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Sep 6, 2012 07:53 PM

Has anyone handled the Kikuichi Hammered Chef's Knife?

From WS: .

It has several characteristics that I like, but as we know, one really needs to use a knife before purchase, and as we also know, this knife is internet only to WS.

I know knives are really personal, but was wondering if anyone had any feedback.

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  1. Right off the bat - I have not handled the hammered style kikuichi chef knives.

    What I can tell you:
    For one, I'm not sure that this knife is exclusive to WS. I can't determine that there is any actual difference between the WS offering and the many kikuichi hand hammered knives available elsewhere on the net. The knife pictured at WS is the 6 inch version, and I have not seen a 6 inch hammered gyuto offered by kikuichi, though it might just be their 6 inch santoku, which looks pretty similar:

    I also doubt the WS description in one respect - I don't think the damascus or hammered cladding is VG 10. Just the core steel. Normally for knives like this, the cladding is a softer steel than the core. And since the other hammered kikuichi are known to have softer cladding and are selling at the same price (and since WS is notoriously sloppy with their knife marketing), I'm pretty sure WS's description is off.

    All that said, Kikuichi is known to make good knives. For this particular knife, you are paying extra for its looks and also some degree of extra hands-on work by the maker. VG10 is a perfectly good core steel and it takes a nice edge without much difficulty. It can also be a little more prone to chipping than some steels, and there are other VG10 knives costing much less, though they may not be tempered as well. The hammered and damascus finish is mainly there for looks - it doesn't serve a major function. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you know what you're paying for. Kikuichi's gyutos are normally on the thin side, though not quite as anorexic as the 'laser' styles, and I'd expect this to be the same, though I could be wrong. The geometry of kikuichi's blades is normally well designed for all around kitchen work. I would expect a very good fit and finish on this blade.

    The hammered kikuichi knives have generally been overlooked at the various knife forums. Not necessarily because they're bad blades, but probably more so because the core steel is not quite exotic enough for the price point, and perhaps even more than that because the kikuichi TKC gyuto is a much more popular choice for people who buy kikuichi - it has a less flashy look, a lower price tag, and has gotten A LOT of raves for its core steel and geometry. It's also selling at a price point at which you can start finding some of the more affordable custom knives, which makes a more-or-less mass-produced knife like this a harder sell for the knife geeks.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      Thank you so much for your extensive reply. I have some follow-up questions:

      1. I have been told that the hammered and damascus blade helps to break the surface tension and reduce the food sticking to the knife. Is this not true?

      2. For a thinner blade, should I look for a harder steel that will help prevent chipping?

      3. Is there a method to buying knives over the internet? I have been unable to find a B&M store to "test chop" it.

      Thanks again.

      1. re: E_M

        Since cowboy is busy with cowbaby, I will share my opinion.

        1) Technically speaking, the uneven surface does, but practically speaking the difference is very small.

        2) Not always the case, but usually, harder steel is less likely to bend or deform, but more likely to chip, while softer and tougher steel is more likely to bend, but less likely to chip.

        3) I don't really understand the question. <Is there a method to buying knives over the internet?>

        Do you really mean buy or test? Of course, there are many ways to buy knives over the internet.

        1. re: E_M

          1. Agreed with Chem.

          2. Agreed with Chem.

          A little elaboration - it's hard to say how much you should worry about chipping. One person who cuts with a very light and steady hand might experience far less chipping with the same blade than another who cuts with a very forceful and somewhat sloppy stroke. Cutting boards and what you cut and how you sharpen all make a difference too. But if nothing else, keep in mind that though VG10 is a bit on the chippy side, many peoples' first forays into Japanese knives start off with that steel, and plenty of people never have major chipping issues. Take a look at some of the Amazon reviews for Shun Classics to get an idea of how the average person new to Japanese knives fares with VG10.

          3. I normally research a potential purchase for a while and then buy from one of a few well reputed online vendors. Japanese knives tend to have simpler handles than Western knives, and so if you're used to handling gyutos, there is less chance of the knife not feeling 'right' in your hand than there is with Western knives. You can have a decent idea of what to expect, feel-wise, if you know the length and weight of the knife. Doesn't help you much if you're not used to handling gyutos though.

          If there is a brick and mortar store near you that sells gyutos, if you let me know what they have, I could probably tell you what I would expect to feel the most like the Kikuichi you're considering.

          The online retailers I've used have return policies. These policies generally don't allow you to cut with the knife for a few days before making your choice, but they do let you send it back (and charge a small restocking fee) if it's immediately obvious the knife isn't for you.

          It's not really a perfect system - you don't really get to handle a knife before buying. But then again, brick and mortar stores don't have nearly so many options, and I'd never have gotten my favorite knives if I had insisted on trying them out in person first. Nothing's perfect.

      2. I have not used one, but I have heard great things about Kikuichi. It is good looking. On the other hand, I also agree with all of cowboyarde's point. The steel is good steel, but nothing too unusual. The price point is a bit high...etc.

        1. Thanks for everyone's opinions.

          I have been searching for an upgrade for my cheap-o chef's knife for awhile. From handling a lot of knives I have a list of characteristics that I want, but I am not experienced enough to extrapolate how the knife will feel based on its weight, handle, shape, etc. That is the reason I like SLT & WS...I can just take the items back to the local store for a full refund. Unfortunately, I can't find a B&M store within 60 miles (other than SLT & WS) that sells knives.

          4 Replies
          1. re: E_M

            Hi, I don’t have any 1st hand experiences with them, but there was recent thread about them… You might try reaching out to the posters directly.

            I think you’re better off getting them (locally or mail order) through SLT or WS. Just think of whatever the cost difference is as insurance or piece of mind that allows you to “test chop” it and return it -- if you’re not pleased.

            1. re: JavaBean

              It seems Katty still love the new knives.

              Do SLT and WS rallow you to return an item if you "do not like it" as opposed to "defected"?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                <Do SLT and WS rallow you to return an item if you "do not like it" as opposed to "defected"?>
                Yup, the ones near me do. SLT will let kick the tires and return it if you ain't happy – full refund / no problems. WS used to be like SLT, but have become less receptive == lots of dumb questions, manager has to approve it, etc..