The kitaeji miroshi was my lucky Shigefusa knife, in that I had very little waiting period, Takeshi from aframestokyo.com had the knife when I checked with him, he had it, and I got it very quickly. For other Shigefusa knives I've had to wait anywhere from few months to over 2 years. Not an unusual thing for Shigefusas and custom knives in general. Can't say I am too happy about all that, but what can I do, that's the way things work. Shigefusa kitchen knives are highly thought after, especially the kitaeji(damascus) knives, and they're equally hard to come by. I got four and I'm very happy about that. Dunno about the future, if something interesting comes up I'll grab it most likely. That was my second miroshi deba by the way, the first one was Watanabe Miroshi Deba, got it couple month before Shigefusa, which is a little shorter, so as you can see, getting 255mm Miroshi was completely justified :) Anyhow, that's not all the miroshis I've had a chance to play with, if you are interested here my Miroshi Deba Reviews.
General- As far as miroshis are concerned, Shigefusa kitaeji Miroshi deba is smack in the middle of the blade length range. Miroshis vary form 160 to 330mm in length, and obviously you can have one custom made for you which will be either longer or shorter. Although, in that case, I am not so sure if it will still classify as a miroshi. I'm not a Japanese knifemaker to be super accurate with classification, but very short miroshi can easily become funayuki or sakekiri or whatever. Visually, the knife is just stunning. Long, slender blade, and the kitaeji cladding looks very nice. The pattern is not too bright, rather delicate, in short a very elegant, stylish knife.
Ok, let's start from the top, the knife comes in the standard box from Shigefusa, which can be seen on the photo linked here. Like I said, this was not my first Shigefusa knife, so my expectations were very high, and the knife was carefully inspected, although I wasn't really expecting any problems with it. I'm glad to report there was absolutely nothing to complain about, just superbly well crafted knife. Fit and finish are the highest level, and every small detail shows great attention to it. Sharpening job was also very good, mirror polished edge on the miroshi could whittle hair out of the box. The bevel or grind line on the urasuki was very even, which also indicates quality craftsmanship, it's not as much about grinding that side, anyone can lay the blade flat on the stone and rub it, but making the concave surface correctly is not that easy, especially with forging, more on that in the blade section.
Generally speaking, Shigefusa kitaeji miroshi is a fairly large knife, might not be a largest miroshi, but 255mm long blade is no small knife by any means. Because it's a miroshi, it's pretty thick too, so overall, I have a serious chunk of steel, which weighs 348.00g(11.77oz), although that weight obviously includes the handle :) As with many Japanese makers the handle options were not really available, so I did the usual let's ask Stefan Keller to make me a new handle thing. I'll talk more about the new handle a little later, in the handle section, and with that, we can consider general description section completed.
Blade- Shigefusa kitaeji miroshi deba blade measures 240.00mm(9.45") in length, and at the heel the blade is 53mm wide, being 6mm thick in the same spot. Although, depending on how do you measure the blade, it can be considered 255mm(10") as well, because that's how long it is from the tip to the handle, but from the tip to the heel it's 240mm. As I said above, it is a pretty hefty knife. Like most of the Japanese kitchen knives, Miroshi deba is a chisel grind edge knife, made using traditional Ni-Mai Awase. And like all other Japanese chisel or single grind edge knives, the back of the knife(ura) is concave, in other words urasuki. Makes sharpening of the back side easier, reduces drag and on top of all that makes knife making more difficult.
It is not very simple to make perfectly even concave surface during forging, and when it is not perfectly evenly concave all around, sharpening becomes a problem, as it was demonstrated to me very clearly by Aritsugu Wood Pattern kamagata Usuba, there was uneven section at the heel, of which I couldn't get rid of to achieve symmetrical grind line on the urasuki. On the Shigefusa miroshi, you can measure the ground section width with the calipers, they'll be even, obviously the tip is triangular :) But alone the edge and the spine, they're perfectly straight and even. Like I said, to me that's a good indicator of quality workmanship. There wouldn't be 2 year waiting period if it was otherwise though.
Steel- The steel used in Shigefusa knives core layer or hagane is unfortunately still a mystery. Swedish steel, which Shigefusa himself calls spicy. Not sure if it's a proprietary blend, but whatever it is, it's a carbon steel, non-stainless and hardened to its max, 64HRC. I do not know the steel compositions, but based on it behavior, I can tell the steel is on its limit :) Simply put, I've been observing dulling process on 4 different Shigefusa knives, they all use the same steel, all rated at 64HRC. I have a microscope and a few strong magnifying glasses, and it's very easy to see, the edge dulls by microfracturing, not by rolling. All the mainstream western kitchen knives roll first, and after a few edge realignments start loosing chunks of metal from the edge due to the metal fatigue effect. Those sections look very different under magnification compared to the micro fractures on the high hardness edges. Later are much smaller and have very clean edges around the broken sections.
Although, even Shigefusa edges still roll here and there, after all its not a glass knife, still metal. As such, it's still subject to plastic deformation, ergo, steeling it on the borosilicate rod works just fine. Sharpening Shigefusa kitaeji knives in general, and specifically Miroshi deba is fairly easy, well as easy as 64HRC steel can be. Especially that it is a chisel grind knife, and majority of the sharpening or maintenance is on one side, just half a job pretty much. Well, that's not to say that the urasuki side can be neglected, it's more like 70%-80% of the strokes on the edge bevel and the rest of the strokes on the flat side, which is easy, just lay the blade flat on the stone and remove the burr.
Handle- The original handle on the Shigefusa Kitaeji Miroshi deba was all too popular Magnolia Wood. Standard D shape handle, with black horn ferule. And as usual, the handle options were not available, I was lucky to get the knife as it was. Either way, that was no biggie, Stefan Keller to the rescue, and few months later I did have gorgeous, premium black ebony handle for it, complete with damascus steel buttcap and collar ring. Dave Matrell did the rehandling job and in my opinion now the knife looks and feels mucho better. Of course ebony with damascus steel parts on it is considerably heavier compared to magnolia wood, nevermind the metallic parts, the wood is much more dense.
Considering the handles types on the knives in my collection, obviously I have a strong preference for denser wood types, specifically Ebony and Ironwood. I like those the best. Besides being durable and quite resistant to moisture damage, I like the feel of those woods, I mean purely tactile feedback. I mentioned in other reviews as well, I prefer octagonal handles over D style. The new handle from Stefan is octagonal as well. New, heavier handle did change the balance, but considering the heavy blade, the change was not anything really significant. New handle is longer compared to the original, and a tad thicker, both features make it more useful to me. Handle/Blade balance is a very personal thing, some prefer pronounced blade heavy knives, others vice versa. I haven't had a knife that had really difficult balance, and I like Miroshi Deba balance just fine.
Last updated - 06/27/15