Isaiah Schroeder’s Gyuto Comes In A Spectacular Damascus Pattern And Showcases The Maker’s Skill.
Isaiah Schroeder considers his gyuto the best knife he’s made, and the blade’s electrifying stainless damascus pattern and the ergonomic handle make it hard to argue the point.
Of the blade Isaiah said, “It’s a pretty simple pattern, one I’ve done in carbon steel quite a bit. A low-layer lazy twist is what I call it.” It consists of only 11 or so alternating layers that he twists three or four times. “That’s pretty much all it is,” he observed. “I love the way it turns out with the bold layer lines and everything. It looks kind of topographical and I always like that.” The darker steel is AEB-L stainless and the lighter parts are 154CM stainless.
He said the convex blade grind works great for food release. He is especially proud of the look and feel of his thin handle design that includes silver fittings done in the lost-wax-casting method. Combined with the 1/8-inch-thick blade, he said it’s, “Thin to win for a kitchen knife.”
A full-time knifemaker based in Madison, Wisconsin, Schroeder makes kitchen knives of all types in the Japanese style including a sujihiki, a long knife made for fine slicing of meats, fish, and precisely cutting through sinew. He also makes a petty knife as well in damascus.
Gyuto Knife Specs Pattern: Gyuto Japanese chef’s knife Blade length: 9.44 inches Blade material: Low-layer lazy twist damascus of AEB-L and 154CM stainless steels Blade grind: Convex Handle material: African blackwood Fittings: Fine silver (2 ozs. worth) Overall length: 14.44 inches Maker’s price for a similar knife: $2,000 Knife to know: Isaiah is a full-time knifemaker
GiantMouse takes a stab at the culinary world with a kitchen knife line.
EDC knives of a variety of stripes have been GiantMouse’s bread and butter, helping the Danish-design concern kick a solid toehold into the knife industry. This success somewhat culminated earlier this month in Atlanta, with the company’s GMX earning Knife-Of-The-Year® accolades at the 2023 BLADE Show. This trophy in hand is a pretty good indicator you’re doing things right. But, GiantMouse is far from living off past achievements.
In fact, it has a new vista in sight—kitchen knives.
Following a well-trod recent trend in knife manufacturing, GiantMouse is dipping its toe into the culinary end of the pool with the introduction of four kitchen knives. While this drop might prove unexpected to some, the expansion is something the company said has been in the works for nearly two years now. At least, that’s been the personal testing period of designers Jens Ansø and Jesper Voxnaes (Vox), refining the minutia of the knives. So, how did it shake out?
At first blush—and without a knife-in-hand, tomato-dicing torture test—not too shabby. The four-knife line appears attractively utilitarian, nice enough to show off along with your next dinner party. But the knives aren’t so pretty as to scare you off from actually using them in your day-to-day culinary adventures. At arm’s length, it’s difficult to discuss ergonomics, balance and performance. However, GiantMouse doesn’t appear to have to broken any of the major kitchen-knife rules, attempting to displace function for novel form. Though, the slightly hooking heel on the larger knives might prove a sore point—pun intended—for some.
The line, at present, includes:
Essentially, GiantMouse has homed in on the basic food prep tools every kitchen requires. The knives are sold individually and as a set; there’s a branded bamboo magnetic knife bar available, as well. And, in the company’s announcement, it certainly sounds as if it has designs to continue expanding into more corners of the culinary arts. No hint on what that might include.
As to the Italian-made knives themselves, GiantMouse has opted for Nitro-B for the blade steel and given them an unstated satin finish. Having grown in popularity in recent years, high-nitrogen steel (.21% in the case of Nitro-B) has spurred its share of debates as well. Sufficed to say, it should thrive in a kitchen environment if for no other reason than its corrosion resistance. To top it off, the blades are stamped with a tirade of the company’s murine logo—jaunty, to say the least.
To this, the company has outfitted the knives with green micarta handles, which should prove popular. Generally providing an excellent gripping surface, even when wet, GiantMouse has further enhanced it with a run of three serrations at the midpoint to provide a bit more purchase.
As for price, expect to drop $95 to get into GiantMouse’s paring knife at the low end and $175 for the chef or santoku at the high end.
GiantMouse Kitchen Knives Specs:
Chef Knife Blade Length: 8.375″ (212.725mm) Weight: 6.9oz (195.612g) Overall Length: 13.125″ (333.4mm) Steel: Nitro B Blade Thickness: .1125″ (2.875mm) Finish: Satin Handle: Green Micarta MSRP: $175
Larger than a paring knife, smaller than a chef’s knife, the petty knife is right-sized for heavy-duty precision work.
Sometimes food preparation calls for something especially suited for close, even intricate, work. The petty knife was made for such employment.
While it may be a bit smaller in stature than other knives chefs regularly use, the petty knife makes short work of otherwise laborious functions.
