The biggest misconception about high-quality knives is that they come with a pretty hefty price tag. But that is not always the case, especially when you get a Tojiro or a Victorinox.
Tojiro and Victorinox are two mid-priced but high-quality knives in the market. That’s where the similarity ends because these two are poles apart. The former is a 70-year old Japanese brand that makes handmade and fully-forged blades in the traditional style. The latter is over a hundred years old, famous for their Swiss Army Knives, but is getting more popular for their budget-friendly stamped kitchen knives.
|Headquarters||Niigata, Tsubame-Sanjo||Ibach, Switzerland|
|Steel Used||VG 10, Powdered High Speed,
Nickel Damascus, etc.
|German steel: X50CrMoV15|
|Knife Construction||Forged||Mostly stamped, one series forged|
|Premier Series||Flash, Shippu Black||Grand Maitre (forged)
|Best Asset||Wide variety of knives,
including traditional Japanese blades
|Type of steel used
|Price Point||Quite affordable||Good value for money
15-Piece Swiss Classic is $200 or so
All About Tojiro
The company, established in 1953, started making blades and spare machine parts for farm equipment.
After two years, they veered more towards kitchen knives.
That seemed to have worked for the better because, in the next two decades, they built three more factories in Tsubame, Niigata, Japan.
It was only in the 2000s when they decided to go global, starting with an exhibit in Frankfurt Messe.
This was another great move because they soon earned the respect of world-renowned chefs and industry leaders.
Formulating the Steel, Crafting the Knife
Tojiro makes use of different kinds of steel blends for their products.
However, all have high Carbon content, making their blades surprisingly light, incredibly sharp, and have great edge retention.
• Nickel Damascus
• Molybdenum Vanadium
• Powdered High Speed
• High Carbon Stainless
This bit of fact surprises many: compared to other big brands in Japan and elsewhere in the globe, Tojiro has by and large adhered to traditional forging methods.
They use machines just to ease arduous parts of the job like hammering the heated steel and to speed up the rest of the process.
But one thing is for sure: a craftsman is physically working on the knife from heating a piece of steel to wrapping the finished product in a box.
The Tojiro Line
They have over two dozen different collections, categorized into three main sets: traditional Japanese, Western-style, and Chinese-style.
• Shippu and Shippu Black
• Zen and Zen Black
• DP and DP Damascus
• Powdered High-Speed Steel
• Pro, Pro Nickel Damascus, Pro Meister, and Pro Japanese Style
• Origami and Origami Black
• Aogami and Aogami Damascus
• Shirogami and Shirogami Double Bevel
• MV, MV Double Bevel, and MV Elastomer Handle
• Soba Cutters
One Tojiro series is markedly different from the next. Let’s zoom in on just one variant so that its features may be described in full. Their most popular is DP.
• The steel used for this variant is VG10 (HRC 60). The plain one is mirror-polished and simply has the logo near the spine while the Damascus version is coated with 37 layers of stainless steel on either side of the VG10 core.
• The edge angle depends on the type of knife. Regular ones have 12 degrees on each side while specialized slicers have 9 degrees. All are double-beveled.
• These have partial, round bolsters.
• These have full tangs which are exposed because it is simply sandwiched in between the two pieces of the handle’s material.
• The handles are made of black Micarta, triple-riveted to the tang.
All About Victorinox
In 1891, Karl Elsner was awarded the contract to create folding knives for the Swiss army.
Although it was modeled after a German-made product and most tools made from Solingen were much cheaper, he persisted until his creation became a commercial success.
Years later, preceding his mother Victoria’s death, he renamed his company into what it is today.
Victorinox is an amalgam of Victoria and Inox, a shortcut of the French term for stainless steel.
Since then, the brand has become a trusted household name.
While the pocket toolset is still the most recognizable in their product line, the knives have become just as integral.
Formulating the Steel, Crafting the Knife
All their blades are made from one steel blend: X55CrMo14.
This high-Carbon stainless steel is hard, does not stain (rust), and has pretty good edge retention. It contains the following metal ores:
• 52% Carbon
• 50% Molybdenum
• 45% Manganese
• 15% Chromium
To keep their products at a good cost, they chose to stamp the majority of them.
This process involves cutting the shape of the blade and tang from a thin sheet of steel, attaching the hard plastic handles, and then honing the edges.
Stamping results in lightweight pieces – something most kitchen newbies prefer.
They do have one forged variant which underwent more traditional blade crafting methods. Some people like the weight and balance of a forged piece.
The Victorinox Line
Compared to other brands, this Swiss company has kept its kitchen knives at a minimum. They only offer five different collections:
• Swiss Classic
• Swiss Modern
• Grand Maitre – this is their forged line
Perhaps, one of the reasons why they only have a few series is because they also offer other knife accessories (blocks, boards) kitchen tools (peelers, graters), and cutleries (flatware, steak knives).
But it is also possible that these five are so perfectly designed and well-made, no one is asking for anything else.
Just so you’ll have a better idea about the knives, let’s focus on just one series. So far, their Fibrox is the most popular.
• Again, the steel used in construction is X55CrMo14 (HRC 56-58). The blade is mirror-polished and has etchings of the brand’s logo and name near the spine.
• There are two types of edges available: straight and fluted or hollow-edged.
The bevel’s angle depends on the type of knife but regular Chef’s knives are sharpened to 15 degrees per side while boning ones go as high as 20 degrees.
• Since this is stamped, it doesn’t have a bolster. But they have added a thick finger guard on the handle where the bolster is supposed to be.
• This has a full tang, completely sheathed and molded in the handle.
• The handles are made of Fibrox, a non-slip thermoplastic elastomer. These are given an ergonomic shape for a comfortable grip.
It also comes in different colors: black, yellow, green, red, white, and blue. Besides this being an interesting design addition, this is more for best kitchen practices which involves using one knife for meat, another for vegetables, another for dairy, and so on.
Affordable Pieces that Anyone Can Own
As aforementioned, these two brands are reasonably priced considering they are well-constructed.
Victorinox’s Fibrox Chef’s knife is less than $50. If you chance upon a sale, you might even get that almost half the price.
To be honest, it’s hard to find a better deal than that these days.
On the other hand, Tojiro’s DP Gyuto – the Japanese version of a Chef’s knife – is less than $100.
It is a bit more expensive than the Swiss piece. But because it is completely forged and handmade, that’s an even better buy.
Last Updated on September 3, 2021