My second kitchen knife, a Santoku

I always planned to make a kitchen knife. Not just because I like cooking myself and I do hate dull knives while cutting things. But I like to make things that can actually be used on a daily basis.

I use my Meat Cleaver: the Butcher and I love how sharp it is when cutting meat. But it is a bit chunky, has a short blade and most of all the blade is absolutely straight, that is not always ideal for cutting (and the next cleaver will have a slight radius to the blade).

“Kengata” etching on the blade

I looked for inspiration on Instagram and the web and soon found Japanese style knives. The ones of the widest usage spectrum are called Santoku – which translates into “three virtues” or “three uses” and is a general-purpose knife form. The word refers to the wide variety of ingredients that a Santoku knife can handle: meat, fish, and vegetables.

There are also different variants of Santoku blades and the ones I liked the most can be found if you look up Kangata Santoku in your favorite search engine. I could not find out what Kengata means.

I designed the blade a bit different, as I always love to add a bit of my own style – probably give it a bit of a western touch.

I had bought 2 mm thin 1.2510 (01 Tool Steel) for this purpose as I wanted a thinner blade than I did for my outdoor knives. And I wanted to give this steel a try.

My “improved” etching machine

Before etching my maker’s mark I improved my self made etching machine with a better clamp and a nice handle for the cloth. Now that works much better and cleaner. The first lesson I learned on this project: Make sure the stencil is not upside down or it makes you look silly. At least I noticed that mistake so early that I could grind away the marking before it was too deep in the steel and do it again.

The second lesson I learned: Ziricote wood is HARD. I chose it for the handle because of the dark color. It has a strong tendency to crack and I had any new belts for my grinder so I had a hard time bringing the handle into shape. I used a metal file I normally use for the blades. I think this is also the last time I use Ziricote wood.

Handle in final shape and freshly treated with linseed oil varnish

Finally, I got the handle to the desired shape. I wanted to give the heel a distinct look and also add some ergonomics to the feel of the grip. In the end, I am happy with the result. The knife will be a gift but I will make this model again – at least one for my own kitchen…

Unwrapping new steel

Can there be something like a kind of erotic in a material like steel? I think I felt something like that when I received my latest steel delivery.

I got in contact with a local dealer where I can get higher quality steel with a nice pre ground surface finish. They are specialized in tool steel and offer every useful dimension I might need for making knives. Every piece is produced with a high precision and professionality I did not find at any other online retailer for knifemaking supplies.

The moment I talked about at the top was, when i received the package, tightly wrapped cardboard, tape and plastic straps. I pulled out the steel, additionally wrapped in bubble wrap. And then came the steel…

The steel was clad in brown waxed packaging paper and you could already smell the oil they used on the steel to avoid rust. The oil had soaked a bit through the paper – just enough to make it darker in some spots like when you have butter on paper. Unwrapping this brown paper and finding this shiny and precision ground steel and smelling the oil was so satisfying, that I wanted to immediately head to my workshop and start my next project.

It is a bit strange how the perception of the material changes during the building process. Now it is just a rectangular piece of hard and shiny metal. A beautiful raw material waiting to be transformed. Then you bring it to its shape an you see the beauty of the final product emerge step by step. Finally you hold something in your hand where you can not imagine that it started as just a block of metal. You feel the ergonomic handle, see the beauty of the wood grain and you get a feeling for the balance of the knife, the sharpness and the feeling that you built a faithful companion for somebody who cherishes it.

Customer review for the JAMZT53 by Joe Topiah

Joe Topiah

Knife Collector

Instagram <a href=””>@JAMZT53</a>

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I posted this Absolutely Beautiful Custom made Knife a few weeks ago, made by my friend Andreas @simplyknives .. I was his first customer in the USA.. Andreas was so meticulous, so professional.. If he didn’t have what he needed, he made the tool.. He made leather sheath tools, so he could complete his first designer sheath.. This blade is so unique, so clean, classy, so elegant and perfect.. He sent me pictures along the way.. Andreas made an entire blog of the build.. Even though he is in Germany, it was easy to communicate back and forth.. Check out @simplyknives and his bio.. I COMPLETELY Back his work.. Thank you so much Andreas..

Joe Topiah @JAMZT53