by Colum Byron March 15, 2021 2 min read
50 years ago, this would have been a very easy questions to make. Germany, or Japan.
However, it's not so simple anymore.
Metallurgy is a well known and understood science. Every knife steel has it's own recipe that can be replicated easily. For example, VG10 steel contains 1% Carbon, 15% Chromium, 1% Molybdenum, 0.2% Vanadium, 1.5% Cobalt, and 0.5% Manganese. Alloy together with Iron, and you'll make VG10 steel.
There is more involved than that in making a good knife steel, but in an age where metals can be shipped across an ocean, anywhere can make a decent steel.
The limiting factor is standards and controls.
China for example is all over the place in regards to quality. There are some horrid knife makers there who are making them at the cheapest possible price, and it shows.
I've gotten in some samples that would bend if you pushed them against a chopping board too hard.
There are also some excellent factories that make incredible products. I've done side by side testing of top of the range Japanese kitchen knives, and Chinese made versions of the same steel.
I apart from the price, I couldn't tell the difference. Edge retention was identical with the two, the damascus patterns were both exceptional, and both were brilliant knives.
So what would I recommend?
Buy a knife based on the qualities you want in a knife. German styles of steel are easier to sharpen, but don't hold as good of an edge. Japanese styles are more fragile (blades are prone to chipping if you abuse them), are harder to sharpen, but they hold a brilliant edge.
And avoid cheap knives from places like Turkey & Pakistan unless you are very sure of the quality controls around the blades. Lots of their versions pop up on places like facebook marketplace, and they look fantastic, but they are not a good knife to use.
I hope this helps!
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