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I don’t care what the experts claim—6-inch blades rock! Daniel Frazee’s Small Chef knife quickly proved to be an excellent all-purpose kitchen utility blade.

While the Usual Suspect’s Gathering II knife show last September in Las Vegas was a paradise for lovers of tactical blades, Daniel Frazee’s table caught my eye for a different reason. There among his assorted survival and military-oriented bladeware was also a row of extremely practical looking kitchen knives. I’ve long been the black sheep of a lot of “foodie” groups in that I think a 6-inch Japanese “petty” or European-style “utility” (they are both basically the same design) is one of the more useful cutting tools you can have on your cutting board. The commonly accepted wisdom is that all a “real pro” needs is a short paring knife and extra long “gyuto” or chef’s knife. Why they spend so much time insisting you should learn to make the short and long blades perform the tasks of a medium-length blade is never really explained. Well, to each his own and Frazee’s 5-7/8-inch “Small Chef” looked very interesting to me.

The Specifics
After a bit of conversation, the maker allowed TK to borrow one of the knives with a brown Micarta handle and an O7 tool steel blade. He also offers this knife in a variety of other Micarta handle colors and stabilized spalted maple. The fact that O7 tool steel was a totally new alloy to me made the knife especially intriguing. With a little checking, I found the steel was an oil-hardening alloy with a relatively high carbon content of 1.10 to 1.30% and smaller amounts of manganese, silica, chromium, nitrogen, molybdenum, tungsten, vanadium, copper, phosphorus and sulfur. In other words, a fairly complicated steel compared to many more common ones. The maker turns out blades at a relatively high Rc of 63.

The differences in kitchen knife designs are often a lot more subtle than many less interested users realize. I found the Frazee interpretation of the 6-inch petty/utility had an outstanding handle shape and the angle from heel to point was perfect for its intended function. A pro will automatically notice how comfortable and maneuverable the knife is in a pinch grip. You can effortlessly make the blade do whatever you want, from dice a clove of garlic to filet a fish.

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