The Tamahagane SAN TSUBAME knives feature 3-ply stainless steel construction. The middle layer is VG No. 5. This layer is very hard and acts as the cutting edge. The two outside layers are made of SUS410 stainless steel. The outside layers are softer and more stain resistant than the cutting edge and actually protect the cutting edge.
The 3-ply stainless steel has an original thickness of 20 mm and is thinned by repeated rolling to a thickness of 2 mm. You might want to look at this rolling process as a modern forging technique. Also, this rolling process removes all the impurities in the steel leaving you with a very hard, very pure stainless steel. After the rolling processes, the V-G No. 5 cutting edge reaches a hardness of 61 degrees on the Rockwell scale and a final thickness of .65 mm. The outside layers each reach a thickness of .675 mm.
There are several different VG stainless steels. Kataoka selected V-G No. 5 stainless steel for the SAN TSUBAME knives, because V-G No. 5 can be hardened as hard as any of the other V-G steels but has superior edge retention. Using scientific testing equipment (CATRA), Kataoka was able to show that their knives stayed sharper longer than knives made from other VG steels.
The edge on the SAN TSUBAME knives is a minute, beveled edge. The angle of the edge is between 14 and 15 degrees. To appreciate the quality of the edge, you must first look at its incredible mirror polish and then try cutting with it. Kataoka has achieved the perfect balance between sharpness and strength with the SAN TSUBAME edges.
The blade of the SAN TSUBAME is hand-hammered about half way down from the spine. The whole blade is then sandblasted. The sandblasting only affects the softer SUS410 outside layers leaving the outside layers with a matte finish and the VG No. 5 core with a mirror polish. The hammering and sandblasting give the SAN TSUBAME a very rich appearance.
The SAN TSUBAME knives are balanced with a stainless steel weight which attaches to the tang and is visible at the heel of the handle. Not only does this add to the beauty of the design, it also creates fantastic balance.
The SAN TSUBAME micarta knives feature a handle that is made of a black resin layered with linen. This creates a look of natural black wood.
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