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Tanaka Ginsan handles

Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:48 pm

Hi all,

I know these are brand new to the site, but I believe they have been previously available elsewhere and think I remember some around here having handled them. These knives are at a great, and somewhat unique price point, not a lot of other options around 135.

I have gotten the impression that Tanakas are known as pretty high end blades that lack in fit and finish and handle quality. I may have gotten this from the KU series, and am wondering if this reputation extends to these Ginsans. Seems like a great steel, and I am a stainless guy, and at this price it is an attractive knife. However, if it is a knife that I end up having to rehandle, the price of doing so would cut into the value.

So I guess my question is if anyone has experience with these, how are the handles? Are the blades thin behind the edge? Good grinds?

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:18 pm

I think I did good on these.... :)

I'm telling Sue I deserve a Christmas bonus for all the cool stuff I brought in this year.

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Tue Dec 03, 2013 8:48 pm

Mark, those look like they could be "Best Performance Buy of the Year" contenders for 2013. Speaking of that, how about a post of your own top 5 or 10 choices for exactly that :-). Any product, not just knives.

And yes, you really brought in an amazing amount of great products this year. Tell Sue you deserve a really "special" Christmas bonus, if you get my drift 8-) . Hey, we 50 year olds need all the help we can get!

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:24 pm

Lets clear some things up regarding Tanaka knives and handles. The Kurouchi series uses a lower end handle, Ho wood and plastic ferrule collar. The Sekiso series use Ho wood and Buffalo Horn; the Ginsan looks to use the same handle as the Sekiso. These are nice handles, but some find that they are too polished for their liking. F&F wise on these handles, there is nothing wrong at all with them. The Plastic/Ho handles are very similar to the Tojiro ITK, Yamashin, etc and will work OK, but will most likely need the plastic ferrule glued in place. These are usually rougher finished than the Sekiso series and give a better grip, especially when wet. People often forget that the knives go from Japan, to the US and then back out all over the place from there. Wood/Buffalo Horn reacts to different climates, temperature and humidity, so a handle may be fine in Connecticut, but may shrink in Texas or hotter climates, or swell in damper climates. The Tanaka Sekiso handles are D shaped, which some do not like, but F&F wise, there isn't anything wrong with them. I have gotten Tanaka's from Metal Master and CKTG and the Sekiso handles are the same. The Sekiso handles do not need replacement right away like some of the lower end handles do.

As to the blades themselves, the Kurouchi series blades are a little rougher F&F wise than the Sekiso. The Sekiso has clean spines on the ones I have seen, but they are not fully rounded/polished. The edges on the choils on the ones I have seen had the edges broken/eased, but not rounded or polished. This is the norm in Japanese knives. Spines and choils generally do not come rounded/polished from the makers unless the customer specifically asks for it. This is similar for the edges as well; many Japanese knives do not come fully sharpened, especially single beveled knives, because people want to put their own edge on them. I used my Tanaka Sekiso 240mm for a while before rehandling it and never had an issue with the spine/choil being to sharp for comfort on the 240mm or the Nakiri and petty I have. I clean them up/round/polish when I rehandle them, but they didn't need to be done prior to using the knife. Others have found some of the edges sharp on the Ginsan/Kurouchi series, but a few minutes with sandpaper or files fix that easily.

As for the grinds, I have only seen a 150mm petty with the factory grind and it wasn't bad, but it could use a thinning; it was somewhat robust. The Ginsan series is ground similar to how the Kurouchi series (and many other Japanese knives) is ground, which is that the bevel goes partly up the blade. These are ground a little beefier than the Sekiso series, which is known to be laser thin behind the edge and full convex grinds all the way down the face of the blade. I have a friend who has the 270mm Ginsan and thinned it out and loves the way it performs. He reports excellent edge retention and fairly easy sharpening. The Ginsan/Kurouchi knives would be more in the workhorse category vs the Sekiso which are in the heavier Laser category (laser behind the edge, thicker at the spine, awesome convex grind all the way from spine to edge).

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:58 pm

Thanks a lot Tim, very helpful information.

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:33 am

I picked up a Tanka Ginsan 210 gyuto else where before CKTG offered them... Not sure if they are exactly the same knife, but the example I received was not ground the same as the Kurouchi or Sekiso. It was left hand ground with a flat grind on one side and convex on the other. I don't remember if I ever weighed it, but I remember being surprised at how nimble and light it felt in hand the first time I handled it. Felt almost in the lazer weight category. The edge was not as crazy thin as some that I have seen, but it wasn't at all thick in my mind. The edge was completely dull out of the box which is no big deal, but something to be aware of. Handle was about what I would expect in this price range, perfectly serviceable and the average home user probably wouldn't notice or care, but there were small gaps around the tang and some excess glue bubbles on the tang itself.

I have only handled the one example (possibly a bad example?) and the knives offered here may not be the same, so take it for what it is worth... The flat grind was fine, but the convex grind was very poorly done. High and low spots were clearly visible as you looked down the length of the blade. The blade over all looked like the person grinding was in a hurry and wasn't too worried how it turned out. The choil and spine had a few spots that showed some signs of being eased and other large untouched sections with sharp edges and/or burrs. I rounded the choil and spine as I wanted to give the knife a chance, but lack the belt grinder needed to address the convex grind. As such, I never could get past the strange feeling of the knife going through thick ingredients almost like it wiggled it's way through and was glad when I got the chance to trade it away.

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:44 am

FWIW I purchased a Tanaka VG-10 Damascus 150 petty to check out the grind and geometry in a stainless package. It seems to have the same continuous convex grind of the Sekiso series - very well done. It also came very sharp OOTB. This model has a red wood hybrid Western handle. My only issue is that the neck is rather wide, as on the Ginsan series vs. the narrower neck on the Sekiso series. This makes the knife feel shorter, even though it's the same height as the Sekiso 150 petty. I'm very impressed w/the performance, look, and profile/geometry of this blade.

Hey Mark if you're checking out this thread - here's my ideal version of the Tanaka VG-10 series. I think these would sell very well - I know they would be very good performers for the money. Maybe they'll do a run of these for you. Maybe 150 Petty, 210/240 Gyutos to start?

Keep the same blade pattern and convex grind as on the existing VG-10 line, but make the neck smaller as on the Sekiso line, then put an oval or octagonal Yew/Buffalo Horn, or Ho/Buffalo Horn handle on them. Dump the "D" shaped handles - same on the Sekiso line, go ambidextrous.

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:20 am

That's why you should buy Tanaka knives only from CKTG! You see, once you eat raw horse (as I did with Shigeki Tanaka) with a man you get all the good stuff! ;)

Here is a random Tanaka Ginsan I just grabbed to give you a look at the even grinds and edge. Thin behind the edge? I would say oh yeah.




Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:27 am

Very nice Mark! That's why you are the best :-).

Re: Tanaka Ginsan handles

Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:49 am

Oh nice!! That's like Sekiso thin!!!
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