Vintage Sabatier

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I have a pre war blank slicer has seen usage since I bought it years ago.
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Couple times have had desire to restore a vintage chef knife. Most on eBay are over 200.00 been cleaned but have pitting from rust in the past. Found a nogent handle with Seal logo. Little I've read it may be over 100 years old. There is a dip at the heel not too bad. Was thinking of grinding the finger guard at bottom of heel so lines up with slight dip, so the heel would have a slight rise.
Better than redoing whole edge & taking height off the blade.

Anyway I know some of you have restored multiple old Sabatier chef knives any thoughts?
 

McMan

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That actually looks pretty nice--usually they're far more beat (dried handle, big frown in the profile with a low-hanging heel, etc. etc.).
If you want to clean up the heel, then one way to do it is to file it up to edge height, then bring the bolster up to a 45-degree. From there, you can thin/blend the sides of the bolster close to the edge so it's not too fat. This isn't functionally necessary, but looks nice. I like using a file since it's slow and easy to control. I've used a sanding drum in a drill press too, which worked well since you can hold the knife horizontal. I've tried a bench grinder, too, which I didn't like since it was hard (for me at least) to orient the knife vertically (to get at the underneath of the bolster) without the handle getting in the way. But horses for courses... could be easy if you have a bench grinder with a rest.

This is my taste--45-degree and really nicely blended/thin where the bolster meets the knife's edge. IMO this is very well done at the bolster.
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Sometimes on slicers, the bolster/blade junction is a lower angle, and with a thicker bolster. This one looks about ~20-degrees.
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Another style is to blend it like a curved ramp. One thing with the example below is that the bolster is too thick at the knife's edge and needs to be thinned/blended there.
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([None of these are my knives--just pulled examples from online.)
 
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The one on eBay is old so the finger guard is thinner than later Sab's. Yes thanks I like the 45% lift at back remembered reading that trick before. It also gets it out of the way if you want to do more thinning of finger guard. I might get this one the pictures blade is dark but looks pretty clean no major pitting you see in so many of the old Sabatier. There is no spine shot but can tell it's really thin up front. Sent seller couple questions.
 

Benuser

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I have a pre war blank slicer has seen usage since I bought it years ago.
View attachment 169014

Couple times have had desire to restore a vintage chef knife. Most on eBay are over 200.00 been cleaned but have pitting from rust in the past. Found a nogent handle with Seal logo. Little I've read it may be over 100 years old. There is a dip at the heel not too bad. Was thinking of grinding the finger guard at bottom of heel so lines up with slight dip, so the heel would have a slight rise.
Better than redoing whole edge & taking height off the blade.

Anyway I know some of you have restored multiple old Sabatier chef knives any thoughts?
No ones are identical. Some have an extra lip near to the heel, which complicates things if you want to remove it in order to may use it in the middle of the board. This one look quite OK. Straight, no recurve, no protruding heel. Just one suggestion: don't fight for the last millimetres near to the heel, accept the blade is thicker and you can't thin it without risking to create an overgrind. Holes near to the fingerguard are frequent. All to do is cleaning up, with fine steel wool or sandpaper, and force an new patina.
Spending $200 with ebay for a vintage is crazy. They have become collectors' items. There has been serious market manipulation by stories about modern steel being recycled; all flea markets of France and Navarra have been ransacked. You may easily consider some issues, a the damaged tip, a recurve belly, a protruding fingerguard. What you don't see how the blade has been maintained. One poor sharpening with a grinding wheel can damage the temper. Have seen vintages where I had to remove 5mm / 3/16" before reaching steel that could just take an edge.
The worst: steel composition wasn't that well controlled in those days. From time you encounter a large 'migrant carbide'. If it is at the edge, you will lose 1-2mm. A bit of work, especially the thinning afterwards.
Much worse, if it is deeper. It is likely to cause a hairline breakage, perpendicular to the edge, 15mm long and the knife has becomes perfectly unusable.
Taking a risk at $20 is OK. If you intend to use the blade, $200 is a lot of money, and there are excellent alternatives you don't have to worry about.
 
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Not as old Sab's with Revit handles are cheaper around 100$ range. Don't see any cheap vintage on eBay. You point out many factors up against restoring 100 year old Sab's.

