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Andrei Markin M390 impression after some use

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Barmoley, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. I could only post it in this area and not Andrei's sub-forum, so admins feel free to move there if more appropriate.

    I’ve been using one of Andrei Markin’s knives for a few weeks and wanted to give my first impression of it. This is the knife I got from him.

    Blade 235/43 / 2.3mm. M390 62HRS cryo.
    The handle is 140 mm long. Tooth and mammoth tusk in acrylic filling.

    This is what the knife looked like originally


    I liked the profile of the blade and I was intrigued by m390 steel as I’ve never used it in a kitchen knife and my experience with it in a few folders has been very positive. In general I am a steel nerd, so I like to try different steels. Even though, I believe that given quality steel other attributes of the knife such as profile, grind, heat treat, balance and handle comfort are more important than the steel composition itself, I still think that there is a significant and meaningful difference among different steels. M390 is a particle metallurgy stainless steel with high corrosion and wear resistance and it is supposed to be pretty tough as compared to other wear resistant, stainless steels. The only negatives that could potentially come from using steels such as m390 for kitchen knives are difficulty to sharpen, edge not getting as sharp as simpler steels, not holding an acute edge well, major difficulty thinning, not staying extremely sharp due to large carbides. According to http://www.zknives.com/knives/steels/steelgraph.php?nm=m390, m390 should suffer from some of the above issues, like keeping a very acute angle, but sharpenability should not be a problem in general. Given that this knife is very thin and not too tall, I decided to give it a try. Before buying the knife I asked Andrei about the grind and this is the description of it.

    So the grind is asymmetric with slight, full face convex on the left side and two more pronounced convex portions on the right face of the blade.

    It took a little bit to receive the knife because USPS is really bad when it comes to international shipping, moreover when the knife came a small portion of the tip was broken off. The knife was packaged well, but the tip was very thin and USPS had it for a long time…. The portion that broke off was small and was very easy to fix due to how thin the tip is, it is still very thin for the last 20-25 mm of the blade. The whole blade is very thin. It starts thin at 2.3 mm and tapers down from there. Due to the grind it is actually stiff over most of its length becoming flexible only closer to the tip. Below are what it looked like when it came and what it looks like after the fix. I could do a better job reshaping the tip, but I decided to leave it this way as it will get there after I sharpen it a few times. After the fix the edge length now is about 225 mm, I think the original measurement of 235 was the blade not the edge and the piece that broke off seems to be around 1-2 mm long.

    When it came


    After the fix


    The knife came very sharp. I was pleasantly surprised with the fit and finish, the spine and choil are rounded and are very comfortable to hold. The whole blade is sand blasted, which looks and feels nice, but I don’t know what it will look like after I sharpen it a few times. The knife balances right around the choil. The handle is a very pronounce D-handle that tapers on both sides at the ferule. The handle is done very well, there is absolutely no step or any felt separation between the handle and the ferule. The handle looks great and is comfortable for me, but I would suggest that Andrei should make the D shape less pronounced and all the ridges more rounded, as I can see how it might be uncomfortable for someone else.

    The knife cuts great. It is definitely a laser, which I usually don’t like, but as lasers do, it goes through stuff amazingly well. Since this knife is a very thin laser, as expected, food sticks to it. Due to the grind food release is better than I expected and is pretty good for the knife that is so thin. Even though food release is pretty good for a laser there is only so much the grind can do in a blade this thin. Oh, did I mention that this knife is thin? I think that if the blade was started from a thicker stock this grind would work great for food release, it also makes the blade stiffer than one would expect. At the end of the day given the amount of material that we are dealing with the grind can only do so much, but on the other hand it cuts great.

    This knife works very well as a general purpose knife for a home cook, it is tall enough to use on the board, light and nimble. It is not a workhorse, as in throw anything at it and expect it to survive definition of a workhorse. There is just not enough material on it to expect it to survive major abuse, it might do well for all I know, but I wouldn’t be comfortable abusing it and would expect it to break.

    The edge retention is good so far, I don’t expect any difficulty in sharpening as it was easy to remove material when I was fixing the tip. The blade is thin, so I don’t expect needing to thin it any time soon.

    In summary, the knife is impressive. Fit and finish is excellent, Andrei is a master of his craft and his steel and handle work is at a very high level. Some improvements that I would suggest, as would work for me, are using thicker stock to start with to allow the geometry to have more of an effect on food release and creating a more robust blade. Making the D shape of the handle less pronounced so that the ridges are less pronounced, as they might work with some, but might bother others. I am glad Andrei uses different steels since I like trying different steels. Ordering from Andrei was very easy, he replied promptly and answered all my questions and sent me all the pictures I asked for. He shipped quickly and the delay I experienced had everything to do with the USPS and not him. I would whole heartedly recommend his work based on my experience with this knife.
  2. marc4pt0

    marc4pt0 Founding Member

    Nice synopsis on Andrei's work. I've been spending some time with Rick' s pass around and have to say I'm quite impressed. Andrei is making knives that easily rival/ surpass other knives that cost twice as much if not more.
  3. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  4. toddnmd

    toddnmd Founding Member

    Sounds like a maker to watch. Thanks for sharing your impressions.
  5. fun read, cool looking blade as well!
  6. Thanks guys, I appreciate your kind words.
  7. Alex, thank you for such a detailed review, in the future I will try to take into account all your remarks.

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