This knife is a traditional Japanese pattern, the Kiridashi. It was hand forged by Murray Carter, a 17th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith. He is also a Mastersmith as decorated by the American Bladesmith Society. I’ve been fortunate enough to have previously covered one of Murray’s kitchen knives as well as a neck knife.
These knives are carving/utility knives have their roots in woodworking. The name, Kiridashi literally translates to “carve out” which would support this origin. Regardless, they are found in many facets of Japanese culture being used in a variety of activities from everyday tasks like sharpening pencils to gardening. They are often found with a handle wrap and sometimes scales and a scabbard.
Most of the Kiridashi’s that I’ve handled are typically much smaller in over-all dimensions than Carter’s versions. His small model is around 8.3” long, .118” thick and weighing 4oz. The larger “heavy duty” edition is 10.3” long, .197” thick and weighing in at approximately 6.9 oz. Sizes and weights will slightly vary since each is hand made. The larger sizes make these examples have much more presence as well as a wider range of capabilities.
The construction is a forge welded Ni-Mai lamination. This weld has a different material on each side of the blade. On the outside, a mild and ductile steel is used to reinforce the harder inner steel that makes the edge. This alloy is called Gokunan-Tetsu (C< .08, S < 0.10, Mn < .030, P < 0.03, S </0.03)
The inner, edge steel is Yasugi Specialty Steel’s (Hitachi Metals) White no. 1. White steel is a very pure alloy that has a high carbon content with minimal Sulfur and Phosphorus impurities (C 1.20-1.40, Si .10-.20, Mn .20-.30, P < .025, S < 0.0004). The result is a very fine grain structure that takes an incredibly keen edge while still being easy to maintain. It is Yasugi’s flagship forging steel and made with the same black iron sands of the Tamahagane of the past. Tamahagane translates to “Jewel Steel” and was originally fashioned for samurai sword making and high end cutlery.
The grind on the knife is a chisel or ‘Kata-Ha’. It has different geometry than a typical western chisel grind in that the back side is concave for ease of sharpening. This feature can be found on Japanese chisels as well as kitchen cutlery. The Kiridashi’s front edge has a single bevel that meets the back-side with a lapped flat.
This particular knife has a slightly concave cutting edge that produces a very thin tip making for fine control. On the primary bevel the Hamon can be seen. This line shows where the two welded steels meet. It’s organic path is an indicator that the Kiridashi is hand made.
The knife has a rustic finish called Kuro-Uchi (Black Hammer). It refers to the dark surface that is produced from forging. I prefer it on my Japanese cutlery as it both speaks to the process and contrasts the more reflective edge bevels. Murray’s word-mark is stamped onto the pommel of the handle.
Over-all the ergonomics on these knives are very simple. The slight outward sweep towards the cutting edge makes the handle secure in use. A long sloping, capped spine allows for comfortable thumb placement. The handles are of course, quite thin so Carter offers a paracord wrap for those who want more grip and volume. I would recommend the option for prolonged use, but aesthetically I prefer them without. In the future it would be nice to see some with scales and scabbards too.
For me the Kiridashi is a very pure design reduced to the most minimal components of a knife. For this reason I find them very enjoyable to both admire and use. The clarity of the design speaks about one operation, cutting. This along with the history and Murray’s fine craftsmanship add up to a piece that is as easy to appreciate as it is to use.
For more information on the Carter Cutlery Kiridashi visit http://www.cartercutlery.com/kiridashi/
Specs (weight and size will slightly vary)
Length: 8.3″ small to 10.3″ heavy duty
Weight: 4-7 oz
Length : approx 4.4″ (cutting edge)
Thickness : .118 to .197
Yasugi Specialty Steel (Hitachi Metals) White #1
Gokunantetsu (mild low carbon)
Japanese Chisel Grind (Kata-Ha)
Optional paracord wrap
Made in the USA