I first saw the Toru Yamashita Whale Knife on the internet and thought it was a joke. It looked a bit “whimpy” (albeit “cool”). However, after holding the knife in person and reading about the specs, I was blown away. Today, let’s take a look at a whale knife.
Material: White Steel (core), Blue Steel (outside)
Country of Manufacture: Japan
Maker: Toru Yamashita
The knife came slabbed between two pieces of cardboard. Threw it away pretty much when I got it.
Fit and Finish
The knife is blued along the edges. Though it does add some cosmetic value (if that’s your taste), it seems to do an all right job of preventing oxidation.
The steel is heat treated very well. It came with a hair splitting edge and I can touch it up easily with a leather strop or with my Opinel natural sharpening stone (review to come) if needed. Furthermore, the steel lamination is done very symmetrically and the bevels are also very nice.
The handle area is stamped on both sides “TOBA” with some waves. I have not yet found what “TOBA” means, but it is stamped on all of his knives.
I would describe this knife as sharp. Very sharp. Although there is no information on the composition of the White Steel that is used in the core of the knife, most “white steels” are high carbon steels. Upon receiving the knife, I brushed my thumb against the edge and subsequently received a cut that would not stop for a good 10 minutes.
I bought the knife to sharpen pencils with and it does its job quite well. It’ll slide right through the wood and come out the other end. When freshly sharpened, the wood gives little resistance.
I have two issues with the knife:
1) With a convex grind, the edge bends and develops a burr when cutting objects harder than wood.
2) The steel is very prone to rusting. Although I keep the knife dry and give it a light coating of oil every time I put it away for a longer period, some rust marks have appeared (black circles). I have identified a scratch on the blade that I haven’t been able to identify. It would appear as though the scratch went through the lamination although I am not sure.
My random web browsing find turned into a physical purchase that I do not regret. The blade is quite useful as a utility tool and it gets much use (as apparent by the wear). It is, however, not pocket worthy. Beyond a basic office tool, this knife has little use. It is too fragile and requires too much care. For now, it’ll stay on my desk and remain an occasional pencil sharpening utensil.