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Global GSF-22 4" Forged Kitchen Utility
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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GSF-22 4" Kitchen Utility Knife

Given my negative opinion of the usability and usefulness of the utility knives in the kitchen, I figure it is clear that the Global GSF-22 utility knife is not mine, but it was given to me by a friend fro maintenance sharpening, which is always a good opportunity to examine the blade again, reevaluate it and maybe draw some new conclusions. The only problem with that of course is the fact that I don't really know what was happening with the knife all that time, and as usual the owners are not very sure either. Most often I get "I just cut stuff in the kitchen", unless something very dramatic happens. Well, at least since those are my friends I know more or less well their knife habits, maintaining procedures, e.g. whether or not the knife ends up in a dishwasher or gets hand washed, which to be honest doesn't require much of "knowledge", as in 99% of the cases even the Globals end up in a dishwasher, despite of all the complaints and arguments from my side. Well, not my knives, what can I do :) Besides it's still a free knife to review and it's a knife that was used by real person, in a real home kitchen, so to study live use that's a pretty good opportunity. That is how the Global GSF-22 utility knife ended up with me several times. Each time I have used of for about a day or two before returning it to the owner. For the experiment's sake I did try once to use it as it was returned to me. Just out of curiosity, and dropped that pretty much immediately. I'm not felling very comfy when I have to apply that much force to the knife when cutting vegetables or meat, feels really awkward.

General

- Even though the knife isn't mine I had a chance to examine it brand new, as I was the one who bought the knife for my friend, as per her request. It came in a standard Global box, which is quite fancy and as far as packaging goes, it ss real good. I might say, packaging is at much higher level than the knife itself. Anyway, overall, fit and finish were really good, which is to be expected, they (Global knives) are not that cheap to begin with, and their brand name does impose certain requirements on the maker too. No scratches, no blemishes, it was close to perfect. What was nowhere near the perfect, or even acceptable, that was the edge. Neither bevel grind, nor the finish was any good. As a result, GSF-22 had a rough and dull edge. It is really unfortunate that Global has dropped their own standards on sharpening. I already mentioned bad sharpening job on the whole batch of their knives in other Global Knives reviews. The story was the same with this utility knife. Instead of the mirror polished edges found on Global kitchen knives before, I got this mess instead. That bad edge isn't as important to someone like me, who can and does sharpen his/her knives, however, the thing is, majority of the people judge their new kitchen knife but the sharpness and edge quality it had out of the box, since most of them are very unlikely to ever sharpen it again. You give them that type of the edge(rough and dull), and then their question is, why the hell do I have to pay more, compared to western knives or what is so special about Japanese knives, and why is my shiny, new knife dull? I'm not a Global salesman, so I have no problems criticizing them for their crappy job with sharpening either. They should be the concerned ones. Well, there is another category of the buyers, for whom the way the handle looks and fits the overall kitchen interior is far more important than the knife performance. They can live with dull NIB edges ;)

Blade

- Global GSF-22 features 110.00mm(4.33") long, 22m wide almost triangular blade, which is about 2mm thick at the blade heel. I don't think that's very thin for the knife of its size. However, given seemingly multipurpose name of it, i.e. "utility" knife, I guess that was the justification. Ok, it's not too thick, but I've had gyutos and santokus which were twice or even three times longer than that and were still 2mm thick. Blade geometry is both, somewhat generic and somehow weird at that. On one hand, it is pretty average looking, slightly drop point blade with rather long belly (relative to its size), on the other hand, it's too triangle-ish shape, and I personally think it looks quite ugly, although that's strictly my humble opinion about its looks ;) You may love its looks just as easy. I'll skip the discussion about Global (or Yoshikin, which is their parent company) proprietary steel Chromova 18. I've talked about it enough in other reviews, and here is the short recap of CHROMOVA 18 in Kitchen Knife Steel FAQ. For the stats, it is hardened at 56-58HRC, which is rather soft for a typical Japanese kitchen knife, but Globals is not your typical Japanese kitchen knife, the ones they export to the west are a lot more westernized then their domestic line. I guess they know better not to sell hard knives to those abusive westerners ;) Although, I don't condone that action in any way.

Handle

- GSF-22 has the same, Global signature design, stainless steel, black dimpled handle. The difference, from most of the other Global knives, is that it is a relatively flat one. Very similar to that of the Global GSF-15 Forged Paring knife. It is quite flat and while not really preferable over other handle types, still manages to work ok for a small knife like this. As usual flatter handles are more stable in hand, compared to the round ones, but when the handle is too thin, the whole thing becomes unstable again. Although, when in paring grip it's still not that bad. Can't say that many new things about this handle design, check the other reviews, as for the usability and comfort of this handle, that's in the Usage section.

