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Jan 19, 2014 10:51 PM

Damascus chefs knife

I love damascus & the chef knife is what I've used & trained with for over 15 years, so that's the blade style I'm looking for.

But I don't have any clue as to what/who to look for in a kitchen knife.

What kind of price can I get a good/high quality damascus chefs knife for with out breaking the bank?

I want a solid full tang and want something that will last a life time. (I'd love carbon fiber grips, but more concerned with the damascus)

I would also prefer American made and would consider German steel as a close 2nd. (I know some will argue they are 1st)

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  1. I'd would say my budget is $100-$200 for the chefs knife depending on quality. I really want something that will last. I cook daily & I really need a high quality chefs knife.

    Is damascus easy to care for when it comes to kitchen tools? It will get scrubbed with a pad, put in a dishwasher, sharpened on a regular basis, so it's going to be a user, not a safe queen.

    I'm looking for a traditional sized chefs knife, 12" OAL with an 8" blade profile.

    3 Replies
    1. re: johnnyscience

      You could easily find something in your price range if you knocked off a couple of requirements. I'm not sure why many people seemed so obsessed with having a full tang on a kitchen knife--unless you are batonning trees with a knife, I don't really see the need for it. I'd avoid putting knives in dishwashers, as they tend to bang around and can get chips in the edge.

      There are a few American custom knife makers that regularly make what you are looking for, but they charge $500-800 per knife and don't make knives with full tangs very often. Devin Thomas makes knives like what you are looking for, but the raw materials alone will be above your price range:

      Sakai Takayuki and Al Mar make knives like what you are looking for, but both are made in Japan.

      1. re: Cynic2701

        <You could easily find something in your price range if you knocked off a couple of requirements.>

        Yeah, I couldn't think of anything that matches his full requests. Most damning are the requirement of "putting in dishwasher " and "high quality"

    2. I love this blade:

      I believe that one is American made? But the handle has rings that have holes in them & that's just a nightmare when you consider this will be around food.

      But I like the darker damascus pattern. This one is really nice too:

      Although that one states it's made in Pakistan.

      I've also contacted Alabama Damascus to see if they offer this blade profile I am looking for. I know they have carbon fiber scales ranging from $15-$25 depending on thickness.

      1. I expect the knife wonks will have a lot to say about this. All I have to say is, why would you put your chef's knife in a dishwasher?

        15 Replies
        1. re: GH1618


          I would also add that full tang is an old idea about quality that won't fade away. Full tang will make a much heavier (handle heavy vs blade heavy) knife. Full tang also means bolstered most of the time and this makes sharping much harder. I have a preference for blade heavy Japanese wa gyutos.

          When I hear American made Damascus I think Devin Thomas. This does not fit his requirements because of the cost as well... Plus the wait time to have one made

          I assume he wants a faux Damascus finish like those found on Shun knives.

          1. re: bkultra

            I don't think full tangs are on old idea. I love the weight & feel of a knife with a full tang.

            Devin Thomas makes some amazing stuff, wow.

            He seems to have a production brand of kitchen knives under the ITK Knives label. (In The Kitchen)

            But they apparently don't stay in stock very often.

            Does anyone know how much one of these chef knives from his production ITK knife label usually costs?

            On another note I just realized All-Clad makes a very nice set of knives & while they aren't dishwasher safe because of the rosewood handles, I am HIGHLY considering buying these knives. I love they way they look and they look like they would feel great in the hand as the handle has a nice profile with a full tang.

            Does anyone have any experience or opinion of the All-Clad knife line?

            1. re: johnnyscience

              I own a Devin Thomas ITK 240mm gyuto... Keep in mind he only makes 12 or so knives at a time and only has offered a few batches over the past few years. The ITK does not come in Damascus. It is normally offered in two steels. AEB-L a stainless steel that Devin is famous for and 52100 a carbon steel. He just offered to due a run of smaller knives (210mm 225mm), though 240mm & 270mm are the standard. Prices depend on length but start at $450.

