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Global GF-33 Forged Chef's
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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GF-33 8" Forged Chef's knife

This 8 inch long forged chef's knife, was one of the three Global knives I bought for my kitchen. back then, arund 2000 and a little bit earlier, that was the most popular and widespread high end kitchen knife. If I had dome my homework better, perhaps I'd go different route though. Global does offer this knife in several flavors. Those can be divided into two categories, standard and drop forged. Each type has chef's knife in various blade lengths, that is 6", 7", 8", 11" length. Since I was buying smaller 4.5 " utility knife at the same time, I figured that 6" or 7" would be rather small, and 11" was simply overkill for my modest cooking needs. Besides, I have large number of high end field/combat knives and should the need arise for 11 inch blade during my cooking sessions I am more than well equipped for that. So, I opted for 8 incher. Funny thing is that knife is listed as 8.5 inch blade on some sites, 8.75 on others and Yoshikin(Global Knives Manufacturer) lists it as 8.25 inch long. I got curious because of those discrepancies and measured it myself, turned out something like 8.3". Anyway, I figure, that's not all too important for your cooking, just tor the stats. Overall, I have no complaints regarding Global knives qualify. It is top notch for a production knife. For the record, I got a lot of complaints regerding the edge quality, later in 2008 when I bought the next batch of Globals.

Blade

- 8" long blade has a gentle curve increasing cutting edge length. The point can be described as a drop point with santoku flavor in it. Actually, it is a typical Japanese gyuto knife. For the kitchen knife it is quite thick. Although it is designed for harsher cutting tasks. Distal tapered blade thickness is 4.5mm at its thickest part, and gradualy declines towards the tip. Although, compared to the average tactical knives I've seen it is still thinner. Factory edge on GF-33 as well as on all other Global knievs was very good. Convex edge, shaving sharp. It had no problem shaving hair without irritating the skin and slicing through the newsprint. Considering the price tag on those knives it is reasonable to expect good, sharp edge on those knives.
    As the vast majority of the kitchen knives GF-33 is flat ground. Blade is quite wide, making cutting large food easier. The point is pretty well defined, but not as pointy as one found on its western counterparts from Henckel or Wusthoff. Depending on your cutting technique, this might be either a drawback, or an advantage. Though, you're on the safer side with santoku point, not that easy to poke yourself. Anyway, just be careful, it is you who's holding a knife remember?

Steel

- The steel used in all Global knives is CROMOVA 18, which stands for Chromium, Molibdenium and Vanadium. For a while, I was sure Global knives were using VG-10 steel, which is a very good, quality stainless steel used in high end cutlery. Well, by now it is not so hot and new anymore, so you can get a knife with VG-10 from medium price range too. Apparently, CROMOVA 18 is Global's proproetary or something like that. I can't find any info regarding that steel except that it contains 18% Chromium. Which is quite high for knives. It's very good for stain/rust resistance but won't help with edge holding and toughness. In other words, more chromium in a blade makes it more brittle. This would explain relatively low hardness of Global knives compared to other hi-end Japanese kitchen knives which typically start 60HRC and go much higher.
    Dealers selling Global knives describe CROMOVA 18 the best stainless steel out there, will hold the edge longer than any other stainless steel and so on. Frankly this is typical hype, used to promote the product. And having compared Fallkniven White Whale Santoku with Global G-48 Santoku, I can honestly say VG-10 is a better steel in terms of edge holding and sharpenability. Obviously Globals at lower hardness are tougher, but I never had a blade chipping on Fallkniven either.
    Both, CROMOVA 18 and VG-10 are chromium/molybdenum/vanadium steel, better than many other stainless steels, but there are other alloys better than VG-10 as well. Besides, there is no best steel, you can pick the best steel for a given cutting task, but in general it is not true. Anyway, back to kitchen knives and their steels. Officially, Global hardens them to 56-58 HRC. Which is rather soft for hi end Japanese kitchen knives. Granted how much abuse an average kitchen knife receives from typical user, it is understandable to keep hardness low, it will be less wear resistant(that is, it will get dull sooner), but most of the typical users won't sharpen their kitchen knife anyway. On the other hand, lower hardness allows for higher impact toughness, in other words the blade won't chip easily and won't break. Although, if you try hard enough, you can break it, no worries ;) One positive thing about CROMOVA 18 is obviously, very high Cmromium content in terms of stain resistance.
    A year or so ago(in 2008), I've had exchanged emails with a famous knifemaker Phil Wilson, regarding making a custom kitchen knife for me. He is working with modern hi-tech steels, and definitely the best expert on CPM steels out there. So, based on his input and experience it was not desirable to go for high hardness for most of the kitchen knives. As you can see that is exactly what we have with Globals. I'd still expect higher hardness from expensive Japanese kitchen knife. If you take care of your knives well then you'd clearly benefit from high hardness vs. increased stain and impact resistance that CROMOVA 18 has due to its composition and heat treatment.
    Update from Phil Wilson - After experiments with 154CM steel, Phil stated that he feels very confident about makeing 154CM kitchen knife lade hardened to 63HRC (my knife is already in progress). That's very high for most of the knoves, let alone kitchen knives. Factory knives form that steel rarely go to 61HRC. Bear in mind 1HRC increase in hardness translates roughly into 20% better wear resistanceon soft materials such as food, meat, etc... So, comparing 56 to 63 that's a lot of difference. Sure, 63HRC blade will be harder to sharpen, but much less frequently too.

