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Knife Repair

Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:01 am

An area executive chef I really respect and have worked with in the past has recently been hired by my current location to sort of... fill in the bumps. It's a big operation. He's a true pleasure to work with, does good work, and is a class act.

We got to talking about knives this afternoon, as professional kitchen rats do, and I glanced through his collection. He's basically on the final dregs of a full on addiction. His collection is now pretty small because he's given away a lot of knives over the years to employees. What knives he has left are in good shape and of good quality save one. That odd man out is a short yanagiba that is, to put it bluntly, unusable. It's got some degree of rusting, it's crooked, the edge looks shot, and the handle looks rusted. He said he'd trusted his cooks too much with it, but he had just never gotten rid of it because of sentimental value. He doesn't even remember what it is, only that he's cut a *lot* of fish with it. On top of the blade, the handle is apparently haunted with odors which appear when it gets wet. Suffice to say he doesn't use it much.

I mentioned I knew a few people who might have some restoration advice. Hi, people. I'm hoping to answer three questions here.

1) Is the knife salvageable, in whole or in part? If it's just a lost cause, it is what it is. Obviously the handle and blade are different. I suspect a rehandle is strictly necessary as it appears to have rusted out a bit and scents tend to cling, but I've been surprised by some repair work in the past.
2) What kind of cost is he looking at? This doesn't have to be an official appraisal or estimate; even a ballpark idea would be nice. He might bite even if the cost approached the value of the knife.
3) Who might be willing to take a stab at it? It may not be one of you, specifically, but my coworker seemed pretty enthusiastic about possibly getting his knife up and running again.

A few quick snapshots to give you an idea of the condition. Normally I post a thumbnail, but not today!


Mods, feel free to move this if you feel it fits better elsewhere. Kind of an oddball post.

Re: Knife Repair

Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:30 am

Most of the blade would be fixed by sharpening and the rest can be taken care of with proper abrasive compounds. Straightening the blade is a bit more challenging but these blades are designed to be straightened.

The handle I would replace and before it's first use I would use a sealant to prevent future contamination.

I start single bevel sharpening at $25 (210mm and up) which typically includes blade cleaning and straightening. I would remove the handle and provide a free plastic bag for disposals too, that can be a room clearing experience when those get wet.

Re: Knife Repair

Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:08 am

Yeah the blade will be fine. The handle could be with some TLC but probably easier to just buy a new one and burn it on. I'm in the busy season with the real job to have a side project going on at the moment.

Re: Knife Repair

Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:22 am

It doesn't look too bad. As others have said, a good cleaning with a rust-eraser or abrasive pad, sharpening... re-handle and it is good to go. The bend in the blade doesn't even look very bad.

Re: Knife Repair

Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:09 pm

I would try some of Marks rust eraser blocks on it and see how far you get. I have a cheap Tosa style knife that was nastier than that and the rust eraser block took care of the rust quite easily! Then straighten the blade and a new handle.

Re: Knife Repair

Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:39 pm

At this point, I'm not doing Wa handles yet, so for the overall project, I'll pass. Taz (Tim) does excellent handle work, and a very professional level of finishing work on blades as well, so you would be in good hands with him.

Straightening always carries the risk of breakage. Most likely not but be aware of the risk.

Cleaning up the surface looks doable and should come out quite nicely.

It may be the photograph, but the back side of the knife looks like the hollow grind is gone (urasaki) and the back side is rounded. Restoring this back side to a hollow grind might take considerable work.


Re: Knife Repair

Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:31 pm

Thanks for the good responses. I'll float this to him to see if he's inclined. Overall the consensus is that it should be something in the price range of a sharpening, rehandling fee, handle as material, and shipping with no additions based on excessive damage or wear.

The picture is indeed misleading Ken, but I checked the grind on the back and thankfully it is fine.
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