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any experience with knives from Japanwoodworker

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motownbrowne Mar 4, 2011 02:51 PM

I am wondering if any of you own or have used any of the knives from Japanwoodworker? I am specifically interested in these:
http://www.japanwoodworker.com/dept.a...
Many of them claim to be either white or blue steel tempered to 63 HRc, clad with soft iron. If that is the case, they would seem to be an incredible deal. I am assuming that the fit and finish is not fantastic, but even if the blades need a bit of work, it seems like a great price on some good japanese steel. Maybe I'm missing something here. Please let me know if you have used these knives of know of any reviews from someone who has.

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  1. Kagemusha RE: motownbrowne Mar 4, 2011 04:20 PM

    I've had several knives of this grade, though not from this seller. They're not pretty but do deliver. It's one of several traditional "builds" for everyday kitchen knives and looks to be the old school variety that morphed into the better-looking modern 3-ply knife that's in many Japanese kitchens(see below).The fanboys would diss 'em as farm tools but I liked mine. Strictly utilitarian with no cachet whatsoever. Thanks for the source.

    http://www.leevalley.com/en/gifts/pag...

    10 Replies
    1. re: Kagemusha
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      BruceMcK RE: Kagemusha Mar 4, 2011 05:29 PM

      Wouldn't you really rather have these pretty Porsche things?
      http://www.leevalley.com/en/gifts/pag...

      1. re: BruceMcK
        cowboyardee RE: BruceMcK Mar 4, 2011 06:01 PM

        Not my style. Frankly, they look like knives for people more interested in design and style than performance.

        Also, I could be wrong - but according to the zknives steel FAQ, 301 steel only has 0.15% carbon (lots of chromium at 16-18%)- I've never seen a good knife steel with carbon content near that low.

        1. re: cowboyardee
          d
          Dave5440 RE: cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 06:20 PM

          I think they call it Croma 301, I like the looks of the lines in motown's link but not the other 2

          1. re: cowboyardee
            Chemicalkinetics RE: cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 08:11 PM

            Frankly, my troubles with these knives go beyond the steel -- which is a very important consideration if not the most important.

            Even if these are made with the good steel like VG-10, I would rather get a more traditional design knives. I feel people won't take me very seriously when I have a set of these futuristic looking knives. Heck, I feel I won't take myself very seriously.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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              BruceMcK RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 5, 2011 05:44 AM

              I was kidding, and put them out there for a laugh.

              When I saw the link to the Lee Valley knives I checked out the site and saw the Porsche knives. There is a Lee Valley near me and I enjoy browsing there. It is usually a sensible shoes type of place, so I was surprised to see such designer knives there.

              1. re: BruceMcK
                Chemicalkinetics RE: BruceMcK Mar 5, 2011 06:58 AM

                :)

                Bruce, they are actually very beautiful in a sense. They are just not what I would like for my knives, but they aren't really horrible. They just seem to have too much "designer-beauty".

                Let me pick your brain for a second. How do you like the following Mia Schmallenbach's nesting knives? This design has won the first place for Fifth European Award for Cutlery Creation. First Place! Absolutely 'stunning' and 'eye-catching', and they radiate an 'unique' statement like no other knives.

                http://www.coroflot.com/mia_schmallen...

                http://www.coroflot.com/mia_schmallen...

                The set was sold for $1000, but it has been reduced to $700 now.

                http://www.amazon.com/Deglon-Meeting-...

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  b
                  BruceMcK RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 5, 2011 07:50 PM

                  OK, I’ll play. The Mia Schmallenbach knife set is strikingly beautiful, but not at all practical.

                  I am a left brained engineering type that values practicality above overt style and I don’t tend to run with the crowd. I would likely buy Mac over Shun over Global. Another poster mentioned that for some a more expensive knife is worth it if it comes with or is easier to put a thin sharp edge on it compared to a cheaper knife that takes a lot of work to get a good edge. I agree with that.

