Kobayashi suminagashi nakiri became my second knife of this type. After very successful experiment with Watanabe 150mm nakiri, it was clear that nakiri-s work very well for me, or to put it another way, work very well for cutting vegetables. Anyway, this time I've decided to try stainless steel nakiri, because Watanabe was non stain resistant steel. Plus the suminagashi pattern was really attractive. One more reason for buying it, was the stain resistance. I figured, I could let non-knife folks to use it, for short times, without risking the rust damage. Although, that doesn't happen too often, I've ground quite delicate edge on it, so I'm the main user of it as usual. As for the price, it's pretty cheap for the knife of this quality and performance. When I got it, back in 2008, the price was less than 100$.
Initial Inspection- The knife comes in nice packaging, secured in the box with the maker logo. This packaging setup is pretty much standard on high end Japanese knives. Overall, I didn't notice any problems or defects neither on the blade, not on the handle. Fit and finish of the knife are very good. Handle slabs are attached securely, and they fit the knife perfectly. No gaps, no protruding parts, no other problems with the handle. Ink pattern is pretty well defined, but overall contrast isn't very high. Steel is still rather different tones of silver, vs. pretty much black and white patterns on other damascus. Still, I like it as it is. Edge grind was also very even, albeit little too thick to my taste for the Nakiri. However, initial edge is never something I'd really be bothered seriously. Edge sharpness was also very good. Free hanging paper test was performed with very good results. Clean slices, no tears, minimal efforts.
Blade- Suminagashi nakiri features 160mm(6½") long blade. As far the blade geometry goes, it is a typical, medium size nakiri. No variations, or peculiarities to speak of. What was noticeable and worth mentioning are two tings. One, the suminagashi pattern cladding, which plays both, decorative and protective role for the ultra-hard(63HRC) core of the knife, and second is the thickness of the blade. To be precise, how thin it is. At its thickest, this nakiri is only 1.5mm thick at the spine. Closer to the tip, the spine tapers to 1mm. Obviously, the blade is distal taper. The initial edge on the knife was around 15° per side, which gives 30° included edge angle. Really thin compared to western kitchen knives, where 40°-45° is the standard edge thickness. On the other hand, based on my experience with Watanabe 150mm nakiri, I definitely felt that 8°-10° angle per side, or 16°-20° included angle would be far more appropriate for the knife dedicated to vegetables. Finally, couple words about the steel used in this knife. Don't have to say much, as I have no idea what it is exactly. All the manufacturer and dealer state is that this is a stainless steel, with cobalt in it. I assume, it is also high carbon steel, very unlikely that a knife like this, with blade Rockwell hardness at 63HRC can physically be low carbon.
Handle- Standard, western type handle. Full tang, with Pakawood slabs attached to the tang with three rivets. No complaints about the handle security or geometry, although it's quite simple design. On the other hand, from 100$ knife I wouldn't expect something very fancy. At this price point, all I really want it the knife cutting performance and I have no complaints there. Handle as it is, does the job well. No hot-spots and no defects as I said above.
Sharpening- For few months I've been using this nakiri at its original edge which was 15° per side. Details in the corresponding usage section. Later, in 01/2009 I've decided to thin down the edge to much more acute, 8° per side. Since this was almost twice lower, I've decided to start with a coarse stone. The first step in this process was the Beston 500 grit synthetic Japanese waterstone. That worked surprisingly well for the suminagashi nakiri. Overall, it took less than 30 minutes to grind initial bevel at ~8° angle on both sides. The only thing is, Bester whetstones are more like sponges and absorb/loose water at pretty high rate. Second step was the Bester 700 grit waterstone. Now, this may seem a small difference, but there is a big difference from 500 to 700 grit, for those two Besters. As usual, I use 700 grit bester stone to remove scratches and give initial smooth finish to the edge.
After that I've switched to 2000-3000(around 15µm) grit Aoto Japanese natural waterstone. Works like charm. Very different feel, and water consumption is probably twice as less compared to Bester synthetics. After finishing with Aoto stone, I've had a knife edge that could I could whittle the hair with. Very impressive, if you ask me. Well, the rest was accomplished with the finer abrasives. First was 5µm Silicon Carbide(SiC) film, then 2µm Chromium Oxide(CrO) film, I've skipped 12000(1µm) grit Kitayama synthetic waterstone, and went straight to 0.5µm CrO loaded strop, followed up with 0.25µm diamond spray loaded strop. Finished with a few passes on the smooth leather strop and the knife was blazing sharp. Total time was approximately 1 hour.
Usage - Edge 15° per side- Pending
Usage - Edge ~8° per side- Pending
- Blade - 160.00mm(6.3")
- Thickness - 1.80mm
- OAL - 280.00mm(11.02")
- Steel - Stainless Cobalt 63HRC
- Handle - Pakkawood
- Acquired - 07/2008 Price - 90.00$
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Last updated - 05/10/13