New West Knifeworks

Posted on April 11, 2009 by Aun

Regular readers of this blog know that I have a real weakness when it comes to well-designed, beautifully-made kitchen knives. I count myself super lucky to be the owner of a real Bob Kramer knife (as opposed to the Kershaw/Shun ones from Sur La Table). I also count the Japanese knives in my collection among the best I have ever worked with. And, like any obsessive collector, I’m always on the lookout for new names and exciting new designs.

So, when I was contacted by the fine folks at New West Knifeworks, I was extremely excited. I had a read a few snippets about their forged knives over the past year but doubted I’d get my hands on one anytime soon (the range of brands available in our local stores here in Sillypore being sadly limited). I both admired the philosophy behind New West’s approach to making knives as well as their artistic flair, exemplified best in the colourful handle designs in their Fusionwood line. Of the two lines, the Phoenix Knives and the Fusionwood, it was hard for me to decide which was more appealing. To be completely honest, the Fusionwood knives had an immediate visual appeal because of the gorgeous handles, made by infusing hardwood veneers with penetrating dies and engineering-grade phenolic resins. They reminded me of artworks one would see travelling through the American Southwest. On the other hand, the Phoenix Knives had more immediately applealing blades. The Fusionwood blades are cut from high-carbon Swedish stainless steel and then ground and finished in Seki, Japan. The Phoenix blades, on the other hand, combines a tool steel core and layers of Damascus steel. Sixteen layers of Damascus steel are forged together and the forge-welded onto the extra high-carbon stainless tool-steel sheet by master knife makers in Seki. The result is a gorgeous, thin but durable blade that can keep a very finely honed edge.

I should say that my wife S and I turn down about 90% of products offered to us and 100% of restaurant invitations. That 10% of things we accept are usually things we’re obsessive about — a food product or tool we just can’t resist. When New West Knifeworks offered to send me a knife to test, I simply couldn’t refuse.

The knife we tested, pictured above, was the 7 inch Santoku. Our first impression was that it had a beautifully designed blade. Not only is it well made, but a joy to look at — Damascus cladding always adding an extra visual perk to any knife. The handle was interesting. Made of Nobel-Lite, a Corian-like synthetic material, it’s both water-proof and highly resistant to stains, chemicals, bacteria and molds. Ours was in “Stone”, which has a pinkish, brown, grey pebble screed look. The knife also comes with a “Granite” handle, which has a black, grey, screed look. Honestly, I would have preferred it if they had offered the knives with a solid-colored handle — like an orange or a red, or maybe a baby blue. That said, one of our friends recently came over and immediately noticed the knife and gushed about how pretty the handle was. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

The knife is light, which is great for female users (and us short Asian guys) but very well-balanced. It feels really nice in the hand, and is comfortable when gripping the blade just above the bolster with your thumb and first finger (which is how I prefer to hold my knives when chopping or cutting). The edge (straight out of the box) is very finely honed. After chopping my way through a number of things, it still had a very keen edge. And while I usually try and hone each knife every time I use it, I’ve purposely avoiding honing this Santoku, trying to see how long the edge will stay sharp. It’s held up trememdously well, testament to New West Knifeworks founder’s Corey Milligan’s dedication to making great knives.

Overall, it’s a really fun knife to use. It can be used throughout a long kitchen-prep without tiring out your hand. The blade is beautifully-made and functions smoothly. I’m looking forward to seeing how it holds up over the years. And given the performance of this piece, I have to admit, I’ve been supremely tempted to place an order for a Fusionwood Chef 8, which looks sensational and I’m sure (based on our experience with the Santoku) will also perform well.

Oh, and if you’ve been reading this hoping to get the recipe for the charsiu (roasted pork) pictured above, that will be in the next post. Promise.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Giff April 12, 2009 at 12:32 am

    yes, you have always love good knives! I still have a rather large hunting knife you never brought back to Singapore, should you come visit again. :)

    Jaden at Steamy Kitchen has been raving about these knives for some time, and your additional stamp of approval makes one confident that these are not only artistic, but really well made.

  2. Cheryl April 12, 2009 at 11:19 am

    hey, great post – are these knives currently available in Spore anywhere?

  3. catherine at unconfidentialcook.com April 12, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I have the WORST knife collection of any “cook” anywhere. I’m totally jealous!

  4. Chris April 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Hello Aun, thank you for the information. I am a knife collector myself and love to find new ones. I will place an order today and can’t wait to receive them.
    Happy Easter, Chris

  5. Michael April 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Aun,

    I’m lucky enough to own enough high-end knives to match or beat you, many from years of travel.

    Jaden of SteamyK was the one that made me check out this knife maker.

    I own the Nine from the Phoenix line and the two choppers from the Fusion Wood line.

    Like yourself, I was very impressed with the Phoenix line for the blade, but after using the three blades, I’m even more impressed by the Fusion Wood choppers.

    I had read tons of online feedback and everyone kept saying this mix of the handle and the blade design really gave nice results.

    I haven’t tested the higher end of the Fusion Wood line, but the chopper blade is a tool I just didn’t have in all my many blades and is really great quality. It’s like a Euro/American version of a Japanese Deba blade for lack of a better description.

    So maybe consider this option for your 1st Fusion Wood purchase. The handles will truly impress you but the blades were even better than expected.

    – Michael

  6. Kimmie April 13, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I am so very jealous! First of the foods you get to eat and second, the knife! It’s gorgeous. You’re very, very lucky.

  7. Mark May 4, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Would love to see some pictures of your knife collection. Do you have any that are crafted from a single piece of steel?

  8. Meaw June 29, 2009 at 10:26 am

    I love reading your blog on kitchen gear. I am looking for All-Clad cookware in Singapore but am unable to locate any retailers. I understand no advertisement but need help to locate a retailer here in Singapore. Can you email me with details if you can help? Thank you.

  9. Cheryl December 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Hello,
    I was wondering if your opinion of the New West Knifeworks knives has remained positive. Did you ever purchase a fusion chef knife? This is the one I would like to purchase for my husband for the holidays.
    Thank you Cheryl

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