Sharpening

- Globals are in general quite easy to sharpen if you use proper sharpening tools and I do just that. By the way, CHROMOVA 18 steel is quite wear resistant and often gives novices really hard time with sharpening. Once you get more experience, it is no biggie. Point is, if you are having problems sharpening your Global knives, do not get disheartened, and don't give up ;) Go slower, be more patient and perhaps get a coarser stone and make sure to raise the proper burr on each side before switching to higher grit. Whatever CHROMOVA 18 is, at 56-58HRC it shouldn't pose too much of a challenge. As for this particular blade, despite its small size, knowing it was going to common knife user, I put the standard 40° total edge on it. But, I did go through several stones to get highly polished and refined edge. Details: Since the CHROMOVA 18 steel is just 56-58HRC, there was no need for super aggressive stone like DMT 8XXC diamond benchstone, or even a 220 grit Shapton Glass Stone™. I started straight with the 500 grit Beston(Bester) Japanese synthetic whetstone. That was sort of overkill too, I was done with that in less than 5 minutes. Next came out the Bester 700 grit synthetic Japanese whetstone, to clean up the scratches left from the previous whetstone. After that, standard sequence of 1000 grit King Japanese synthetic whetstone, 2000-3000 grit Aoto natural whetstone, 5000 grit Naniwa Chosera synthetic whetstone, and the final stone was the 8000-12000 Kitayama synthetic Japanese whetstone. All that was followed by 0.5µm and 0.25µm diamond crystal loaded strops and finished with stropping on the plain leather. Arguably and practically, I could easily skip a few stones in the sequence, but practice makes it perfect and preserves stones too ;)

Usage

- I'll skip the pathetic results of the naive attempt to use the knife as I got it from the user, unsharpened. I'm too spoiled for that type of the edge. Anyway, starting edge was mirror polished, 0.25µm edge. The trouble was and is finding suitable work for this knife. Obviously chopping either kitchen or more conventional style, was out of question :) Most natural was paring and peeling works, because the Global GSF-22 is a medium or small utility knife. Simplest thing to do was to try it head to head with two other paring knives. Well, if you want the precise record, it was compared on its first round with the Global GS-40 paring knife, and on the next round (I mean the occasions when I was getting it back for sharpening) comparison was with the Tojiro Flash Paring knife. If you want the short answer, well then, in both cases GSF-22 lost to both, Global's GS-40 and Tojiro Flash series paring knives. As for the detailed account, read below.

Peeling and slicing Avocados - That is one of the more frequent jobs I use paring knives for. So, I went with the GFS-22 first. Its slightly longer blade was an advantage compared to the shorter competition, both Global GS-40 and Tojiro Flash parers are ~100mm or 4" blades. However, the trouble was the handle. Thin, almost flat. After peeling a few Avocados and proceeding with slicing, my hands and the knife were really slippery. I had hard time controlling the knife in my hand, because of its shape and thickness, or rather absence of such. One would think, Global GS-40 would be more trouble in this situation, due to its more rounded shape, but no, because it is more substantial I could grip it better. Tojiro came on top, out of those three because of its handle materials I guess. I had much better grip on that. Although, considering that Avocado internals are really oily, this isn't very clean work at all and it's a good test for any knife.

Peeling potatoes - As usual I don't do that with knives, despite my great knife enthusiasm :) Well sharpened (I make sure of that) Rosle Crosswise peeler makes short work of any peeling job, but given the very narrow (despite of its seemingly multipurpose name) specialization of the kitchen utility knives, I had to do something with it. So, first I had to cut out potato "eyes" on the test subjects, and then proceeded with peeling. Frankly, I didn't enjoy the process at all and have to admit that was mostly due to my bad potato peeling skills. However, partly the thin handle was the culprit. No matter how you try, or how I try, hands and the knife get wet with the juices during the peeling process and it became harder and harder to maintain proper control to the knife. I had to squeeze it harder and harder, which in turn lead to unnecessary finger fatigue. For cutting out potato eyes, the GSF-22 knife did work ok, but again, comparing it to its cousin from Global, GS-40 and especially with Tojiro Flash paring knife, later two performed better. I did prefer shorter blades for the delicate, mainly knife point work and on top of that as I mentioned the handles on both (GS-40 and Tojiro parers) were better. With that I've dropped delicate work experimentation, it was clear, GSF-22 utility knife can do that, but it is better to have more dedicated parer. One thing I'd have to mention, GSF-22 was still a better parer than the Shun Classic Utility knife, which has even longer blade, 150mm(6"). No surprises with that conclusion though.

