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Phil Wilson 130mm CPM154 Chefs
Kitchen Knife Review

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Phil Wilson
130mm CPM154 Steel Chefs Knife

When I've met Phil Wilson at 2008 BAKCA show in November he has dozens of knives for the show. Sadly BAKCA show isn't what it used to be, I guess the club is slowly dissolving, and as a consequence less and less makers are attending it. Not sure if Phil Wilson will attend it next year. Hopefully he will. Anyway, one of the knives he had with him on that show was this prototype Chef's knife. At that time I was upgrading my kitchen cutlery, mainly focusing on high end Japanese Kitchen Knives. On the other hand, custom kitchen knife from the maker like Phil Wilson is always a good catch. We discussed the details, and I've opted for CPM 154 Steel chef's knife. Then there was a few months of waiting and finally Phil sent me an email saying the knife was ready. For extra 25$ he made me a kydex sheath, in case I had to take the knife somewhere on camping and I've received the knife in a few days. Total came to 275$. Not bad for a custom knife ;)

General

- This knife is what I would consider a small Chef's knife. I myself, these days find 240mm to be a minimal acceptable length for the good chef's knife or Gyuto, you can see my primary use gyuto knives following the link. However, once in a while I need a smaller knife, and more importantly, every once in a while, I need to let someone else in my kitchen use the knife and 64-67HRC thin bladed Japanese knives with 8°-10° edges on them are way too delicate to let non-knife folks to handle them. So, wanted something tougher, that could take more abuse and at the same time I wanted that same knife to have good edge holding and be a good knife too. As usual that is a hard feat to accomplish, and Phil Wilson did make it happen this time with this Chef's knife.

Wilson's chef's knife is a half tang, distal taper blade. It is full flat grind knife, as you'd expect for a good kitchen knife. Blade curves pretty much from the heel. Overall, after initial inspection I was completely satisfied with the knife. Fit and finish are just excellent. Wilson always pays lots of attention to details, and in this knife too, everything is fit together very well, there are no gaps or uneven grids or lines. Just by holding and looking at it even novice can tell this is a quality knife.

Blade

- 2mm thick, 130mm long blade is curved and provides plenty of belly and actual cutting edge at that. If not that long curve, the cutting edge would be I guess ~30% shorter. If you have seen other knives from Phil, or own them, then you know he's knives are always optimized for extreme performance. I own several Phil Wilson knives and all of them can be classified as very efficient cutters. Obviously, this chef's knife is no exception. Cutting ability of the initial edge was very high. Clean slices through the free hanging newsprint and shaving in either direction was easily accomplished. As Mr. Wilson stated initial edge was ground closer to 15° per side and he used DMT diamond sharpeners and then stropped them. The edge was nicely polished and really aggressive. Since it was my first chef's knife in CPM 154, and I wanted to observe behavior in rather abuse hands I've deciced to leave it at the original angle. The knife is hardened at 61HRC on Rockwell scale, which is pretty much the upper limit for this steel.

As for the steel, CPM 154 is the particle metallurgy version of the good old 154CM steel. As all the makers and knife enthusiasts agree it exhibits better wear resistance and toughness compared to its original. Which is what I was about to test. Frankly, I don't have a good comparison knife for CPM 154 vs. 154CM comparison :) Just whatever I find out in empirical way.

Handle

- More or less Wilson standard style micarta handle for the kitchen knives. The only request I had to make it more uniform in thickness and less tapered towards the blade, which he did. There is still a noticeable tapering, but not significant. Given my preferences to WA type handles you can guess why did I request that. So far the handle proved to be comfortable and ergonomic. And what's more important, different people with various cutting techniques and palm sizes used it, so far no complaints from anybody. Pretty good result IMHO ;)

Usage - Initial Edge

- Pending.

    Specs:
  • Blade - 130.00mm(5.12")
  • Thickness - 2.00mm
  • Width - 37.35mm
  • OAL - 245.00mm(9.65")
  • Steel - CPM154 steel at 61HRC
  • Handle - Micarta
  • Weight - 115.00g(3.89oz)
  • Acquired - 03/2009 Price - 275.00$
  • Last updated - 02/11/12