I know the carbon steel is not as hard as many japanese carbons. One of my favorite carbon cleavers at work was thinner up front and thicker at the heel. When I found out what Lobster King Chinese used for splitting lobsters bought same one in Chinatown.

I have restored Chinese cleavers got dirt cheap from a guy in Hawaii. Some of them had nice grinds. Sold them to students cheap. Had to repair barrel rat tail handles on some.

Years ago bought a few German old carbon chef knives don't remember how much I paid but well under 50.00. Sold them too.

Seems like prices have risen quite a bit.
 

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Seems like prices have risen quite a bit.
Absolutely.
The South American market (especially Argentina) drove up prices on old solingen knives.
Sabatiers, especially nogent, have been crazy expensive for the past 5 years. I wonder who's buying them all? (Maybe collectors?--there were a lot of intersting hallmarks at the turn of the century.)
It's a bummer these knives cost an arm and a leg nowadays. They're fun to use. For me, they were a gateway to Japanese knives (and used to be priced as such, too--$40-50 could net a wonderful old Solingen or Sab a decade ago. Not anymore.)
 

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I do have a few vintages, Sabs, Solingen, Sheffields I love and use a lot. They have become a part of my life, especially after working a bit on them. Even if they are very interesting knives, I can't say they are all technically superior to a Misono Swedish or a modern Robert Herder 1922.
Paying now $200 (plus shipping, VAT, import tax, handling costs) for an unpredictable Sab from the twenties were crazy.
 
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Have two Herders now, has put faith in modern German knives. Not the lowest common denominator blades they pump out by the millions.

Herders aren't cheap, but not a bloody fortune either. Best grinds I've seen on German knives old or new. And of coarse they are carbon steel.
 
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As you mentioned buying old carbon knives can be risky. Even old carving sets restored was hunting for best could find at a price could resell on BST for reasonable price. I still use a 1890's blade for carving bird, skinning salmon. The thin carbon blades work well. First time did it years ago sold sets in two days. Last year only sold two. Still have couple pristine blade sets with no pitting at all. I don't who is buying older Sab's at inflated prices many with major pitting from rust.
 

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One point makes especially Sabs unpredictable: the used steel. The best ones were made from German steel of Swedish ore. Exceptionally Sheffield steel has been used, again from Swedish ore. These weren't always available, in the turbulent years 1870-1939. Sometimes only local ore was available. So, you may see knives of the same maker, the same year, with very different results, to put it mildly.
This apart from the uncertainties that apply to all vintages, due to the lack of control on steel composition we're used to.
 
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Well it was asking price or best offer so I put in a low bid didn't think seller would take it. Explained what I would do with the blade & nogent handle. Got 90.00 off 110.00 for Seal logo Sabatier with most of blade geometry intact. Amazing because the tip area is so thin.

Many have deep scratches & pitting from rust.
This was best looking blade & truly vintage so I bought it. Look forward to restoring it.😁
 
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All my years on kitchens mostly Hotels I've never even seen a Sabatier. German knives are sold in places like Macy's. Swap meets here were have bought cheap carbon blades most japanese sold by kids who didn't want rusty carbon knives of their grandparents.

My first one was last knife buy it was a new one with olive wood handle 10" about 100.00. I knew before buying that it was softer carbon steel & on the heavy side. That's exactly what I wanted. The handle was a rush job so I eased the sharp edges, sanded out some scratches on the pins. Finishing off with 600 grit put 3 coats of pure tung oil & clear bullseye shellac.
50/50 mix. 0000 steel wool between coats after last dry buff. That's finishing technique Stefan Keller used on wa handles. These pictures when new now forming natural patina.

It is my do everything knife no worries among my thin edged knives don't want to use cutting frozen fruit for smoothies, ribs etc.
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As this is first Sabatier I've seen looking forward to a 100 year old vintage blade that will do best to restore because I can🤪
 

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That’s a beautiful Sab Keith. I have several carbon Ksabs. I collect kitchen knives and most are harder Japanese knives but I do still have quite a few softer German and French knives because that’s what I started with.

You did a great job of making that knife look really good. Is that a Ksab?
 
