TF Chronicles

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A little over a year ago I followed an active thread debating the strengths and defects of knives made by Terayasu Fujiwara. There was a considerable view that defects in construction of the knives collectively called wabi sabi rendered them unsuitable for purchase at current prices. On the other side of the argument was a considerable number of equally reputable KKF members who took the position that the knives cutting performance and edge longevity out weighed any defects in construction to make TF knives very desirable additions in any kitchen, home or commercial.

I watched this debate unfold but couldn’t take a position on the debate personally. Simply put … I didn’t own a TF and had never used one. Other than by parroting one position or another I had no basis to judge or comment. I decided to learn for myself by buying a few examples and using them exclusively in my kitchen for a few months. A few knives turned into twelve knives, and a few months turned into seven months. Nine of the knives I used most are pictured above. A few knives turned into seven months of exclusive use because I wanted the experience of using them until a few got dull enough to require sharpening. Only then did I feel that I was in a position to comment.

The “Coles Notes” version of my Chronicle is that both sides of the argument have valid points. Everybody is right ! On balance I fall on the side that every kitchen should have at least one TF in it. When work has to be done I believe that most will find themselves reaching for their TF. I have to confess, however, that my favourite house had a rough split cedar shake roof. I like ”rough” so long as it doesn’t impede performance. It wasn’t until my twelfth knife that I received a TF which I wouldn’t use until I did some work on the blade. Most were previously used knives where some had modified the blade, generally by thinning. Other of the knives were untouched or new from the box.

Here’s a few pics from the time TF’s ruled my kitchen.

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My time with TF’s started with a Morihei fine finish 240 Gyuto. It had been thinned by the previous owner and was an absolute delight to use. It used a pre-laminated steel with a white 1 core and iron cladding (I think). I’m a little uncertain about the steel because I later bought a Morihei version which appears to be stainless clad, thus the uncertainty. I sold this knife when I later purchased a 240 Denka Gyuto. I missed it so much that I later bought it back from the purchaser. I can honestly say that based on price and performance this knife is at the top of my collection.

From there I went on to two Maboroshi Gyutos, a 180 and a 210. Reportedy forge welded by TF the knives offer a White #1 core and stainless cladding. They also introduced me to TF’s heat treatment which is reportedly HRC 63-64. The arrival of these knives coincided with my temporary smaller kitchen and really introduced me to the utility of smaller knives. I’ve used them a lot and the ”as purchased” edge stood up for seven months without maintenance … not even stropping, before I felt it necessary to put them to the stones.

The next TF was a 240 Denka Gyuto. More attention had obviously been paid by TF to f&f but by no means could you call this Denka a “pretty” knife. With a hand forged AS core, stainless cladding and a heat treatment to 64-65 it’s a pure performer. It is so sharp and holds an edge so well that I may be only slightly exaggerating when I say that it may never need sharpening. It is, however priced accordingly.

To that point my experience was limited to gyutos. For the next page of my Chronicles I decided to add a nakiri and a petty. I chose to purchase them from District Cutlery and turn them over to “knife whisperer” Ryan Swanson for thinning before they were shipped to me. I’m not put off by thinning knives but I was concerned from previous comments that they may require significant thinning out of the box. I’ve had arthritis in my hands for too many years to want to take on a serious thinning job on stainless steel. I wasn’t disappointed. Ryan knows his work and provided me with delightfully thinned blades and scary sharp edges. The 195 Maboroshi Nakiri is a monster on the boards. The 150 Maboroshi quickly became my favourite petty of all time. F&f on both knives are excellent.

For the next turn in my journey I decided to move away from the western style handle to a Ho handle. I love the 195 Nakiri but I felt it was just a bit much for daily use. I also concluded from using 180 and 210mm gyutos that 195mm was my sweet spot. I picked up a 165mm Denka nakiri and a 195mm Denka Gyuto from Real Sharp Knives. The f&f on both knives were excellent and IMO no thinning was required. Both are excellent, excellent knives … heirloom material IMO.

