Not only does forging something from scratch put a little inimitable soul into the work, it also works out very very well as far as getting the best possible geometry for a Chef knife.
The forging allows a smooth flow of geometry through the work, the thickness and weight on the spine is desirable so as the knife does not flex. Yet allowing the centre of the knife to be forged thin, the knife is thin from centre to edge during the forging, there is very little to grind except the lower bevel, making the perfect break in angle for food release. I really enjoy making and using these knives!
As well as setting out the ideal geometry the forging further thins the core, meaning even using the hardest heat treatments, the knife is very quick and easy to maintain on water stones as the hard core showing is minimal.
The wide bevel style knife is the easiest to maintain and learn to maintain using waterstones, the whole lower bevels already stone finished for you so you are free to thin the knife over its lifetime without messing up the finish. Makes a very accessible blade to learn sharpening with. Seasoned hands will appreciate the time put into getting these to cut so well from the off.
Heat treatment philosophy- Using steel at its hardest possible stable level ensures the knife can hold the thinnest possible edge without distortion, steel behaves differently when its very thin and even at 63hrc a fine grained steel can still distort, the aims of my heat treatment then are to use the steel at the hardest possible level where it can still take reasonable flex without damage, with my chosen fine grain high carbon tungsten steel this level is around 65hrc. Naturally these knives are for cutting vegetables and boneless meat as the geometry is thin and the steel is very hard, for anything around bones you would need to thicken the edge of the knife and it becomes something quite different.
Handle - For my standard knives I am doing my front tapered octagonal wa handles usually in Palmera and wenge, as it is one of my favourite combinations and has a slightly textural feel to add grip, a little beeswax also helps aid grip especially if you have wet hands.
Never put your Chef Knife in a dishwasher, you will damage both the natural wood handle and pit the steel with the harsh chemicals. Just wipe it clean with a wet cloth dry and store where the edge can be kept safe. A wooden faced magnetic knife rack is ideal when you begin to have a few nice knives.
Use a wooden cutting board of some sort, end grain is nice but not essential, Mine is just a plank of apple wood with some rubber feet.
Here are detailed pictures and specifications for a typical Forged geometry Catcheside 240mm Wa.
Blade length - 235mm height -48mm thickness at heel on spine - 5mm tapering to 1mm 25mm behind the tip Thickness of steel at the top of the ground bevel on the heel is 1.5mm tapering evenly throughout. Handle is in wenge and black palmera with a red spacer handle length 14.3cm Knife balances 10mm ahead of the heel. Overall knife weight - 214grams
Last but not least a cutting video to show how the knife performs in a variety of foods.