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Yes it is a K Sabatier. Soft carbon on the heavy side. Fit and finish on Handle not so good had to take scratches out of couple pins. One pin had a gap where the hole larger than pin head.
All fixable the olive wood is really nice finished up to accent beauty of the wood. It's perfect knife for jobs you don't want to use your thin grind Japanese gyuto's for.
 

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Modern Sabs are quite different from the vintages. Heavier, with a higher tip, missing the extreme distal taper. And, strange enough: even softer.
 
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Vintage Sabatier came in. Surprised how lite it is. Don't see any below surface pitting on it blade is in good shape for it's age. The Ebony nogent handle has a crack in it. Not surprising ebony has a tendency to crack with age. I will sand first than use a special strong glue that is very free flowing like water it gets into pours of the wood. You have to know how to use it. Don't get on you're hands at all.

Work on blade first, then handle.
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Benuser

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Looking good, apart from the horrible sharpening and resulting profile, but that's an easy fix. As you're going to rework the entire edge, I would suggest a slight off-centering to the left, provided you're a right-hander.
 
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Actually not surprised at all that the tip has less height & yes looks like they put on a belt sander just to get a quick edge.

Don't plan on taking off much steel. Back when I learned Japanese fingerpad pressure stye sharpening he taught me spine close to the stone to keep thin edges. Had thin tips using very low angle knives were very sharp, but the tip geometry would lose height because less steel up there. When I bought my first quality Yanagiba from Korin bought Chiharu Sugai sharpening tape. First time learned about micro bevels. When found knife forum got Dave Martell's & Murray Carter DVD. Also have watched Jon's knife sharpening playlist. I would tell students want to learn good technique just watch his videos on line. Thinning a little behind the edge with spine just off the stone & then add micro bevel at constant angle from heel to tip. This keeps the geometry of the blade good even with heavy use. I know about bird beak tips & high heels from poor technique. You see it all the time in busy pro kitchens. When teaching would show students misshapen blade road knife I got from Frontline pantry lady on how not to sharpen a knife. Then an old Forschner 10" knife that had even blade road even though it had been sharpened many times over the years. Sorry sharpening lecture on this forum😀, point is as thin as the tip is on this old Sabatier it could be worse. I've seen them on line where they are quite a bit shorter because tip has been sharpened away.
 
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Well I had to even out blade road except the ultra thin last 1.5" at the tip. Did bring tip to a point going from the spine. Took a Dremel to grind down bottom of finger guard, the did the kick back at heel like Mcman did.
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I'll work on the handle next then work on getting a sharp edge on it. Last forced patina to protect it from rusting.

When took humps out of blade road got rid of that terrible sweep edge from I think a belt sander.
 

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Well I had to even out blade road except the ultra thin last 1.5" at the tip. Did bring tip to a point going from the spine. Took a Dremel to grind down bottom of finger guard, the did the kick back at heel like Mcman did. View attachment 170372 View attachment 170373 View attachment 170374
I'll work on the handle next then work on getting a sharp edge on it. Last forced patina to protect it from rusting.

When took humps out of blade road got rid of that terrible sweep edge from I think a belt sander.
What have you been using to remove that old bevel, to thin and restore the profile? Only with stones, apart for the Dremel with the fingerguard ? Looking like a huge task.
 
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I have a 1"x 42" verticle belt on Kalamazoo sander. Pan of water to dip knife in. Very quick 220 grit you have to pay attention not to over do it. Eyeball it quick touch on the spinning belt until even edge. Took less than a minute. Also did kickup heel on it.

Can't grind down finger guard that's slower controlled with Dremel. Hand sanded the knife started with 100, 150, 220, 320, 400. Do that to see surface condition of blade. There were vertical scratches near finger guard some light rust took care of. No major pitting so common with old vintage carbons.
 
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My K Sabatier is getting a lot of use I make smoothies for us almost every day. Mango season peel & cut fruit off seed & freeze in gallon freezer bags. Also freeze local apple banana's. It's perfect knife for cutting frozen items. We eat lots of avocado's too no worries taking seeds out with K- Sab. Ribs getting more use than thought. Sharpened it twice already so looking at that finger guard trouble ahead for sure. Just got finished grinding away the bolster. Since I fixed the handle figured put in a little more effort🤪
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Still needs a little clean up, but I really don't like those full heel bolsters.
 
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