Hammered Steel

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by tak, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. tak

    tak

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Home
    Hello,

    Just a home cook here. First post.

    I’m looking to get my first good knife. To date, I’ve only had relatively basic knives. I’m looking to get a knife that brings as much pleasure as it does functionality, and some proper sharpening stones to go with it.

    I’m learning a lot as I research, but one question I have is about knives with hammered steel. At first, I assumed that it was purely aesthetic. Though, I’ve read that the pockets can help facilitate food falling off rather than sticking to the knife, which makes sense.

    My questions are, is there much benefit to hammered steel (in any regard), or is it 99% looks at maybe 1% functionality? And are there any drawbacks to hammered steel that I should be aware of?

    I’m not committed to hammered steel as I’m looking around, more or less wondering if I should be weary of it.


    As a side note, I’m open for any suggestions on a good mid-range, great looking, but more importantly great performing knife. Right now, I’m looking at Japanese steel, knowing that down the line I’ll also want to add some softer steel to my arsenal. I’m also looking at Damascus steel, understanding that I’m only interested in that for it’s looks, so I’m trying to be carful that I don’t get crap steel that looks nice.
     
  2. dave kinogie

    dave kinogie

    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    I wouldn't be wary of hammered steel. It varies knife to knife though, but I'd say it's mainly aesthetic. Still, I personally love the look. Some of them aid with food release, sometimes it causes pockets of suction so to speak and hampers. The point of the hammered finish in theory is to create pockets of air between the blade surface and the food surfaces to aid in food release, but certain foods imo it creates pockets of suction and does the opposite, or has simply a neutral effect. Food release is mainly the product of grind/blade geometry and to an extent the thickness of the blade and taper. Also, there are just foods that basically will always stick on nearly any knife, no matter what.

    I would be wary of damascus though, just as you say. There is nothing wrong with damascus, but it often is a selling point on a very mediocre knife which allows manufacturers to dramatically increase the price on a knife you'd just want to avoid entirely at any price point regardless. So, definitely get a damascus knife if you like them, many look awesome, but be picky in brand, smith, price, etc., specifically. One thing, solely in my personal experience, I've often noticed a lot of damascus blades tend to stick more, I am not sure of the science behind it if even true, or if it's just coincidental with the specific knives I've tried and their specific grinds in relation.
     
  3. dave kinogie

    dave kinogie

    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    Also what is your price range? What type of knife are you interested in? Steel? Length? What's your cutting style?
     
  4. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    353
    Exp:
    Retired Owner/Operator
    Like anything else, hand hammered steel can be just a selling gimmick, as @dave kinogie said. In order to tell whether or not its a gimmick requires a little research into the art of knife forging itself. There are a ton of good videos (and a ton of not so good videos) on YouTube that can help you out.

    But, the most important question is what will be the knife's job? If you prep a lot of fruits and veggies, using a 9.5 inch knife can get tiring after a while. So, you may want to look at something a little smaller.

    Depending on what you are doing, you can literally buy a knife for every task from filleting fish to chopping herbs. In a commercial kitchen there would be a need for these different types of knives. In a home kitchen, not so much. You could do very nicely with one good, well made 7-8 inch chef's knife. I would suggest you start there because a good chef's knife is usually the "go to" knife in any collection. For that, you can spend as little or as much as you want. With knives, you generally get what you pay for, so, watch the videos, learn as much as you can about the grades of steel that are used and the different styles of blades etc. This way, you will know what you are looking for when you are ready to buy.

    As for sharpening stones, that's a whole other issue. Like knives, some are good and some are not so good. Using stones to sharpen your knives is not difficult, its precise and it takes practice......a lot of practice. So, I would not recommend using your good knife on the first try. YouTube is also a great resource for "how to" videos on using stones to sharpen your knives and what stones to buy.

    Lastly, when you move up to this level of knife, they are going to be astonishingly sharp right out of the box; probably sharper than anything you are currently accustomed to. Excellent knife skills are a must to avoid a trip to the hospital. So, I would strongly recommend strengthening your knife skills now rather than after you get the knife. With knives this sharp, the test comes first and the lesson after.

    But, on the other side of that coin, the sheer bliss of feeling a blade that sharp pass effortlessly through whatever your slicing can be quite intoxicating. You will want to try out the knife on everything you can find. But, don't cut bones and don't use the good knife on anything but wood cutting boards. Anything else could damage the blade.

    Good luck.
     
  5. tak

    tak

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Home
    Price Range: probably $100-200
    Type: Japanese Chef's knife with a 50/50 bevel
    Length: 8" - 8.5"
    Steel: Probably stainless, but I'm not opposed to a carbon steel. I like to think I'd do a fine job of preventing it from rusting if I had a carbon steel.
    Cutting Style: I dunno. Let's just say, I'm certainly not professionally trained, I have a good understanding of the fundamentals, but I also know that I don't always employ them. Like @sgsvirgil indicated, I know I'm going to need to be conscientious of what this blade can do.