Its name is derived from the French petit or small, but it’s big on getting the job done.
“Ask a dozen makers what the petty knife is and you’ll get a dozen different answers,” offered custom maker Ian Ronald of Elderslie, New South Wales, Australia. “But for me, I would define a petty knife as a culinary knife that is shorter than a chef’s knife but with a broader blade than a paring knife. I find a petty knife to be incredibly handy for household food preparation tasks, with a blade that is big enough to cut most food items but not so large as a full-sized chef’s knife, making it a little more versatile for ‘in hand’ food prep tasks such as cutting avocados and similar things. I have a few in my kitchen and they are the most commonly used knives in the knife block by far.”
Representative of Ronald’s petty knife work is a piece the price of which varies depending on materials chosen. With a 4.92-inch blade of Takefu Special stainless clad in san-mai fashion over V-Toku2 carbon steel, a desert ironwood handle and 9.25-inch overall length, the petty remains with the maker—and he uses it frequently.
“I designed this knife with quite clean lines and simple shapes, as it was intended to be a workhorse from the beginning,” Ian commented. “I used some premium materials but I didn’t add any embellishments or unnecessary details. I follow that aesthetic with most of the knives I make, preferring to let the form follow the function for the most part. This particular knife has a relatively deep blade with a reasonably high tip profile, which allows it to be used for [rocking/chopping] and push cuts despite its unassuming size.”
The steel combination on Ronald’s knife includes a carbon core with stainless cladding from the Takefu steel company of Japan. According to Ian, it is quite corrosion resistant and maintains a bright appearance, as the carbon steel core etches dark and develops character and patina with use. The blade grind is nearly flat with a slight convex slant near the edge, which is intended to create a fine cutting edge while maintaining toughness.
Precision Worker Petties
Sixty-year-old Australian Zohar Oshinsky has been making knives since he was 12 but became more serious about his work just a few years ago, becoming a full-time maker in the past five years. His petty knife features a 5.12-inch blade of M390 stainless damascus steel from Sanwa Special Steel of Japan, handle scales of stabilized red mallee burl timber—a hardwood from the York peninsula of South Australia—and an overall length of 10.04 inches.
“This petty knife is a smaller Japanese utility knife,” Zohar said, “generally used for precision knife work and fine slicing. My knives are often made to order, so the material is to the customer’s liking. The san-mai is an excellent steel for kitchen knives in this construction with a very high rust resistance and excellent edge retention. The damascus cladding is made from 67 layers of 410 and high nickel stainless.”
Oshinsky says his blade grind is shallow, convex, very thin and incredibly sharp. The blade’s soft cladding protects the core from shock and provides a small amount of flexibility.
Semi-Dark Theme Petty Knives
Aidan De Fazio is all of 18. He began his knifemaking journey at 11 and his progress has been steady. His petty knife includes a 4.5-inch, full-flat-ground blade of san-mai in 1084 clad carbon steel with nickel. The handle is stabilized spalted maple and ebony. The blade is slightly convex ground to preserve edge longevity and provide better food release. Overall length: 9 inches.
“The petty knife is a small general-purpose knife,” Aidan explained. “It’s used for peeling, shaping, and slicing fruits and vegetables, chopping herbs, and making garnishes. I design everything by eye and chose this design because everything flowed nicely, and it just looked right. I was going for a semi-dark-themed knife, so to complement the dark san-mai I chose a piece of ebony with some heavily spalted maple for the handle.
“As this is a carbon steel knife, it will change color with use,” Aidan continued. “It’s a patina and it’s a good thing. It develops on carbon steel when exposed to air for extended periods of time or to acids for short periods of time. It is a type of oxidation that helps ward off the rust that eats away at steel and destroys your knife.” De Fazio recommends regular care for his petty knife, washing lightly with soap and water, avoiding abrasives that could scratch the patina, and then wiping dry for storage.
Light, Thin, Comfy Kitchen Tools
When Ross Arnold makes a petty knife—or any other style knife for kitchen use—he is leveraging experience to produce the most utilitarian design he can. “To me, a petty knife is an all-around food preparation knife for use when a larger knife is not necessary or possible,” he said. “In my earlier years, I worked in kitchens every night. I had a good idea of what worked and what was comfortable for me. This design was focused on being light, thin and comfortable. This resulted in a knife that weighs only 3.8 ounces, and the rounded choil and spine make it a pleasure to use all day every day.”
A resident of Glenalta, Australia, Arnold learned a great deal from custom maker Peter Bald early in his career. Ross finished his petty knife with a 5.91-inch blade of RWL-34 stainless steel and a handle of spalted sassafras wood. Overall length: 11.02 inches. His price for a similar knife: $390.
