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Furi Chopper/Cleaver 200.00mm(7.87")
Kitchen Knife Review

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Furi Chopper/Cleaver 200.00mm(7.87") Knife

Furi knives are the creation of the Australian company Furitechnics. Well, u is spelled with an umlaut if you wanna be precise. Well, apparently they're doing pretty good, besides Australia, they have offices in US, UK and I don't know where else, never really researched that specifically. I knew about Furi knives, since I am a knife collector and interested in the kitchen knives as well, I learn about a lot of knife companies, and Furi was one of them. They are pretty widespread, partly thanks to Rachel Ray, since she endorses them and even has her own line, I'll talk about that later. Anyway, I knew about them enough to stay away from their knives. They do have really low reputation amongst knife cognoscenti, and that reputation is well deserved too. In short, no way in hell I'd buy Furi knife for myself, or even recommend it to anyone asking me about kitchen knives recommendation. However, since quite a few people around me know I collect and sharpen the knives, I do get various specimens for sharpening and testing. That's how I ended up with the Furi Chopper/Cleaver, which based on its construction was just a complicated name for a Chinese cleaver, or Chukabocho in Japanese. So, that was a good opportunity to see the Furi knife for myself.

General

- Obviously, when I get the knife for sharpening, in 95% of the cases it is already used knife. Once in a while I do get the brand new knife to put high performance edge, but more often people remember about sharpening when the knife edge is same as the knife spine in terms of sharpness. Anyway, I got it used, and as usual I tried to get the intel, how and where the knife was used. Turned out, it was used in both, commercial and house environments. Didn't last too long and was retired, eventually made its way to me. Overall, Furi Chopper/Cleaver is a medium size - 200.00mm(7.87") vegetable cleaver, ~2mm thick and 85mm wide. It's not too heavy, can't call it too light either, 352.00g(11.9oz) was its weight, after sharpening, which apparently removed 1 or 2 grams of metal :) The edge was pretty messed up. Numerous dents and rolls. Needless to say it was absolutely dull. Well, that was it. Didn't feel like anything special, just your average cleaver with awkward handle.

Blade

- Furi Chopper/Cleaver or Chukabocho is just that, a vegetable cleaver. Therefore, the blade geometry is more or less rectangular. However, it is also curvy. The edge is curved and the spine looks curved too. Blade dimensions are 200mm by 85mm by 2mm. It is quite thin cleaver for its size. Of course Takeda Chinese cleaver(Chukabocho) is thinner, and slightly longer, but well that one was made by one of the best Japanese makers. Not that it is any excuse for Furi though. In short, I found the blade curved at the spine a bit strange, but no biggie. After all, they're the designers as they proudly claim. I didn't comment much on fit and finish in the general section, because I got the knife (or a cleaver) which was already in used condition. However, used or not I could clearly see the initial bevel grind on the knife and it was really subpar. Besides being ground to typical 40°+ total angle edge, the edge wasn't ground to neither end. You can see the portions of the unground tip and the heel on the photo linked at the top of this page. Ok, I don't blame Furi alone for having too thick of an edge, that is a common disease in western kitchen knives, but not grinding the edge to the end? Come on Furi... It's not like your knives are made of very hard steel, which wouldn't an excuse either, but not grinding a metal that soft is just lame. Especially for the company making very loud claims about their product quality.

Steel

- Speaking of steel, if you ask Furi then their knives are made from from the finest Japanese and German stainless steel alloys and hardened and tempered for maximum edge retention, ease of sharpening and toughness. For one, mass maker that hides exact name of the steel, is never a good sign. If it was even anything above mediocre they would make sure it was stamped on the blade, printed in their marketing booklets and repeated to ad naseum to every potential customer. Second, it isn't quite possible to heat treat (e.g. harden and tamper) the steel for all three qualities listed in their promo together. Maximum edge retention makes sharpening more difficult, and toughness in general goes down, there are very few exceptions in the alloys where higher hardness increases toughness too, but that's also to certain limit, after that limit as the hardness and edge retention go up, toughness goes down. Ok, so let's assume Furi meant they have some compromise between those three, which is what would be realistic. But, handling their knife and having sharpened it, no it is nowhere near of the maximum in any of the areas: edge retention, ease of sharpening and toughness. Even sharpening is a problem, because the metal is so soft, forget good edge holding ability, or toughness. Now, since they don't say the steel, I'm gonna have to guess. Let's try.

