7.5 inch Kiwi Knife Review
- Chemicalkinetics Feb 8, 2012 10:23 PM
There has been quite a bit of discussions on the Kiwi knives ranging from very good to cheap looking knives. I had previously sharpened and handled a Kiwi cleaver knife for two days, and it performed better than the other two knives I was handling at the time.
I have recently purchased a Kiwi 7.5” knife for $6.95 (not including shipping) from the Wokshop along with a few other things. I purchased it mostly for testing.
The overall knife shape is shown in the first photo. It is made of stainless steel. It looks like a nakiri or santoku with a much curved edge profile (bigger belly): 7.5” in length from tip to heel, and almost 2.5” in width from spine to heel edge. The handle is partial tang with rivets. It has rather crude handle design.
A few small sections of the knife edge were chipped/dented upon arrival as shown in the second photo. I am not sure if it was like this at the wokshop or if it was due to the shipping. My guess is that it was like this prior to shipping.
The knife blade is thin compared to all of my large knives. CCK 1303 is known to be a thin knife, but this Kiwi knife has a thinner knife spine above the heel than the CCK. In the third photo, the Kiwi knife is on the left, and the CCK is on the right.
Unlike the CCK, the knife does not taper from heel to tip. Therefore, the CCK tip is slightly narrower than the Kiwi tip (the fourth photo).
The Kiwi knife was not very sharp upon arrival. It could slice paper, but it definitely could not push cut paper or shave my arm hair. I was using a catalog for paper test, and these papers are similar to typical magazine papers – softer than printer papers. I cannot say if the edge was never very sharp from the factory, or if it was damaged due to the rough handling – as it has been suggested by the chipped/dented edge. I sharpened the knife starting from a 1000 grit stone, and it was a breeze to sharpen. It sharpened up very quickly and formed a large and unmistakable burr. It probably took less than 2 minutes to remove the damaged edge on the 1000 grit stone. I then proceeded through the 2000 and the 5000 stones (the fifth photo), and stropped on a leather belt. It could then push cut paper, and shave arm hair. I tested the knife by cutting a phone book. The knife appeared to immediately lose its sharpness after. It didn’t completely lose it edge, but I felt there was subtle, but noticeable edge deterioration.
I resharpened it and used it for cooking for three full days. It easily cut through foods, and this is due to the combination of its sharp edge and its thin blade. One thing I like to point out is that the blade above the cutting edge is hollow ground with fine pattern lines running in the up and down direction. You may barely able to see this in some of the photos. The hollow concave grind allows the blade to be thin behind the cutting edge, and therefore decreases the wedging resistance. The concave nature of a hollow grind and the up and down line patterns minimize food sticking. I have noticed that the cut onion has much less tendency to stick to the Kiwi knife than to the CCK knife. The CCK sticking problem is partially my fault, but that is another story.
I have tested the knife sharpness after each of the cooking sessions. After the third and the more lengthy session, I have noticed a noticeable lost of edge sharpness. It can still push cut paper for much of the edge section, but a few sections had troubles. It also definitely had trouble cleanly sharpening my arm hair.
I then stropped the knife on the leather again for 2-4 passes, and the edge came back.
In summary, the Kiwi knife is:
1) Inexpensive. Less than $7 for a full size knife
2) Cruel handle
3) Very easy to sharpen.
4) Can take on a sharp edge good enough for push cutting paper and shaving arm hair.
5) The thin, hollow grind with designed line pattern reduces wedging resistance and food sticking
6) Edge retention appears to be acceptable, but not great. I would rank its edge retention and steel hardness close to those of a Dexter-Russell knife.
All in all, this review is not significantly different from my previous report and essentially reconfirm it.