    This will definitely be my workhorse, go to knife. I imagine, I'll be doing pretty much everything with it, except cutting bones, as you mentioned. Thanks for the advice about the wood cutting boards too. I'm already on the same page there.
     
    sgsvirgil likes this.
  6. KenOfPortland

    KenOfPortland

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exp:
    I can heat up Campbell’s Chunky Soup in a pot
    I recently picked up a couple hammered knives and support the 99% aesthetic and 1% function assessment. Sometimes it seems to help a little, but the difference is marginal. I don’t mind the look though and it wasn’t like it cost extra, so I can’t feel ripped off over it.
     
  7. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

    Messages:
    602
    Likes Received:
    252
    Exp:
    Chef Emeritus
    When I bought mine, I did it purely on looks.

    Never thought of its functionality until now that you mentioned it.
     
    brianshaw likes this.
  8. dave kinogie

    dave kinogie

    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    For style I was asking like push cut, rock chop, etc. Certain profiles benefit certain styles.

    Kohetsu Blues are a solid option.
     
  9. millionsknives

    millionsknives

    Messages:
    2,500
    Likes Received:
    480
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    most stainless hammered finish knives in your price range are from the same OEM manufacturer
     
  10. dave kinogie

    dave kinogie

    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    Sorry, was falling asleep when I made that reply last night, so here are a handful of knives which are reasonably priced which I would recommend for your initial foray into Japanese steel:

    Kohetsu Blue #2 Western Gyuto - This is a really great blade for the money. Blue #2 clad in stainless, only the edge is reactive. Nice all around style profile, gets really sharp on the stones. So so F&F, basic handle. Thin but robust enough.

    Tojiro DP Gyuto - Stainless VG-10, pretty hard steel, almost laser-like for a first timer. Will be an excellent beater even once you've graduated to bigger and better knives. Flat profile, western handle. Not very tall at the heel, almost feels like a huge petty. Ease of maintenance, hit or miss mediocre F&F. Standard starter J blade. Solid edge retention, but little feedback on the stones and a bit of a pita to sharpen.

    Richmond GT Wa Gyuto, also known as Artifex Wa GT - great starter knife with a really nice simple Wa handle. Forgiving soft stainless steel which is the same as Fujiwara's FKM line, which is often the direct competitor to Tojiro's DP line as a first Japanese knife. Edge retention is blah, and mediocre feedback on stones, but not hard to get reasonably sharp and like western knives, after it's quickly lost it's initial super sharp edge, it does keep a very serviceable one for a reasonably long time by simply straightening on something like a ceramic honing rod.

    Goko White #1 Gyuto - Easy to sharpen to a wicked sharp edge white steel wrapped in stainless. Tall blade with pretty flat profile, really nice handle, F&F overall can leave something to be desired but you can always clean it up yourself. Solid weight, but very thin behind the edge. Opens up like crazy on the stones with solid edge retention. Disclaimer, I've only tried the nakiri version of this knife, but the Gyuto is the same steel and the knife itself comes highly recommended, especially as exceptional value at the price.

    Wakui Shirogami #2 Gyuto - Right now seems 210's are sold out, but this is a lot of knife for the money. Gradual continuous sweep in the blade, but with a nice flat spot. Feels a lot taller then it is heel to tip, but very nimble. Blade heavy and thick enough at the spine, but thin at the edge, really nice grinds. Opens up on the stones nicely til screaming sharp. Solid edge retention, but can be considered brittle and high maintenance with poorer cutting technique. White #2 clad in stainless. High on my list of knives overall, lower on my list for beginners.


    These are just some which come to mind, which I have personal experience with. There are tons of other options out there.

    Here are some great sites to browse and purchase from:

    www.chefknivestogo.com
    www.japaneseknifeimports.com
    www.bernalcutlery.com
    www.japanesenaturalstones.com
    www.epicedge.com


    Remember, also invest in stones. Something like a King 1000/6000 Combo stone Its fine for your first, cheaply found on Amazon or Korin, which are also solid options to buy certain knives.

    Sorry none of these are hammered. The only hand hammered blades I hold experience with are more expensive, more advanced user knives.

    Hope this helps though, welcome to the rabbit hole, Japanese knives are like crack. :emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
     
  11. rick alan

    rick alan

    Messages:
    2,493
    Likes Received:
    165
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Dave gave lots of good recs, could also throw the lower priced Tanakas in there but hey, looks are part of the experience also. Knives that are hammered 2/3 the way to the edge I would think at least give some decent food release, but this is not a big deal for home use so no big performance benefit here. The generic I believe Millions alluded to is sold for one by JKI, made to their specifications, and that's the one I would recommend if going that route. It is thin at the edge, the steel takes a good edge and has very good edge retention, FF is top notch, and it's in your price range. Unfortunately currently out of stock, but check with Jon if interested. And do consider a 240.
     