                  Back to your question. The knives look very nice, but how do you remove the smallest or middle sized knife? And the chef knife especially looks to have an uncomfortable handle and a blade that would not be very strong or rigid, and whatever you are cutting could get caught in the hole. Also there is no mention of the type of steel or edge geometry. The Amazon link mentions they are made by Deglon but I don’t know much about their knives so would have to do more research to determine the blade quality. To me this set would make a good decoration in a display case in the home of a wealthy chef or in a high end restaurant, rather than practical kitchen tools.

                  A new knife shop recently opened near where I live and I may buy a new chef knife. His store is good because the knives are out on shelves so easy to look at and check the handle and weight. The brands he sells are not common cooking store names, but would probably be well known in this forum and knife specific boards. I might be back looking for input on specific brands he carries, but need to look and research more before asking for advice.

                  Bruce

                  1. re: BruceMcK
                    Chemicalkinetics RE: BruceMcK Mar 5, 2011 08:37 PM

                    Bruce, but that Mia Schmallenbach knife set has won the First place in the Fifth European Award for Cutlery Creation. First place. Cutlery creation. No need to reply, just think about that for a second. :)

                    "Another poster mentioned that for some a more expensive knife is worth it if it comes with or is easier to put a thin sharp edge on it compared to a cheaper knife that takes a lot of work to get a good edge"

                    Are you teasing me? Because below I wrote "For many, a $100 nakiri with a good finish is a better deal than a $50 nakiri needs two hours of works." :P

                    "A new knife shop recently opened near where I live..."

                    Congratulation! Personally, I like rustic looking knives like these:

                    http://www.moritakahamono.com/en/hocy...

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    Kagemusha RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2011 07:03 AM

                    Far more form than function on the Schallenbach set. Good design works. These are more a design exercise. Have a look here at products that work and look good, too:

                    http://www.id-mag.com/annualdesignrev...

            2. re: BruceMcK
              Kagemusha RE: BruceMcK Mar 5, 2011 08:25 AM

              Lee Valley always has a bit of fun with their products. Porsche Design items often aren't wildly expensive and don't overwhelm function with design, though this comes close! It's good to see Lee Valley get back into kitchenware.

          2. cowboyardee RE: motownbrowne Mar 4, 2011 05:13 PM

            I responded in the other thread before I saw this one, so this is mostly a cut-and-paste job:

            I have the $45 tosagata nakiri and the white steel paring knife. Also a friend of mine liked my nakiri so much he went and bought one himself.

            I've heard from others that the grind on many of these knives is too thick for most Japanese knife designs. From the paring knife, I don't doubt that's the case with many styles - the grind is quite thick, and I don't use that knife much (in part cause I have a paring knife i much prefer in the Dojo line). Probably wouldn't be a problem with the Deba (i believe they're double beveled Western debas, BTW, but I'm not positive) for obvious reasons.

            As for the nakiri - it's got a little weight on it compared to some nakiris. Mine was also thick behind its edge (though the overall thickness wasn't bad) and a little wavy at the edge. Bevel wasn't too clean either. I spent hours reprofiling that nakiri - thinning it behind its edge and straightening the edge itself. It's a great knife now, considering what I paid for it. The steel itself is great - takes and holds a very sharp, acute edge. Cuts and holds an edge like a much more expensive knife. It is blue carbon steel, but not as prone to red oxide/rust as my white steel yusuke - it forms a nice working patina after a while and doesn't give me any problems. Again, great knife for the money, but needed some work.

            Incidentally, my friend's tosagata nakiri came with a nice straight edge and was comparably thin behind the bevel. He loves it, and it didn't really need any work.

            4 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee
              cowboyardee RE: cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 05:31 PM

              Also - in case it matters to you - the nakiri is definitely a little blade heavy. Given the light ho wood handles, I'd suspect most of the tosagata knives are.

              I had already taken a ridiculous 'balance' shot for another thread:
              http://www.chow.com/photos/561824

              1. re: cowboyardee
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                Dave5440 RE: cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 05:42 PM

                Cowboy--They list a couple of left hand deba's so at least some of them are are true japanese designs. I like the look of them, the other two they linked to ,,not so much

                1. re: cowboyardee
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                  smkit RE: cowboyardee Mar 4, 2011 08:10 PM

                  Fully agree with Cowboy on this one. My edges were wavy and needed some work, but the value is amazing. I have both the nakiri and santoku, and they are very sharp. I have only reprofiled one, and I still have some work to do on that one (it takes time), but I bought these as practice knives and I still find myself using them.

