Dao Vua Knives Review - The Affordable Step Into Carbon Steel
In 2016, Dao Vua was established by combining the creativity of young minds with the expertise of the best craftsmen from the oldest traditional village in Vietnam. Dao Vua is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Tran Hung Dao, King Tran Thai Tong, and the five Masters of Forging by reviving the ancient knife forging techniques through 22 secret standard steps. The mission of Dao Vua cooperative is to create high-quality products for urban consumers and international markets, promoting Vietnam's handmade crafts worldwide and gaining more recognition and respect.
Here are a few pictures taken at their shop:
The Dao Vua knives are handcrafted from a variety of carbon steels, including the Russian Leaf Spring, Pine Line, Railways steel, and as of early 2023, the imported 52100 USA made carbon steel, which is well-known for its use in ball bearing production since the early 1900s.
These knives feature a mono-steel fabrication without any cladding, resulting in a unique and uniform appearance. With a hardness level of 60 HRC, the knives strike a good balance for kitchen use. However, it is important to note that the HRC value may vary by +/- 2 due to differences in steel types.
The handle styles offered by the brand include Japanese wa-handles available in various materials such as ebony, rosewood, amboyna burl, paduak, jackfruit tree, and ironwood. The handles are generally taller than wider, allowing for a comfortable pinch grip during use.
We have noticed over the years that some handles may have minor imperfections, such as scratches or rough areas, which can be easily smoothed out with sandpaper and sealed with bee's wax.
Here are some of their most popular handle styles:
The Dao Vua knives are finished by hand, and come in several blade finishes that give them a distinct, rustic appearance and optional wooden saya's for storage. These finishes include the Kurouchi blacksmith finish and the Tsuchime hammered finish, both of which are highly traditional and add to the unique character of the knives.
Kurouchi is the blacksmith finish that is characterized by a black, rough, and unpolished appearance. The word "Kurouchi" in Japanese means "black forged," which refers to the black color that is produced by the iron oxide layer that forms on the surface of the blade during the forging process. This finish is usually left on the blade as it helps to protect the blade from rust and corrosion. However, the rough surface of Kurouchi finished blades may be prone to staining and may require some extra care.
While they can slightly vary, here are a few examples of their latest bunka's made from different steels:
52100 Tsuchime (Hammered Finish):
52100 Kurouchi (Blacksmith Finish):
V2 / Classi Kurouchi (Blacksmith Finish):
Many people appreciate the lighter feel of Dao Vua knives when holding them, which sets them apart from other knives on the market. This is partly due to the absence of metal bolsters on the handle, which reduces weight, along with the thinness of the blade.
However, it should be noted that the 52100 models tend to have a thicker spine, resulting in a different feel compared to the original series crafted from recycled steels. If you like heavier knives, you should consider the 52100 series by reviewing their individual weights as there can have differences.
Lastly, the balance points of Dao Vua knives may also vary depending on the size and model so below we compared for you the 210mm Kiritsuke Classic vs the 210mm Kiritsuke 52100 Tsuchime.
Classic (with Ebony handle):
52100 (with Rosewood handle):
The Dao Vua collection offers a remarkable performance partly due to their thin grind, which also makes them lightweight compared to traditional European-style knives that are often designed thicker. They can achieve exceptional sharpness, and can retain their sharpness for an impressive period when comparing to other knives in a similar price-range. Their thin design and steel composition are known to make them effortless to maintain meaning that with basic honing or stropping, these knives can keep their edge for over a year without needing to be heavily sharpened.
Nevertheless, novice users should use such a thin knife with caution, as cutting hard ingredients or utilizing amateur techniques can result in damaging the blade's edge.
Example of a few knives that we quality check before shipping out:
Once honed, stropped, or slightly sharpened:
Since their initial release in 2016, Dao Vua has made significant improvements, establishing itself as the leading affordable kitchen knife for many.
New users of carbon steel knives should be aware of the potential for patina buildup and blade discoloration due to the knives' mono carbon steel compositions. However, the resulting patina can take on various beautiful colors, which many users appreciate and take pride in. Colors such as blue, purple, and brown are common. The patina can also have positive effects on the knife's performance, so it is recommended to avoid scrubbing it away.
For those looking to delve into the world of carbon steel or Japanese knives without spending a lot of money, Dao Vua knives are a great option to consider. While they may not have the sleek and fully polished appearance of more expensive Japanese knives, they provide outstanding performance at a reasonable price and can be easily customized to meet individual preferences.
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