Finest German stainless steel always has been the good old X50CrMoV15 steel, also known as 1.4116. Furi also gives another clue in their FX line steel description - CrMoV. No disrespect to German steelmakers, but today, that steel is nothing finest, or best, it's hardly a mediocre cutlery steel. There are dozens of better stainless steels and if you are a little curious check the interactive knife steel composition chart, just look up alloys with similar Chromium content and higher Carbon content. That doesn't automatically makes a steel better, although whatever I have in that chart are knife steels, so it'll be a pretty good overall picture. is it a bad steel? No, it's ok. Well tested and trusted. It's just neither best nor anything new and on top of that, the way Furi heat treats is far form perfect. As far as finest Japanese steels go, what is widely used in Japanese knives is VG-10, but I suspect Furi would be very vocal about that if they did. More likely it is Japanese analog of the X50CrMoV15, probably AUS6 or AUS8 at best. Well, here's AUS6 vs. AUS8 vs. 440A steel composition comparison, not missing Vanadium in 440A.

Sharpening

- I said above few times, the blade is really soft. In general, the harder the steel, the harder it is to sharpen it. However, going soft doesn't necessarily always make sharpening easier. Too soft and it is very difficult to get a good edge on the steel. You can't get a thin edge on it, simply because soft metal can't hold itself. Now, I'm not saying Furi was the absolute worst I've ever seen, no, I have handled worse, but as far as the kitchen knives go, it was really one of the worst steels I have seen, and I do have around 80 different kitchen knife reviews here. As usual, I don't bother with hand sharpening on those mediocre kitchen knives. I am good enough with the belt grinder already, so I use 3 different grits to form quite polished, sharp edge and then strop on the Chromium Oxide loaded leather belt. I've sharpened dozens of Henckel kitchen knives, Wusthof kitchen knives, Global knives, and a lot more. Always have gotten good results in a very short time. And I have expected the same from Furi, it is the same or very similar steel with those German kitchen knives, but apparently I was giving too much credit. When I was on 9µm grit belt I did notice excessive burr formation. I did get suspicious right there, but all I could do was to use slower rotational speed, while grinder was barely able to spin, and lighter pressure. I couldn't get rid of all the burr with the 9µm belt, but I didn't expect zero burr on that either, it was just more than I've seen on similar German knives. Then, I moved to the leather belt, which was loaded with 0.5µm CrO. I was really cautios, but very quickly I noticed that the burr was forming again... I've never seen that on any kitchen or other knife I have sharpened on that belt grinder. And the belts were not new either, which means that 9µm last belt I used was less toothy than its original version would be. Needless to say, 0.5µm Chromium Oxide is super fine abrasive, this is what Jewelers use to polish jewelry. Happens to work well as the final or pre-final sharpening abrasive. In short, no matter how slow the speed, or how light the pressure, I couldn't get the thing to stop forming the burr. Since, it wasn't my knife, I figured it wasn't a good idea to grind half the blade away trying to figure out peculiarities of the soft steel vs. belt grinder at very slow speed interaction, so I dropped that and went on with freehand sharpening. Considering that I was using slack belt on the grinder, I've picked sandpaper/mousepad sharpening method to continue.

Since the bevels were already ground, and I already knew the blade was soft, I've picked 5µm microabrasive film. Now, 5µm might seem a bit too rough, but after stropping on the grinder the edge felt dull, not shaving at all. So, I've spent few minutes on 5µm SiC film. After the edge was shaving sharp, I've dropped to 05µm abrasive film and them to 0.3µm Aluminum Oxide film. Then stropping. All that went fast, but in general it was very disappointing, the edge, about 40° thick would for burr on the 0.5µm chromium oxide loaded belt... Never seen that before, and I already had very low expectations on its performance in any cutting tests.

Handle

- If someone just asked me about the handle on Furi knives, I'd say nothing really special, hollow, metal handle which curves downwards, at the butt, and that aspect makes it less comfortable in full grip, especially for those with larger palms. The good thing is, if you are using your Chinese cleaver(Chukabocho) properly, there is no need for the full grip that often. Actually, thinking of it, I pretty much never use it during vegetable preparation. However, chukabochos are used for a lot more than just veggie cutting, it's just I'm not that good with it :) So, I can't really rule out full grip as a necessary option, and for such grip, that bent butt is a nuisance. On the other hand, Furi states it is the very special and innovative design packed with features. Distinct features are the finger groove and curvy butt, but I've seen that too many times to consider it innovative. Furi claim that the design prevents slippage even with oily or wet hands. That part I did test and can't really commend Furi on that. It is a metal handle, and even the finger groove doesn't do very good job with oily hands. What worked with the cleaver was the blade/handle height difference, but another problem is, with the oily palms the blade tends to rotate in your hand. Those groves don't really do much.