                  Yes, the handles are cheap, but get some fine grit sand paper, sand them down and rub some tung oil on them. It will still be a cheap handle, but it will look and feel better. Just make sure to treat your handle before doing all of your blade work or else the slurry will stain the magnolia wood.

                  1. re: smkit
                    s
                    smkit RE: smkit Mar 4, 2011 08:16 PM

                    Oh yeah. I also like JapanWoodworker, and I think they offer a sharpening service for knives bought from them. You just pay shipping. Correct me if I am wrong anyone.

                2. scubadoo97 RE: motownbrowne Mar 4, 2011 06:02 PM

                  A lot of the knives have a Kurouchi finish where the knife is clad in soft iron and is unfinished except near the edge. I have a couple of inexpensive blue steel J knives that have a kurouchi finish similar to these http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produc.... The handles are cheap wood but the blades sharpen very easily and get wicked sharp. IMO they are an incredible deal.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: scubadoo97
                    petek RE: scubadoo97 Mar 4, 2011 06:13 PM

                    That Tosagata looks like a combination santuko/kiritsuke.

                    1. re: petek
                      scubadoo97 RE: petek Mar 4, 2011 06:36 PM

                      Exactly. Mine were labeled as a kiritsuke. I like the sharp pointed tip which is like a kiritsuke but the a real kiritsuke is a bit different. Anyway I picked up mine from Hida tools. They are listed as being Ittosai knives and are now called a santoku but when I purchased them they were listed as being kiritsuke. For $30-40 they are a good deal. I got both the 6 1/2 and 8 1/2 inch blades. Bought them as beater knives but use them a lot.

                      1. re: scubadoo97
                        petek RE: scubadoo97 Mar 4, 2011 06:49 PM

                        You definitely can't beat the price.I like the kurouchi finish, a very natural and rustic look.
                        I've been thinking of picking up a kiritsuke,double-bevel not single bevel.
                        ahh.. so many knives..so little time....

                  2. Chemicalkinetics RE: motownbrowne Mar 4, 2011 07:51 PM

                    Like cowboy and smkit, I am reiterating the same points from another post. Usually these cheaper-kurouchi knives have some variations in their finishes -- the quality control is not tight. Some of them are good, but some of them are poor. If you don't mind putting a bit of a sharpening works to them, they are truly great deals. Like you, I have the Tanaka nakiri, and had spent more than a few hours to correct the blade profile/grind. I won't call them major errors, and it would have taken me a bit less time if I had noticed all the problems right away.

                    ~$40-50 for these knives are excellent deals if you have a set of good stones (especially the lower grits) and don't mind spending a hour or two behind a few stones. On the other hand, some people do not enjoy spending time to correct a knife and they have good reasons too. Our time has a monetary value too. For many, a $100 nakiri with a good finish is a better deal than a $50 nakiri needs two hours of works. I don't mind because I like knife sharpening. In fact, I was slightly excited when I noticed the flaws as I viewed them as opportunities to test my skills. Everyone is different. I won't like to spend hours ironing my shirt -- which is why I prefer non-iron dress shirts.

                    Editd: Actually the more you want to bring out the potential of these knives, the more time you will need to invest -- if that makes sense. For example, a lot of these flaws are less appearent at a high bevel angle, but progressively reveal themselves at lower angles.

                    1. m
                      mateo21 RE: motownbrowne Mar 5, 2011 07:16 AM

                      Yes, Motownbrowne. I personally own the Takagi Nakiri... which might not have been the knife you were looking at (i.e. the $165 amidst $50), but it is a great knife. Hard steel, very hard actually. Takes an amazing edge, but requires a little more work to get it there (though I haven't had the "horror" experiences others have had with honyaki blades).

