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Tojiro Flash - Santoku 175mm(7")
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Tojiro Flash - 170mm(7") Santoku

Tojiro santoku knife is the last reminiscent of my earlier tastes or let's say preferences and beliefs what was a good kitchen knife back in a day. Which is that there was a time when I thought Santokus were a good idea and I liked them. Not that I hate them now, not at all. On the other hand, I got accustomed to longer blades and 170mm knife falls short both, literally and figuratively. Anyway, santokus are more or less interchangeable with chef's knives and I've used them as such, mainly for vegetables. The problem is that santokus don't have the longer blades and that's the problem with them for me these days. Anyway, as it is, or for what it is, Tojiro Flash Santoku is a pretty good knife, albeit a bit overpriced. I bought it with Tojiro Chef's knife back in spring 2008. I am not quite sure why did I got two knives with pretty much identical length and purpose from the same maker. Still, I got it and somehow I still have it, even though the aforementioned chef's knife went as a present to my friend. And I've used it a lot more than that chef's knife too.

General

- Tojiro Flash series santoku is a large, (for santoku, small for chef's knife) full tang knife with a heavy handle made of micarta and stainless steel. The knife comes in a typical for Flash series black box. packaging is really well made :) Not that it improves knife quality, but it is still a nice touch. Overall, fit and finish are very good. Everything is well ground, precision made and well fitted. There are no gaps between the micarta and stainless steel inserts on the handle. Bolster is seamlessly transitioning into the blade and there's no gap between the bolster and the handle. The knife is pretty heavy for its 175mm(7") long blade, weighing in at respectable 240.00g(8.12oz). Now, that may not sound as too much, but I have Shigefusa Kitaeji Gyoto that is 270mm long blade and weighs 258.00g(8.72oz) and Tadatsuna Shirogami(White Steel) Gyuto is just 180.00g(6.09oz). So, it is a heavy blade. Although, if you are used to the western knives then it's nothing unusual. Most of that weight comes from the handle by the way. Obviously, the balance is on the handle side. For those who like handle heavy knives, this is something you would be interested in :)

Blade

- The Tojiro Santoku blade measures 175mm, or ~7" in length. Blade is 2.5mm thick at the spine, pretty uniform throughout the whole length, as expected form the santoku knife. As for the width, it is 44mm wide at the heel. Flash series blades are constructed using traditional Japanese San-Mai technology. In this case, ultra hard, 62HRC VG-10 stainless steel core is clad with the softer layer or even more stain resistant damascus steel. Damascus cladding has 63 layers. One more distinctive feature of this santoku blade is the granton edge. Scalloping is done few millimeters away from the blade, it is considerably further from the blade compared to the Henckel's granton edge santoku I have reviewed few years ago. Scalloping is very even and uniform in terms of placement, in other words, it isn't messed up as it was on that Henckel, which obviously, is a good news and guarantees few years of useful life for the knife. That is the sharpened edge won't go into the scalloping, for at least a decade of normal household use. Keyword being use, versus general abuse ;) Initial sharpness was very high. Free hanging newsprint test and hair shaving/whittling tests all went fine. The edge was ~15° per side or 30° included. Edge polish was also very high. Later on when I have touched it up on 0.5µm Chromium Oxide loaded leather strop it left visible swirl marks. Consequently, the final finish used on the initial edge was finer than 0.5µm.

Handle

- Tojiro Flash series have two main distinct features, damascus cladding on the blade and the handle, which is made of micarta with stainless steel inserts. As stated above, the handle is full tang and has a bolster. No gaps anywhere on the handle between the parts. However, the handle is the bulk of the knife weight. Some might prefer it that way, but I'm not entirely happy with the blade of this size being so heavy. Besides, I prefer my blades heavier on the blade side, not on the handle. While I am very happy with the same type of the handle on the smaller, Tojiro Flash Paring knife, I clearly don't like the blade/handle balance and overall combination on the Santoku knife. Considering your preferences you may or may not agree with me on that one. However, given the unusual balance and rather heavy weight of this knife it would be a good idea to handle it first if you are planing to buy it, or at lease be sure you can return it without hassle.