“I went with a traditional Japanese hexagonal handle purely for aesthetics,” he related. “As I use this knife primarily with a pinch grip, the handle shape does not have a massive impact on usability. That being said, it is still very comfortable to hold normally. I ground the blade with a plunge-less distal taper design. I came up with the grind design myself, but I’m sure it’s probably been done before. In my opinion, it is a solid performing grind as it gives the knife a light and flexible blade that isn’t super thick toward the tip.”
The petty knife is up to the challenge when a more intricate or tight kitchen job is at hand. The latest custom examples are affordable, provide good looks and perform with style. Dig in.
Editor’s note: All prices are in U.S. dollars and are according to the press time rate of exchange. Due to fluid market conditions, all are subject to change. Please check with the applicable maker for the latest in pricing.
Prepare massive meat feast with one of these barbecue beasties at hand.
The barbecue/brisket knife is an indispensable tool for those who prepare brisket and other large-scale meat dishes. Makers go the extra mile to provide the toughness and tensile strength needed, along with a tip that stays sturdy to separate meat and prepare it for serving. Individual recipes include the good looks and visual appeal that make owning and using the best in such knives a pleasure.
Ben Anderson: Brisket Slicers For The Barbie
Ben Anderson of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, features his artisan’s perspective in two beauties that allow form and function to seamlessly blend. He calls both brisket slicers, and in each case he has styled the big carbon steel blade for use with large pieces of meat. One features a blade of 52100 high carbon steel, handle of ironwood and ebony with textured and filed brass spacer, overall length of 27.5 inches, blade of 19.7 inches, and leather sheath. The second is a stunning piece with a 12.6-inch blade of mosaic damascus in 1084 carbon and 15N20 nickel-alloy steels, and a handle of ringed gidgee with a damascus spacer. Overall length: 19.7 inches.
“The blade shape just seems to be a favorite of the brisket guys [in Australia],” Ben commented. “I think people like it because it’s just an aggressive-looking shape that’s a bit reminiscent of a katana. Most of my time as a maker I’ve offered full customization for my clients, so this really pushed me to try all different shapes, sizes and color combinations.”
A custom knifemaker for about six years now, Anderson uses precision specifications in crafting his brisket knives to perform. “On my standard kitchen knives I’ve always aimed for a ricasso height of around 18 millimeters [.7 inch], which made my handles around 20 millimeters [.79 inch] tall at the front and tapered out to around 5 millimeters [.196 inch] bigger at the back. On the bigger brisket knives I aimed for a ricasso height of around 23 millimeters [.9 inch], which made the handles around 25 millimeters [.98 inch] tall at the front and again tapered to around 5 to 7 millimeters [.196 to .275 inch] bigger at the back. I like to scale the handles up with the blades,” he noted, “so it all looks in proportion. It also helps with the balance a bit.”
Anderson’s brisket knives have found their way into competitions with a customer who uses them to prep and slice. Ben’s maintenance and upkeep includes Renaissance Wax for long-term storage after a good cleaning. For everyday servicing a bees wax or mineral oil wipe down for the handle works best.
Of course, since Ben is Australian, his take on the barbecue event itself is enlightening. “A barbecue here is often as simple as a 24-pack of sausages and a loaf or two of bread and some basically burnt-to-a-crisp onion,” he laughed. “As for myself, I’m usually pretty happy with a simple steak and sausages.”
Peter Pruyn: San-Mai Slicer
Peter Pruyn of Grant’s Pass, Oregon, recently produced a brisket slicer that is pleasing to work with and also admire next to the cutting board. His 13-inch blade in a stainless/high-carbon san-mai construction of respective 416 and 52100 steels is complemented by a handle of his favorite handle material from Voodoo Resins, and a copper spacer. Overall length: 18 inches. A zippered, padded pouch is included.
The pouch, Pete says, is more practical in a kitchen setting and protects the knife. If the knife is included in a set, his preference for protection is a leather knife roll.
“This particular knife is designed for slicing large pieces of beef,” Pruyn related. “I made it for a customer who uses it for commercial-size briskets. When I needed to design a knife for that purpose, I called a friend, Rob Baptie, who barbecues and cooks briskets and other meats professionally. He described a very long, thin blade with a little distal taper and vertical scallops the entire length of the blade. Often referred to as a Granton-style blade, it has a handle that supports slicing with a pulling motion.”
Peter forged the blade to about 1/8-inch thick. “The 52100 has always been an excellent steel for butcher and chef’s knives due to its abrasion resistance, and it takes an excellent edge and retains it very well. The stainless protects the core steel and makes it easier to maintain,” he observed. “I also etched the blade, which makes the 52100 more rust resistant, like a forced patina.”