                      1. m
                        motownbrowne RE: motownbrowne Mar 5, 2011 10:43 AM

                        Thanks for the info, I really like the Tanaka Nakiri that I have, and I don't mind that the fit and finish isn't perfect. I do think that the blade is maybe a touch thick, but certainly not bad. I think in the future I will have to check out the tosagata blades, too. i definitely like the way that the hard carbon steel holds an edge

                        1. j
                          jkling17 RE: motownbrowne Nov 2, 2011 03:45 AM

                          Yes. My favorite knife of ALL my knives is the Tosagata Santoku that I bought from them. I've used it steadily for the last 2 years now. Please note that I did not have to reprofile mine when I got it - it was VERY sharp upon delivery.

                          I use DMT stones to keep it sharp. Just the extra fine (1200 grit) and extra extra fine (8000 grit) stones. I'm not great with freehanding so I like using their Aligner. It's awesome. And I set a very thin microbevel - using only the xxf stone.

                          I'm placing an order for a few of their debu knives today as a matter of fact. I do most of the cooking but sometimes my girlfriend plays chef - probably about once a week. Her hands are much smaller than mine of course and I found out that she prefers using my paring knife for most prep work, unless she's cuting large veggies or pieces of meat. So ... I'm getting her a more proper knife for that stuff (and yes I can't wait to use it also ... I love my knives ...).

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: jkling17
                            Chemicalkinetics RE: jkling17 Nov 2, 2011 03:58 AM

                            "Her hands are much smaller than mine of course and I found out that she prefers using my paring knife for most prep work"

                            Wow, paring knife for prep.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              j
                              jkling17 RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 2, 2011 04:11 AM

                              Yeah it surprised the heck out of me too. She DOES also use one of my chef's knives - a nice basic Mundial Futura in stainless. It's got a good heft to it and really solid handle which she likes but she only uses that if she's doing bigger stuff or meat. I also ordered a MAC 4" santoku paring knife - they look really cool and I've been dying to try out a MAX for some time now. But that didn't stop me from also ordering the Debu knives from Japan Woodworker! You just can't beat the quality of that steel for the money - I've looked around and nothing comes close.

                              1. re: jkling17
                                Chemicalkinetics RE: jkling17 Nov 2, 2011 05:06 AM

                                "But that didn't stop me from also ordering the Debu knives from Japan Woodworker!"

                                You mean the Tosagata deba knife, like this one, right? I heard good things about them being very reasonably prized and great steel.

                                http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produc...

                                For others, Tanaka kurouchi deba is also pretty inexpensive as well.

                                http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takude1...

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                  j
                                  jkling17 RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 2, 2011 06:08 AM

                                  Yes - deba not debu - thanks. Even though I've studied Japanese and been there half a dozen times I still get confused :-)

                                  This is the one that I own:
                                  http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produc...

                                  It's a great knife, but defintely can't be used for rough stuff (and isn't designed for that), but I have lots of knives for whatever I need and an awesome cleaver as well.

                                  The knives that I ordered from them today are these:
                                  http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produc...
                                  http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produc...

                                  These are In addition to the MAC Paring Santoku of course :-) This SHOULD take care of my yearning for knives for a bit. haha.

                                  They sell a LOT of great knives for the price, often hardened to rockwell 60-62 or so. That's hard enough as far as I'm concerned!

                                  chesknifestogo certainly has a great selection but I can't say that I'm as enamored with their prices as japanwoodworker. The latter needs better marketing - I only found out about them from a friend who's big-time into their chisels. Otherswise I'd be ignorant of them as well.

                                  1. re: jkling17
                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: jkling17 Nov 2, 2011 06:56 AM

                                    I actually learnt of Japanesewoodworker before Chefknviestogo. Way before. However, I actually find Japanesewoodworker and Chefknivestogo prices about the same (for me), but Chefknivestogo has free shipping. :)

                                    Anyway, I cannot see anything from the three links you have provided. Did you make a mistake or my computer just not working right?

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                      jkling17 RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 2, 2011 07:21 AM

                                      Yeah your link to japanwoodworker didn't work for me either but your link for chef did. Must be something weird about this forum?

                                      1. re: jkling17
                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: jkling17 Nov 2, 2011 08:44 AM

                                        Oh yeah, now that you mentioned it. Yes, they don't work.

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