Y'know, I found a Kiwi a couple of weeks ago at one of the local thrift stores. It was "on sale" for 25¢, but the overall quality of it made me feel like it wasn't worth it. Part of this feeling was related to the same comments you have:
1) the handle was poor
2) the steel "appeared" low-grade & very light-weight
I have a couple of other similar-quality knives that I've picked up, so there was no strong motivation for me to add the Kiwi to my growing collection of Thrift Store knives. (I think I'm turning into Jim!) :-D
The Kiwi steel reminds me somewhat of Cutco when sharpening. What do you think Chem?
These are in the asian markets out here for dirt cheap.
Eiron, nothing wrong with prowling the thrift stores for good steel that was treated badly and just needs TLC.
Since I sharpen at the farmers market I gather the poor abused quality blades, fix them up, and resell them. The wood handles usually need the most care to rejuvenate.
Keeps your sharpening skills up since the thrift store finds are nearly always far worse than what people bring in.
Yoooo (with echo sound). I have never sharpened a Cutco before, but I will take your words for it. We know Cutco knives are made with 440A steel, and based on a few other people's observation, they said the Cutco knives are fairly soft. Dave even said they are no harder than Furi knives.
I think it is a perfect to practice sharpening. I also think it is a very functional knife. Keep in mind, my definition of the knife getting dull is set very high. I considered the knife to lose its edge when it couldn't cleanly shave my arm hair or push cutting paper. I can tell you that many knives I bought were not able to this out of the box. My Henckels paring knife and my Wusthof Blackwood Ikon paring knife were not able to cleanly shave my arm hair when they are brand new out of the box. Yet, I am sure most people would have consider those brand new knives as very sharp.
In short, I think it really depends what knives you have with you right now. If you already have a Shun, a Henckels Zwilling, a Wusthof...etc, then this knife is not going to be better. However, if you have something like a Henckels International or KitchenAid knfe, then this knife may actually be an upgrade for you.
Actually, after diving into the world of japanese knifes, I now think that if a knife can't compete with a yanagiba, it's dull. So I think we're on similar wavelinks. :p
Other than that, I'll see if I can't pick a kiwi up where I live. I need to get into freehand sharpening and a wusthof santoku is not a knife I want to risk f'ing up. Thanks for the review.
I think the issue for me is that I just don't know how to sharpen knives, Ive read all the threads and I'm trying to improve, but Ive got a long way to go. I consider my Kiwi knives to be super sharp when Ive bought them. They are the bench mark for my high quality knives. So I can see that my view is distorted by not really knowing how sharp a properly prepared knife can be, I admit that up front..... but....
These knives are one of the great kitchenware bargains of the universe. If you ban them from your home kitchen, you can put them in your camping/fishing box. You can take them with you to a holiday shack etc. Buy them for your kids when they first move out with their friends. You've got a useful tool for next to nothing. The wonderful thing about these knives is you can cut up some vegies, slice some cacciatore and a hunk of cheese. You can lead a perfectly fulfilled life using them.
The handles are not "cruel". No, I'm not saying you'd take one to work on an 8 hour shift in a busy restaurant, but they can cut an onion or two at home, no problems, for 6 bucks. I love them for this.
I give hem two thumbs up.
:) I am not bashing the Kiwi knife. Actually I think they are very good knives especially consider their price points. The handle is actually comfortable, but there are gaps, and most people would consider a handle with gap as cheap.
I want to give a somewhat balanced and objective view. I know many people think they look very cheap, and they do look cheap. I also know many people think they are high performance knives better than Shun or any high end Japanese knives. In my experience, they are good knives, but not quiet the same level of a Shun or a VG-10 steel knife. I want people to know that they can spend ~$5-7 and get a knife of very similar quality and performance of a Dexter-Russell, but not quiet like a Shun or Global.
Thanks for the review, Chem. Sounds more or less like my impressions, though your knife looks less curved than the only model I've seen in person.
You know, I think I actually prefer the crudeness of the handles on these knives to something a little more standard. If it just had a cheap but well fitted plastic handle, then it would just be a good deal on a knife. But with the dull, ill-fitting wooden scales, it looks more distinct, like you flew to the other side of the globe and climbed halfway up a mountain to buy one of these things.