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Watanabe knives?

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MadMel

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Hi, as you all know, the quest for more and nicer knives to add to the collection never stops and so here I was browsing through the web looking for stuff. And I came across plenty of custom knives including Devin, Burke, Shigis etc but it seems like there are not so many people with Watanabes out there. Is it because they are inferior in some ways? Or is he just getting less exposure?

I don't mind if you guys turn this thread into a thread discussing the pros and cons of various custom knife makers out there. I quite hope that will happen actually lol :p
 

mikemac

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Watanabe's PRO lineup are darn fine knives - if you want to find inumerable comments, just expand your search using earlier start dates. Almost every 'old dog' on the three forums has had Watanabe knives at some time, and has probably reviewed then very favorably. BAck when I started on these forums (I think thats close to9 -10 years ago...?) there were 3 artisinal craftsmen...Carter, Takeda & Watanabe. I felt like Watanabe was the "IT" knife until people discovered you could get the ebony handle on the Takeda without having to pay the extra $15 or $25.

His standard knives are pretty nice too, with the trade off being rustic for value. I wouldn't mind owning a standard shiro uchi santuko in 210mm - I'm just not sure he would make it at the value price point.

Apparently the multi piece set is thought to be outsourced....

For all the good things Watanabe is, a few things that (IMHO) Watanabe is not...

His knives are not lasers - you will never mistake a Watanabe for a Tadatsuna. Doesn't seem to effect performance, if 'cutting' is how you measure performance.
He's not willing to do whatever YOU want, just to call it a 'custom'. If he thinks your request is for a knife thats too thin, or the wrong profile, or the wrong steel, or not up his ally, he will probably try to talk his way out of making it.

At the end of the day - seems like a cool guy, makes really good knives, and you have to love his little indicator that sometimes reports he's "hellishly busy"
 

MadMel

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He's not willing to do whatever YOU want, just to call it a 'custom'. If he thinks your request is for a knife thats too thin, or the wrong profile, or the wrong steel, or not up his ally, he will probably try to talk his way out of making it.

At the end of the day - seems like a cool guy, makes really good knives, and you have to love his little indicator that sometimes reports he's "hellishly busy"
Haha seems kinda like a chef, no?

I don't know how 'performance' is measured and it may be different for everyone but for me, getting and staying sharp are the main points I look for in a knife.

How about value for money? How does his knives hold up to any of the other customs, be they Western or Japanese?
 

apicius9

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I think Mike's summary is very good. Maybe you need to be aware that Watanabe's cladding is very reactive, so they patina very fast. That said, I think everybody should have at least one of his knives. I have loved everyone I have seen from him, still could kick myself that I traded one of his 330 sujis for something else a few years ago. The gyutos are definitely not lasers but they are great all-round knives with an excellent geometry. I especially like the wa garasukis (have one myself) and the honesukis he makes. His standard kuro uchi nakiri and santoku are also very good (and thin) knives IMHO, but they are clearly more pedestrian than everything coming from the pro line. I have less experience with his single beveled knives, only have one 240 takohiki from him, but I seem to remember that Dave thinks highly of them after having sharpened quite a few.

Stefan
 

rulesnut

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I think Watanabe makes horrible knives. Anybody who owns them should replace them with something else.
I am quite willing to be a repository for this rubbish.
Of special interest are: (in no particular order)
120mm Petty,150mm Petty, and any length Mukimono, Yanagi, Fuguhiki, or Kiritsuke.
If you own any of these drawer queens, please contact me immeditately for price negotiations.
 

WildBoar

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Dang it -- you guys have me spending time on Watanabe's web site now

:angry3:
 

Dave Martell

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I have less experience with his single beveled knives, only have one 240 takohiki from him, but I seem to remember that Dave thinks highly of them after having sharpened quite a few.

I do, I think that his single bevels are fantastic knives, I'm reminded about this every time I handle one.
 

Rottman

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And Watanabe takes his Pro knives to the harder side, you don't find blue with HRC 64-65 very often. The cladding is a PITA though, it stinks.
 

MadMel

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And Watanabe takes his Pro knives to the harder side, you don't find blue with HRC 64-65 very often. The cladding is a PITA though, it stinks.
Would he do stainless cladding at a customer's request? Would any knife maker do that at all?
 

Potato42

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I have 3 Watanabe knives. One is an excellent 150mm KU petty with a beautiful spalted hickory handle from Stefan, one is a cute little Akijiri, and one is a 270mm white steel Yanagi with the most stunning, awesome, ridiculous looking spalted wood handle you've ever seen. It's a beauty. Dave has had it in his hands a couple times.



I absolutely love them all. I probably don't talk about them much because in this group it feels like we've all talked about Watanabe plenty before. He makes some of the best knives period, but don't we all already own one and know this ourselves? Obviously there are some guys out there who have yet to behold the awesomeness that is a Watanabe blade, and for that the only solution is to get one yourself.
 

Rottman

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Would he do stainless cladding at a customer's request? Would any knife maker do that at all?
IDK but I remember something about stainless cladding only on short knives under 180-200 mm.
 

Potato42

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Hey anyone know what happened to the "special" 150mm KU finish petty knives he used to make? I can't find them anymore. That knife was a bargain and a half. He has a sweet looking "Kurouchi kintaroame yanagi knife" for sale now. The KU finish on it doesn't look as nice as I'm used to seeing though.
 

Lefty

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This, right here is why I love these forums!
A newer (very active) member brings up an old dog who is still doing his thing and what do you want to bet, Watanabe gets a few sales this week? And rightfully so, from all I've read!
I first became intrigued by Watanabe knives a while back, but have still yet to pull the trigger on one.
They seem great!
 

