Review: Fallkniven Japanese Chef's Knife

Oct 3, 1998

Fallkniven Hattori Japanese Chef's Knife

Jim Mattis sent me one of these and asked me for my opinion. Jim
doesn't have a price yet on these.

Check it out at:

Overall: This knife is very well done, fit and finish wise. The
general shape is a Japanese chef's knife (Santoku). As far as Jim and
I can tell, the blade steel is a san-mai type stainless, damascus on
the outside sandwiching a VG-10 inner layer that forms the cutting
edge. The damascus is beautiful (though I think it looks like a
strict etch), and the Japanese letters carved into the blade make it
really striking. The handles are a dark wood with metal rivets.

The Handle: The handle is smooth with rounded corners, plus a little
bird's beak in the back. It is very comfortable and ergonomic. The
corners and the handle in general are better-finished and more-rounded
than, say, the Henckel's Professional S series. This isn't always a
plus -- sometimes sharper corners give you better grip. But rounder
corners are more comfortable longer. By and large, the handle worked
excellently for me.

The Blade: The blade has no integral bolster, in contrast to many
high-quality kitchen knives such as Henckels, Wusthoff-Trident, etc.
I view this as a plus, not a minus. Most bolstered kitchen knives
have thick edges, especially close to the bolster, which is where you
do the most cutting. A knife with no bolster is usually thinner at
the edge, especially the most critical part of the edge back where you
do most chopping. The Hattori knife has a very thin edge, even
slightly thinner than my non-bolstered Burgvogel Santoku. It is very
much thinner at the edge than my bolstered Henckel's kitchen knives.

The Edge: The edge on this knife is the sharpest I've felt out of the
box for a kitchen knife, due to both thinness and a very good
sharpening job. Edge holding was superb, it lasted through both my
week of standard testing, plus week-and-a-half of extra-hard testing
(detailed below), and was still razor sharp. It was significantly
better edge holding that I've seen on usually-soft steels used by
Henckels, W-T, etc. I did steel occasionally and the edge responded
nicely. Just to see how difficult it was to sharpen, I resharpened at
the end of this period on the Spyderco Sharpmaker using the 15-degree
angles, and it sharpened up quickly and easily due to the thinness at
the edge.

Performance: The thin edge performs superbly in the kitchen at
everything I used it for. It outperformed my Burgvogels and Henckels
knives no problem. The blade has enough curve at the tip that doing a
rolling chop on veggies is easy. After a week of keeping the knife to
myself, I asked for and received permission from Jim Mattis to give it
the worst type of test imagineable: I put the knife in my main
kitchen block for my mother-in-law to use (she's staying with us
during the week to watch my baby, so she got to use^H^H^Habuse the
knife a lot). That's right, the dreaded Mother-In-Law (MIL) test!
Cliff Stamp is probably shaking in his boots right now

At the end of this entire period, as I had stated earlier, the edge
was still razor sharp after a quick steeling. Usually by this time on
my Henckel's knives, my mother-in-law has introduced a number of
indents and visibly flattened/rolled parts of the edge, due to
chopping and cutting on ceramic plates instead of using a cutting
board, and other such abuses. This knife had no indents, rolls, or
flats. However, it did have 4 very small chips that I could feel
rather than see. The edge on these knives is definitely thinner, and
probably a good deal harder, than the edge on the Henckel's and other
mass-produced knives, so I guess this was to be expected. The quick
sharpening I did sharpened away a couple of the chips but others are
just big enough to remain. If Jim lets me keep the knife longer, I
will keep an eye on the knife and sharpen slightly thicker if it
happens again.

Rust resistance: I performed a simple test that I think represents
about the worst rust resistance test in my kitchen for my best knives.
Most of my kitchen knives can sometimes end up wet and in the sink for
a while, but my best knives are cleaned every night. So I cut a lemon
in the morning, then laid the knife on the counter. That evening I
checked it out, no sign of rusting, even in the engraved Japanese
characters. Let me know if you'd like a more rigorous test, I figured
this was representative for most people's best cutlery.


This knife will likely be the most beautiful production kitchen knife
you own, and the most expensive (I'm guessing at the price). It will
probably be the best-cutting as well, and hold an edge much better
than you thought a kitchen knife could. It is a joy to use. Balanced
against this is the fact that the edge may be more vulnerable to
chipping if you abuse the knife at all, something I'll monitor more
closely in coming weeks, and see if I can correct with a slightly
thicker edge grind if it happens again.