The 12th and last knife was a 195mm Maboroshi Gyuto. It was used, priced right and I thought might be a perfect knife to reside in my travelling knife roll. I believe it was the oldest knife that I acquired. This knife taught me the meaning of “wabi sabi”. Were I to have received this knife NIB from a dealer I would have been disappointed. The f&f is mediocre at best, and the blade needed some effort before it was usable. It had been roughly thinned and still needs a bit more to be right. Can it be put right? It can be made serviceable by someone with the skills and inclination to take it on. Would I recommend it to the average knife owner … no way!

So … what’s my conclusion to all of this.

TF’s are for the most part great performers. They are rough, durable and long lasting. I doubt that there is much that can be done to them through aggressive use in a serious kitchen. They cut like demons and hold an serviceable edge way beyond what I experience with many other knives. The only defect I could see in all of them is that they are prone to stiction … the blades stick in some vegetables. No “Naughty Schoolboys” when you are using a TF to slice potatoes. To be honest … that surprised me. Do you like the way they look? I don’t mind their rustic look but then I liked rough split cedar shake roofs too.

I’m going to trim down my collection of TF’s. I certainly don’t need twelve of them. My problem is which ones … I’ve grown to love them all.
 
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Sorry for the split posting to this thread. when I first tried to display the pic at the top it wouldn’t display properly. I fussed with it to no success and I couldn’t seem to abandon the thread. I posted it and when I realized that it posted properly I continued to finish the Chronicle through an “edit”. It took a while to get the words done and I apologize for the fact that the simple pic with no words wasn’t much of a “Chronicle”.

I hope it’s better now and thank all of you for your patience.
 

Corradobrit1

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Just a correction to something you alluded to in that very enlightened review. Nothing prelaminated about the TF Morihei line. They are all forged inhouse and I assume the one you're referring to was my old iron clad version, a 240 with the Ku finish.
 
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Just a correction to something you alluded to in that very enlightened review. Nothing prelaminated about the TF Morihei line. They are all forged inhouse and I assume the one you're referring to was my old iron clad version, a 240 with the Ku finish.


Thanks for the correction, and yes I was referring to your old KU finished version. Regardless of price it is one of the nicest performing knives I’ve used. It will definitely have a spot on my casket’s mag strip. It says something when it flatly out-performs it’s Denka brother. When I first used it the feeling I had was the same as when I used to ski on fresh powder. I forget what I was using it for but the first words I uttered were ….. sweeeeeeet! Goes to show what gems can be had on BST at a very reasonable cost.
 
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Good to see that the wabi sabi thread got someone else, i read it start to finish over the holidays and now have a jck tf petty, a 240 wa denka and now a 210 mab with a western handle in the mail, i think a nakiris gonna be my next tf purchase

That’s great to hear and hopefully you will share your experiences, good and bad, with them at some point.

One conclusion I did arrive at was that it wasn’t necessary to step up to the Denka line. If you have a set of stones close by … say a King 1000/6000 combo stone, and the basic skills on the stones to maintain the edge you will easily have a premium cutter on hand at all times. The Denka line, though superior are not necessary. They (the Mabs) are very easy and quick to touch up to restore an edge. One trick that I use to remind myself to touch up a blade is to reverse the direction of the blade on my kitchen knife strip when I‘m finished using it. A quick and easy reminder that a few swipes on the stones are due.
 

Corradobrit1

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Good to see that the wabi sabi thread got someone else, i read it start to finish over the holidays and now have a jck tf petty, a 240 wa denka and now a 210 mab with a western handle in the mail, i think a nakiris gonna be my next tf purchase
Seriously consider the TF Morihei 165 Nakiri. For $135 its one of the best deals in JKnives I've come across in the current market.
 
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Don't even consider any other options. Don't mull it over any longer, just hit "buy now" on the Morihei Hisamoto nakiri. Absolutely fantastic and a steal at the price

And …. IMO 165mm is the sweet spot for a nakiri!


