There has been quite a bit of discussions on the Kiwi knives ranging from very good to cheap looking knives. I had previously sharpened and handled a Kiwi cleaver knife for two days, and it performed better than the other two knives I was handling at the time.
I have recently purchased a Kiwi 7.5” knife for $6.95 (not including shipping) from the Wokshop along with a few other things. I purchased it mostly for testing.
The overall knife shape is shown in the first photo. It is made of stainless steel. It looks like a nakiri or santoku with a much curved edge profile (bigger belly): 7.5” in length from tip to heel, and almost 2.5” in width from spine to heel edge. The handle is partial tang with rivets. It has rather crude handle design.
A few small sections of the knife edge were chipped/dented upon arrival as shown in the second photo. I am not sure if it was like this at the wokshop or if it was due to the shipping. My guess is that it was like this prior to shipping.
The knife blade is thin compared to all of my large knives. CCK 1303 is known to be a thin knife, but this Kiwi knife has a thinner knife spine above the heel than the CCK. In the third photo, the Kiwi knife is on the left, and the CCK is on the right.
Unlike the CCK, the knife does not taper from heel to tip. Therefore, the CCK tip is slightly narrower than the Kiwi tip (the fourth photo).
The Kiwi knife was not very sharp upon arrival. It could slice paper, but it definitely could not push cut paper or shave my arm hair. I was using a catalog for paper test, and these papers are similar to typical magazine papers – softer than printer papers. I cannot say if the edge was never very sharp from the factory, or if it was damaged due to the rough handling – as it has been suggested by the chipped/dented edge. I sharpened the knife starting from a 1000 grit stone, and it was a breeze to sharpen. It sharpened up very quickly and formed a large and unmistakable burr. It probably took less than 2 minutes to remove the damaged edge on the 1000 grit stone. I then proceeded through the 2000 and the 5000 stones (the fifth photo), and stropped on a leather belt. It could then push cut paper, and shave arm hair. I tested the knife by cutting a phone book. The knife appeared to immediately lose its sharpness after. It didn’t completely lose it edge, but I felt there was subtle, but noticeable edge deterioration.
I resharpened it and used it for cooking for three full days. It easily cut through foods, and this is due to the combination of its sharp edge and its thin blade. One thing I like to point out is that the blade above the cutting edge is hollow ground with fine pattern lines running in the up and down direction. You may barely able to see this in some of the photos. The hollow concave grind allows the blade to be thin behind the cutting edge, and therefore decreases the wedging resistance. The concave nature of a hollow grind and the up and down line patterns minimize food sticking. I have noticed that the cut onion has much less tendency to stick to the Kiwi knife than to the CCK knife. The CCK sticking problem is partially my fault, but that is another story.
I have tested the knife sharpness after each of the cooking sessions. After the third and the more lengthy session, I have noticed a noticeable lost of edge sharpness. It can still push cut paper for much of the edge section, but a few sections had troubles. It also definitely had trouble cleanly sharpening my arm hair.
I then stropped the knife on the leather again for 2-4 passes, and the edge came back.
In summary, the Kiwi knife is:
1) Inexpensive. Less than $7 for a full size knife
2) Cruel handle
3) Very easy to sharpen.
4) Can take on a sharp edge good enough for push cutting paper and shaving arm hair.
5) The thin, hollow grind with designed line pattern reduces wedging resistance and food sticking
6) Edge retention appears to be acceptable, but not great. I would rank its edge retention and steel hardness close to those of a Dexter-Russell knife.
All in all, this review is not significantly different from my previous report and essentially reconfirm it.