Sharpening

- I have sharpened this knife twice. First time it was nothing major, I never went above 5µm microabrasive film. Second time, it was more of an improvement program, I've thinned down the edge from 15° per side to around 12° per side. Obviously, cutting ability improved noticeably. As far as sharpening goes, it was pretty easy. Even though the steel is hardened to 62HRC, which is no joke at any rate, it was still fairly easy. Overall, sharpening sequence included 220 grit sandpaper, followed by 600 grit, which was followed by 1500 and 200 grit sandpapers. Then I switched to 5µm microabrasive file, followed by 2µm microabrasive and then 8000-12000 grit Japanese Kitayama synthetic whetstone, which is around 1µm. Final steps were 0.5µm chromium oxide loaded strop and 0.3µm Aluminum oxide lapping film, followed by stropping on the plain leather. As you can see, it was pretty much standard edge thin-down sequence for me. Overall procedure took around 2 hours. Which is real fast compared to 4-8 hours I've spent on other knives like Aritsugu 270mm A-Type gyuto and Aritsugu 300,mm AoKo Honkasumi Yanagiba. bear in mind A-Type gyuto is just about 60HRC. So, once again, hardness alone doesn't determine edge wear resistance, steel composition is just as important.

Usage

- Frankly, with the number of gyuto and nakiri type knives I have in my kitchen knife block, Tojiro Santoku hasn't seen much of the use. Numbers aside, for general use and for vegetables I prefer both, gyuto and nakiri over Santoku. Which is why I said in the beginning that this was rather a reminder for me than an actual user knife. Main use this knife ever saw was during the first month after I got it. After that month I got Akifusa(Ikeda) 240mm Gyuto, then Watanabe Nakiri, then another gyuto, then nakiri and so on. Eventually I ended up with over 7 gyutos, 3 nakiris, plus Tadatsuna Shirogami(white steel) Kamagata Usuba. Each of that knife cuts better either to longer blade or thanks to thinner edge and blade, holds better edge and so on. Plus, I find them more comfortable because they're lighter. In short multiple reasons for not using it. Still, I have used it enough to get the idea how it worked and also managed to sharpen it twice.

Overall, I still liked Tojiro Santoku while I was into that type of knives. Not so much of rocking motion with santokus, but for slicing and straight down push cuts it was just fine, especially after thinning down the edge. As usual main use for this knife was vegetables. Nothing special there, just the usual assortment: broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers, radish, carrots and such. Some of those are harder on the knife edge than softer veggies like onions, tomatoes or just parsley. The blade is rather narrow compared to the gyutos I've listed above, but at 44mm it isn't narrow at all. So, works fine for crushing garlic cloves too. As for the cutting techniques, well at least in my use it was limited to slicing and push cutting. I didn't try to use it for peeling, 175mm long, 44m wide blade isn't suited for it at all. Edge holding was really good compared to any western knife I have ever owned or handled and it was better than all the Global knives as well. I was expecting microchipping on the edge, considering the 62HRC Rockwell hardness the VG-10 steel is hardened to, which is pretty much the maximum for this steel. I did get some of it, but not to the extent I was expecting, which was a good news. On the other hand edge holding was below of the Watanabe or Aritsugu knives I have owned at that time. So, in the end, it is a good knife, but I think it's overpriced and you can get a better knife for that price. On the other hand if you like the design and the knife, well, then go for it.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 175.00mm(7")
  • Thickness - 2.50mm
  • Width - 44.00mm
  • OAL - 300.00mm(11.81")
  • Steel - VG-10 62HRC
  • Handle - Micarta/Stainless Steel
  • Weight - 240.00g(8.12oz)
  • Acquired - 06/2008 Price - 200.00$

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Last updated - 08/26/13