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Dr Stainlesslove or:

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gracoman View Drop Down

Joined: 09 August 2013
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    Posted: 06 October 2019 at 11:47
How I learned to stop worrying and love carbon steel knives

I have an amazing field kitchen. Took a few years to build it but built it is. There is nothing I can't cook on the trail. I've cooked and served Crêpes Suzette to 15 people 20 miles from nowhere. Yeah, it can get crazy

Friends dishing out Pad Thai at Candlestick, day two on the White Rim Trail, Canyonlands

The thing of it is, some stuff gets lost other stuff gets broke so I've always carried low quality knives in this field kitchen. They work well enough for individual trips but I replace them often. Not no mo. Not since I started collecting Jeff White hand made carbon steel knives. These period knives are favored by reenactment and bushcraft types. Me? Sometimes I feel like i was born a couple of centuries to late so this stuff is tremendously appealing to me.. Jeff White carbon steel knives are working 18th century reproductions. They are hardened and sharp as a razor. What's more, they are easy to sharpen at home or on the trail. And reasonably priced. Three of the knives in my 4 knife set cost what one Classic Shun kitchen knife runs. To me, these utilitarian knives are beautiful. Hand crafted works of art. Did I mention they were sharp?

Disadvantages of these carbon steel knives are three fold. They require maintenance, they stain and the metal is thicker than high quality SS knives. One must keep them clean and dry. Rust can be an issue. If Staining bothers you, one can be greatly reduced that by adding a patina. This is done by wrapping with a vinegar soaked rag overnight. Jeff White knives arrive with a pre made patina.

These knives are so sharp I've decided to use them in my home kitchen as well. Its no joke when I say you could shave with one of these knives. They are now my go to BBQ knives.

Jeff White no longer makes these knives himself as declining health forced him into early retirement in 2018. Not to worry. He passed his business along to his 2 apprentices so the knives are still being produced although prices have been edging up. These are at the upper end of hand made carbon steel knife pricing but still cost much less than quality SS.

Jeff Smith Cooks Knife

French trade Knife
Trade knives were used for exactly that. For European trade with the indigenous people of the New World

Long French Trade Knife

English Paring/Patch Knife

Side by side comparison


I also needed (wanted Roll Eyes (Sarcastic)) a cleaver and began looking in earnest for one a few weeks ago. There are many carbon steel cleavers available. eBay has several razor sharp CS cleavers varying in price from $20 - $50.00.

I once looked at the Almazan Kitchen Knife those two Serbian Chef's started selling due to the popularity of their awesome YouTube forest cooking videos. They are selling their knives in the neighborhood of $350.00 each. That was never going to happen and I forgot about them exactly 1/2 of 1 second after seeing the delivered price. Remember folks, hand made carbon steel knives are CHEAP. Funny thing though, in my lookings, I found an entire carbon steel industry has built up around the manufacture of knock-off Almazan Kitchen Knives. Everybody is making these. The Almazan Kitchen chefs have issued a stern warning about these "fake" knives that are also now called Serbian Chef's Knives. Well, good luck with that sez me.

I wound up ordering a knock off Almazan Kitchen Knife to be my cleaver. Not because i believed it to be higher quality than other less expensive cleavers but because it has a pakka wood handle. I didn't want a hand made carbon steel cleaver with a resin handle. So I ordered one from a place named Almazan Kitchen Knives that claims to manufacture the knife in Almazan Spain whereas the Serbian Chefs who operate the YouTube channel have the last name Almazan. Hence the Knife name.

Do I believe the Almazan Kitchen Serbs invented this knife design? .......................... No
Do I believe the Almazan Kitchen Serbs forge them by hand? ................................... No
Do I believe the Almazan Kitchen Serbs knife is made in China?................................. Probably
Do I believe the Almazan Kitchen Knife I bought is made in Almazan Spain?................ No
Do I believe the Almazan Kitchen Knife I bought is hand made?................................. No
Do I believe the Almazan Kitchen Knife I bought is made in China?............................. Probably

So what's the story with this Almazan Kitchen "knock off" knife? Is it any good at all?
Absolutely yes. It is. It is worth every penny. Its size takes a little getting used to but it has made short work of everything I have used it on. If I were to take only one knife with me on the trail it would be this one. Just don't get your hand in the way breaking down a chicken or some such thing. Wouldn't want you to lose a finger. Heck, I could chop down a small tree with this thing.

Knife Arrival

With included sheath

Close up

I bought the bushcraft model made with thicker steel.

The spine


My Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition belt driven knife sharpening system is essentially a variable speed belt sander with an knife angle adjustment range of 10 to 35 degrees.  It is shown below with the blade grinder attachment fixed with an aftermarket leather belt strop and white compound. 

This sharpener is fast and produces a razor sharp convex edge due to the belt.  There is a bit of a learning curve with the basic model but the blade grinder attachment makes it easy.

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