My search for a good picnic knife is what first led me to New West KnifeWorks. I imagined something sharp, well-made, not precious, and unique in a way I couldn't quite describe. My answer came in an unexpected package from an unexpected place.
New West KnifeWorks makes Japanese-inspired cutlery in the last place you might expect to find high-end Japanese knives: Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Turns out, the indescribable thing I was looking for in my picnic knife were the marbled wood handles on New West KnifeWorks's Fusionwood line. To be honest, when I first saw them I didn't take to the design. Too western? Who knows. But they have grown on this city girl and I now leap at the chance to cut hunks of cheese or slices of apple with the New West paring knife. I go cowboy style like my grandpa used to do on our outings to his backyard; something halfway between chopping and whittling.
New West carries two collections: Fusionwood and Phoenix. The Fusionwood Knives have crazy swirly colored handles with high-carbon stainless steel blades. The Phoenix Knives have delicate Damascus blades with curly etchings (think Samurai sword) and handles made from Nobel-Lite, a Corian-like material often used in premium counter-top design.
Fusionwood knives start at $49 for the Paring Knife (right and lead image, in Tahoe Shoreline). I love the size of the Chopper (middle, in Peacock, $99) which would make a great chef's knife for a small-handed sassy chef. Perhaps the most unusual knife is the Super Bread (left, in Flamenco, $179) with a very wavy blade which allows for sharpening. The dimpled edge makes it a great knife for chopping onions and other sticky things.
The Phoenix line starts at $59 for the Gentleman Rancher Steak Knife (right, in Granite). The Petty is another good multi-tasking option for small hands (middle, in Hot, $99). The 9 (left, in Cocobolo, $199) is New West's answer to the perfect Chef's knife: it's not eight inches and it's not ten, giving it a little heft, but still rendering it light enough for fast-movers on the cutting board.
The thing to know about these knives is that they are a bit smaller and lighter than other high-end knives you may be used to. But it doesn't mean they don't perform. It just means if you like a big, heavy knife, these might be better for your daintier friends.
I put the high-carbon stainless steel blades (the come from Seki, Japan) through the ringer and was able to sharpen them back to perfection with what felt like more ease compared to other knives. In case you aren't keen on doing your own sharpening, know that the knives come wrapped in a leather sheath with a lifetime guarantee; New West will tune up your knives forever. Just send them in the mail.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. This particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. The manufacturer did provide product for testing and review purposes. The views expressed in this review are, to the best extent possible, the personal views of the reviewer.