Lefty

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Ok, I just looked/ am looking at the Watanabe site, and those garasukis have a beautiful profile! A thinner double bevel version would be my everyday, if I could make it happen!
Thanks Pierre! :)
 

Mattias504

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I used to have a Watanabe gyuto that I regretably sold to friend of mine. I had no complaints about it except maybe the cladding was too reactive. I forced a patina on it and it was never a problem again. His gyuto is pretty much the prototypical awesome mighty type.
 

Lefty

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Yeah, his knives really have some appeal!
Madmel, I saw on the site (forgot to take note of where), that you CAN get stainless clad from Watanabe. The Santoku runs about US$200.
 

Potato42

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Hey anyone know what happened to the "special" 150mm KU finish petty knives he used to make? I can't find them anymore. That knife was a bargain and a half. He has a sweet looking "Kurouchi kintaroame yanagi knife" for sale now. The KU finish on it doesn't look as nice as I'm used to seeing though.
You found it! Man I can't believe he's still selling them for $120. This knife surprises me every time I pick it up. The KU finish is sooooo nice and smooth on it too. He should have a 180mm gyuto that's pretty much a bigger version of this knife. It's also nice. They are quite thin in comparison to his Pro line gyuto's.
 

Mattias504

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I used to have one of those pettys and it was incredible. I might get another one...
 

Lefty

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Now THAT is one sexy beast, Stefan!
Details, por favor!
 

Potato42

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I used to have one of those pettys and it was incredible. I might get another one...
Isn't it? I hadn't used mine in quite a while because I'm usually using something bigger. I was looking at my knives and said oh what the hell and grabbed the petty, and whoa! I was thinking it needed a fresh edge put on it, but it sliced right through everything I aimed it at. Tall as it is, it seemed like a slightly bigger knife too. Love it.
 

apicius9

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Now THAT is one sexy beast, Stefan!
Details, por favor!
The top one is a 270 gyuto with a spalted maple burl handle - strange perspective, makes the knife look shorter than it is. The second one is a 180mm white steel garasuki, Honduran rosewood handle. I like the beefier handles on them because they are on the heavier side compared to some of the anaemic ones that get discussed here, and the handle with the thicker butt helps the balance a bit.

Stefan
 

Kentucky Jeff

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I currently own four of his knives and would love to own a 210mm Miroshi Deba from Shinichi. But money is tight right now and by the time I stick a Stefan handle on the thing its five C notes...

My 240 proline Gyuto was my first Watanabe knife and for some reason he only makes this blade in Blue #2. Its one of the most used blades in my collection and as everyone has said--while not a laser--its no slouch and it takes as fine an edge as Dave Martell can give a knife. (Which is saying something)

I have a 180 Deba with a Stefan made ironwood/streaked blond buffalo horn handle that is to die for. Its also a very unusual blade in that the tang and top of the knife are warped in quite an obvious manner yet the blade geometry remains perfect--the back side lies flat as a pancake on the stones. To me that's just representative of kasumi single bevels and it presents no defect in cutting or sharpening. Its just kinda-twisted!

I own a 300 Yanagi and a 240 Yanagi and they are both as good as anything Shigefusa ever made and I own a Shig 300 Yanagi!

In any case, Watanabe makes great knives--and you can actually get them for a reasonable price in a reasonable wait time (like 4-6 weeks) as opposed to some makers where the wait time is over a year and you'll pay nearly double.
 

Lefty

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The top one is a 270 gyuto with a spalted maple burl handle - strange perspective, makes the knife look shorter than it is. The second one is a 180mm white steel garasuki, Honduran rosewood handle. I like the beefier handles on them because they are on the heavier side compared to some of the anaemic ones that get discussed here, and the handle with the thicker butt helps the balance a bit.

Stefan
That garasuki makes me really wish I had my custom in!!! Haha
Great stuff. The gyuto is a beaut too - especially the handle!
 

Craig

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I can also vouch for the awesomeness of the pro petty. I just took mine to the stones last night, so it's dangerous to just look at it at the moment.

Probably the hardest knife I've ever sharpened. It took a bit longer to develop a burr than my Takeda Nakiri did.
 

Mattias504

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Sean - I know, man. That knife is awesome because it is pretty much a compressed down version of his gyuto. The KU was beautiful and the handle was awesome. More of a mini-gyuto than a petty.

Jeff - Is the Watanabe yanagi thin like a Shigefusa?
 

Marko Tsourkan

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No, Watanabe yanagi is a bit thicker and finish even on his damascus knives is a level below Shigefusa.

My impression of Watanabe has been mixed. I used to be a huge fan but cooled over time, mostly because of inconsistency in custom orders and some hints I got that Watanabe are OEM.

The last group buy that I put together had a number of knives that came thicker than promised and there were some grinding issues.

Generally, his gyuto, honesuki/garasuki and yanagi are the popular ones.

M
 

bishamon

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I've had good experience with Watanabe over the last 4 years. I have about a dozen of his knives, mostly traditional styles. As for OEM, maybe the standard line, but not the Pro line. All the orders I've made were obviously done just for me. At this point (I've gone through at least 100 J-knives) I could pretty much do with only Watanabe and Konosuke knives now. Here are some of the more interesting knives I've gotten to give an idea of the variety of styles he does:


kintaroame yanagi

Big kujira


 

chazmtb

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I do, I think that his single bevels are fantastic knives, I'm reminded about this every time I handle one.


One of the most beautiful knives I have ever seen period, including Shigefusa's Kitaeji. This knife is flawless.
 
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