Laotian Kitchen Knife and Vietnamese Vegetable Peeler

veg knife

In Laos, at a food market outside Vientiane, I purchased this kitchen knife. I saw many people using knives similar to this. There are many crude forging and grinding marks on it, gradually tapering to a decent cutting edge. Much like the  hacksaw paring knife I wrote about previously, this knife is pure function with little effort expended on decoration or polishing.  The steel itself is a very respectable HRC 55-60. One interesting feature is the complex curve on the back of the blade, possibly to add rigidity to the tip, since the blade is fairly thin, between .048-.051″. Many kitchen knives I saw were shaped like this. Or it might be give the blade additional life as it is reground, since the tip may get reground or used more?  The blade is partially morticed into the steel ferrule, which makes it feel quite solid. The blade angle is slightly offset from the center axis of the handle, an indication it is designed to be used freehand, not on a cutting block.  The handle was turned on a lathe, there are marks from a tailstock center on the bottom, and it was quickly smoothed with a rasp. This gives the unfinished wood handle (some kind of dense hardwood) a very pleasing feel and grip. I really like the feel of unfinished wood for tool handles, though they do get dirty quite quickly.



I purchased this vegetable peeler in Vietnam, and believe it or not, this 12″ long version was the smallest of five sizes offered.  The name of the company, or man who made it is named “Hue Tuong”. Vegetable peelers (as well as  mandolins, scabbard planes, spill planes, and a few others) interest me because they reverse the standard way planes or spokeshaves are used— what is usually the waste is actually the useful product. The steel is similar to the knife above, HRC 55-60, but it looks like it is made from rolled stock. This knife is also offset from the central axis, like the Laotian knife above. The knife is made of two pieces, I suspect both to make the manufacture and resharpening easier. A rivet holds the two pieces together at the top, and by simply removing the handle it can be opened 180 degrees and resharpened. Very clever. This knife is sharpened to a finer grit than the one above. I’m still working on my technique when using it.

Now that I have these knives, I really should try some of the fancy fruit and vegetable carving, like this beautiful watermelon.



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