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Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:35 am

So, looking at the alloy composition of ZDP-189 steel, it certainly seems impressive. That carbon content is through the roof at 3%. That said, does the steel add that much performance to the blade to justify a price tag that is roughly 2x that of an identical blade made with a less expensive PM steel like SRS14/HAP40/R-2, not to mention some great stainless steels like Kono's HD, Kikuichi's TKC, AEBL etc. Sure the hardness is through the roof, but is all that really going to improve the knife at the margin?

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:36 am

Typo above SRS15

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:48 am

Chip, if you click on "User Control Panel", then select "Board Preferences", change your language to "British English". You'll then be able to edit posts for a fixed amount of time after creating them.

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:05 am

Awesome, thanks Steve

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:47 am

You tell us. This rabbit hole can practically go as deep as you'd like. Every knife you see on CKTG would be considered excessive to many people. Personally, no, I don't think there's much to be gained out of ZDP-189 considering the cost, but there are certain to be those who disagree.

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:00 pm

I have some pocket and hunting knives in ZDP-189 and I like the steel in that application. It retains an edge for a long time, however, it can be a challenge to sharpen if you allow it to dull. For kitchen knives, I do not see an advantage for the steel over something like AEB-L or, even, AUS-8 particularly if the knife is used in a home setting. The steel's main strength is edge retention and it's weaknesses are wear resistance (in terms of sharpening) and expense.

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:03 pm

Fair enough. I suppose the issue is when you get to the $500-600 price point, there seem to be some really fantastic knives out there (Shigefusa, Saji if you like a more substantial knife, Kono Honyaki, Masakage Kujira, etc. etc.). I suppose, is the steel soooo good that it can catapult the knife into very rarefied air? Not that I have that much experience with many different types of steel, but I find it hard to believe that would be the case.

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:32 pm

Chip, you're not always paying for a particular steel on the higher priced knives. It's often the expertise to deliver a superior treatment of a more common steel, the expertise to create a blade with superb grinds and higher quality fit & finish, etc. It could also be exclusivity given the blacksmith and/or quantity of knives produced.

Personally, I don't see ZDP189 as something I'm going to shell out big-time for, unless there are other features of the knife that make it a "must have". Most all of these steels that we commonly discuss (if their heat treat, etc. is good) are great performing options. In a home environment I'd rather have an easy or reasonably easy to sharpen steel than a wonder steel that's a PITA to sharpen.

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:02 pm

Steve, that's my point precisely. If you look at the two lines of ZDP knives on CKTG (Richmond and Sukenari), both are made by value oriented produces for a given level of performance. So for a knife to reach $500 by either brand in a 240MM gyuto format, it is telling just how expensive the steel must be (or how labor intensive it is to forge). This basically means that you are not necessarily paying for the craftsmanship/exclusivity but the steel.
I've gotten into a habit of making comparisons to wine on these forums as it is something I am very familiar with and find many similarities between wine and knife connoisseurship. With wine, one is concerned with the grape, vineyard, vineyard manager and finally the producer. I like to equate the grape and vineyard to the steel and quality of steel refinement and production. The vineyard management is much akin to the to forging process and the production is akin to the final shaping and finishing of a knife. So, for instance, we can drill down to the famed Beckstoffer To-Kalon vineyard in Oakville, Napa Valley. Many different producers source grapes from the vineyard and, while virtually all of them are decent wines due to the site characteristics of the vineyard and top-notch vineyard management, there is still a wide stratification amongst the producers in quality to the discerning palate. This is due to differences in the fermentation, production and aging process, materials used in the given processes and number of cases produced. So too, prices vary accordingly. While Mondavi reserve is not Beckstoffer, it is sourced from the other half of To-Kalon. A very good wine indeed, and for the quality, I actually think is one of the better values out there, but one can find bottles of decent vintages for ~$8o. Whereas a bottle of Schrader from Beckstoffer To-Kalon in a good vintage will start to approach stratospheric levels per bottle ($1,000+ depending upon format).
Bringing this back ZDP, I view, rightly or wrongly, Sukenari and Richmond as akin to Mondavi Reserve. Not cheep, but certainly good value (or at least comparatively so) for the quality. So, to see a Sukenari selling for $500, would be like seeing a new Mondavi wine selling for $500. Not out of the realm of possibility, but the steel (or grape/vineyard as it may be) would really have to be something special holding all else equal. I'm just skeptical that ZDP is really THAT special

Re: ZDP-189

Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:03 pm

Chip, I can't tell you how much added cost ZDP-189 contributes to the price of a knife, but I do know it's expensive stuff. That said, the Sukenari ZDP-189 Gyutos I handled were made to a very high level of quality and F&F - and they did somehow exude an air of expensive quality. Could I have been influenced by knowing the price before seeing them? Quite possibly, but some knives just "feel" expensive in person, and I'm not necessarily talking about the absolute most expensive knives. A few quick knife lines that come to mind are the Masakage Koishi, Konosuke Fujiyamas, Kikuichi Swedish Warikomi Damascus, Richmond Damascus, Tetsuhiro Hammered W#1, Takeda AS Classics, and Takayuki Ginsan Wa Gyutos.
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