              1. re: bkultra

                Wow, great info thanks. Sadly even those are out of my reach for now.

                Looks like I'm leaning towards the All-Clad. If I can't get real damascus, I'd prefer American Stainless above the rest. Yes even japanese, which I know is shocking lol

                1. re: johnnyscience

                  <Does anyone know how much one of these chef knives from his production ITK knife label usually costs?>

                  I think Devin calls them "mid tech". I thought they were like $375-400, but bkultra should know more since he bought one. I agree. ITK knives are not Damascus knives. His Damascus knives will cost you more.

                  <Looks like I'm leaning towards the All-Clad.>

                  Seems like you have decided. Good luck.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    His cost have gone up since the first run. The people that were buying the knives held him to very high standards in the fit and finish department. So only the water jet cutting of the profile is outsourced, everything else is done in house. I bough one from his very last batch and the 240mm was $490ish when all said and done (shipping and whatnot).

                    Here is a link to his latest runs with prices:



                    Notice they sell out in hours.

                    1. re: bkultra

                      <His cost have gone up since the first run. >

                      Ah. That makes good sense. Thanks.

                      <Notice they sell out in hours.>


                      I have an American made knife suggestion. How about......Richmond Artifex:


                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        That puts me in a tough place. It should be obvious I am not only very into knives but I also spend most of my time on KKF. I see a lot of bad reviews with the Richmond line of knives, but this might have more to due with the owner of that site than his knives. I have no dog in this fight, so I try and stay out of it. In fact if you went to that site and looked up the Masamoto Honyaki 240mm gyuto you will see I'm one of the reviews.

                        I would like to know his budget before I give a final answer. I will say I'm more likely to recommend a German made knife. There are many great USA knife companies, but so few make a good kitchen knife. WAIT...

                        $265 might still be out of his price range.

                        His website says sold out but he can buy them here.

                        1. re: bkultra

                          <I would like to know his budget before I give a final answer>

                          I think the original poster said his budget is $100-200, but that may not be his ultimate budget.

                          <Masamoto Honyaki 240mm gyuto you will see I'm one of the reviews. >

                          I see you.

                          Best of the best, huh? Masamoto Honyaki. :)

                          <I see a lot of bad reviews with the Richmond line of knives>

                          :) How about Trizor? Made in USA, stainless steel, in his price range.... oppps... not full tang.



                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I have never used or seen a Trizor, so I can not give any insight.

                            As for the Masamoto... It was not the best of the best when I bought it. I had a custom Koa wood handle and saya made for it 8). Now it's one of my best. Along with my Shigefusa Kitaeji Wa Gyuto (Also custom handle & saya, Cocobolo)

                            1. re: bkultra

                              <I have never used or seen a Trizor, so I can not give any insight. >

                              Politeness likes it, and repeatedly recommend it, but I think he is the only one who ever recommended it.


                              <As for the Masamoto... It was not the best of the best when I bought it. I had a custom Koa wood handle and saya made for it 8)>

                              :) What great knives you have there.

                              1. re: bkultra

                                A DT,Masamoto Honyaki, and a Shigefusa...holy crap!

                                1. re: JavaBean

                                  Also have a Heiji, but that is all my gyutos... For now

                    2. re: johnnyscience

                      Not shocking at all. Stainless steel is a great choices for most home users that are not "knife nuts".

                      When you say "American Stainless" are you referring to the steel itself or the knife manufacture? Great steels come from all over (Sweden, Japan, America, etc.).

                      If you are trying to keep the cost down I would avoid any form of Damascus.

                      Since I know you want stainless could you answer a few questions so I can try and help you find a knife.

                      What length of a blade are you after (8", 10", etc)?
                      What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?
                      Are you right or left handed?
                      Do you know if you prefer a German profile (more belly for rock chopping) or a French profile (flatter to push/pull cut)?

