Who Made Who? Pondering the maker's moniker...

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

HumbleHomeCook

Embrace your knifesculinity!
KKF Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
Messages
8,986
Reaction score
19,713
Location
PNW USA
First I fully acknowledge this isn't a new topic to KKF, nor is it unique to kitchen cutlery. It's simply something I've been contemplating for a while and quite a bit today so I felt like sharing my not-at-all-short musings.

In most all things, I'm a function over form guy. It doesn't matter the product or service, I generally always gravitate to things that do their intended function well with not much regard for looks, prestige, glitter or glam. In fact, I'll go so far as to say I often find the less glitzy-high performing examples even more attractive.

But, there are for sure exceptions.

I'm a life long knife guy and my preferred knives of most any category reflect my performance-driven preferences. But in this hobby, I'm also finding room for more than just performance.

If all I truly cared about was sheer performance, I've done enough experimenting to know that I could've stopped with my Akifusa AS gyuto. It's an outstanding knife that performs at what I consider, a very high level. I've read various things on who actually makes them but nothing concrete and I honestly don't care. If Akifusa made t-shirts, I'd buy one for every day of the week. It's a stamped, I assume higher volume product with no provenance or personal maker connection, but it freaking works.

But I have to admit, no matter how staunch I may purport to be, that I have a budding weakness for that something extra.

For example, I very much desire a Shawn Houston (@Deadboxhero) knife in my life. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. I consider Shawn an amazing knife and steel wizard who is helping push the cutlery world's boundaries. Sure, I'm confident in saying that whatever steel type I would get from Shawn would be delivered in the best possible condition for the knife and it's intended purpose. I'm also confident the knife couldn't possibly be ground any better for the steel and application. Shawn will deliver the best performing knife possible. But I do I need it? Of course not. But that doesn't dim the fire of desire one bit. I want it for those reasons and all the others. I want it to know I have it. I want it to support Shawn for all he's done, I want it cuz it's so freaking cool. Hell, I want it to show off. To my knowledge, Shawn doesn't have a spring hammer and is largely a stock removal guy. Some find that a point of contention. I don't.

I spent the time on and off today re-reading some interesting threads on Watanabe and Toyama and who makes what. I have no interest in rekindling that debate but it does hit home for me. I've developed an affliction for Watanabe knives. Yes, the two I have are great performers but it goes beyond that. I'm sucked in by the connection and the idea of it. I like his rustic, often outdated website that seems to indicate a man more concerned with making knives than impressing the internet. I like the ordering process and the seemingly personal response. I like the notion of communicating with the man who is going to make my knife the old school way. So, when I saw comments suggesting that Toyama makes at least some knives for Watanabe all the way to insisting Watanabe doesn't make any knives, it bothered me. My performance-driven self may not care, but that other part of me sure seems to.

I know lots of folks say they don't care who makes the knife so long as it performs the way they expect. I don't just get that, obviously I respect that, yet there I was, after first reading these assertions, feeling, I don't know, betrayed I guess. I didn't like it. I re-read the emails with lines such as, "... I will make your knife." and couldn't help but think that if he wasn't actually making it, then he was lying. I won't allow for the language barrier of translation there. A craftsman knows the right words to use. Now, I personally believe that Shinichi made my KU Pro knives but what if someone laid down hard proof that I was wrong? Yeah, I would stop buying from him.

@JBroida shared some insightful opinions in those threads about the Japanese culture and how things in the knife world can basically range from honorable discretions to murky to down right shady. And in between chores today, I've been pondering it and deciding how much these things matter to me. I have plenty of knives that aren't actually made by the brand name and I couldn't care less. But then there's those that I do.

It's funny how we put our own value on intangibles.

Does the maker's moniker matter? For me, right now, the answer is sometimes.

:)

PS, I would be remiss if I did not clarify my Akifusa t-shirt comment and say I would buy one for every day of the week, provided they fit. I'm looking at you super-shrinking Watanabe T. :mad:
 
Last edited:
I really couldn't care less if my knife was hammered out by some geriatric 27th generation grand-master with a family heritage of making katanas for the Tokugawa shogun, forged out of unicorn dust and quenched in blood of virgins on their first period... At this point I just assume it's all ********. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but how much does it really matter when I'm cutting with it?
I can understand looks - once you go over a certain pricepoint I figure 'hey if I'm paying that much it better look good too', but the backstory.... it's all the same to me. I really don't care if it's just casually mass-produced by some underpaid apprentice who's more concerned with his phone and going home early than making a piece of art.
For all I care they 3D-print them as long as they cut well and look good doing it. :D
 
Some of my favorite daily drivers are the Itinomonn knives that Maksim from JNS sold a few years ago and he didn't reveal who made them. But if somebody told me they were going to make a knife for me and commissioned someone else to make it, that would rub me the wrong way.
 
Some of my favorite daily drivers are the Itinomonn knives that Maksim from JNS sold a few years ago and he didn't reveal who made them. But if somebody told me they were going to make a knife for me and commissioned someone else to make it, that would rub me the wrong way.
Yeah I think I'd be absolutely gutted if I ordered a TF and he outsources the F&F and handlemaking of my knife to Shigefusa...
 
I care who it makes in that it will probably give me a good proxy for how good a knife is. It also helps me finds more knives that I will like. I also do not care about the story. I remember someone on a FB group saw the Maruyama interview and said he wouldn't buy his knives because he didn't see the fire in his eyes :rolleyes:
 
Back
Top