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Moritaka 230mm(9.5") Kuro-Uchi Chukabocho(Cleaver)
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Moritaka Cleaver 230mm(9.5")

This was my second Chukabocho, or Chinese cleaver. The first one was from Shosui Takeda, and I was very happy with it, which is one of the reasons I have ordered another one :) Second reason is that Takeda Kuro-Uchi Chukabocho was made out of Hitachi YSS Aogami Super steel. There are not that many makers working with Aogami Super (AS) steel to begin with, and even fewer who take it to the max. Therefore, once I've learned that Moritaka was using Aogami Super in his knives, I've sent an email asking him about the hardness options. He said 65HRC was normal for kitchen knives, save perhaps for the debas. Because I liked how my first chukabocho worked for me, I've decided to get another one, and perhaps bigger one too. After that we discussed blade geometry details and settled for the slightly curved instead of the straight edge, 230mm long blade, and that was it. On the positive side, I have to note that original estimate for the completion was from 3 to 4 months and the knife was complete in about 3 weeks.

General

- Moritaka chukabocho arrived packed and wrapped in a box. Which by the way, was rather large, given the size of this thing. I was expecting the knife to be big, but when I finally unwrapped the blade it was the handle that made me say WOW! It was the thickest and biggest handle I have ever seen or had on a Japanese knife, and western knife for that matter too. Besides having a real big handle it also is quite large and heavy too. With overall length of 372.00mm(14.65"), it weighs hefty 492.30g(16.65oz) vs. 320.00g(10.82oz) of Takeda cleaver. That makes clear why such a big handle on the blade, otherwise it's very forward heavy. As for the rest, it is a standard Kuro-Uchi finish knife, although the word standard here means very little, at best it's Moritaka's standard kuro-uchi. I have that finish form three different makers and they're all different :) Fit and finish are really good, especially for the knife that is supposed to be rough finish knife. That pretty much sums up the general info about this knife.

Blade

- Moritaka cleaver features 230.00mm(9.06") long blade, as you already saw that in the title of this page. Another notable feature of the blade is the curved blade. Curvature is not very significant, but it's there and does make things different, amongst them allowing for a rocking motion. The blade is 112mm wide and at the handle it measures 5mm, although closer to the tip it's closer to 2mm and in the middle it's closer to 3mm. So overall, it's thicker than Takeda cleaver, but rather thin for its own size. Kuro-uchi finish on the blade is different form both, Watanabe and Takeda kuro-uchi, and I have two different finishes of that type from Watanabe. If I can describe that somehow, then it's more like kuro-uchi that is on the Watanabe 150mm Pro Nakiri, just more matte so to say. out of the box sharpness was very high, the blade had nice mirror polished edge, which was approximately 30° total. The only thing I had noticed was not top notch was the uneven bevel grind on the left side closer to the heel, but that wasn't anything that would affect it's performance. Other than that no complaints or notable problems.

Steel

- As you already know, Moritaka chukabocho is made out of Hitachi YSS Aogami Super Steel. Which is modified Aogami 1 steel and as the reference sources say the modification purpose was to allow for higher attainable working hardness. For the curious minds, here's Aogami 1 vs. Aogami Super steel composition comparison. As you can see Aogami Super steel has 0.5% more Tungsten(W) and also contains 0.30% of Molybdenum, which isn't present in Aogami 1. I have Aogami 1 steel knives at 65HRC, e.g Aritsugu Honkasumi Yanagiba. On the other hand, Takeda cleaver and deba as well are 61HRC. I have no complaints about edge holding ability of either one, but knife collector's curiosity is a very real thing and I wanted to use and test Aogami Super steel knife at its max. Like I said above, even though AS is a very good steel, and I am not quite sure why there are not more makers working with it. Apparently it's not that simple to work with and I've seen already very good steels declined by makers, based on that very reason, too hard to work with. Well, after all there are some makers working with it and that's still good.

Sharpening

- I haven't sharpened this blade seriously, because it simply didn't need anything like that out of the box, and so far after few months of using it, the only thing I really needed was the Naniwa Chosera 10000x Super Finishing Synthetic Whetstone at one time, and the rest was just 0.5µm and 0.25µm diamond crystal loaded leather strops. Those steps, I mean stropping on the charged leather and plain leather, I've performed on the knife out of the box too, before I've started using it. It did improve the sharpness and the edge bevel polishing levels. Once I have to sharpen this knife seriously, I will update this section.

Handle

- The handle is made of Rosewood, which was pretty much the only available option at the time when I placed an order. I don't consider rosewood my personal favorite, but it's still a lot better than the ho or magnolia wood. Besides, both, Moritaka and Takeda do really good job with rosewood. The handle is 152mm long and it's really thick. Considering the weight and the blade geometry of the Chukabocho, you do need some substantial counterpart to the blade weight which is wide and short, having more forward pull than the long, narrow blade of the same length. If you want precise numbers then those octagonal handles are 27mm by 33mm for the Moritaka handle, and 23mm by 26mm for the Takeda handle. On its own I'd call Takeda a large handle, but Moritaka handle does dwarf it :) Here's a photo of Moritaka and Takeda chukabocho handles side by side and here's another comparison photo from the top. As big and thick as it is, still the whole knife is heavy on the forward side, but large and long handle makes it very manageable. So fat I have no plans to replace that handle, it worked really well in all the trails and it'll stay there for a while.

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Last updated - 09/01/11