Coppertail - Another aspect that Furi promotes their designs with is the coppertail feature in the handle. In simple words, that bent butt has a solid copper plug. Now, Furi explanation for that is as following: ...for easy rebalancing, i.e. as the blade wears and becomes lighter over time, copper is filed from the tails to rebalance the knife. Basically, what Furi says is that as you sharpen the edge away, you can file off the copper plug, which is obviously soft and rebalance the knife. Technically this is correct, but practically? It's one of the most useless features ever promoted. 90% of the folks out there never even bother to sharpen their knife, I've met quite a few people who seriously consider throwing away old knives and buying the new ones instead of sharpening them. Second aspect, or dubious part about that is human factor. You will have to remove considerable amount of metal from the edge to feel any change in balance. Third, the balance is very personal thing, and there is no perfect balance. Some people prefer forward, some in the middle, some knives have to be forward balanced, etc. I've had rehandled knives adding extra 50g or even 70g to the knife weight, didn't really feel that much different. That copper plug isn't all that big to make such a difference. So, given all that I am having very hard time imagining a person so fussy about balance change caused by repeated sharpenning to start filing off the handle :) Perfectionists like that, will not be buying Furi kitchen knife to begin with. Although, at the rate those knives are dulling, I guess if you try to maintain your Furi knife shaving sharp, you'll grind away half of the blade real quick ;)

Usage

- After having really bad sharpening experience with Furi chopper/cleaver I had no intention to use it seriously. It was abundantly clear that the cleaver wouldn't last very long for any serious kitchen cutting, forget cardboard or rope. Still, I was curious how fast it'd dull. Well, I wasn't disappointed, it dulled real fast ;) I started with shaving sharp mirror polished edge, about 40° total angle, or more. Now, if you ask Furi, 40° is the right and perfect angle for just about any knife, except for the slicers. Well, that is pure BS, and 40° angle is too thick even for the western kitchen knives, and Japanese general purpose knives are routinely sharpened to 20°-30° angle edge. At least other makers don't claim 40° to be the perfection, it is dictated by soft steel and average western knife user knife habits, not by high performance considerations. Since we're discussing edges, in one of their articles Furi does make claim that Japanese knives sharpened at 15°-17°, i.e. 30°-34° total, are impossible to maintain by average person and instead, of course you guessed, you have to buy Furi sharpeners to maintain perfect, 20° per side edge. Promoting your product that way, in other words by blatant lies, is not exactly the best way in general and I really have no respect for anyone who resorts to that. One thing is true though :) It is impossible to maintain such a soft steel as in Furi knives at 15° or even 20° per side. However, any normal kitchen knife can be safely maintained and used at lower levels.

Anyway, I had this 40° angle on the knife, shaving sharp, well obviously it was nowhere near as sharp as the high quality steel can get, because it is a softer metal. First up, mincing the Italian parsley. Few minutes of work, didn't chop axe style, but used normal rolling/rocking motion, left hand on the blade spine. Since the edge is curved it is easy. No significant change. Then was the broccoli. Trimmed the green top and proceeded with mincing the stem. Sliced the stem into 1-2mm slices using rocking motion. And at that point, the part of the edge in contact with the board was already rolled, obviously no shaving anymore. This is less than 15 minutes into cutting. I could see the rolled edge on the light and using 5x magnifying glass it was even more pronounced. I just finished mincing those slices using rocking motion and that promptly killed shaving sharp leftovers of the edge. Like I said, I didn't have to try hard or long to dull it. For the record, I was using, high quality, end grain custom cutting board all the time, so the board can not be blamed for quick dulling. I've cleaned up the board, washed the knife, spent another 15 minutes putting another shaving sharp edge on it and packed it, to give it back to the owner. Next day the knife was returned, with my comments to stay away from any other Furi knife in the future and I wouldn't sharpen that knife ever again, there was nothing interesting in it for me.

Conclusions

- In two words, stay away. Longer, I don't know why would you need more details, based on what I already said above :) It is a knife, that is made from the same stuff as midrange Henckel kitchen knives, Wusthof kitchen knives. and many other makers. What distinguishes Furi knives from them is an excessive hype and softer steel compared to the other ones. I often get that "but Rachel Ray uses Furis" objection when I recommend to stay away from those. Well, I already discussed that aspect in the Of Chefs And knives section of rather large article How To Choose Kitchen Knives. if you want shorter summary, well R. Ray in particular uses Furis because she endorses them and has her line, in simpler words she is making money off of it. You are not, you are spending money, so choose wisely. Pick a knife that fits your needs and budget, and ignore marketing BS about bolsters, full tangs and 40° perfect edges.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 200.00mm(7.87")
  • Thickness - 2.18mm
  • Width - 85.00mm
  • OAL - 333.00mm(13.11")
  • Steel - X50CrMoV15 steel at 52-54HRC
  • Handle - Stainless Steel
  • Weight - 352.00g(11.9oz)
  • Acquired - 06/2007 Price - 60.00$

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Last updated - 09/01/11