  12. tak

    tak

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Home
    Gotcha, for chopping at least, I usually keep the tip down and rock back to chop. I don’t tend to lift the whole blade, at least not for dicing, etc.

    Thanks for all the recommendations and resources. I’ll be pouring through this for a bit.

    No worries at all. I joined the forum, so I could ask the specific question about hammered steel, but I’m not limiting my options just to hammered stuff. Anything is on the table. The recommendations are definitely going to help me navigate this.

    I actually already pulled the trigger on some Zwilling glass water stones, since I found a good deal on the set. I realize that I’m spending as much or more on the stones, but the decision seemed like an easy one after a few beers on a Friday night and shopping online.
     
  13. aliphares

    aliphares

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Home cook
    I was actually looking at the wakui but the 240mm. I don't know if you've ever used one, but how do you think it compares to the ikazuchi from JKI? It's stainless clad AS, and it's even lighter
     
  14. tak

    tak

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Home
    Mostly just looking to ease in with something that’s more akin to what I’m used to, and I only have experience with symmetrical bevel.
     
  15. millionsknives

    millionsknives

    Messages:
    2,500
    Likes Received:
    480
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Some vendors claim 50 50 bevel on asymmetric knives to get a sale. Its a lot less work than explaining asymmetry to a western market. The truth is if you are looking at japanese double bevel knives, give up on that 50 50 bevel.
     
    dave kinogie likes this.
  16. dave kinogie

    dave kinogie

    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    Haven't had the chance to try anything in that line, the only thing I own from Jon is a Kochi Petty, which I love. The other knives I've always wanted to try from him are either out of my price range or always out of stock lol.

    The Wakui is awesome though.
     
  17. rick alan

    rick alan

    Messages:
    2,493
    Likes Received:
    165
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    The Ikazuchi is a laser, for all practical purposes too thin to put in asymmetry so you can consider all lasers 50/50. But you can still sharpen them asymmetrically if you want.
     
  18. aliphares

    aliphares

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Home cook
    I know it's a laser, I like my knives thin (but not necessary lasers) I wasn't talking about sharpening, just asking which is a better knife overall.
    Dave, how would you describe the wakui? Profile and thickness and grind wise if you don't mind me asking
     
  19. dave kinogie

    dave kinogie

    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Can't boil water
    I haven't used it much lately, so I did today just on a couple onions, a couple stalks of celery, 2 carrots and a few cloves of garlic, but I'm going to use it to make a huge veggie soup and some sides tomorrow, so I'll comment more in depth tomorrow, but it's got a nice flat spot, but with a rather abrupt but continuous sweep starting about half way up the blade. It's very thin at the edge, medium thick at the spine, not a ton of distal taper, but it's there especially starting about 2 and a half inches from the tip. Great F&F on the blade, relieved choil, rounded spine, handle is nice as I like D handles, but there is a bit of a step on the ferrule. The grinds are relatively flat, but still asymmetric. It actually wedged a little on one of the large onions when it got towards the top of the blade, which I never remember it doing. Only been on the stones for a super quick touch up once, 6000 grit, though there was a card in the box from Bernal Cutlery which said the 1st sharpening was complementary, the way it was worded I never knew if it meant they opened it up for me pre-delivery, or if it meant I have a free sharpening if I mailed it to them/stopped in lol. It feels a lot taller at the heel then it is, but not in a bad way. This is still a very nimble knife, but it has board presence for a 210, along with decent knuckle clearance, though I have medium hands. This is no laser, but it's not a beast either, I'd say you can call it a workhorse, but the edge is very thin, so you have to treat it proper. I like this knife a lot, on top of it's performance it's a looker, especially at this price point for a stainless clad. But it could probably use a little thinning ootb, something I've never been overly keen on doing, I'm admittedly a very novice sharpener for someone whose owned so many knives. I'm not a poor sharpener and I'm pretty confident with a steady and consistent angle hold, but I always feel like I'm not doing the blades justice haha.

    Anyway, I might sharpen it up before using it tomorrow. I'm at an home cook, haven't been in a pro setting in about a decade, but I'll wind up prepping something like a 3lb bag of onions, a mess of mushrooms, a pound of carrots, a bulb of garlic, maybe 4 bell peppers, a head of cauliflower and a couple broccoli crowns, some squash, couple potatoes, a lot of celery and maybe a couple other vegetables I'm forgetting tomorrow, so I'll report back later in the day.

    This was a nice knife for slicing up chicken breasts and boneless steak as well, at least when I first got it. Making fish tomorrow so won't be able to revisit that though.
     
    aliphares likes this.
  20. aliphares

    aliphares

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Home cook
    Thank you for review! My main issue is I can't try them out myself so I have to go with descriptions, so thanks for that.