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Takeda Kuro-Uchi Deba 180mm(7.5")
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Takeda Deba 180mm(7.5")

Kuro-uchi ryodeba was my second knife from Shosui Takeda. Actually it is a Medium Deba in Takeda's classification. I've been trying to get my head around all the Japanese knife classifications, and I've learned enough to tell that they're somewhat fuzzy ;) Anyway, I already had single bevel Kobayashi Hontan Seikon Deba. Takeda deba was interesting for two reasons, YSS Aogami Super steel used in it, and double grind edge, which isn't really typical for Japanese knives. So, if you already looked into Japanese Kitchen Knife Types And Styles database then you know Ryodeba is a double grind edge knife. If you haven't, well, then you know it now. The price was pretty good, 250$ for a handcrafted Japanese kitchen knife, from very well known maker. Pretty good deal if you ask me, besides I got a chance to get deeper into deba knives.

General

- Kuro-Uchi Ryodeba arrived in a box, as pretty much all of the quality knives do. The box had Takeda logo on it. Not knowing Kanji I have no idea what it is exactly on it :) As usual, I have carefully inspected the knife after opening the box. Fit and finish are very good. Well, it's a Kuro-Uchi finish knife, so in that regard expectations should be set accordingly. Blade/handle junction is very well sealed. Grind lines are perfectly even and sharpening job was also very good. Overall, no complaints in any area from my side. Kuro-Uchi is a rough, rustic finish by definition, and it is different for every maker. Takeda's Kuro-Uchi is quite strange, looks very rough, but at the same time it's rather slippery and somewhat reflective. As if it has some sort of coating, but I think that's not the case. The knife is quite heavy, 320g(11oz), but still not as heavy as Kobayashi Deba. So, that would be why Takeda classifies it as medium. Although, as far as I can tell, one maker's heavy deba can be another's medium too, there is no a fixed standard. Since Deba knives are designed for more or less heavy duty works, so the balance is quite blade heavy. The handle is pretty hefty too to match it, more or less. Overall, this is a sturdy knife that can take and dish out quite some punishment.

Blade

- The blade geometry of the ryodeba is a typical deba knife geometry. 7mm thick blade measures 180mm(7") in length and it's also quite wide, almost 53mm. Kuro-Uchi finish gives it really rustic look. So, you don't have to be fussy about its looks, but the maintenance is pretty much the same. Carbon steel, it'll rust where it is exposed. Takeda uses Yasuki Aogami Super steel almost exclusively on his high end knives. Same steel is used in this ryodeba knife as well. According to Takeda, Rockwell Hardness of the blade is 61-62HRC. That's quite high compared to any western kitchen knife, but not all that high for Japanese knives. However, YSS Aogami Super is a specialty steel, developed for knives and hand tools. It has increased wear resistance compared to other YSS steels such as Aogami, Aogami II and Shirogami steel series. Due to added Tungsten(W) and Vanadium(V) content it is also a little bit more brittle compared to Aogami series. Perhaps that is the reason for lower hardness. Also, deba knives in general are designed for harsher use, therefore the blade needs some flexibility to prevent excessive chipping. As for the rest, the blade has double ground edge, which I've mentioned few times already and that is also how deba becomes ryodeba. The original edge was around ~40°. Highly polished, razor sharp edge. Kiriba or bladepath was even and overall I have no complaints about sharpening job.

Handle

- I have owned and handled fair share of high end Japanese kitchen knives, and no doubt Takeda handles are one of the best out there. Especially, considering the fact that those are his stock handles. So far I haven't seen the stock handle better made than Takeda's, and frankly his handles are better than some of the customization options offered by other makers. Deba handle is made of the usual materials used by Takeda, and many other makers for that matter, black water buffalo horn ferrule and rosewood. Overall, handle is pretty much perfectly ground, octagonal shape. Surface is very smooth and there are no gaps between the ferrule and the rosewood. Like I said the handle is quite hefty, around 140mm long and fairly large diameter compared to other handles. Partly that is Takeda's style, partly it is dictated by the necessity of having to counterbalance the heavy deba blade. I already mentioned above, the seal of the blade tang entry into the handle is very good. As far as the handle geometry goes there's not much to say, typical Japanese octagon handle, but it has very good thickness, length and weight for this knife, plus the surface is smooth, but without compromising the grip security. So, A+ from my side, especially given the fact that it is not a customized handle, but a default, stock handle offered at no additional charge.

Sharpening

- So far I didn't have to sharpen Takeda ryodeba seriously, it did get somewhat dull, as in wasn't hair whittling sharp after I went and chopped chicken with it. Details about that in usage section. To restore the original sharpness, I just went with 0.5µm diamond loaded strop, followed by 0.25µm diamond loaded strop, and finished all that with the usual stropping on the plain leather pad. After that I've had to use 0.25µm diamond strop twice, since i was more careful with the knife and that's all so far. As soon as I get to serious sharpening, I'll update this section.

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