                  2. re: johnnyscience

                    re: full tang vs anything else.
                    If you manage to get a kitchen knife that is balanced for slicing up people, you're doing it wrong. (ehrm. yes, I bought a cheap one. I was much younger, and didn't test before buying)

              2. Except for high end / custom guys ( like...M.Carter, D.Thomas, B. Kramer, etc.), the only USA knife manufactures that i'm aware of are Mac Knives (CA), Dexter-Russell, and Lamson (MA).

                <Does anyone have any experience or opinion of the All-Clad knife line?>
                I'm not familiar with them,but i highly doubt these are actually made by All-Clad. More than likely, they're OEM'd by or for All-Clad.

                13 Replies
                1. re: JavaBean

                  <i'm aware of are Mac Knives (CA), Dexter-Russell, and Lamson (MA). >

                  Aren't MAC knives made in Japan?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Their HQ is in CA, but i'm not sure where their knives are actually made. IIRC, Macs' steels / HRC / grinds are more western than Japanese.

                    1. re: JavaBean

                      I think the USA Headquarter is in CA, but I think the international headquarter is in Japan:

                      "For more information, contact us at our head-office in Japan, or contact one of our importers or distributors directly."



                      It claims the knives (most?) are made in Japan.

                      "Entirely manufactured in Japan, MAC knives are a combination of the best in Western design and Japanese knife-making craftsmanship...."


                      "MAC knives are all hand-made in Japan. The Western-style, double-beveled knives are made in Seki, the knife capitol of Japan."


                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Thanks Chem, for some reason i always thought Macs weren't made in Japan.

                  2. re: JavaBean

                    "I'm not familiar with them,but i highly doubt these are actually made by All-Clad. More than likely, they're OEM'd by or for All-Clad."
                    FWIW, the printing on the knives themselves say they're manufactured in the US.

                    I'm still lost as to why someone would be cool with a knife manufactured in Germany but not Japan. But at any rate, the All-Clad is probably made domestically, whether it's All Clad or another company that does it.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      <FWIW, the printing on the knives themselves say they're manufactured in the US.>
                      Hmmm, I wonder what role (if any) All Clads’ pots & pans expertise and manufacturing facilities had in making these knives.

                      <I'm still lost as to why someone would be cool with a knife manufactured in Germany but not Japan.>
                      Could be a number reasons…preference, perception or ignorance. Before converting, I was guilty of the later two. After converting, I still keep a few German blades for those odd-ball jobs that would likely mess up a jknife…splitting lobsters, quartering chickens, chopping chocolate, etc.

                      1. re: JavaBean

                        <Before converting, I was guilty of the later two.>

                        I am kind of like that too. I heard many good things about the Japanese knives in recent years, but I was going on the path of "anti-fashion" and "anti-trend", and went with a German knife (Wusthof Ikon) and several American knives (Dexter-Russell). Then, I got a Shun bread knife, and it was much sharper than I thought. I was surprised that a bread knife can be that sharp. But the real conversion happened when I bought the Tojiro DP Chef's knife. I didn't have any high hope. I bought it because numerous CHOWHOUNDS at the time told me to give it a try. The knife blew me away.

                        Not only because the Tojiro DP cut really well compares to a standard German knife, but it was noticeably cheaper compared to Henckels and Wusthof knives. A standard Tojiro DP was $75 at the time, and a Henckels or a Wusthof was about $120-130 (>60% more).

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          in my roll.. I have two shuns, 3 globals a bob kramer , a wustof and clever that is so old that i think it may be stamped property of the Mayflower... I think in the end it just matters whatever you like when you are in the mood to buy

                          1. re: girloftheworld

                            <bob kramer >

                            :) What kind of Bob Kramer do you have?

                            The one from Shun? The one from Henckels?

                            Or the one directly from Bob himself?

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Im not sure my dad got it for me it says Kramer on it and the little circle.... it was not "made" for me it was ready made so more than likely it was for shun .. it sharpens well but loses its edge quickly compared to a global.

