Unlike the santoku and gyuto (chef’s knife), which have narrow tips intended for cutting meat, the nakiri has a square tip and broad blade that maximize chopping power along the full length of the knife. The straighter edge ensures full contact with the cutting board, helping to cut through tough vegetable skins that a rounded edge can miss, while the rounded corner facilitates rock-chopping. Like other Japanese knives, the nakiri has a thinner blade and more acute edge than European knives, so it can effortlessly make straight cuts and doesn’t break stiff vegetable slices.
Damascus steel was first developed in India over 2,000 years ago and quickly established a reputation not only for its beauty, but also as one of the greatest metallurgical innovations in history. Swords forged in Persia and sold in the Syrian city of Damascus inspired legends of their ability to slice through a gun barrel or part a hair falling across the blade. Although the ancient technique was lost to history around 1900, modern metallurgists have succeeded in reproducing the effect with state-of-the-art alloys to bring performance to the next level.
Tojiro Shippu and Shippu Black blades are forged from 63-layer (all larger knives) or 37-layer (paring, peeling, and petty knives) Damascus steel, which is made by repeatedly folding and forge welding two stainless steels with different carbon contents. The resulting material bears the elegant, wavelike pattern produced by its many fine layers—a testament to its strength, flexibility, and durability. This Damascus envelops a core of harder VG-10 cobalt alloy steel, a high-carbon stainless steel developed in Japan. Hardened to a Rockwell hardness of 62, it accommodates a long-lasting, razor-sharp edge.
The handle is crafted from lightweight chestnut wood, which provides a secure grip without upsetting the knife’s balance. The wood is fire-blackened, enhancing its durability and water resistance, and secured with a ferrule (collar) of polypropylene resin. Its D-shaped shinogi profile maximizes comfort and ease of control.