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Handmade Steel Kitchen Knives

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I recently saw a snippet in a magazine (can't recall which) about a small knife maker, possibly on the west coast. He had great pounded steel kitchen knives for around $100-$200. I can't seem to recall the name of the shop. Can anyone help? Thanks!

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    1. Someone brought me a very rustic yet well made deba/santoku/cleaver hybrid that they bought at a vendor in the Oxbow Market in Napa CA.

      The more I held it the more I wanted one.

      Jim

      1. I dont know the maker, but one caveat I might offer with custom knives. You get what you pay for. Yes you can save money, but go with an established maker. You will get a sharp knife you can use.

        3 Replies
        1. re: wabi

          Hi, wabi: '...go with an established maker."

          Maybe, or kinda, I say.

          There are lots of unknown makers out there turning out pieces that are better than most mass-produced knives. The hard part is finding them and educating yourself to recognize quality and ask the right questions.

          But if you find a quality maker with 0% celebrity status, you can have excellent knives for not much money. AND, you can have them made to your own specs, matching, etc.

          I have a bladesmith acquaintance here in Seattle who is well-known for his swords, but has next to zero following in kitchen cutlery. To him, chef's knives are boring. But he can make a full-on custom chef for about $400 that rivals my friend Bob Kramer's blades.

          Custom blades don't make for good CH knife banter (you can't debate the same Iwannagetanambetsu Blue Paper #8), but they can make for hella knives and a lot of easy pleasurable, satisfying use.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            Kaleo...Howzit! I always enjoy your posts.
            You are right...there are a lot of relatively unknown knife makers out there making GREAT knives for reasonable prices. I just want to emphasize that there are a lot of guys who are facile with a grinder who will take a long piece of medal, sharpen it and call themself a knife maker. It takes an experienced knife maker to know the choices of steel, the hardening and the edge geometry to make a knife that is going to both perform daily, stay sharp and be able to be resharpened.

            I am honored to call among my friends some of those celebrity knife makers, and have learned a lot from them over the years. Guys like Ken Onion, Stan Fujisaka and Tom Mayo have forgotten more than most knife makers will learn in a life time. It's finding a guy (or woman in deference to my friend Audra Draper one of the few women Mastersmiths) who knows what makes a good knife, and then getting them to make you one. And quality work doesnt come cheap. Your friend's $400 custom chef's knife is a pretty good deal in a custom knife. If you look at the time that it takes to build a custom kitchen knife from scratch, whether it be forged or from stock removal...knife makers need to charge enough to make a living. My recommendation would be to buy a knife from some of the smaller custom makers with a reputation for great knives like Murray Carter, Joel Buckiewicz or Shosui Takeda. They all make knives that are razor sharp right out of the box, with great balance and ergonomics.

            I know it's just my personal preference, but I would rather spend $300 on a Takeda knife from a great knife maker, than to pay $200-250 from a some novice with a grinder and a load of fresh belts.

            While not an absolute, you do get what you pay for.

            1. re: wabi

              E wabi, maika'i au, a 'oe?

              Really well said. We have no disagreement.

              Usually, when I hear the maxim "You get what you pay for" applied to blades, I kinda cringe imagining someone thinking they're following it by dropping a mortgage payment on a licensed Kramer. When in all likelihood the $400 custom from a skilled lesser-known would be mo'bettahs.

              The trick, as you ably point out, is discerning the "skilled" part...

              Shoots,
              Kaleo

        2. There are tons of custom knife makers out there. There are several on www.iforgeiron.com that do this for a living. There are also several knife forums to get info from.