                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                I see. Shun was the first to market Bob Kramer within its line, and all of these Shun Kramer knives have the "Shun" kaji symbol.



                                Henckels later licensed Bob Kramer. These knives have "Zwilling" written on them.


                                Who knows. Maybe your dad got you a real Bob Kramer custom knife :)

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  If he did it it was because someone didnt pick it up at the knife shop where he gets my steel and whet stone and people go to buy ninja stars and all things edged... "cause thats it where it came from... not exactlly like a pilgramage to the studio or anything...

                        2. re: JavaBean

                          I have nothing against anyone who prefers a German knife - if you prefer a heavy knife, a tough knife that can withstand a lot of rough treatment, a lot of belly, or some combination thereof, a German knife makes perfect sense.

                          I had just gotten the impression that the OP would prefer a German knife based on country of manufacture rather than based on the tendencies of the German knifemaking tradition. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

                    2. Hi, Johnnyscience:

                      The idea of an (a) high quality, full-tang damascus blade that is (b) $100-200 & dishwashable is somewhat oxymoronic.

                      Why is it, exactly, you want Damascus? Just the look? There are plenty of blades out there with what *looks* like damascus either laminated to a core or laser-etched onto the flats. Some of these can be had for little money.

                      But if you want a true damascus monolithic blade of good quality (and more than about 80 layers), you're already far out of your price range. Good hand-forged pattern damascus billets go for >$100 per running inch, so if you want a full-tang, 10" chef, you're looking at >$1200 just for the material, >$800 if you "settle" for a welded, full-tang billet.

                      IMO, something's gotta give in your requirements.


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I must not know what a damascus blade is, but if the OP is talking about a folded and hammer welded blade, there are a few in the $100-200 price range. Mine are Kanetsune, and a 240 Gyuto can be had for around $150. They are Japanese, though, and I would never put any knife in the DW.

                        There are other similar knives in that price range. I think Shun is one.

                        1. re: Bigjim68

                          The kanetsune is damascus clad, not fully pattern welded. The core and cutting edge is plain (though perfectly respectable) vg-10. The softer folded steel is laminated onto the sides of the knife.

                          Same with the shun. though their damascus pattern is reportedly finished via bead blasting rather than etching.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Hi, cowboy:

                            There really is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about "damascus".

                            I start from the proposition that, unless the actual edge apex is damascus, there's pretty much no rationale for having it aside from aesthetics. Even then, you must subscribe to the theory that there are enough alternating layers exposed at that apex to make a difference in cutting performance. I'm undecided on the point, but the theory doesn't make a lot of sense to me considering the difference in ideal HT between the disparate materials used.

                            Now then, scabbing softer, more flexible steel onto a harder core *does* serve a purpose: supporting the core, but we're talking about kitchen knives here, and query how important that support really is. You could just as well support the hard core with any monolithic soft toolsteel. Personally, I think the makers put cheaper steel (damascus and plain) on cores of expensive steel mostly to save money and lower their pricepoints. That and the aesthetics.

                            I've fooled some with making simple folded damascus, and I haven't found any uptick in performance from the billets I've made.

                            Another thing about damascus is that you don't even *see* the striations/pattern unless you bring it out with etching. I was once given an oustanding billet of exquisite pattern damascus, and without the etch, it looks like any old barstock. Many times these billets get "lost" among other pieces, and this can make strong men cry...


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              We're more or less in agreement.

                              Personally, I tend to think that you buy damascus clad knives mainly because you like the look. Though lamination itself serves a reasonable purpose, and many damascus clad knives are good products that perform well - the damscus cladding itself mainly raises the price and makes the knife look pretty.

                              I do not subscribe to the theory that a truly damascus forged edge is superior to other cutting edges. So, I tend to think the main reason to shell out a small fortune for a fully pattern welded knife is mainly just that you want to pay for handmade artistry. They're attractive, uncommon, and difficult to make. Which is a perfectly fine justification.

                              But you don't buy either variation of damascus for added function.