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Konosuke HD – First, First Impression

Posted on | October 5, 2010 | No Comments Print This Post Print This Post

The stars aligned; I read a few reviews; had a birthday coming up;  and — as some of you may remember from Dinches With Knives — had a brief, physical encounter in a parking lot with a Konosuke HD gyuto.  Shortly afterwards, about a month ago, I ordered a 270mm knife from Chef’s Knives To Go (CKTG).  The Konosukes are still very new on the market, and seem to have been backordered largely due to the young manufacturer’s surprise at their popularity.  It’s not unreadiness or lack of experience so much as a real case of “who knew?”

Briefly, Konosuke makes very thin, light, Japanese-handled, western style knives of a type known as “lasers,” “Kate Moss,”  “heroin chic” et cetera. (A mouthful for “briefly,” no?)  Mine is a chef’s/gyuto.

At 270mm long, it’s 175gm (6.17 oz) and 2.1mm thick at the machi.

The most obvious thing setting the HD apart from other lasers like the Tadatsunas, Susisun Inox Honyakis, Sakai Yusuke, etc., is the use of a semi-stainless alloy which Konosuke calls HD.  I understand the alloy has been tested by third parties who cannot identify the components but not the specific alloy.  Whatever it is, it’s some sort of HSS hardened to 61-62RCH ish.

Here’s a link to the rest of the vital statistics.

In addition to all the really cool specialty reasons, I’m generically jazzed just to have a Japanese made knife that I can sharpen lefty.  Besides, it was a birthday present.

Anyway, it got here:

As good looking as a plain knife can be, this is.  The horn cap on the handle matches the ferrule and is a nice touch.  The saya is nicely made as well.

I tested the edge with my thumb.  It (the edge, not the thumb) was adequate for an OOTB Japanese knife but nothing to really inspire fear in the cauliflower conspiracy.

Okay.  Now What?

Unlike anyone else who seems to have written about this knife so far, I’d promised myself not to use the knife until it had an adequate edge.

I pulled my 10” K-Sabatier out of the block to admire the feather-lightness of the Konosuke and was surprised  that the Japanese knife, as light and thin as it was, didn’t feel significantly lighter or thinner than the Sab.  It’s probably balance more than anything else, because the K-Sab hits the scale at close to 10 oz and the Konosuke is a willowy 6.  Don’t try and extrapolate that to your Wusthof Classic though.  As Euro-knives go, French carbon is super thin and sui generis for “feel.”

So, I sharpened it all the way way through my usual progression:  500 Beston; 1.2K Bester; 3K Chosera; 8K Naniwa SS; and HandAmerican boron oxide.  Just for the OCD heck of it, I threw in a ride on a 1/2u strop too.  I sharpened both sides at a very acute angle, around 8*, and with a lefty bias.

The current symmetry is currently somewhere between 2:1 and 3:1 lefty, but I’ll take it more asymmetric the next time I sharpen.

The description makes the sharpening a lot better and more cold-blooded than it actually was.  I was eager, I rushed, I didn’t do the greatest job.  I’m not used to a that acute an angle, hardly ever sharpen lefty, and never to that degree of asymmetry.  I was too impatient to wait for the Beston to fully soak, so I slightly scratched the right side of my new knife just above the bevel shoulder and ended up with imperfect bevels as well.  I cut a little gouge in the 10K.  The heel is sharp, but more symmetric than the rest of the knife.  Mea culpa, mea culpa mea maxima culpa.

Enough with the Preliminaries Already:

I tossed a few aromatics on the board and proceeded to make itty bitty cubes.

The knife is extremely light.  It requires no pressure whatsoever to cut through carrots, onions, celery, peppers, make micro-julienne of old soggy onion peel, or anything else I tried.  If you’re hoping for more it will have to wait for another post.  That’s all the cutting for tonight.

The blade is slightly flexible compared to a typical Japanese gyuto, very flexible compared to a western chef’s.  This is not a knife for splitting chickens.  Nor hares.

While this self-evidently is going to be my primary knife, I’m not only keeping my chef de chef, the 10” K-Sab stays in the block for marginal activities like thick-skinned squash, portioning spares, and that sort of stuff.  At least until the new baby paranoia wears off.  We’ll see how it goes.

It’s a 270mm wa-gyuto (Japanese handled, western style chef’s knife), so of course it’s front heavy.  But because the knife is so light I don’t see either the length or the imbalance as an issue.  Linda, who is not a knife maven in any way, tried it and wasn’t at all bothered.  She was impressed by the effortless cutting.

Yes, it cuts better than a carbon Sab, significantly better.  Even an extremely well sharpened carbon Sab.  Even a better sharpened carbon Sab.

The profile was very natural with my “guillotine and glide” chopping action.   In that respect it is better than the Tadatsuna or Suisun; very slightly different (wider, and a bit flatter) but – and it’s not easy for me to say this — as good as a Sab or Masamoto.

The handle, was very comfortable in my hand.  However, it is narrow compared to a Suisun, Tad, or Masamoto and might not be for everyone.  Several other reviewers have mentioned this, including Jon Broida.  If you don’t wrap your back fingers all the around the handle, I’d say it’s a non-issue.

Have I used sharper knives?  Yes.  Very, very seldom.  KC’s Tad is the only “V” edge knife that comes to mind – and it was about as close to chisel as “V” gets.  Can this knife be taken to match those levels of sharpness?  Yes.  Flatten the bevels, add a skosh more asymmetry, and it’s there.

I’m afraid I can’t give an honest evaluation of the other edge characteristics beyond “gets stupid sharp.”  I was too anxious to really take note of the sharpening characteristics other than to say that sharpening seemed to go very quickly.

Edge holding and maintenance… Quien sabe? Edge holding and resistance to chipping, dinging, and other artifacts of reality are supposed to be the big deal with HD, everyone else seems happy, it’s probably good.  Still, HD notwithstanding, it’s a “laser.” It doesn’t seem reasonable to project that it can take the same levels of abuse as a Messermeister.  We’ll see.

Cutting to the chase:

An absolute joy on short acquaintance.  A little too flexible and lightly built to be a true all-rounder.  Too soon to say “best knife I ever used,” but that’s probably on the way.  Maybe not for everyone but more versatile than expected.

Bottom Line:

So far, it’s better in every respect than I’d hoped.  If you understand that a laser means another knife for the rough stuff, still want one, can pay the freight and stand the wait… order it.

BDL

PS.  H/t Mark Richmond of CKTG

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