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Watanabe Ko-Deba 85mm(3.45")
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Watanabe 85mm(3.45") Small Knife

Usage, Initial edge 30°

- As mentioned above knife came with the edge that was closer to 30°. The only thing I did - polish the edge with fine abrasives starting with 2mic, then proceeding to 1µm (12000 grit) waterstone, followed up with 0.5µm CrO(Chromium Oxide) loaded leather strop, 0.3µm Al2O3(Aluminum Oxide) film and finally just stropping on the leather. The resulting edge was somewhere beyond hair whittling sharp. As usual Aogami steel does take very keen edge and sharpening it is very satisfying exercise, even when the steel is that hard, i.e. 62-64HRC.
    Obviously, I didn't use SK to cut anything big. Mainly for mincing shallots, garlic, radish small items of that kind. That is where this knife really shines. I've mentioned above, Watanabe does make similar knife which he calls, Petit, but it's more pointy and narrow, For that reason it doesn't work as well as SK for the aforementioned cutting tasks. Pretty much straight blade, and quite wide at that is almost perfect for horizontal slices of garlic or shallots. I mean blade parallel to the cutting board. Of course vertical ones are just as easy. Wide blade gives enough room for left hand finger knuckles to push against the blade, preventing cutting your fingertips. In short, it all works like mini gyuto. I can't work as efficiently on the same cuts with two other small paring knives I have: Tojiro Flash Paring and Global GS-40. Even though they're thinner, still, their narrow blades don't give enough space for claw(guide) hand support/control of the blade. Although, those two are more efficient for paring/peeling and other delicate tasks requiring thinner and more pronounced point.
    Ko-Deba also works pretty well as a peeling/paring knife. Obviously, its wide blade isn't the best choice when you want to cut eyes on the potato, but for skinning avocado for example, it's really good. Again, Tojiro Flash works better, mainly because of its thinner blade, and thinner handle too. SK has quite a thick handle and because of that standard paring grip isn't very comfy. Nothing bad, but still less comfortable. On the other hand, SK's wide blade allows for more control when peeling Avocados, at least to me it works that way. Given that I am not big on fish, I have to improvise sort of :)
    As far as the edgeholding goes I have nothing but positive impressions. During 2 month use, which wasn't daily, but at least 2-3 times a week, the only maintenance and sharpening I did after initial sharpening described above was regular steeling on the smooth steel rod before and after using. Ok, sometimes I was in a hurry and forgot to steel before using it ;) Otherwise that's the procedure. During those 2 month Sk never lost its shaving ability. I've been testing it's sharpness pretty much every week, and free hanging newsprint, shaving in both directions, hair grab test, all indicated very high levels of sharpness. A very good result in my opinion.

Usage, 20° edge

- After 2 months, having very satisfactory results with 30° edge I've decided to lower the edge angle to 20° included. That gives 10° per side. Which is ok, for Japanese kitchen knives, but not really thin. Compared to Western knives that's crazy thin. Eventually I'll go around 12°-14° edge included, just I was rather lazy to remove that much metal in one sharpening session. I'm pretty sure this knife will hold fine even at 6° per side. Anyway, overall I've spent 2.5 hours resharpening SK to 10° per side. The result was superb. Cutting efficiency increased substantially. At the same time, after 1.5 month of identical use I can't notice any degradation in terms of edge holding ability. And so far I've been maintaining the edge using only smooth steel rod. Well, to be precise, once I've used newly acquired diamond spray, which is 0.25mic. That's the finest abrasive there is for now. At least for knife sharpening. I just got the diamond spray from Dave at Japanese Knife Sharpening and I really love it already. All of my knives got treatment with diamond loaded leather strop. So, SK received 0.25mic edge polish too. Not because it needed sharpening, but because, I could take it a step further.
    Long story short, 10° per side edge works wonderfully well. Significant increase in cutting ability, and no noticeable degradation in edge holding or stability. Therefore, I am pretty much ready for the next step, which I plan around 6°-7° per side. Just need another 2-3 hours of free time, and we'll see how it goes. Of course, there is a chance that at those levels, the edge will start to ripple, but even if that happens, it's going to be very easy to put 10° primary bevel on the edge and keep secondary at 6°. Even then, it'll be a very significant gain in cutting efficiency. Although, based on my experience with this steel, and maker it should hold up just fine.
    Obviously I'll update this review, once I get some results from the new edge.

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Specifications:

  • Blade - 85.00mm(3.35")
  • Thickness - 3.10mm
  • OAL - 200.00mm(7.87")
  • Steel - Shirogami 1 62-64HRC
  • Handle - Madagascar Rosewood
  • Weight - 62.00g(2.1oz) with original, 84.00g(2.84oz) with custom handle
  • Acquired - 07/2008 Price - 50.00$

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Last updated - 09/01/11