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Jun 20, 2011 05:55 PM

Yaxell Ran Knife - did I make a mistake?

Last night, I purchased a Yaxell Ran 10" Chef's Knife through one of those flash sale sites. It seemed like a great deal - $135.99 on sale, regularly $260. I did some Google searches and there weren't a lot of reviews, but overall, it seemed that people liked Yaxell Ran knives. I had been thinking of buying a Shun Classic 10" Chef's Knife, anyway. So, I gave in to impulse and clicked on "Buy". (It couldn't have been the influence of the glass of wine I was drinking, could it have been?!)

I of course haven't received the knife yet. But I'm wondering if I made a mistake. I haven't held any Yaxell knives. I don't know how they'll feel. But the reviews said the balance is good and that the knives are very sharp. I don't own any Japanese knives - most of mine are Wusthof Grand Prix. I have used the Shun Classic 10" and really liked the balance on it.

Has anyone owned or used this or any other Yaxell Ran knife? Hopefully, I'll hear of some experiences that will make me feel better. :) But even if you think negatively of the knife, I'd like to hear it. Thanks!

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  1. "I don't know how they'll feel. But the reviews said the balance is good"

    Balance is subjective. A good balance knife to you may be a bad balance knife to me. Some people prefer handle-heavy knife. Other like blade-heavy knife. So there is no way to know if you will like the balance.

    I don't have experience with the Yaxell knives, but its steel specifications are very similar to those of Shun Classic knives: VG-10 core steel hardened to HRC 61, laminated by softer steel. Here is a discussion from the knifeforum between Yaxell Ran and Shun Classic.

    All in all, it looks like a reasonable good purchase.

    1. I recently picked up a Yaxell Ran paring knife and am very pleased with it. It has a pretty 33-layer "Damascus" blade with a VG-10 core. It was very, very sharp right out of the box and nicely finished. Good weight and "feel" too, IMO. I suppose you can't really judge the balance of a paring knife. The other Japanese knives in my collection are Global, Glestain, Shun Classic, Tojiro PRO, Kumadori, Masahiro, and Misono UX-10. I definitely don't consider the Yaxell Ran to be the "ugly duckling" of the bunch.

      1. No, I don't think you made a mistake. I have no experience with any of Yaxell's models, but the Ran has been mentioned here on Chow a few times by member "miro," with links to the Yaxell website. They have very interesting (to me) videos of their manufacturing process. (yeah, I'm a dork...)

        In this thread, miro's post is second from the last:

        And here's an online retailer that sells the Ran Damascus line:

        So it looks like you got a pretty good deal on that 10" gyuto! The line appears comparable to most of the damascus-style knives made of VG-family steel. Many of these brands are only different in handle design, & some not even there! (My Kanetsune gyuto is the same knife as the Kumadori Minamoto Kotetsu gyuto owned by Chow member "tanuki soup"!) - brand discussion about 2/3 of the way down

        Please let us know what you think of it, both when you first get it & after you've used it for a little bit.

        I hate to ask, but what are your knife sharpening plans? >:-D

        4 Replies
        1. re: Eiron

          Thanks, Eiron. I will certainly let you all know how I like it. That is, if I keep it. Fortunately, I had enough sense to check if they allowed returns. I'm really hoping I'll like it, though.

          Knife sharpening? Well, I also bought the sharpener that Yaxell specifically sells for its knives. The site was having a deal on this, too. :) I'm afraid I'm not a knife sharpening pro. I get my current knives professionally sharpened once a year, and hone on the steel when I feel it's needed. I also have this knife sharpener for my knives, which seems to help when the honing doesn't do a good enough job.

          I know a lot of CH'ers use water stones and other tools to sharpen their knives, but I wouldn't even know how to go about attempting that. Plus, I have to admit that I'm lazy. :-(

          1. re: goodeatsgal

            Actually, I am going to ask you if you can return the sharpener instead of the knife. The knife looks perfectly fine. The sharpener is ok, but I think it is a bit overpriced ($48) and a bit too coarse. 400 grit it says.

            The Yaxell Ran knives as well as Shun Classic knives are harder than typical German knives. As such, they don't benefit as much as German knives on a steel. If you want to use a honing steel, I would suggest using a smooth/polish honing steel or a very fine ceramic rod.



            I think a medium grooved honing steel may be too hard for the Yaxell Ran knives. Another option for home maintaining the knife edge is to use the Spyderco Sharpmaker.


            It is not as versatile as a waterstone, but it is very easy to learn to use. I think any of the three options above are good for in between professional sharpening.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thanks, Chem. I didn't know there were different types of honing steels. But I should have guessed. :) I currently have the one that came with my Wusthof Grand Prix. I don't know if it's the same as this one which is Grand Prix II, but it looks similar except for the handle. It is somewhat smooth, but I can slightly feel the vertical grooves with my fingers.

              That is good to know that 400 grit is too coarse. In that case, I will return the Yaxell sharpener. Thanks for that advice. For future reference, what grit would be good for Yaxell and Shun knives, and for that matter, for German knives?

              I know from reading the boards that I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to knives, and especially sharpening of knives. But I learn from all of you every day!

              1. re: goodeatsgal

                The honing steel which came with your set is medium grooved. You can still use it, but use very light force for your hard steel Yaxell knives.

                400 grit is good for fixing a blade because it works faster, but it is too coarse as a finishing stone. For typical kitchen knives, you would want to use somewhere between 800-1200 grit. You can always go higher, but if you have to have one stone only, then a grit of 800-1200 is most versatile. This is true for Yaxell, as well as Shun and as well as German knives.