Sukenari White 1 270mm Yanagiba, Mizu-honyaki (Water Quenched，水本焼).
ONE ONLY, YOU ARE BUYING THE EXACT KNIFE YOU ARE SEEING.
This is a special K&S set made with African Pau Rosa timber, which is super rare, dense and naturally rot / insect resistant.
The Sukenari Honyaki
Many of you probably have some questions about the honyaki that Sukenari has on offer:
“Why they only offer honyaki in white 1 steel?” “Why their honyaki looks very nice yet offered quite cheap?” “Is their honyaki water quenched or oil quenched?”
Well I had these questions in my mind for a long time and I got the answers. According to Master Hanaki, in order to make a true honyaki knife, it has to be done in the most traditional way using the steels that is closest to Tamahagane (the steel used for Japanese Samurai swords 玉鋼). So for Sukenari honyaki, that means it has to be hitachi White 1 steel, water quenched. I was privileged to watch him forging a honyaki. He told me the clamps that he use were made by himself, using white 1 steel as well, joked that they are “honyaki clamps”.
Fig 1: Master Hanaki demonstrating and explaining how to forge a honyaki blade.
Fig 2: Master Hanaki demonstrating how to forge a honyaki blade (power hammering).
Fig 3: Master Hanaki demonstrating how to forge a honyaki blade (hammering on anvil).
One very important step that he did was burying the forged blade into the straw-ash, he said this was a vital step in preventing the hot blade from oxidation and carburization.
Fig 4: Master Hanaki buries a hot honyaki blade into the straw-ash, preventing oxidation at the surface of the blade.
Once the knife is set, it is then cladded with mud
Fig 5: The mud used to clad a honyaki blade, in order to have differential heat treatment.
The next photos shows a heat treated honyaki blade. According to Master Hanaki, the water in the tank below used for the water quenching is more than 10 yrs old. It is another secret for his mizu-honyaki knives, and new water is not as good as this old, more stable water. I don’t know the true reason behind this but I suppose it is just similar to adding water to fish tank: fresh water has some sort of unwanted chemical that is not good to the water quenching process.
Fig 6: A deferentially heat treated honyaki knife, the water in the tank below is over 10 years old, apparently the age of water reduce the chance of failure during water quenching process the honyaki knife.
Mizu-honyaki is heat treated one-by-one at Sukenari, each time only one blade goes into a tiny little chamber to heat up before gets di pped into water. So unlike modern aircooled steels that could be heat treated in a big batch, the mizu-honyaki knives is done in the most traditional, and time consuming way. I have full confidence in their honyaki blades are as good if not better than any honyaki knives produced elsewhere (more proof next).
So why they are priced lower (compared to other brands)? I suppose this could be explained by the fact that everything is made in house instead of contracting someone, and been quite isolated from other knife making region, they are less affected by “what others are doing / pricing” and more focused on what they do: making great knives.
You can read more about Sukenari here:
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