A ways back I mentioned backing the Misen Knife on kick starter. Figured I’d kill some time posting some pics of the thing. A crowd funded box of sharp seems like this joints sort of thing.
Contents There’s a goofy thank you note. The blade guard in its own package and the knife in its box. The box itself caused some contention on the Kickstarter. Because Kickstarter is weird. The first run on the box was apparently warped with moisture, enough to damage the knife. So there was a delay while they redid the thing. Angry backers were basically demanding the knife get dropped in whatever was available and sent out immediatly.
In the end the box is pretty intense for all that waiting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen nicer packaging on a production knife. Even the ones that come in cardboard gift boxes. I’m sure if you go for that wood presentation box shit, or something hand made you get some shamncy packaging. But this is pretty neat. Its dense card stock with a magnet closure. And a nice, fitted, dense, foam insert. Clearly intended for storage and or travel. Which is nice. I like to keep my nicer knives sequestered in their box. Away from where family members can destroy them.
The knife itself:
Its got a good weight to it without being overly heavy. Slight curve that runs along the full length. Heel to point.
Handle is a little bulkier than I expected. Which is good, I was worried it might be a little slight for me. About on par with typical western chef’s knives. Might not be up your alley if you have smaller hands, or like a delicate handle. The knife seems pretty well balanced, right around the integrated bolster. Making it very slightly handle heavy, which seems pretty typical in my experience. The handle seems to be where you can see the lower price on these guys. It is apparently a “polyacetal thermoplastic”. Not fancy. But whatever the precise material is its basically the same thing found on typical moderate priced or hard use knives. There’s some slight scuffs on the pastic material. And the fit between the handle material and the tang isn’t entirely flush. There’s a very slight but noticeable ridge where steel meets plastic. The big name knives (Shun, Henckels etc) I’ve handled are typically entirely smooth and flush on this front. Though this knife is still better than most in its price category. Its just a little slicker than the Fujiwara FKM I bought earlier in the summer. Though that’s Pakka wood rather than plastic. The FKM has noticeable grind marks on the tang as well,
Bevel/blade close up:
This right here is real nice. Few of the knives I’ve purchases have been so consistently ground out of the box, and those that were. Weren’t exactly sharp. The FKM for example, is nice and even. But not particularly sharp (haven’t got around to fixing it). Most of the big name knives I’ve used were some combination of poorly ground, or not as sharp. Cheaper knives are typically both (but I like them anyway because we can fix that). There’s a nice, even, fairly wide bevel along the end. Its narrows out very slightly toward the tip. And examining it closely there looks like there could be some also very slight “wavyness” to the edge itself. Little bits of unevenness, but with the naked eye I can’t tell if that’s a trick of the light. And it certainly makes dead flat contact with the board as you rock the curve along.
Overall finishing of the knife is as good or better than geek loved knives in the same price point. Though I’ve yet to use the thing.
That looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!
I crave social validation for my poor Kickstarter decisions.
We all crave social validation for all our poor decisions, kickstarter-based or otherwise! It’s called being human!
Enjoy the knife, though! Post some pics of whatever you cut up for dinner!
I just (last week) bought a new chef’s knife as a gift for a family member. I thought of the Misen, but it was still looking like probable vaporware, and when I tried to get the status of the knife at their webpage the site said that information was only available to customers. That boded ill for a company that far exceeded its kickstarter target a very long time ago. I’m glad you finally got yours. Let us know when you try their sharpening service.
(I ended up getting the Fibrox, which at $35 with same day delivery seemed good enough.)
See I’m not quite sure where that implication came from. They launched the kick starter late last September. With manufacturing partners in place and prototypes in hand. That’s how they garnered so much buzz. They sent the actual knives out to people. And they managed to go from prototype to shipping their fist batch in like a year and two weeks.
Which is pretty damn good Kickstarter wise, from what I understand. With 40x their original funding request, and a much larger batch size than initially planned. They certainly missed their original delivery estimate by 5 months. But the revised plan that accounted for all the extra knives was only about a month or so off, which we were warned about before hand. They were pretty good at keeping the backers informed. At the point where “your never getting your knife” claims were the loudest (early summer) backers were looking at photos of 90% completed knives behind the founders in China. Even the backer boards were full of bizarrely accusatory posts. As I said last time I brought it up here. It’d have to be a hell of scam to not follow through at that point.
I dunno that I’d do Kickstarter again. I’m perfectly happy with the platform, and the people I backed. After their funding broke $1m I really did expect the knife to show up right around now (sometime between August and October). My product is in hand, and looks pretty damned good. Almost exactly what I expected, so I’m thinking it’ll work out well. It was a pretty good experience. Except the celebrated Kickstarter community. The original May deadline was never supposed to be met after the burst in funding, and everyone was told that from the beginning. But starting a few weeks before that point the boards were swamped by angry demanding people calling it a scam. People demanding to know where their knives were even as they were provided with the actual GPS tracking coordinate of the shipboard container from china. Arguing with each other about lack of updates even as they knew the 3 or 4 people running the whole shebang were on an off planes to China. Its very strange over at Kickstarter. Can’t say I like it.
It was a combination of (a) a lot of the buzz pointed back at one or two overeager reviews, (b) this article, and (c) the fact that Misen was remarkably
cagey unforthcoming on their schedule at their website, with links that were only available to backers like you.
Its interesting that you’re complaining there was too little focus on the consumer side website. The angry backers had the exact opposite complaint. Noone cared about backers! It was all a scam to get the open sales website open! That said there really did seem to be a focus on getting through the backer obligations before anything else. I don’t think there was much of a website at all to begin with. Most of same info from the backer side updates was also pushed out on twitter. Though with less detail. And there’s lots of backers. So the information on what’s been going on is out there.