As a result, right now I definitely recommend the knife provided you
know everyone who is using it knows how to handle quality cutlery.
Otherwise, buy one for yourself and hide it, and leave your softer
knives out for the hoi polloi. That's what I plan to do
If the
chipping is under control, this would easily be my best-performing
kitchen knife by far.

Postscript: I hid the Hattori Santoku, since I plan to finish testing
it by myself. My mother-in-law noticed immediately and demanded to
know where it was -- she's uninterested in going back to Henckel's and
Burgvogel! Keep in mind she's a non-knife person who puts little
critical thought into knife use, for years she has just used whatever
knives I put in the block, and never made a comment. But the
performance difference was enough that it actually penetrated that
this was a better knife! Pretty tough stuff, passing the MIL test
Joe, were the chips large enough to effect performance? How would you compare the steels behavior against the ATS-34 and Talonite TTKK?

The price would be an issue considering the cost of custom kitchen knives starts fairly low.


The chips did not affect performance at all.

It's hard to make meaningful comparisons to other knives, because this is the thinnest-edge kitchen knife I've got. My TTKKs both have a 15/20 edge, and when I did some of my testing with the TTTKK it had its original edge which in places was a straight 18-20 degrees with no 15-degree thinning bevels. So if I see chips, is it due to the edge thinness, or a lack a toughness?

Toughness-wise, I was never able to chip the talonite TTKK until I chopped on an ironwood dowel. The Santoku by contrast got at least one of the small chips while I was using it cutting and chopping hard veggies on a wooden cutting board. Though again, the TTTKK's edge was at least a few degrees thicker, and that's often all it takes to make the difference between chipping or not.

All 3 hold an edge very well, and significantly better than any other kitchen knife I have. That's to be expected with the TTKKs, which are more general-purpose oriented, but the Santoku's edge holding was a surprise.


Nice review Joe, but,

I still cannot quite figure how much it costs. Even looking at some other sites, I cannot seem to find a cost...

ooopps, just read the top again, no price yet. What a nice looking kitchen knife!


[This message has been edited by mcfg (edited 19 October 1999).]

How about a ballpark guestimate on cost?

If you don't want to post it you could email it to me:

I am in the market for a very nice chef's knife for a wedding gift.


re cost - I roamed the site of the link/pic above, and it says that the Chef's knife is 1550 kroner (?? - hey, it's in Swedish or something) whereas the A1 is 1400. For what that's worth.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.
It looks like they list this knife at 1550 krona, which according to my handy-dandy currency converter is about $190 USD. They also say that they discount this 20% for sales outside the EEC, which brings it down to around $150, but I'm not sure if that is a distributor price, wholesale, retail or what. Not to mention what kind of great deals James might want to give us.
It's a beautiful knife. I'm interested.

At today's exchange rates, SEK 1550 = US$190, which puts it well out in front of high-end Solingen knives. We're still waiting for North American pricing and availability information. Any week now.

Here's what the Fallkniven site says about the steel:
Detta är en professionell serie kockknivar där kvalitet och tradition går hand i hand. För den vane kocken är dessa knivar redskap med utomordentliga prestanda, eftersom det damaskerade bladet är tillverkat av 63 lager rostfri damast med superstålet VG-10 som eggbärande centrumstål. Detta synnerligen delikata och svåra tillverkningssätt ger en kniv som är både stark och håller skärpan bra. Samtliga modeller har full tånge, några är rent av taperade, skaftsidorna är i laminerad ebenholz, nitar i rostfritt. Tånge, blad och bolster är sammansmidda till en enda stark enhet.

Somebody else will have to help out with most of the Swedish, but in the middle of that it says it's 63 layer stainless damascus on either side of a VG10 core.


More images:

AKTI Member # SA00001
Cliff's point about the price (assuming it ends up around $150-$175) hitting custom kitchen knife prices is right. So why still consider the Hattori? First, I think the Hattori has as good edge geometry as any of the custom kitchen knives. One of the reasons to go custom in the first place is to get better edge geometry than the standard Wusthoff/Henckel's fare. Second, this knife is as beautiful a kitchen knife as I've seen. Between the damascus, the Japanese engraving, and the overall good finish, it's just gorgeous. Aesthetics was another reason to go to custom kitchen knives, and again The Hattori has it.

