One more specialized knife in my kitchen, also a part of rather unsuccessful spring-2008 kitchen knife modernization/upgrade program. I'm not quite sure, why I even got this knife. I don't really buy bony meat, more like once in a blue moon. However, it was an experiment, and at that time my view was - when I use it, if it works out well, I'll be more than happy. Otherwise, having 200+ knives at home, it's no different, whether or not I have one more unused knife.
General- GF-31 is a drop forged steel boning knife, with a bolster. According to its description - Forged Boning Knife makes sure you get all the right cuts and filets without leaving anything on the bone. That I haven't tested yet, but looks like it'll make easy getting in the tight spots. Also, the fact that the steel is rather soft, 56-58HRC, will probably help to prevent edge chipping on the bones. On the other hand, Japanese Deba knives which are also designed for cutting, chopping poultry and fish bones have Rockwell hardness above 60HRC. I have one at 63HRC, another at 61HRC.
In theory, according to popular knife marketing mantras, this is almost a dream knife, Fully Forged! and with bolster!. What more do you need? Well, sadly the third magic component, full tang is missing ;) Ok, just kidding, who cares if there is a full tang there or not, full tangs don't really have a place in the kitchen, you can read more in detail about tangs in Don't Fall For The Marketing Hype section of the How To Choose The Right Kitchen Knives article. Have to note, this narrow knife is one of the rare cases, when the bolster actually is needed, and acts like a fingerguard.
Overall, I have no complaints on GF-31 fit and finish, except for the crappy sharpening work. It's a quality made knife. Sure, 95$ price tag (I guess it's more expensive by now) doesn't put this knife in a cheap knives category, and there are better buys for that price, or close to it.
Steel- The steel is the CROMOVA 18 used by Global for all their knives as far as I am concerned. I've already commented regarding this steel in Global GF-33 Forged Chef's knife review and in Fallkniven White Whale review, thus there is no point in repeating all that in here. Follow the link to see the info regarding CROMOVA 18.
Blade- Geometry-wise, the blade is a typical western style, boning knife. Japanese style boning and filleting knives have completely different blade geometry. Thus, we have a narrow width, somewhat flexible, slender blade. All those features should make it easy to get to and around tight spots, cut along the bone, may be disjoint the meat and so on. Main complaint was the initial edge sharpness, which like the rest from spring 2008 batch, were rather dull.
On this macro photo, you can clearly see the botched sharpening job. Obviously it's magnified over 40x, so it didn't look that bad to the naked eye. However, it wasn't sharp. Because of that, I was forced to resharpen the knife. Not knowing how it would behave on the bone contact, I've decided to leave the original edge sharpening angle and just sharpen it. I've started with 5µm Silicon Carbide(SiC) abrasive film, followed up with 2µm SiC abrasive film, then with 0.5µm Chromium Oxide(CrO) powder loaded strop and finished with 0.3µm Aluminum Oxide(Al2O3) abrasive film.
The edge now, is nice convex, mirror polished. Both, convex and polishing, should reduce chipping, but I'm not too worried about that with a knife steel hardened at 58HRC.
Usage- Finally, I got to use this knife. I said above, I don't have meat to debone often. For poultry I use Watanabe Honesuki, or one the heavy duty blades I have, see Takeda Deba review, Kobayashi Deba Review. This time, so it happened that Honesuki was out, for rehandling. Debas were too thick to work between the ribs, and I felt like experimenting.
First job was the miscellaneous boar bony parts that I had to separate from meat. Overall the result was satisfactory. I sure was glad, I've sharpen the knife. Narrow blade and tip did work pretty well. Also, few times I've hit the bone pretty hard. I wasn't very careful with this knife, knowing its 56-58HRC hardness. In the end, the blade withstood all the use and abuse, although, there wasn't any abuse to speak of. No dents, no chips or rolls on the edge either. Like I said I've left the edge pretty thick, approx. 20° per side, and on top of that now it was a convex edge with very high polish.
Next job came week or two later, and GF-31 was called to prepare the chicken. Again, its performance was quite satisfactory. Having used Honesuki for the same job, I personally prefer Honesuki for butchering the poultry, but that entirely depends on your taste and preferences. Absolutely doable using GF-31 boning knife as well. However, disjointing is definitely better(or easier) done with Honesuki or Deba.
Anyway, back to GF-31. As you can guess, preparing the chicken like that can get messy. Overall, I am positive about GF-31 performance in the area of comfort and safety. Grip was secure even with oily/wet hands. Edge toughness was also good, no damage to the edge after those two jobs. However, the edge degradation, that is dulling, was noticeable. There wasn't that much cutting done with this knife to cause edge degrade from pure abrasive wear, apparently that[the wear] was result of the edge contact on the bone causing the edge to roll, hence dulling. All in all, it's a solid user knife, and I'm keeping it for a while. Besides, it's one of those knives I am not too worried about, when letting non knife people handle it.
- Blade - 152.40mm(6")
- Thickness - 3.17mm
- OAL - 279.40mm(11")
- Steel - CROMOVA 18 56-58HRC
- Handle - Stainless Steel
- Acquired - 04/2008 Price - 94.00$
- Watanabe Honesuki Knife Review
- Watanabe Miroshi Deba Knife Review
- Kobayashi Hontan Seikon Dojo Deba Knife Review
- Takeda Kuro Uchi Deba Knife Review
Last updated - 09/01/11