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Brock Cutlery 24 cm 52100 wa-gyuto passaround

Discussion in 'Passarounds & Loaners' started by Rick, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. My thoughts on the pass-around knife:

    I'm in a unique position in this pass-around because I actually own a knife from Brock that was produced after the pass-around has begun. The knife I have from him is a ~200mm gyuto made from 52100 with a grind that as refined using some of the feedback from earlier in the pass around. That said, the first part is just going to be talking about the pass-around with the second being a comparison to my knife.

    Pass-Around Knife

    The fit and finish was solid all around, had a semi mirror finish when I got it and all the expected edges were smoothed/rounded. The handle looks well installed and is simple but well done and nice looking. The knife profile is excellent for a 240mm gyuto, has a decent flat area in the back and a bit of a dropped tip. Overall I liked the profile quite a bit and wish more gyuto's had a lower tip like this knife. I noticed on the stones it was fairly easy to touch up as well since you didn't have to worry about sharpening around a big belly or curve in the knife. Steel got sharp quickly and was pleasant on the stones, not W2 or W1 smooth and creamy feeling but much nicer in feel than stainless. Basically it felt like a good carbon on the stones and acted liked such.

    In terms of performance, it was solid, the knife has some weight to it but it fairly well balanced in that it isn't too forward heavy. The knife performed well through most softer stuff and the tip was thin enough to cleanly slide through some onions. The knife was a middle weight in that it wasn't laser thin or heavy/hefty, a nice middle would describe it best. That said, there was some wedging and audible cracking through denser and thicker ingredients, carrots were a good example of this. I purposely took the knife to 5lb bag of carrots just to see andregardless of me trying different techniques and cutting styles it felt and performed like it was a bit too thick behind the edge. This may have come from a few sharpenings without thinner or may just be that the knife could benefit from being thinner behind the edge from the start. Either way, it wasn't the most fun in dense stuff. It wasn't that it was bad by any means, it was just decidedly average in performance through anything that put up some resistance. Thinner and lighter stuff like peppers and onions were incredibly easy and smooth but it suffered when the going got tough. For reference, my Kochi, Watanabe and Munetoshi handled denser products much better, smoother and less resistancethan the Brock.

    My Knife Comparison
    This part is honestly the most useful in that my knife is an example of what Brock is doing now and how he has already improved from the pass around feedback he has been receiving. The knife I have from him exhibits noticeably less wedging and cracking through harder produce, root vegetables and other tougher stuff. Now that isn't to say it's perfect, but it's a noticeable improvement and to me, much more satisfactory overall. The knife I have from him still performs great with softer stuff and now it handles dense stuff with a bit more grace and smoothness. Bearing that in mind, my Kochi and Watanabe are definitely smoother andoverall better cutters when I look at the knives as a whole. These knives are outstandingly thin behind the edge especially the Kochi (I have a KU Gyuto) which I believe plays a large part in this. I feel that Brock is absolutely on the right track with my personal knife from him but it needs a bit more. Maybe a bit thinner, maybe a bit of a hollow or concave? I honestly am not 100% sure but I can say that his performance is quickly approaching some of the best cutting knives I own and I only expect it to improve further in the future as he continues to grow and experiment with more grinds and styles.

    Overall both knives show a lot of promiseand the personal gyuto I have from him shows that he is refining his craft quickly and the cutting performance is rapidly increasing.
  2. I am in a similar situation with one of Mark's after-feedback knives, will try to post my reviews soon but can say the improvement for my personal cutting preferences is eye popping.
  3. Rick, I want to thank you again for offering this pass-around.

    I also want to thank everyone who participated and provided me so much great feedback.
    This information seriously has saved me years of trial and error in improving my geometry and that is invaluable.

    I have a batch of blades off to heat treat right now and I can't wait to get them back and put some new ideas into play.
    I will likely have a few test knives in this batch that I would like to offer in a follow-on pass around.
    If anyone is interested please let me know.