Handle

- That is one of the most distinctive features of Global knives. Sort of their trademark design. I don't know who else produces knives with that type of handle. The handle is metal and the knife is one solid piece. Hence no weak handle/blade juncture, which is a plague of cheaper kitchen knifes. Nothing gets wobbly or loose. Actually, this is true for the forged Globals(the GF series). For standard line(Gand GS series), handle is hollow and it's sintered with the blade.
    To improve the grip handle is textured. To be more precise, it has multiple circular recessions, those are the black dots you se on the picture. Even though the recessions are quite smooth and not very deep, they work surprisingly well. After all the years of using them, I have never had a problem with the grip, no slippage, no irritated palms, even after prolonged use. Bear in mind during cooking your hands are more likely do be wet or oily which obviously increases the chance of the knife slipping out of your hand, or hand slipping down on the blade, later being more unpleasant.
    Anyway, like I said Globals do have ergonomic and grippy handles. No complaints from my side. Some people complain about metal handles transferring the temperature to the hand. Well, that is true. However, for one, you shouldn't let the blade of a quality knife heat up that much, I doubt that temperatures even around 100C will damage the heat treatment, but why do that. Second, if it is cold you are worried about then wear glows. It is not a survival knife that you might be using somewhere in the mountains, and if it is that cold you need glows anyway.

Usage

- As mentioned above, I've been using my Global knives for few years by now. I was very positive regarding them, but lately I feel those are too soft for Japanese kitchen knives. Well made knives, reasonably good edge holding for the kitchen knives, ergonomic, durable, and quite versatile. This particular knife, i.e. chef's knife received the least use out of my 3 Globals knives. Mainly because I didn't really know how to use large chef's knife and haven't considered it for vegetables and other food. Another reason for it was that I did't have to cut large meals too often. Yet another reason is that whenever I have big stuff to cut, I am already equipped with over 150 knives to do tough cutting. So, sometimes, which is quite often, I use non kitchen knives to do tough job. Not because this one wouldn't handle it or I am saving it, just I am curious how the other one will perform and kitchen is one of the best knife testing places. Gotta use them knives! Although, these days I very rarely do that anymore. At this moment(fall 2008) I already have around 25+ high quality kitchen knives and it's very obvious that for food cutting non kitchen knives don't really come close in terms of cutting efficienty. As usual one doesn't grind 6°-8° angle edge on the utility or hard use knife.
    During those years GF-33 has been used to cut variety of products, including meat, vegetables, fruits, etc. It's been used for chopping, prying, paring, peeling, skinning, etc. For some things it performs very well. It was equally good for slicing and chopping. Given its size and drop forged design it is quite a heavy weight, compared to the identical sized non forged Global chef's knife. So, for harsher products, it has been choice #1 almost exclusively (amongst kitchen knives). Also, chef's knife worked well as a slicer. Its size and because I always keep it very sharp allowed that. For others jobs such as peeling it wasn't that good, which is obvious. Peeling an apple or a potato with 8 incher isn't nearly as comfortable as with 4.5" utility knife.
    One thing I have not done with it - chopping bones. It is not designed for that, and I don't want to damage the edge deliberately. I have other tools that can handle that job much better. I am sure so do you, doesn't mean I assume you have a knife collection too, but a meat cleaver or a hatchet is nothing unusual.
    Regarding the edge - For a while I've kept the edge mirror polished, convex ground. Convex edge is a strong one, and withstands chopping better, however for slicing standard V edge is better, which is what all of the kitchen knife sharpeners will produce. Mirror polished edge performs very well for chopping and push-cutting, but for slicing it isn't the best choice. The fine, polished edge simply slips on certain mediums, such as tomato skin and alike. Of course if you apply slightly more force it will cut through, (if your knife is sharp), but still, performance is worse. Later, that is month ago I've decided to switch from mirror polished edge to rougher, more aggressive one. So, if before I was starting from 220 grit sandpaper and then gradually went to 600, 1000, 2000, 3000 polishing tape and the stropping, last time I've stopped on 600 grit. The difference was immediately noticeable. The edge become more "grabby" and slicing got a lot easier. Since the improvement in cutting was more evident in slicing vs. chopping I decided to keep it that way. For that matter, the only knife in my kitchen that still has polished edge today(that was until summer 2008) is the White Whale Santoku, which is used exclusively for vegetables, minus rough ones. At least when I was using it :)
    As for the later findings about edge polish, finish grit and cutting effifiency I guess you should also read Akifusa(Ikeda)Gyuto review, Conclusions section. Short summary is that very hard(62HRC+), thin edges work much better even at 30000 grit edge finish, than relatively thicker edges like I've had on this knife at 600 grit. Yes, 600 grit feels more aggressive, and for softer knives perhaps it's better left at that, but for really hard knives, super thin and super sharp edges do cut significantly better. Simple physics, edge that thin generates a lot more pressure using equal force, and hard steel ensures the edge will stay sharp long time.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 203.20mm(8")
  • Thickness - 3.17mm
  • OAL - 317.50mm(12.5")
  • Steel - CROMOVA 18 56-58HRC
  • Handle - Steel
  • Acquired - 07/2002 Price - 125.00$

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Last updated - 09/01/11