle), or something. Pretty good to sharpen for stainless (it's stainless, right? i forget and haven't noticed any reactivity), although I only touched it up on a 3k. Fit and finish of the handle install could be slightly improved (some glue showing, a little off center tang hole) and the sanded finish on the blade looks like it was done rather quickly, but it's a nice knife.
The S-ground western handled one
Like many of the users, I preferred this one. The handle is comfortable and the choil and spine are nicely eased. The ridge on the bottom of the handle fits right between my 4th and 5th fingers in a pinch grip. The blade has a drastic distal taper and a pronounced S grind. Food release is pretty good and the thin tip does glide through product. There’s slightly too much distal taper for me. I have a hard time controlling the tip of the knife when there's no weight there, especially when the blade is more handle heavy than I prefer. (Balance point is at the very front end of the bolster.) The profile of this knife is excellent. I love the slight continuous curve. There are some small irregularities in the construction and grind. For instance, the two sides of the bolster are different sizes (it's just a visual thing, it feels quite nice in hand), there's a dented line near the handle, and you can feel in places where the grinding has taken away more of the softer steel above the hamon than the adjacent hard steel. There's also what seems to me to be a bit of an overgrind near the edge on the left side, maybe 1/3 of the way up the blade. (Maybe I'm wrong.) I can't feel it or anything, but the edge bevel basically disappears for a 1cm stretch. I think my sharpening was still hitting the edge, though, since I can't tell a difference in the quality of my deburring there vs elsewhere. So, none of these things really affected the quality of the experience using the knife, which was quite pleasant. One thing to note is that the choil shot for this knife is slightly misleading, since it's thinner BTE at the heel than it is in the rest of the blade, as you can see from the disappearing edge bevel there. But the choil shot makes you think the knife's going to break from being so thin, so this isn't a bad thing! It's certainly not fat behind the edge elsewhere. It sharpened quite well for me, not quite as easily as some of my other knives (Y Tanaka, Wat, etc...) but pretty nice. I forget what steel it is. All in all, though, it's a really nice performer. Congrats on the knife, Taylor, it was a pleasure to use.
Bookshelves look great. I think I'm the end of the line so I'll get the knives back to Taylor this week. Kudos to @applepieforbreakfast as the yo handled WH arrived absolutely screaming sharp and both knives were well packed. I may post some more extended thoughts but much of what I have to say just echos the comments of other participants.
My personal preferences run to light to midweight, wa handled knives, however, I found the stainless laser both too light and too thin for comfortable long term use. The food release was a bit better than I expected considering how thin the blade is. I'm not used to yo handles these days so the WH also felt slightly strange to me even though I have no major reservations about the balance point or overall weight. The grind was very good with regard to function from my perspective. I love super thin tips and as a home cook I'm the only "random idiot" likely to be handling my knives. I'm not sure that "too much distal taper" is even a thing for me with all due respect to @ian . If I was ordering a custom I would specify a slightly different profile than either knife but the stainless laser was a little closer to my preferences. The tip on the WH especially felt way too high to me. I'm certainly not going to quibble about F&F for knives built for a passaround.
Thanks for the opportunity!