So, to begin, the knife I am reviewing is ChipB's pass around knife. It is the Kato referenced in the thread linked here
. I've had three or four decent cutting sessions with it and, frankly, I feel as if I'm pulling up short, but truly learning its intricacies would take more time than I have. I don't mind admitting a good part of this review pertains to the handle. This is one instance where the blade has been reinforced by its trappings to reach a higher level.Appearance
I told you I'd be mentioning the handle. What a handle! As soon as I unwrapped it, I knew it was something special. It's bog oak, an M3 spacer, and some pretty swell walnut. The blade itself is... well, it's a steel knife. I like the look of a simple finish best of all, so it does great on that point. It does have gorgeous, clean engravings. The knife has old world charm from the handle and wears its simplicity well.In the Hand
The knife has great fit and finish, as to be expected. Everything is sanded or rounded. It is a commanding presence in the hand, more so than any other knife I've used! It's pretty heavy and the spine is thicker than most German knives, at 4mm and change by my measurement. I'll leave the measurement in grams to Melampus. Likewise the handle is made of heavier woods. Thankfully the knife carries that weight well. It balances right on my grip and can give still considerable weight to any given task, but it hits a sweet spot in that it can be turned to delicate work without too much trouble. The D handle fits my fingers perfectly and the knife as a whole fits my average sized hands well. I might have liked fractionally more room on the neck, but the handle and the neck are flush which lets my fingers rest smoothly on top of that bridge. On inspection this was clearly placed and even sanded to that very purpose. It's a nice touch.On the Board
This knife had an element to it that I very much did not expect. Despite the weight, the general lack of belly, the slightly textured handle, and the thick spine, the knife disappears in my hand. I maintain that it has a commanding presence, but it takes a decidedly laissez-fair stance to the action. After cutting a few onions I was thinking about cutting onions and not the knife. To me this is absolutely ideal. I can admire the artistry of a knife best through its results. The Kato was willing to take the back seat to my work.
Something of this is the geometry. The knife is by my measure between 47mm and 47.5mm at the heel and a perfect 230mm on the cutting edge. Because it has so little belly I didn't miss any extra cutting length. This height is in my ideal range, though I know some won't find it tall enough. It's thin behind the edge and Chip's bevel on it (maybe the factory bevel?) is quite small and seems to suit it perfectly. I found the knife highly functional at every point on its length and even enjoyed slicing with it.
On the negative side, I didn't notice any arm strain, but I have no doubt many people would. This would not be for anyone of dainty musculature.
The aforementioned work was clean and quick. The Kato does have a little drag going through ingredients, particularly onions, but it was not by any means bad, merely good. The knife truly laughs at carrots and sundry cabbages. I couldn't find a product it could not tackle well. I initially formed a great natural patina on it with zero fuss, but to my eternal dismay (I'm so sorry!) tonight I found that peppers react with the cladding steel more quickly than I first thought and gave it a slightly sickly orange hue which had a little residue. As of this moment I have not removed the patina as I plan to re-evaluate it in the light of day, but I will probably have to head it off at the pass. I'm hoping it's simply the red from the beef in my bahn mi (more of that in another section of the forum) and the yellow from the peppers and the onions that had preceded them. Otherwise I found the cladding steel to react as usual.On the Stones
Okay, so I didn't actually take it to the stone. The knife doesn't need it yet. But I did take it to a balsa strop loaded with a Ken Schwartz 1 micron compound followed by horse butt, mostly for personal mollification. The edge is going strong and anything that was lost has been regained.Final Thoughts
This is a great knife and I'm a better user for having had a chance to try it. The geometry on it is a little thick for me, but if I had however much this one of a kind item cost burning a hole in my pocket it would be a distinct consideration. The few negative elements are subdued. I can't say for certain it's cost effective, but I can say it's excellent. Full marks cum laude to both Kiyoshi Kato and Tim Johnson.
And Chip? You're not Jason or Ken yet, but you have a great edge on here. I only hope I don't roll this one before I send it on.