Topic: Kyocera reed knife

Many of us probably received an email from Miller Marketing about the Kyocera reed knives.  Questions:

Are these good for oboe reeds? 
Do they truly need little sharpening?  I'd LOVE to be able to spend less time with that!

Many thanks for any input anyone has!

Barb Levy

Principal oboe, Space Coast Pops Orchestra

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Re: Kyocera reed knife

Hi Barb:

I was wondering the same thing and was going to post the same question.  These knives are intriguing.  One comment was that they are kind of thick so I wonder how they would work for tips.  Another comment mentioned that they are slightly curved.  That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you want.  There were several comments on Justin's site but I hope others can add their opinions here.

Thanks, Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Kyocera reed knife

I am trying one out this week. I will post my experience with them compared to the Landwell Knife that I already have.

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Re: Kyocera reed knife

I saw them at the conference.  You can get them at a lot of online kitchen stores as well, although Justin is right in line in terms of price, so you're not going to necessarily save any money by going elsewhere.  Ceramic knives are well-known in the culinary world for being some of the sharpest knives you can get.  You can't sharpen them like metal knives, but they don't dull out the same way either.  That's about as specific as my knowledge goes.  You can probably take a look at some ceramic knifes as your local high-end kitchen utility store (Kitchen Window in Minneapolis is an example, most larger cities have something equivalent).

Too sharp for me.  ;-)

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Kyocera reed knife

Like Trent, I've found the ceramic knife very sharp, although it is very useful for very fine (and careful!) tip work...

David Bell
Alexandria, VA

David Bell
Alexandria, VA
amateur bassoon and contra bassoon

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Re: Kyocera reed knife

I've been trying out a ceramic kitchen knife for about 4 months.  Been using it very successfully on Bassoon reeds.  Because there is no burr to deal with, the knife does not tend to "dig in" to the cane. I especially like the curved blade that allows working in the windows very precisely.  I also made an oboe reed on it, and had an oboist friend make a reed with it...worked OK.  I haven't sharpened it since I first started using it.  My observation is that it feels different than a steel knife with a good burr, but it is quite usable.  Would make an excellent knife for a student just learning knife techniques as it doesn't have to be sharpened.  I think I will have some of my Bassoon students get one (under $30 anywhere you can find one..under $20 if you search internet) and use it in finishing reeds from GSP.  After 4 months I have noticed some slight degradation of the cutting edge.it isn't as sharp as when new, but it is still plenty sharp for bassoon reeds.  Oboe reed making, IMHO, requires a sharper knife than Bassoon reedmaking and I don't think I would be happy using it today for making an oboe reed.

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Re: Kyocera reed knife

I first saw ceramic knives being used for reed making back in 2004, and did get the opportunity this summer at the conference to see the ones that Miller is offering. Here's a quick assessment:

Just so you know where I am coming from, I have sharpened several ceramic blades, include larger kitchen knives and even electric hair clippers with ceramic blades.  With that said, ceramic knives are harder (like 9 on the Mohs scale), and can therefor retain the edges longer, but  they a certainly not any sharper than steel knives (which are about 5-6 on the Mohs scale). Also, not all ceramic knives/blades are made well. There are several brands on the market.

OK, so on to my review of the  Kyocera. I looked at the edge under 100x magnification, and must say that this edge was one of the better ceramic edges I have seen out of the box. The edge itself was lined up very uniformly and cleanly without any burrs. I would put the overall edge at about a #2,000 grit  finish. Others I have seen have not been this refined, either.

Justin was with me when we looked under the scope, and he even said that it was ideal for cutting tips or cork.
Using it to scrape is not the intended purpose of this knife. It is intended to cut downward, but that never stopped anyone here before. smile

Contrary to popular belief, these knives can be made a lot sharper, and can even be made into properly shaped reed knives with diamond plates, pastes, and compounds. If anyone is interested in seeing their true potential, just send me a knife from Miller.

Last edited by Jende Reed Knife (2010-09-28 17:13:27)

Re: Kyocera reed knife

Tom -

Would you be able to make a more reed-knife-like blade shape (e.i. straight) out of one of these?  Would a traditional oboist's sharpening regimen work to maintain a proper scraping edge?  I would love to find a knife which is not as susceptible to damage from the plaque.

Jonathan Marzluf
Owner, Marzluf Reeds
SoCal Freelancer/Educator
www.marzlufreeds.com

Re: Kyocera reed knife

Jonathan,

It is possible to alter the shape of the edge to make it more suitable for reed scraping, in other words, I could sharpen it like I sharpen the Jende knives. As for straightening out the curvature, I'm sure it could be done to some extent near the handle, but it wouldn't be worth trying to make the shape entirely straight as you'd lose a lot of material off the blade.

As for sharpening, the best way of maintaining the edge on ceramics is with diamond sharpening products. DMT makes some very good 2x6 plates in fine and extra fine grits that would be ideal for general maintenance. But in order to match or exceed the factory sharpness you'd need to use a bench strop/hone loaded with diamonds pastes or sprays.

Once using diamonds, you could sharpen as usual, only with more time in between sessions smile