  4. First of all I want to apologize to Mark because I fell off the map and never published this waiting to polish it a bit but things kept getting delayed and I ended up taking forever. I did send Mark some feedback a long while back but the publication is long overdue. I will be publishing my review of both the pass around knife and a knife I received from Mark afterwards where I was very impressed with the changes made.

    Impressions on pass around 240mm knife:

    Knife felt very good in hand, hefty but not heavy (although I don’t have anything against heavy) and it gives you confidence you can be a bit rough and nothing is going to happen.

    I absolutely loved the profile, tall and with a long flat spot (almost 2/3 of the blade). Besides being aesthetically to my liking, this is the knife with the longest flat spot I’ve tried and I found it very useful cooking for more people because I could be more efficient. Even though it didn’t go too easily through food (more on this bellow) you could “power through” a lot of stuff in no time.

    I REALLY liked the materials selection for the handle. It was a bit big for my liking but I like shorter handles, this is actually opposite to most folks. The fit of the handle hole with the tang is impressive. I found that the top and bottom of the ferrule could use a bit of easing as those had sharp corners that weren’t very comfortable.

    Spine and choil weren’t uncomfortable to me but were far from what I would consider rounded. For my grip I found the neck a bit long.

    Finish on the blade was very nice and should be quite easy to maintain. Actually, when I got the knife it had a bit of surface rust and I removed it as well as the original patina with Flitz and steel wool and the blade looked almost like new. Even though the knife had some surface rust from the trip I found that reactivity is very manageable. The knife forms a patina that seems to be very stable and looks cool.

    I have to say I like the heat treat, I like how it feels when hitting the board as well as the feeling while sharpening. It was easy to sharpen.
    The knife is very stiff with basically no flex. The tapper o the blade appears to be rather mild for a good part of the blade and then much more pronounced near the tip. This imparts some of the stiffness of the blade but I would like it to start just a tad before so that the tip thin area is a bit longer. Tip was overall quite nice and in general had no problems with onions. I did feel a bit of resistance with larger onions and I think it was because those demanded the use of parts of the blade further back that weren’t as thin.

    Food release was good, especially for a blade that is rather polished and not that thick at the spine. I was close to the food release on my Watanabe nakiri I would say. The stuff I had the most trouble with was butternut squash. The cuts on butternut squash were quite clean and it sticked to the blade face enough that it required a bit of effort to remove. Other stuff either didn’t stick or was easy to remove.

    Ease of cutting is the one area where I felt the knife didn’t fare so well when compared to the others on my block. When I was comparing with other knives I have I noticed it looked thicker right behind the edge. Another indication that it wasn’t so thin right at/behind the edge was that the bevels I could get on the stone were wider than I expected. Another thing I noticed was that this wasn’t uniform throughout the blade but maybe that was intentional. I tried my best to keep the angles throughout the length of the blade while sharpening but I can’t guarantee anything. However the knife is definitely thinner right behind the edge in the couple (2-3) of inches right after the flat spot ends extending towards the tip. Conversely it seems to be the thickest at the heel which I think is a good thing because it can be used for more power cutting. What I would guess is that the heel is fine the way it is but the middle of the blade could be thinner right behind the edge.

    The last thing I noticed may affect performance in very tall vegetables is the bit of drag on the left side of the blade. This wasn’t a really big thing, but I thought it slightly affected ease of cutting in tall wet vegetables. On soft and not so tall veggies the knife did pretty well. I usually go through a lot of very challenging ingredients like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, some big carrots and monster onions so that is a pretty tough test for knives.

    Anyway, there were a lot of positives for me on this knives but also room for improvement. Some seem like easy fixes while I am not exactly sure about others. I feel the knife is great for going through a lot of stuff without too much worry but as I usually am in no hurry and enjoy my cutting time I would probably prefer it a bit thinner right behind the edge (thefirst maybe 2-4 mm right on top, I think once you are about 5mm above the edge it all seems good for an all around knife).

    Now the 195mm western Gyuto I received from Mark for comparison.


