Forging a Sashimi Knife
June 15, 2012 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Forging a Sashimi Knife. The bladesmith is Murray Carter.

While studying karate in Japan, Carter met a 16th-generation Yoshimoto bladesmith who had no sons and ultimately took on Carter as his apprentice for six years. He received an official certificate from the Emperor of Japan naming him a 17th generation Yoshimoto bladesmith. He may be "the only Caucasian Japanese bladesmith".
He also has videos where he shaves his face (and in one video, head) with items he sharpened himself to test his sharpening skills.
posted by Deathalicious (24 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I love the contrast between the precision of his work and the brute force of his methods. His job is to smash shit with a giant hammer just so.
posted by eugenen at 7:39 AM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Very nice.
posted by OmieWise at 7:41 AM on June 15, 2012

So this is what blacksmithing looks like these days. Very interesting.
posted by chundo at 7:53 AM on June 15, 2012

Surprisingly compelling. It's amazing to me how something so clumsy as a power hammer can end up creating something as delicate as a fine knife.

Do people really operate grinding and polishing wheels with no gloves and wearing a ring?
posted by Nelson at 7:54 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sweet. I can't tell you how pissed I was -- wait, yes I can: "rather mildly" -- when the How It's Made segment on swords was about stamped mall-swords and not forged swords.
posted by griphus at 8:02 AM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

I love the contrast between the precision of his work and the brute force of his methods. His job is to smash shit with a giant hammer just so.

Er, speaking of How It's Made, again, my favorite parts are usually when they have footage of dozens of industrial robots making minute, incredibly detailed adjustments and operations and now here's Phil to hit the thing with a shovel.
posted by griphus at 8:04 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nelson: "Do people really operate grinding and polishing wheels with no gloves and wearing a ring?"

There is a school of thought holding that wearing gloves around saws, grinders, drills, and similar poses the risk of tangling the glove in the tool and getting important bits sucked in rather than just getting a smallish gouge or cut. Anecdotally, I know a guy who almost lost a finger in a chop saw that way. No idea what the evidence-based best practices are, though.

Now to watch the video!
posted by stet at 8:07 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Korin is the store in NYC to purchase Sashimi knives. They host incredible demonstrations about sharpening, cutting, etc. I went there recently to purchase a 50th b-day present for a dear friend who, unlike me, is a crazy good chef. Two things you might want to make note of if you're ever shopping for these types of knives: 1.) do NOT ask if the knives are "dishwasher safe." and 2.0) absolutely do NOT run your finger across any of the blades. (They do have a good stockpile of bandages on hand.)
posted by Dean358 at 9:02 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yep most shop workers I know are of the no gloves around power tools school but I would take off the ring.
posted by the_artificer at 9:10 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a mefite who makes pattern steel blades as a hobby who I once had a very interesting discussion with. I want to hear his take on the video.

I've seen this guy's stuff before and he always struck me as being more about marketing than someone that other bladesmiths respect, but I'd like to hear from someone who knows more about the subject than I do.

(It was an interesting video though.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:19 AM on June 15, 2012

Speaking on tool safety and gloves, the manufacturer of the 2" x 72" belt grinder I use, Stephen Bader & Co, gave a presentation at a hammer in some years ago, when they suggested either grinding bare handed, or if a glove was desired, to use the flimsy string gloves -- the really cheap cotton ones you can find at most industrial supply, not the fancy driving gloves. The string gloves give you that fraction of a second's protection before the grinder hits skin, long enough to flinch away, while being weak enough to avoid the whole "sucked into the machine" thing.
posted by Blackanvil at 9:26 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

All that work to forge it, he may as well've just gone ahead and made a real one!
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 9:56 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

The Wadsworth Constant is strong with this one.
posted by hypersloth at 9:59 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do people really operate grinding and polishing wheels with no gloves and wearing a ring?

Gloves are dangerous around rotating tools. I'd take off the ring reflexively, but it's around poundy-things that the ring is really dangerous. The fact that this guy has fully operational extremities at the level of practice means he's got it under control.
posted by cmoj at 10:14 AM on June 15, 2012

> "...he always struck me as being more about marketing than someone that other bladesmiths respect...