Miscellaneous cutting - With large items out of question due to its small size, and with delicate point work already out of the way, I just went around the kitchen and tried to cut few things that I thought might've been more or less suitable for the GSF-22 utility knife. I can't say I found many. Unfortunately I didn't have any ribs to try to use GSF-22 knife for cleaning the meat from the ribs. I did find a single chicken thigh in the fridge, which was cooked already. I've decided to sacrifice that for the test. Can't say it was a very conclusive test tough. I did it, and it was ok. Next was a carrot. I didn't even try batonnet, the blade is way too narrow for that type of cutting to be any kind of comfortable, just cut the circles. As expected, the absence of the knuckle clearance was a nuisance. I did it anyway, because I've seen and read quite a bit on the net how people advise others to use utility knife for such works. All I can say, this is utterly pointless, if you have a wider knife, such as Gyuto, or a chef's knife or better yet Nakiri or Usuba, why would you torture yourself and a knife doing that I don't understand. If you are stuck on the deserted island with just GSF-22 utility knife, then ok, although you might have bigger problems than picking the right knife for cutting carrots and other vegetables, otherwise just get the chef's knife and be done with it. I've heard those utility knives work well to cut sandwiches in half. So, I made one. From the leftovers of the chicken thigh mentioned above, some lettuce, cheese and bread. Then cut it in half. Ok, it worked. Then I cut the same sandwich halves in half, first with 270mm Sanetsu gyuto and then with 150mm Watanabe Kuro Uchi Nakiri. Both worked better than the short, narrow GSF-22 utility knife. So, frankly, I have no idea why many consider utility knives so good for cutting just sandwiches.

After that I was just bored and ran out of ideas. Peeled an apple, sliced it. Ok result. I'd still prefer shorter GS-40 or Tojiro parer with a better handle. Opened packaged food. Can't say it worked any better than other knives I've used for the same purpose, kitchen or not. So, I've decided to call it a day. Washed the knife, sharpened on 0.5µm and 0.25µm diamond crystal loaded strops, stopped on the plain leather and packed to return to its rightful owner. To be fair, I have to note here that the owner, and many other folks I know personally, do manage to use those utility knives for all sorts of kitchen cutting, that wouldn't come to my mind today. That includes cutting tomatoes, large and small, broccoli, soft meat, using it as a boning knife, etc. Although, again being fair I have to say, that's not because GSF-22 is so versatile, not at all, but because those folks use it that way. The same people use paring knives for the same stuff as the 8" slicer, interchangeably :) So, if you are not picky as I am, then any knife can be do it all. After all for experimenting, I did survive for a week in the kitchen with combat knives, more than once.

Conclusions

- Well, this is gonna sound rather strange form the guy with more than 40 kitchen knives in his kitchen knife block, (half of which are highly specialized at that), but to me, the utility knives, of which I have seen more than half a dozen, are not interesting at all. Too specialized(or not?) for something that I do not really do, or need. And at the same time, longer than necessary for delicate tasks, this particular specimen - GSF-22, plus rather uncomfortable handle. I don't really like its blade geometry either, and being so narrow negates its longer blade theoretical advantages. What worked more or less was another one, GS-1 utility knife from Global. That has, curved blade, which is better for slicing, and wider blade, so you do get at least some knuckle clearance with it. So, in the end, my opinion is that, if you want a paring knife, then GS-40 is a better parer. if you want a more universal knife then GS-1 is a better choice, I am referring strictly to Global knives as you can see. Otherwise, there are plenty of Japanese kitchen knives that I prefer over Global, including Watanabe, Takeda, Moritaka, Aritsugu, and many others. And finally if you really like this knife, then go for it, Why not, may be you'll make it work for you better than I did, because I wasn't really interested in it. As for the edge holding, nothing new here, just like any other Global. Better than the majority of the western kitchen knives and worse than all of my other Japanese kitchen knives.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 110.00mm(4.33")
  • Thickness - 2.00mm
  • Width - 22.00mm
  • OAL - 218.00mm(8.58")
  • Steel - CROMOVA 18 56-58HRC
  • Handle - Stainless Steel
  • Weight - 93.00g(3.14oz)
  • Acquired - 07/2008 Price - 46.00$

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Last updated - 09/01/11