I remember doing some research on it before I backed. There were 3 decent, if enthusiastic reviews that filled in a lot of detail. And a lot of your useless Uncrate style “this is a pretty thing you can’t by” articles and “reviews” basically quoting the press release. And I did run across that Adam Fields post. It didn’t sway me much. He ignored a lot of available information, including some in the actual Kickstarter proposal. And his “better” recommendations on knives are… not. Ceramics are hardly a durable general use option for “beginners” (that being an assumption on his part too). And the MAC he recommends is the same (or near enough) hardness in a steel so similar performance wise that you’ll mostly find people arguing about exactly what the difference is between the two. Compared against the source that caused all the buzz, Kenji over at Serious eats. It didn’t wash for me. Kenji ranges from an excellent source to an authoritative one on all things kitchen.
So while I’m sure shit like that had an effect I can’t say how much. It was very weird on the backer end. The assumption even as things were obviously going well, and there hadn’t yet been a single delay that it had already failed. A lot of the messy work was already done even before Kickstarter,. Manufacturing was set, and some knives had already been produced. From what I can tell a run would have been produced with or without Kickstarter. All they really had left was packaging design and actual manufacturing. Baring QC problems there wasn’t much I could see that could tank it. And while QC issues (along with volume increase) did cause some delays. Both with on the packages and on the knives. None of them were particularly long.
There didn’t seem to be much cause for it. And the scam speculation seemed loudest on Kickstarter itself. Which lent the whole obnoxious social aspect of Kickstarter a pretty nasty tenor.
That said if I was on any kind of time line, I certainly wouldn’t have backed it. There are enough Kickstarter stories out there than it wouldn’t have completely surprised me to still be waiting in December. I just never saw anything at any stage that looked like complete failure or vaporware. And having done this the once. I doubt I’ll be doing it again.
I didn’t notice any drama at all, which is a good thing, since any drama over a product like this is, for me, too much drama. There are dozens of knives that are good enough to take a decent edge and not so expensive that if you buy them all you can afford to be slicing are Costco hot dogs. Lots of options.
All I saw were a couple of reviews that basically cloned the Serious Eats article, the Medium post I linked, and then the wall at the Misen site. When I saw that my interest died completely. Not a complaint, just a reaction.
How comfortable is the handle? I have a Wusthof sandwich knife with similar looking scales that came with sharp 90deg corners. It wasn’t pleasant to use until I rounded and polished the corners. Now it feels like a worry stone.
How high do you have to raise the handle to chop on a board? The combination of the slightly cranked handle and the deep belly on the blade makes it look as if you would have to lift your hand quite high to get clearance. My own preference is for the French style of chef’s knife, with a straighter edge, but I haven’t used the German style much.
Admittedly my “analysis” is from looking at the pictures, so I’m interested to see your comments.
The handle is a little more comfortable than other traditional western style handles, especially those Wustoffs I remember those being weird. Its a bit fatter than some, so it feels a little more secure. The scales definitely don’t come to a hard angle, especially near the bolster where they’ve been almost fully rounded. In a proper pinch grip you aren’t running into any uncomfortable bits. The integrated bolster sits precisely where you pinch grip the knife, which seems to keep the inside of your index finger from rubbing along the spine. Which should minimize blisters and callouses. If you don’t pinch grip I really can’t tell you, as I haven’t felt comfortable holding any knife that way since I was about 14.
In terms of the curve. Its definitely what you call hybrid. Slight curve over the full length of the knife. Its not as extreme as the big German makers. Its less that the handle is lifted slightly than the the blade is pushed forward, giving you that extra clearance on your knuckles. It looks more extreme in some of those photos than it does in person. For a chopping motion you’re only lifting the handle perhaps and inch to get that proper chopping motion, not much different than French knives. For tip work you’re lifting the handle quite high. Seems a little higher than I’m used to. But I do little tip work. And tip work always involves bringing the handle up with curved knives, flat French or Japanese knives are sort of the go to for that. If there’s an issue there its that the curve goes the whole length of the blade. Other knives I have tend to have at least some flat portion near the heel.
But like I said I haven’t used it yet.
I’ve now used the thing. I can confindently say that it is sharp enough to slice through a human finger in such a way that it will not hurt or bleed, until you look at it.
Other than that its indeed crazy sharp. Its actuallly pretty damn confortable to use. A lot better than most of the knives I own. There’s less lifting of the handle than I expected, so its less fatiguing to use than any other chef knife I have on hand.
Here’s a photo of it next to Henckels International of the same length. The internationals aren’t bad knives, I’d put them on par with some of my favorite restaurant store beaters. Problem is the knife pictured lists for over $50. Its equivalent in food service brands is typically $40 or less (I got it on sale, don’t buy them not on sale). But it does put it in the same price range as the Misen. The Misen kicks the shit out of it. And the Henckels is a pretty traditional German style chef knife. If a little reserved in its curvature.
You can see the Misen isn’t as deep, blade to spine. But you can also see the difference in curvature. The Henckels has a flatter, straighter section towards the heel. And curves dramatically to the tip starting about halfway along its length. The spine is almost dead straight bolster to tip. The misen on the other hand starts curving right at the heel, and does so gradually. And the spine drops noticeably from the 3/4 point to meet that curve. Preventing that big dramatic curve near the tip.
The impression that the handle is “cranked” or that the knife is in some way more curved. Is as best as I can tell a trick of the light. The spine is dead flat from the start of that slight drop point to the butt of the handle. But you can see how the heel is canted slightly forward in the way the Henckels’ isn’t. That does indeed lift your hand a little bit like a curved handle would. But it seems to be more than compensated for by the lower profile of the entire blade.
Also please excuse the melted butter on the handle of my pretty knife. There was shellfish involved.
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