    Edge profile is very flat, 2/3 flat with a little upsweep for the last 1/3 of the blade to a tip that is pretty low. These edge profile is lovely for me, tip is easy to use and the flat profile makes for a lot of usable edge length in push cutting or even chopping.
    The blade profile as a whole is very good looking, with a spear-like flavour to it. For a 195mm blade the height at the heel of 49mm is quite generous and practical (although my personal preference would be for a slightly taller blade but this one is already very good). The blade narrows almost continuously from heel to tip which gives the visual impression of being less tall than it actually is.
    When I got the knife there was a tinny spot near the heel that didn’t make board contact (slightly raised with respect tho the rest of the edge) but that was an easy fix on a quick stone session since the edge was so thin.

    Tapper, spine and tip:

    The spine tappers very nicely and uniformly from 1.9mm above the heel to 0.6mm 30mm from the tip. The tip is absolutely nuts and this was a point Mark and I had discussed before, this is the sweetest tip I’ve seen and it passes through anything without resistance, onions don’t stand a chance, really goes through big onions without resistance. The drawback for some might be the slight flex to the front 1/3 but only if you do it on purpose, I didn’t notice any flex in actual use.


    Very easy to sharpen and gets stinking sharp, here the knife benefits from a steel 52100 that is simple to sharpen and then the fact that the knife is incredibly thin at the edge so the bevels are tinny and look like a micro-bevel. The amount of flex is very little as mentioned before and I didn’t feel it was enough to be a nuisance during sharpening.
    For comparison I’ve tried a few gyuto, Mario Ingoglia, couple Kato (damascus and WH), Masakage Koishi, Ikazuchi, Toyama, Munetoshi, Shigeki Tanaka, Mazaki, and probably missing something. Also Shigefusa (santoku, petty, and nakiri in different finishes), Watanabe nakiri.


    The handle is a western style Mark has developed, length was good for me. It’s a comfortable handle but the way I hold it didn’t fully benefit from the shape, it sure didn’t bother me in any way though. The handle in ironwood and full thick tang affected the balance of the knife and made it handle heavy. This should be an easy fix in future iterations and Mark was aware of it.

    Performance and grind.

    The knife is extremely thin behind the edge with a bit of convexity on the right side of the blade that has the apex probably around the middle of the blade, the tip seemed to be flat ground. It is the best pure cutter I’ve tried and moves through even thick and hard produce with little effort and basically no noise. It is a bit small and thin for the biggest stuff I cut at home so not the tool for that maybe. Stockton of food was OK, not bad but nothing of note either but I’ll take it with that kind of cutting ability. A bit more problematic is a bit of suction on the left side of the knife that could make the cutting experience a bit less effortless as the knife gets wet and it was mostly noticeable on fresh carrots.

    Possible improvements from my perspective

    -hollow or thinner tang to move the balance forward
    -thicker spine and taller blade (esp for longer knives), but maintain the tip and and above the edge thinness (more dramatic tapper and nice height). This is not necessarily an improvement for all but more a personal taste tweak.
  5. Hey C, no worries on the timeliness. I knew you'd get to it when your life allowed, and I appreciate your thoroughness very much.
    You and others have given me so much to think about and ways I can improve my work. I can't wait to get my HT blades back from TruGrit so I can put some new ideas into the steel.

    You pull no punches, but I'd not have it any other way. Thanks so much for providing me with all this great feedback!

  6. Glad you appreciate it even if late and you got stuff to work on!

    Well, it's the way I am :j.

    Here are two videos I forgot to link. Disclaimer, had no time to edit it and one is a long testing session where I test cutting with different techniques, speeds, and parts of the blade to show any possible weakness. The video was made trying to find faults and show Mark where any slight problems could be with the shorter gyuto. Don's say I didn't warn it's long xD.

  7. The video really adds to your feedback C. Helps me to better understand how you are using the knives and illustrate the issues.
    I think if you did full on video reviews you'd have a revenue generating service to offer! :)
  8. hahaha, I have no charisma for that stuff but thankful it fulfilled it's purpose.

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