A closer look at how sharp Japanese knives are

A closer look at how sharp Japanese knives are

Ever wonder how Japanese knives compare to other brands and makers, here's a little comparison of the cutting edge of 3 different knives under a microscope.

Most people will be familiar with Global Knives, they're often a first choice for people looking to spend a bit more money on a knife and you'll frequently see people buying a set of 10 varying sized knives (when you only really need a couple). How do they stack up though?

Pic 1: Global usuba veg knife.

Close up of a Global knife edge under a microscope

Out of the box, Global knives are actually a decent level of sharpness. Their significant weakness however is they're made of a softer steel than Japanese knives so that initial sharpness quickly goes.

You will end up either having to do a lot of work to sharpen them regularly or they're just a bit dull which defeats the point of the knife entirely. It's certainly not unusual to visit a friend who still has a set of Globals to find they're basically blunt. 

You can also see that considering their mass factory production, the edge finish actually isn't that great. That rough finish along the cutting edge is going to tear through your food on a cellular level rather than slice through it. 

Pic 2: A Sheffield Steel chef knife from Taylors Eye Witness.

Close up of a Sheffield Steel chef knife edge under a microscope

We've had countless comments in the past on Facebook and Instagram from people when we run a story or an advert and they're almost always along the lines of "why sell Japanese knives when you can sell Sheffield steel because you're in the UK". 

Well, the simple answer is they're not as good. Here's why.

The finish of the knife is actually pretty good and consistent for a £35 knife. Sheffield steel has a long tradition of quality so perhaps it's not unreasonable to expect. Perhaps it's a little unfair to compare it to handmade knives that can cost hunderds of pounds but hey - Facebook commenters want to know why!

It is however let down by being dull straight out of the box. Using a sharpness tester, it scored 374. For comparison, most Japanese knives comfortably score under 200. The lower the number the better. They simply don't compete on either hardness or sharpness so we can put the comparison to bed and answer the question on why we don't sell them.

Pic 3: Yu Kurosaki Senko.

Close up of a Yu Kurosaki Senko Bunka cutting edge under a microscope

So, you've seen the rest - now lets look at the best! 

We've chosen one Yu Kurosaki's Senko range simply because it was one of the most recent knives we've added to the site (View all his knives here). It's a good representative knife from a skilled craftsman who has both an eye for design and skill in finishing his blades by hand. 

Obviously our overwhelming joy in life is Japanese knives but when you look at the edge under a microscope what you see is an incredibly thin cutting edge that is so consistently smooth along the length of the blade it's amazing that it's sharpened on a giant stone wheel - by hand and eye only.

Combine the thinner cutting edge, harder steel and the mind blowing skill required to create a finish of this standard you'll see why we're so enthusiastic about the knives and blacksmiths!


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