So I'm almost making the same argument for this knife that you might make for, say, a Sebenza. Sure it's production, but if it cuts as well and looks as nice as a custom, it should still be in the running! As you can see, I'm still taken by the fact that my mother-in-law actually noticed the knife was gone and demanding it back (James, hope you don't mind, I'm gonna give her your phone number so she can discuss the matter with you

In regards to custom vs production, I don't think production is inherently worse in materials or construction, I just have never found a production knife that I wouldn't like better if it was modified to suit me. This is of no real surprise as I didn't design them. If the Hattori does fit your desires well there would be little reason to go custom.

The translation to the swedish text goes something like this.
Detta är en professionell serie kockknivar där kvalitet och tradition går hand i hand. För den vane kocken är dessa knivar redskap med utomordentliga prestanda, eftersom det damaskerade bladet är tillverkat av 63 lager rostfri damast med superstålet VG-10 som eggbärande centrumstål. Detta synnerligen delikata och svåra tillverkningssätt ger en kniv som är både stark och håller skärpan bra. Samtliga modeller har full tånge, ?(är rent av taperade)?, skaftsidorna är i laminerad ebenholz, nitar i rostfritt. Tånge, blad och bolster är sammansmidda till en enda stark enhet.

This is a profesionel series of chefsknives, where quality and tradition goes hand in hand.
For the trained chef, these knives are tools of extraordinary performance, since the blade is made of 63 layers of stainless damascus with the supersteel VG-10 as the edge holding centersteel.
This delikate and difficult manufacturing method gives a knife witch is both tough and holds an edge well.
?...........? handles are made of laminated ebony, rivets are stainless, tang,blade and bolsters are forged to one strong unit.

Í´m not Swedish, but Danish so there might be small errors in the translation but most of should be there.

Good Reading.

Claus Christensen

When you have playboy channel, why get married
A great idea for a wedding gift it is, as well as any other occaision. I think I'll have to expand the Wustoff stable a bit with this one.

Claus, thank you for your translation, I don't think we missed a thing.

PS. If you ahve the Playboy Channel, why even leave the house?

Don LeHue

The pen is mightier than the sword...outside of arm's reach. Modify radius accordingly for rifle.

Cliff --

Ya, I see what you mean now. The price is definitely high, though if you care about aesthetics I don't think you'll get a custom knife with great performing san mai blade for that price range, but a custom with just one steel would be in that range.

I'm also motivated to look more closely at kitchen knives. There are other non-integral-bolstered production knives that should perform really well. I'd definitely like to check out the spydercos at some point.

Joe & James:

Thank you for the review. Just to clarify, these are not Fallkniven knives although Fallkniven does sell them in Sweden. LagaNet Limited is the exclusive North American importer for these knives.

There are two lines to address the eastern and western styles. The SRP for the Santoku Kamo reviewed is $190 US. This is the mid-size and price of the range.

Dealer enquiries are welcome.

Tom Lagan
Hey will they also have a parring knife to go with this for me the two together would do all I would want my best knives to do. Also Don and Claus if your married why do you need the Playboy channel? But then again my wife is now expecting our 7th kid so you know we get along ok.
Joe :

if you care about aesthetics I don't think you'll get a custom knife with great performing san mai blade for that price range

Yeah, in general, production knives should be able to work with more costly materials than customs. Look at the Talonite production runs for example, or Spyderco's CPM introduction.

I bought one of these almost 10 years ago from Cutlery Shoppe in Boise,Idaho, who shipped it to me after about a 3 month wait.It was in one of their flyers I used to get in the mail at that time, and I wanted a good kitchen knife, and this appealed to me.It is not the same model you are reviewing, but is a chefs knife with 7" blade, and OAL 12".Has same style of writing(etching), and damascus pattern on the blade, as well as same style of handle, and looks like the ones in Hattori catalog off the website.
Until now, I did not remember what it was, but I did remember that it cost me $100, and it stuck in my mind, because back then it seemed like a lot of money for a kitchen knife, but I figgered splurge for a good kitchen knife for one.But the problem with that was, I didn't use it much over the years, because at that price I saved it for special occasions.
My only comment of the quality of the edge is, I've used it only 5 or 6 times, and only touched up the blade once, and I have kept it on my magnetic strip, not in a kitchen drawer.Now that I know what I got, I'm glad I took good care of it, and will use it more.

God, I love these forums.I did not know I had such a good quality knife all these years, and been sitting on it(no pun intended).

Thanks a bunch people.

Joe, are the spine and forward guard rounded on the Fallkniven Japanese chef's knife?

I keep asking James when he wants this knife back, but haven't heard back from him, so it continues to go through the mother-in-law test. This thread has reminded me to go back and check the edge.

Cliff, I'll check the spine and guard and let you know.