No. When I started YLK I wanted to provide the home chef with a beautiful, and affordable knife. I know I don't have $800 to spend on only one knife, as awesome and functional as it may be, I can't justify the cost.
Instead I've invested a lot of time and expertise finding the best supplier to make the knives to my exacting standards. I'm a chef by trade, and am very fussy with what I want and would use. I want you to have the best, and if I made the steel myself that wouldn't be the case. So you can benefit from my 16+ years of experience without having to tolerate my poor forging skills.
This way, you get the best blade, with a custom designed handle, in under a month for a reasonable price.
I'm always surprised by how offended random internet users can be by my steel. The most common complaint is that it's insulting to Bladesmiths with years of expertise in forging.
Simply put, YLK is not the same business model as a Bladesmith. I want to bring beautiful, custom knives to the masses at affordable prices. Bladesmiths work for up to and over 40+ hours to create a single blade, and then the customer must also pay (rightly so) for the Bladesmiths time to create the steel. We offer a less expensive product because you are not paying for our time in forging the blades by hand. This doesn't make our steel inferior, it's just an alternative way of making the same product.
A Bladesmith may have years of experience in forging blades, but I have 16 years experience in using knives in a commercial kitchen. I used to cook 3 meals a day for over 200+ people, I know what you need in a good blade, and mine are custom designed to my exact specifications. I've done the testing and the research so you don't have to.
As mentioned in 'YLK vs Bladesmiths', my knives are designed by me but made overseas in higher quantities. The benefit to this is that I can provide you with a quality, custom designed knife in approximately 4 weeks. The blade will always be consistently good quality because it is made through metallurgy.
Metallurgy is a science, not a craft.
You blend exact amounts of metals together, heat them to an exact point, roll/press them out to straighten the grain structure, heat treat, and wham, you have a knife steel. Hammering a railway spike flat, heat treating it and sharpening it doesn't make a great knife. It'll be soft and have rubbish edge retention.
But expensive machinery is what makes this process cheap and repeatable.
You can spend 30 minutes on a bandsaw or angle grinder, cutting out a knife blank, or an industrial stamping machine can out of the profile in seconds.
You can eyeball a knife bevel on a belt grinder, and carefully grind it out, or clamp it into a grinding machine that'll cut the perfect bevel in a fraction of the time.
Stainless Damascus is also a rare thing to make in a home forge. It requires very precise heat, and a lack of oxygen. Forging that in anything less than a vacuum forge is very difficult.
And that's where economies of scale kick in perfectly, one knife using this equipment is very expensive, a thousand isn't. As long as the place that's making them has very high standards, and don't cut corners, the end result is fantastic.
If you google what's the best knife steel, you'll go into a deep dark hole of 'opinions'. There are a lot of them, and they all have conflicting advice. So I'm going to stick with my personal experience being a chef for 16+ years.
I went through the majority of my chef apprenticeship using Wusthof knives, a popular German knife brand. Back in the day they were the best you could get.
However, when you use them as frequently as I did you got to see their problems. Edge retention wasn't great over the long term and the handles gave blisters.
You can upgrade to fancier high carbon steels like 52100 (used by a lot of very good bladesmiths). That's a great knife steel, and it will take and hold a brilliant edge. However, it's a reactive steel. So, for example, if you cut a lemon and leave it on your chopping board for 10 seconds, you will have rust on the blade. That is an instant no from me.
This brings me to the steel I use. VG10 is a Japanese style steel. It's a high carbon steel, so you get the edge retention of the 52100 steel, but with added metals like nickel to improve rust resistance. It's a hard steel and rates on the Rockwell scale at 60-62. VG10 takes a great edge and holds it well. So on top of corrosion resistance and rock hard steel, this means your last knife will stay sharper for longer.
This is one of those how long is a piece of string questions.
When I was working in commercial kitchens, chopping 25+kg of carrots a day (among other things), I could go for 6 months without needing them to be hit with a stone.
But you do need to keep the edge honed, which I don't count as sharpening.
If you look at the steel under a microscope after a bit of use, you'll see the micro bevel of the knife start to bend to one side or another. If it's bent too far, you're pushing that bent edge through the food, and it will feel blunt.
Swiping that edge along a simple honing rod will straighten that micro bevel, and the knife will cut easily again.
If you let it go too long without honing, the edge will bend over completely, and you'll need a stone to correct it.
If you're in the area, I also do free sharpening if you bring or post the knife back to me.
Well, they won't explode or anything, but it's really not recommended.
With mine specifically, the high heat and steam in a dishwasher will cause the timber to expand and come away from the epoxy. The finish will yellow and peel off, and they'll just look like crap.
The caustic detergents will also cause micro pitting, which will encourage rusting in your blade.
Over time, the high heat will also mess with the blade temper, which will soften the steel and take away the edge retention.
A two second hand wash with some detergent is all they need.
First off, you can choose from over 30+ woods and any colour you can think of to design your own perfect handle. There is no extra charge for customising your handle. You can use as many different woods and colours as your heart desires. I'm also open to being sent materials you would like to use. So far I've used: natural opals, snake skin, copper, tiny shed tools and plastic money. Almost anything (barring food) can be set in epoxy.
On to the handles themselves - I hate blisters, and the calluses I would get after from using crappy plastic handles. I've had some knives that would rub my hands raw after a bit of use.
I make my handles with all that in mind. I make a nice curve, so they cup the shape of your hand and the finish feels very nice on your skin.
I can also do custom handle shapes. So if you want a different handle style, just ask or pop it in the comments when ordering.
The handles are coated with a clear 2 pac finish (two chemicals combined to harden into a hard finish, like epoxy). This means they are completely water tight, last well and don't need any maintenance.
A simple hand wash and dry in soapy water after use and they're good to go.
We work from our shed in our backyard in Adelaide, South Australia. I dream of a bigger shed. A room for just sanding the handles would be brilliant. I could shut the door and keep the dust off everything else, that would be magical.
But yes, I'm making these in my single car shed (although I did build on a spray room for the finish).
It's in the plans to eventually move into a bigger property, and build a workshop, where I can employ extra people and expand.
But for now it's my wife and I working together from home.
Sure do. I'm based in Adelaide Australia, and have sent them to pretty much every country by now.
Only thing to note is that you are responsible for your local taxes and duties.
I've got mostly free shipping Australia wide. I add on $10 for bulky items like the knife rolls.
Internationally is a flat rate, $15 with a little extra for the bulky items like the knife rolls.
If you've ordered something from my shop that's ready made, I'll ship it same or next day, depending on when I get the order.
For custom orders, I write in the description on how long it usually takes.
Please note however, it's a two man show. If a certain toddler contracts the latest daycare plague, and wipes out the whole house, production gets slow because there is nobody else to take over.
Same again if I try and chop off my leg again with another flying knife.
I happily take back any knife that isn't liked and will give a full refund.
Just post it back to me, and once it's received, I'll send the refund. I like to keep it simple, and don't want people unhappy with something I've made.
I used to have a more complicated return policy on design your own knives, but it's an extremely rare occasion that I've needed to give a refund so I decided to simplify it.