Yaxell Ran, Hattori HD and Saiun (Kanetsugu)

Joined Oct 2, 2010
I turned 65 end December, so I can easily get away with a completely redundant new knife without anyone yelling "...what, not another knife!!...". So, I bought this Yaxell Ran 255 mm knife and it came yesterday after a long vacation at our customs office, which costs me another 33 € extra... aaarrrggghh.

I'm not into Japanese handles, but this kind of handle pleases me quite a lot after a good year's experience with the Saiun. Both Yaxell and Saiun have quite large micarta handles and fit my hand much better than any other traditional Western handle. As you can see, the Yaxell is some kind of half tang construction while the Saiun is a full tang. Perfect for larger hands.

All of the knives on the pictures are VG10 Damascus. I like VG10 a lot. It takes a while before you manage to sharpen them well, but once you succeed on doing it perfectly, you end up with screaming sharp knives which retain their edge like forever! The Damascus pattern has no real function other than introducing some fun into your life. The difference between Damascus VG10 and massive construction is somewhat like watching the sterile but perfect Rockettes at RCMH in NYC versus the dazzling girls at the Crazy Horse in Paris. You'll remember one of those flocks for the rest of your life...

The Yaxell comes with an impressive 80/10-ish edge but it's irregularly done. I'll make it better. Compared to the Hattori, it is longer, a bit lighter and has a nicer Damascus pattern. I quite like the more modern looking profile design of the knife and the larger distance from the handle to the blade. The Yaxell blade is a tad thicker than the Hattori's.

I really think both the Saiun 210 slicer and the 255 Yaxell are perfect alternatives for people who need to be convinced to start using Japanese handles.

All of these knives should be handled with care when sharpening. You will inevitably scratch the Damascus pattern. I've used the Hattori and the Saiun as much as possible and scratched both of them. I thinned the Saiun which messed up the damascus severely. I restored both Hattori and Saiun with a variation of sandpapers, always ending with a 1200 grit worn-out wet sandpaper and they still look like brand-new.

As for the "chippy" reputation of VG10; all knives chip, the harder the steel like VG10, the more risk, the softer the steel the less risk. This also means that you don't need to be an Einstein to understand that you cannot use these knives like a chopper and on things you shouldn't use them on. Common sense keeps your knives in a healthy condition!

Yaxell and Hattori side by side;

Micarta half-tang handle on the Yaxell, oh, with stainless butt cap;

Yaxell 255 gyoto, Hattori 240 gyoto and Saiun 210 mm slicer;

Yaxell at http://www.hocho-knife.com/

Hattori and Saiun (Kanetsugu) at http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/products.html
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Joined Sep 25, 2014
Nice. Yaxell zen are going for really cheap on amazon right now. Hammer finish wihout the stainless butt on the handle. All of your vg-10 knives chipped??? I have yet to see anything like that with my tojiros but I haven't owned them too long.
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Joined Oct 2, 2010
Microchipping of brand new blades -- VG-10 or not -- is quite common. Must have to do with factory buffering. After a few sharpenings -- don't hesitate to remove some steel -- you should be fine.
That is also my experience. A few good sharpenings later the full potential of your knives will be opened.

Thanks for pointing out my mistake on my use of that half tang. I have no idea how they make that handle, is it a "rat tail" construction?
Joined Jan 16, 2012
Picked up a Yaxell Mon (http://www.paulsfinest.com/Yaxell-MON-Chef-Knife-255mm-10.html) for a friend as a thank you/Christmas present. 

I really like it - it feels great, the handle is stellar, the blade is beautiful. Hasn't been sharpened yet, so we'll see how it does in the long run, but it's a very lovely blade for the price.

I also have a Hattori HD and love it - it's my daily knife. Sharpens without too much difficulty (even though I'm terrible at sharpening) and holds the edge well.

Nice blades. 
Joined Oct 2, 2010
Glad to meet another Hattori fan, Deputy! You might like the following picture of my Hattori preparing a chili con carne.

Also, nice catch on that Yaxell. Most likely the same core steel as in mine. Yesterday I honed mine on a 4k Belgian Blue Whetstone. Then I had this struggle with a Spanish chorizo. IMO better test than chopping a simple tomato. Meat like this tells you all about a knife! Promising start.

@Benuser  Let's call it a "hidden tang" /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smoking.gif
Joined Nov 15, 2012
I actually find it easier to slice "tube" meats in-hand, so long as there is enough tube to grab.  Your thumb becomes a prime candidate for cutting when things get too short.  Silly me did that the other day, fortunately my control is very good and this one didn't bleed too much.  A suji/slicer with a very thin edge works best here.

Joined Jul 13, 2012
Nice profile on that Yaxell - I've wondered about them thanks for the review.

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