The Voodoo Resins handle material is easy to work with and extremely durable. “It doesn’t change with time, temperature or humidity,” Peter said. “Its creator, Matt Peterson, made a custom color for this knife, which was part of a 14-piece set. For the bolsters I chose copper more for its aesthetic appeal with the other materials than anything else. When you make a custom knife for something like this you have to think about how it looks and not just a comfortable handle and a practical, durable design. It’s part of the whole package.”
Matt Williams: Barbecue Balance
A heavy chef’s knife with a santoku influence was the goal for Matt Williams of Bastrop, Texas, with his beauty of 400-layer random-pattern damascus in 1084 carbon and 15N20 nickel-alloy steels. The blade is 9 inches long and the handle is spalted pecan, cedar elm and a white oak dowel in a combination that evokes the maker’s woodworking skills. His knives are influenced by feedback from customers who have told him what they really want in a solid performing knife. His price for his BBQ Chef’s Knife starts at $750.
“The blade’s distal taper is .169 to .05 inch,” Matt noted, “and this distal allows for some more delicate work to be done at the end of the blade. Sometimes you need to slice up some peppers or dice up something tasty. The handle is long to balance the heavy blade out. It’s thin because I like wa [octagonal] handles, and this is my interpretation done on a wood lathe. I turn the whole handle and the dowel. I harvest, mill and stabilize most of my wood. They are all local hardwoods. I know these woods well and their capacities.”
When designing his BBQ Chef’s Knife, Matt relies more heavily on balance than weight. His perspective counts on a solid feel in a pinch grip. “Prepping 200 fruit and veggie trays in eight hours will test your wrist,” he smiled. “I learned not to fight a forward-leaning blade. I worked in food prep when I was younger and I have always been drawn to this shape for its overall utility.
“I want the knife to slice well through meat and to be able to break a joint,” he concluded. “Afterwards, it will also look pretty next to a pile of barbecue!”
Editor’s note: Due to fluid market conditions, all prices listed are subject to change. Please check with the applicable maker for the latest in pricing.
Specially formulated to knock vegetables down to size, the Veggie Slicer has an edge in the kitchen.
Never judge a book by its cover. That holds true for knives, too.
When I opened the box containing the Veggie Slicer from Delight Valley Blades, I noticed it did not have a tip like most knives. Well, at least I wouldn’t stab myself. The knife has a full flat grind to sharp, with a very fine edge. It’s made for slicing and dicing, though you know I will do more with it than that.
Veggie Slicer In The Kitchen
Since hunting season was starting, I made a big pot of vegetable beef soup before heading to the woods. I used the Veggie Slicer to slice and dice the veggies. It powered through the carrots very quickly and diced up the celery cleanly. I did my thinnest slice of onion ever. I could easily see the layers of the san-mai through the wafer-thin onion. I chopped the rest of the onion in a flash. On to the potatoes!
I was expecting more resistance from the spuds. Light pressure was all it took. The knife being so sharp, I had to take care to keep all finger parts away from the edge. The Veggie Slicer will peel the skin from your finger before you can say Veg-O-Matic—and I had a few close calls.
Veggie Slicer Light Cutting Duty
With everything in the pot cooking, I headed out to the garage to slice up the non-edibles. I grabbed a sheet of 20-pound bond copy paper for slicing. I managed to suffer only one nail nick in making the paper fall apart. The knife is nasty sharp for sure. The slices were smooth and I used only the weight of the blade on the pull cuts.
I jumped up to double-walled cardboard to try and slow the edge down. That didn’t work, either. The Veggie Slicer ate through the cardboard as fast as I could get my fingers out of the way. I used both push and pull cuts to see if there was a difference. There was none.
It was on to whittling pine. The Veggie Slicer made very thin curlicues. I couldn’t choke up on the blade as the spine was cut at a 90-degree angle—too sharp for the insides of my fingers. As a result, control was a tad more difficult. The blade still cut deep and shallow without a challenge. It zipped into the pine quickly, still scary sharp.
It was time for some half-inch sisal rope. After the first 100 crunching cuts I let my guard down enough to take a nick out of my rope-holding finger. Thanks to all my callouses no blood was shed, but it was close. The second 100 went off without any dulling of the edge (or my finger).
I had to go one step further to see if the fine edge would hold up. I grabbed a whitetail deer antler and gave it 30 chops. The result: no edge damage whatsoever, a sign of perfect heat treatment.
The Veggie Slicer can slice, dice and a lot more if needed. It has one long-lasting edge.
I would soften the blade spine and choil and ricasso area so a wider selection of hand grips can be used.
Delight Valley Blades Veggie Slicer Specs Blade length: 7.5” Blade steels: 26C3 carbon core and 416 stainless cladding in a san-mai construction Blade grind: Full flat Blade width: 1.78” Handle: Masur birch and carbon fiber Pins and liners: G-10 Weight: 10.5 ozs. Overall length: 12.25” Maker’s price: $600