Review of my new carbon steel knives, finally...
I have been wanting a new set of kitchen knives for a while now. I hate my set of stainless knives with a passion. Really.
My husband finally took the hint and got me a set for my birthday. I’ll report on his experience and mine.
He read up on kitchen knives and decided on carbon steel. We have an old one that was his mothers, and even though it must be a hundred years old, it cuts really nicely and always seems sharp. It must be 100 years old. I am not intimidated by carbon steel anymore, as know how to keep carbon knives clean. I use Bon Ami and a sponge and it cleans it nicely.
So unbeknownst to me, he tied different searches and carbon steel kitchen knife did it. This man works only with carbon steel and has been at it for 30 years.
The man’s site is filled with information and choices, and so he decided to call him and see if he could cut to the chase ( the site suggested to call on his site). He was not home, but Michael called him back at work, within 2 hours. This was a secret purchase.
The maker and my husband talked for 45 minutes, which led to our order. He said the maker was polite and was more than willing to describe his work, and offered some key suggestions, like a custom handle and he helped him decide what would make a rounded set for my kind of cooking and prepping. All is his work is 1/16th inch thick, which makes for a light blade with a substantial wood and brass handle.
My sweetee got me a:
4” kitchen knife, which is now my paring knife. They felt the 4” would suit more than the 3 inch paring. I love it.
A 2.5 wide 6” and 8” long kitchen knives, as well as a Honkotsu ( boning knife ).
The last knife was a 1 ¼” wide 7 inch long beauty.
They came with rosewood handles and sharp as sharp can be. Michael sent a power point thing about care and sharpening too. My opinion after 3 weeks is I really like them a lot. I wanted hand made knives that we could keep for the rest of our lives, and my husband wanted them to be easy to maintain and affordable without having to wait a year. We do not put them in the dish washer.
Well, they sharpen ( or as Michael said, hone ) up beautifully and I actually do it myself. Now I have knives that work wonderfully, and are always sharp and pretty. Thank you, my honey for my birthday gift !!
Oops – the guys name is Michael Moses Lishinsky and his company is at wildfirecutlery.com.
Well, I think that any knife that is used a lot and -- in this case special -- is a great buy. I love carbon knives, and I think you will likely continue to love them too. Take care of them well, and you will have wonderfully unique pieces for a long time to come.
+1 for unique carbon custom blades.
He called and replied, which I will paste here:
Lets see – I heat treat all my work in my shop. The steel I use is 1085-1090 high carbon tool steel, and I have gotten the steel from the same mill for 30 years now and the quality is always the best- clean finish and consistent carbon. I use a simple straight forward system to heat treat: opposed blow torches, macadamia nut oil to quench, and then I draw the temper in an electric oven at 475 for about 13 minutes. When I draw a straw color, that’s it. I have heat treated many thousands of wood carving tools and knives for many years, but I still have to turn off the music and focus for each one. I think thats it. Yes ? Thank you so much for the positive review and use the work in good health !
Thanks for reporting this. These steels are traditional, common toolsteels, and analogize well to cast iron cookware in the kitchen. Heat to non-magnetic, quench, draw. Macadamia nut oil is new to me, but those steels are indeed oil quench (as opposed to brine or air). The 'draw to straw" is typical.
This all sounds pretty pedestrian in our "modern" world of CNC machine tools, VG12, ATS34 and other esoteric steels, $2K mosaic Damascus knives and vacuum furnaces, but your good experience is an object lesson that we should not ignore: many old technologies work very, very well.
As to sharpening, good luck with simply honing. All knives eventually will dull, and the edge bevels will need to be reset. But I'm sure Michael would be happy to hear from you once a year for an edge touchup.
I hope he gets a lot of business from folks who want their knives made just for them.
Congratulations on your great gift! I've looked at Michael's site, and his wares are very reasonably priced, even for ready-made knives.
I make knives for a hobby, and so know the work that goes into sweating the details that are evident in his knives. While I am not a fan of many of Michael's blade geometries (the kitchen knives are an exception--they look great), what works for you is the acid test. To have such a loving gift custom-made for you, well, that's priceless.
I suspect that many posters will sniff at the rusticity of Michael's work and the thinness/flatness of his bladestock. But let me comfort you in advance: for most kitchen work with a chef's knife configuration, I find 1/16 stock is PREFERABLE to the distal-tapered thick blades most equate with quality chef's knives. At least in my kitchen (and home butchery), 80% of my knifework is done on vegetables, cheeses and boneless (or nearly so) meats. When you need a cleaver or a breaking knife, reach for those. And 1/16 chefs' knives don't need weight shaved from the tangs to feel balanced.
What I am not sure about is how he does his heat treating. Virtually all high-carbon steels used for knives are classified as tool steels, which must be first put into semi-finished shape, hardened, and then tempered back, sometimes selectively, before grinding the final edge bevels. If Michael is using good steel and good heat treat practices, your knives are a very good value.
Let me also say "God Bless Michael" for offering his services to recondition well-loved but perhaps worn or broken knives. I have gotten more satisfaction over the years using dilapidated vintage knives that I've reground and rehandled than any new blade I've ever bought, and nearly as much as those I've made from scratch. My knives are family members, so it's always great to see someone who can take care of the aged ones.
Keep us posted on how they hold an edge and resharpen.
I have sent him an e-mail encouraging him to reply here if he wants to. I also suggested if he does not want to sigh up, he can send me a note and I will post it. Also- I waited weeks and resharpened them enough to feel they are what I wanted. I could never sharpen my stainless hofritz and Globals. Michael said, that as long as I keep the angle or bevil (sp??) the same as when he sent it, all I ever have to do is hone the micro edge - which I do. I use a butcher steel and it takes 4 or 5 swipes and I am back to sharp again.