Recently I had the opportunity to work with Austrian Blacksmith Benjamin Kamon’s personal Gyuto, a 255mm blade forged in 1.2519 high carbon steel. This was an absolute privilege for me. After working for many years as a professional chef and now as a kitchen knife supplier I have had the chance to work with hundreds of amazing knives. At this stage in my career, I am not often surprised.
At the top end of kitchen knives there is a certain level of diminishing returns. What I mean is, we are now at the cutting edge, pun intended. Blades at this level will have stylistic features and cutting characteristics that make them unique, but the practical side of a knife, the elements that give it its cutting potential, these features tend to hit a barrier that I would describe as nearing perfection.
Let’s get the style out of the way. This blade has tones of it. The handle! I mean seriously! It’s almost like the blade was an afterthought. So often it’s the other way round, but Kamon has created something totally unique in his trademark “Takedown” kitchen knife handle. A little history is probably due. Ben Kamon grew up around hunting knives. His father was a collector and gave Ben his first hunting knife when he was a young boy.
Ben was inspired by his father’s collection and features like the removable “Takedown” handles that are common on hunting knives. Other stylistic elements appearing in Ben’s knives are clearly inspired by hunting knife design, the star head and hex screws that fasten the “Torpedo endcaps for example are details commonly found on hunting knives.
Ben tastefully blends these industrial, rugged design elements with more elegant aesthetic elements like stabilized woods, copper, brass and titanium in order to make each handle a unique work of art.
Ben's skill in design is matched and perhaps exceeded by his skill as a blacksmith and machinist. Nothing is left to chance from water cooled grinders to profile and grinder jigs to ensure that everything from heat treatment to grind angles are a precision, repeatable process. Each knife is still quite unique, except where it counts, performance. Ben’s blades are extremely thin at the tip and exhibit a satisfying flex. With a hefty 4mm+ spine thickness above the heal the blade is versatile, and nimble, with a deft surgical cutting character. At 221g the 255mm blade is also surprisingly light weight and precision balance gives you the sense that its even lighter than it truly is.
Thanks to perfect heat treatment and premium high carbon steel Kamon knives take on a seriously sharp edge and exhibit great edge retention. Often hardened to around 65HRC its hardly surprising that the edge can be made so sharp, but the edge lacks the typical fragility that blades this hard usually seem to have.
For me I haven’t had a great deal of experience with modern performance first grinds. They seem to be becoming more and more popular though. Not all Kamon forged blades come with a performance first grind, often he goes for a more traditional convex grind. However, I have been very impressed by the S-Hook Ben has implemented on his personal knife. The blade glides through produce and performs very well with regard to food release. I was very surprised at the knifes performance. For example, coming down to the last 5mm of the onion I was able to comfortably split the remainder evenly and comfortable. I attribute this to the S-Hook grind and the confidence instilling balance, which feels even on all axis and not just horizontally.
Kamon knives are very hard to come by and only a couple of hundred blades are made each year. From time to time, we will be receiving a piece or two from Ben and they will be available on the site. If you are interested in acquiring one of these blades, follow us on Instagram and make sure to sign up to our newsletter as they do sell very quickly.