Unless you happen to be planning a trip to Ukraine in which case the “Zombie Apocalypse“ capabilities of the 195mm might prove useful … in and out of the kitchen.
 

ModRQC

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Me I'd be interested to know your take about having a Wa handle vs. a Yo handle on these.

I mean could be wrong about lenghts but something like comparing the Yo Mabs 210mm with the Wa Denka 195mm - preferences or indifference... :)
 

Corradobrit1

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comparing the Yo Mabs 210mm with the Wa Denka 195mm - preferences or indifference... :)
IMO pretty interchangeable. I have 195 and 210 (true edge length) Denka's and although they are a little different in terms of thickness and height they basically serve the same purpose.
 

JASinIL2006

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Thanks for this thread! I ordered a wa Denka (210) directly from TF and I'm waiting (not too patiently) for it to be shipped from Japan. I asked for the ho wood handle. I'm hoping I get one that doesn't need much work to make it serviceable. I'm pretty sure my thinning and sharpening skills are not up to what I'd want for a Denka, so if it does need work, I may have to shop around...
 
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Me I'd be interested to know your take about having a Wa handle vs. a Yo handle on these.

I mean could be wrong about lenghts but something like comparing the Yo Mabs 210mm with the Wa Denka 195mm - preferences or indifference... :)

This pic may help answer your question though the lengths are not exactly what you specified.

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By my measurement the edge length of the WA handled Mab is 196mm, and the HO handled Denka is 201mm. The handle length of the Mab excluding the curved butt is 95mm, the Denka is 140mm overall. The Mab balances approximately at the heel. The balance point of the Denka balances approximately 1” towards the tip From the heel. The Mab is neutral to handle heavy. The Denka is blade heavy.

In use I find little difference between the two knives. Both are equally usable in my hand. I should say, however, that I’m a home cook. I cook three to six meals a day on average and will adapt my style and use to the knife in hand. A working chef likely views his knives differently. To them, the knife is a tool which likely needs to suit their style as opposed to the adaptability of the home cook who has the luxury of a much more friendly schedule.
 
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Thanks for this thread! I ordered a wa Denka (210) directly from TF and I'm waiting (not too patiently) for it to be shipped from Japan. I asked for the ho wood handle. I'm hoping I get one that doesn't need much work to make it serviceable. I'm pretty sure my thinning and sharpening skills are not up to what I'd want for a Denka, so if it does need work, I may have to shop around...

If I had a knife that needed work and wasn’t prepared to or capable of doing it myself I would send it to the knife whisperer, Ryan Swanson, at District Cutlery. The work he did for me was excellent and the price very reasonable.
 

zizirex

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which Manaka?

because I have one of his blue 1 knives the F&F is pretty decent on it and the grind is miles better than any TF Ive ever used OOTB.
His ATS is one of them, his White 2 is also a little bit light wabi-sabi. His Kasumi finish covered his wabi-sabi grind that's why you don't really see it. when you see it under the light you could see the TF style in it. the old batch is really bad for the grind but the newer batch is getting better. yet somehow the left side is way more pronounced than the right side.
 

Corradobrit1

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Awesome to hear. Cuts great; not the greatest handle, but easily replaced.
If you think those handles are bad, try one of TF's 'upgraded' Ho wood versions. Asking 3,000Yen extra for those is an insult.
 
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If you think those handles are bad, try one of TF's 'upgraded' Ho wood versions. Asking 3,000Yen extra for those is an insult.
I'd have to see one of these "upgraded" handles. I've heard stories, but don't think I've seen one.
My denka is a yo handle and below is my Morihei ho wood handle. It's rough and I'll replace it at some point.
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I didn’t feature this fine finish Morihei 240mm TF Gyuto in my Chronicle because I haven’t put it to use yet. It clearly shows what can be accomplished with a little effort. It languished on BST until I said to myself that “this is crazy”, and pushed the “buy it now button”. It’s gorgeous and I’ll put it on New Knives when I’ve had a chance to use it.

A few more pics …

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