Every once in a while I get a request or an offer to test a free knife, sometimes from makers, often from dealers as well. However, once I explain testing procedures, which are outlined in pretty much every review anyway, and explain the part that free knife with bad performance won't make a positive review, the knife will be either returned or donated according to owner's choice, most of the contacts disappear, forever :) Which is why I give extra kudos for those who still choose to donate their knife. At least, they have the confidence in their product. Well, frankly, my knife tests are quite knife friendly, and not destructive in most of the cases, as usual tailored to test knife design use and performance. In other words, I do not chop 2x4 wood blocks with a chef's knife, nor do I try to peel an apple with 18" kukri. Back in March 2013, I was contacted by Corey, the owner of New West Knife Works. He was inquiring if I would be interested in testing one of their knives. I've seen their knives before, some of them are rather unconventional designs, the reviewed Super Bread knife included, and their handles are even less traditional, especially on the fusion line. Those handles were too colorful for my taste, and I decided if I ever picked one of those up, it'd be a present, then I sort of forgot about them :)
To me, the highlight of the series is the blade material - Crucible CPM S35VN steel, which is relatively new alloy, just a few years old, and just like Crucible CPM S30V steel, it was specifically designed for the knives. As usual I am quite happy to get test knives straight from their makers, aside form the fact that it feels good when my humble work is appreciated, like I said above, I am interested in testing the knife performance for its intended use, design specifics, etc, who else can explain, or discuss those details better than its creator/designer. Automatically, I said yes, although I did give mandatory explanation of testing rules followed by giving away the knife. Corey was cool with all of it, which made the rest of the process quite fast. He had read some of my kitchen knife reviews, so he a had pretty good idea about what I would do in my tests. We've exchanged few emails discussing the potential test candidates, testing parameters, etc. I had pretty much whole lineup to choose from.
I've picked the subject of this review - Super Bread Fusion 2.0 knife, based on its rather unusual edge design, unusual for a kitchen knife that is, otherwise it's quite typical kris blade, except of course Super Bread knife also has a chisel ground edge, but we'll talk about that later in the edge section. Corey was quite confident with his knives, open and forthcoming with my questions. He was interested what would Japanese kitchen knife aficionado would think of his products, and I was very interested in CPM S35VN steel performing in the kitchen. Yes the designs of New West Knife Works are not exactly my cup of tea, but I always try to be objective in the reviews and give unbiased point of view, so my tastes were irrelevant for the purpose of the review, I wasn't buying a knife for myself, just evaluating it from several different perspectives. I think that turned out pretty well in the end. Once I've picked the knife, it was in the mail very quickly and I had it on my doorstep few days later.
General- Super Bread Fusion 2.0 knife arrived tightly packed in a cardboard box. The box was generic, as in it wasn't New West knives designed box with their logo, etc. The knife does come with a well made leather sheath. That part is rather unusual, in that, most of the kitchen knives I've seen and handled come with their box, at least high end ones, but no sheath. From the practical point of view I figure sheath is more utilitarian choice, in case you take your knife somewhere like camping or friends house, etc. Boxes on the other hand, at least in my case sit in the separate storage space, I never actually use them, unless I decide to sell the knife, and the I dig up the original box, which helps with the price. Anyhow, the sheath is good quality, however I'd have to caution against keeping the knife in the sheath for prolonger periods of time, it can cause problems with rust and discoloration. With CPM S35VN corrosion isn't much of a problem, it is quite stain resistant, but still, discoloration can be an issue, at any rate, the sheath isn't meant as a permanent storage, but a temporary one. Especially for the kitchen knife.
Next step was the knife inspection. Careful examination revealed no defects, the knife was well made, handle slabs precisely machined and fitted, no gaps or other defects were found. The only imperfection I found was the edge grind, closer to the tip, the transition from the last wave to the straight section of the tip is about 0.5mm narrower. Other than that there was nothing to be picky about. Well made knife, quite sharp out of the box. Unlike mainstream western kitchen knives, by main characteristics the Super Bread knife leans more towards high performance Japanese kitchen knives, with its 2.23mm thick blade, and light weight - just 197.20g(6.67oz), and I am guessing it'd be even lighter if different material was used instead of the Fusionwood, but then again, in other kitchen knives I really favor dense, heavy woods for handle material, because of the durability and tactile feedback(that one is very subjective though). For 8" long blade that's a pretty good result, and as I have discussed in many other reviews, heavy is not a good thing for a kitchen knife, unless we're talking Deba or a meat cleaver used for chopping through the bones. The knife needs to be sharp and cut well, it's the sharp edge that really cuts, not the weight. I've played with the knife a bit, and my first thought was that the handle felt rather slim in my palm. That's for the hammer grip. I've figured that during normal cutting, when mainly pinch grip is used that wouldn't be an issue.
Overall, at least in from my point of view, Super Bread is some fusion of western and Japanese knife designs, save for the kris type edge :) Granton grooves along the edge are nice addition, and they're evenly spaced and reasonably well distanced form the actual cutting edge. I don't think granton edge is a magic bullet solving all sticky cutting issues, but they do help some, and when you are cutting for hours, every little bit helps. Still, I think the thin blade and a sharp edge are the most important factors to consider when shopping for the next general purpose kitchen knife, and in that department Super Bread fares very well for a western knife. As I said above, by design Super Bread knife does have some common roots with Japanese gyuto, at least I see it that way. However, this is a bread knife by design, albeit rather unusual bread knife, which also doubles as a general purpose kitchen knife, so for my tests I've had a lot of ground to cover, or to be precise a lot of stuff to cut :)