It's not bragging if you can do it:

"...Upon completing my apprenticeship, I was asked to take the position of number seventeen in the Sakemoto family tradition of Yoshimoto bladesmithing. I believe I am the only Caucasian ever to have had the honor and privilege of this position.

"In June 1999, I passed the American Bladesmith Society Mastersmith cutting performance test under the supervision of W. F. Moran....with a 200-layer Damascus steel core."

posted by mojohand at 10:14 AM on June 15, 2012

That was so cool. Mesmerizing watching something being finely made by an intelligent, dedicated artisan. As a long time enjoyer of sushi, it's neat to learn about a yanagi ba knife. At this point he said it being "a fugu hiki". A fugu hiki is longer than the regular sashimi knife, being longer and thinner. So I looked up somebody cutting up a fugu and it would seem that the knife in the OP would be used like this.
posted by nickyskye at 10:37 AM on June 15, 2012

I do believe Murray Carter is an excellent bladesmith. However, the marketing angle he takes is a bit annoying. I accidentally got on his mailing list at one point, and it was multiple emails per week of rather obvious "sharpening tips" always, always with an upsell for his instructional videos or overpriced beginner's kit at the end. It was almost more the way they were written (classic back-of-the-comic-book, hyperbolic marketing language) than anything else.

It left me with a bad taste in my mouth, despite that his work is quantifiably excellent. I guess it's just sort of a shame he feels he has to market that way to make money.
posted by gilrain at 10:38 AM on June 15, 2012

with a 200-layer Damascus steel core.

Oh come on. "Damascus steel" is more metaphor than real modern recipe one can follow, right?
posted by basicchannel at 11:07 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since there are some people here who seem quite passionate about quality kitchen knives... if this guy's marketing angle is icky, could you recommend another company at a similar price and level of quality?
posted by sixohsix at 11:54 AM on June 15, 2012

Sixohsix - go to a yardsale and buy a old steel knife - one that rusts - have it sharpened if it's really worn and start cutting. Nothing cuts a ripe tomato like carbon steel knife that's been touched up on the unglazed bottom of a coffee mug.
posted by 445supermag at 1:30 PM on June 15, 2012

Oh come on. "Damascus steel" is more metaphor than real modern recipe one can follow, right?

Not really. These days, it simply means steel that's laminated in such a way to produce pretty contrasting patterns when ground and etched. Apparently, the appearance can resemble Damascus steel of old, though some modern knifemakers utilize highly decorative, even very flashy patterned laminations in their Damascus. In the modern knife world, there is no pretense of recreating the fabled steel of antiquity. I'm not aware of modern Damascus steel being used for superior physical properties. I think it's used purely for aesthetic reasons.

Laminated steel, like the type created in the video, however, is a sandwich of different kinds of steel that allows the combination of high hardness and edge holding with durability and resistance to fracture, made from various grades of steel, stainless and non stainless. Unlike Damascus, it's usually only two or three layers. This kind of steel is used and/or fabricated by custom makers and large scale manufacturers in all price levels. I have a Japanese higo knife (a kind of primitive pocket knife) that has a blade of three layer laminated carbon steel that cost $10 at a local knife store.

Japanese cutting tools sometimes use differential hardening, to create a blade with a very hard, long wearing edge and softer, more durable spine. This process is sometimes confused with laminated steel. Differential hardening can be used with plain, laminated or Damascus steel.
posted by 2N2222 at 3:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mrs. Ghidorah came home a couple weeks ago with a brochure from a local knife shop that has two-three hour 'make-your-own-knife' lessons on Sundays. I was looking forward to that as a birthday present (with lots of hinting), but nope, necktie.*

Well, that and some really, really nice Italian salami.

*Just in time for Cool Biz, where everyone in Japan gets to stop wearin neckties for the summer!
posted by Ghidorah at 3:20 PM on June 15, 2012

This was the most informative sushi knife forging video I've ever seen on YouTube. As someone who knows relatively nothing about knives but yet uses them professionally every day, it was really awesome that he answered questions I didn't even know to ask.

My roommate mentioned how things like this are a lost art,, next to making Chinese gongs that can be heard for fifty miles or making a terrine with no modern kitchen equipment.

Thanks Blue.
posted by bam at 10:24 PM on June 15, 2012

Um, I'll be damned.

What happend?

Dunno. I just put my finger out like this and...whoops...there goes another one.
posted by mule98J at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2012

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