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 Post subject: Kanehiro Ginsan
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:56 pm
Posts: 6
I posted the following in response to another forum members Q&A outreach. I think it belongs in this review section. I tried to polish some typos in the transfer as well.
BTW, don't confuse ginsan and ginsu... these knives and this steel are no joke ;-)

More useful comments below, but I LOVE these Kanehiro Ginsans.

I missed out on the AS version before the price jumped, so I didn't wait this time. Missing out enabled me to realize that stainless steel is probably better for my needs anyway, since other family members would be using the knives, and might not care for carbon properly (even with the san mai’s limited exposure).

I ended up buying two Kanehiro Ginsans, in the 240mm gyuto and 150mm petty varieties. I like that they are handmade, well made, well reviewed (AS versions) and priced right. Those facts appealed to me, and they seem to be an exceptional value (price/quality) for an avid home cook with knife skills. Like many others who’ve posted on the forum, the Konosuke HH and various Richmond knives were finalists in my decision process. I’m sure they’re great knives. I simply pulled the trigger on these because of the impending price increase (and because I missed out last time).

So much of what people raved about in the AS version (geometry, handle, fit and finish, a rugged gunmetal look, all around performance) is present in this G3 version. Here is a great review thread: kanehiro-240mm-gyuto-chef-knives-to-go-and-value-t199.html

Looks are a matter of personal preference, but I think the rugged gunmetal grey outer stainless, with the wavy hamono-ish line along the shiny G3 steel core look awesome. I also liked the patinaed edge of a stainless clad AS knife. There is just something about subtle differentiating style ques. The black buffalo horn and light magnolia handle complement nicely, and complete the package.

After initial uses, I felt like the magnolia wood handles were soft and would absorb moisture. This was a little disconcerting, because I like to keep things clean and nice. I babied them for a day or two, but felt silly avoiding moisture with a kitchen knife. I had just refinished some teak outdoor furniture, and had leftover protectant meant for hard woods like teak and magnolia. I already knew I was going to keep the knives, so I decided to rub the varnish into the handles in an attempt to protect them. Pretty much nothing got absorbed, even with two coats. I was not about to use sandpaper to prep the surface, because obviously this wood was more dense and less absorbent than I thought. I was happy to be wrong, and the handles still look great.

The 240 gyuto was very sharp out of the box. The 150 petty was also sharp, but not consistent/smooth. After some initial otb cutting of random things for fun, I brushed the knives against a 1k stone to clean up the edges. I really just honed the 240 on the stone, but the petty benefitted from more serious touch-up.

When sharpening, I followed the existing bevel at the blade. There is the big wide bevel you noticed, but also a smaller bevel at the edge (AS reviewer claims 12 degrees. I won’t argue, because I don’t know). The knife didn’t need thinning, so I didn’t mess with the big wide bevel.

I can't give you a useful comparative answer on sharpening ease/difficulty, as I don’t have experience with sharpening knives made of high-end steel of varing hardenss. I can say that I set and removed a smooth/even burr, and it was much easier than on any of the hodge-podge-hand-me-down-knife-drawer German stainless knives I’ve used and sharpened.

Even with the high hardness, these knives do not seem brittle. They do/will require honing, and when they do, I can feel that the edge is a little rolled over, and not all chipped up. I suspect the angle of sharpening would change results. This is something somebody could play around with, as I’d love to hear suggestions for this knives optimum angle.

For context: I can put a clean and sharp edge on a knife (learned on pocket knives, eventually moved up to kitchen knives once the need/desire arrived). I’m still learning (a lot, especially from forums like this one), and the 1k stone is the highest I own. Now that I have the knives to warrant a purchase, I think I'll be getting something in the 6k range. [Recommendations for san mai G3 anyone?]

The 240mm gyuto is probably the more relevant knife to review for others; but for small jobs like weekday breakfasts and lunches, the 150mm petty is a star. 150mm is way larger than pairing knives I’m accustomed to; but this size can do much more, while not being ungainly for in-hand work (I’m 6’4 and have big hands, so ymmv). The gyuto tends to come out for dinner, the fancy meal at my house, where much more prep takes place. It is a beast, and I love the 240mm size given that I’m stepping-up from an 8in chef knife. Bigger has been better for me with both of these knives.

The 240mm gyuto balances about 2in in front of the handle. That seems like a lot, so even with a pinch grip, it is blade heavy. This is not the knife for someone who wants the balance point right at the pinch point/handle; however, this blade weight aids in the way that the knife simply falls through food. Cutting soft stuff like tomatoes was so easy it made me giggle. Translucent thin slices take no effort. Even massive home-grown carrots had very little wedging and splitting. The knife does the work.

I usually push-cut and/or slice. These knives do those things really well. Even with German knives, I would only rock-chop on herbs. I tried it with these knives, but I felt like I had to be more delicate when doing so- these blades feel so much thinner than what I’m used to. Not that they actually chipped or cracked or anything, but I guess I’ll have to build confidence in that motion with these thinner blades.

I thought I would have wanted a larger flat spot on the gyuto, but the 2.5in at the heel on this one has been enough. It makes clean separations, even when I try to show off with high speed knife skills. I haven’t had any accordion strip veggies.

The spine is softened, but not rounded. The heel is softened, but only on the right side. This doesn’t bother me at all, and I only have a subtle tough patch on my right index finger (not even enough to call it a callous, like chefs get).

The taper from heel to tip is fairly even, maybe a bit more progressive in the final third of the knife. If I look down the spine very carefully, I can see a tiny hammer mark/indentation that keeps it from being perfectly straight. Hey, it’s handmade, and I like the character that makes this “my” knife. In fact, I think I own the knives from the website photos- they're famous!

Looking carefully down the blade edge, it’s nice and straight.

As for the taper from spine to edge, the knife is thin behind the edge and tapers nicely, such that if food sticks, there is no vacuum/suction that keeps it on the blade. You can even just flick your wrist to make the sticky piece fall back into place on the cutting board.

I hope this info helps. I combed the internet to learn about the knives that would be right for me, and now that I own knives worth reviewing, I did;-) It might not be as technical a write-up as you desire, but it’s what I can offer. This review has turned into an essay, and I want to wrap it up, but I’ve learned so much from other people's posts and wanted to contribute. Enjoy!

 Post subject: Re: Kanehiro Ginsan
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:31 pm
Posts: 87
Thanks for your review, and I agree you really need a 4-8k stone to fully enjoy any knife to its full potential.
Could you tell me the blade height from the heel on the 150mm petty?
and if the handle is round oct or slim/oval oct?

 Post subject: Re: Kanehiro Ginsan
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:52 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:56 pm
Posts: 6
The 150mm petty is 30.16mm tall at the heel. The handle is oval octagon: 22.22mm tall, by 15.88mm wide at its end, but it tapers down toward ferrule.
On the 240mm gyuto, the handle is also oval octagon: 30.16mm tall, by 20.64mm wide at its end. The taper toward the ferrule is there, but its less pronounced than on the petty.

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