A tool to be used
A kitchen knife made with passion, is a thrill to use in the kitchen. It will improve your cutting skills, elevate your dishes, look great in your kitchen and most importantly will be really fun to handle.
For my kitchen knives I use high carbon steel, which is different from the stainless steel knives you can buy at any store. The carbon steel allows me to make the steel harder so I can grind the knife thinner and sharper. This all translates into much better cutting performance then your average stainless steel knife. But a carbon steel knife is not stainless and that means that it needs a bit more care and maintenance to keep it in good condition and last a lifetime. On this page I'll tell you all there is to it.
One of the distinct characteristics of carbon steels knives is that they can rust when not cared for properly, but form a beautiful patina when taken care of. Rust is visible as being red/brown in colour and is harmful to your knife. Rusting occurs when the blade is left wet in the sink for a couple of hours, and can be accelerated by accidic food remains left on the blade.
The good thing is that a carbon steel knife will form a protective layer itself. This oxidation layer, called a patina, will start building up immediately when you start using the knife. This patina can have different colours coming from different types of food being cut with the knives, combined with a gray look. For me this patina adds to the character of the knife, because it reflects the way you use the knife. It makes the knife truly you own. Once the patina is well developed, the knife becomes less reactive to acidic food, and water in general, but it can still rust when not taken care of.
Cleaning and storing
So to prevent the knife from rusting it is important that you clean the knife immediately after use and make sure the knife is completely dry when you store it.
The best way of cleaning is with a bit of dish soap, warm water and a soft cloth or sponge (no scouring pads, they will scratch your knife). Dry the knife very well and store it. It's a good idea to oil your blade once in a while to prevent rust. Especially if you won't be using it for a longer period, a coat of oil helps protect the knife. Any vegetable oil will do, but a recommend camellia (tsubaki) oil from a knife supply store.
Cleaning your knife in a dishwasher is a really bad idea. The detergent is corrosive to the steel and handle. The high temperatures can warp or crack the natural wooden handles and the knife edge can be damaged from banging into other utensils in the dish washer. Also, you wouldn't want to cut yourself accidentally on a very sharp knife sticking out.
The storage for your knife is on knife magnet mounted on the wall in your kitchen. It won't be banging around against other utensils in a drawer and any moisture residue on the knife can airdry. And of course, it a great display for your beautiful knives in your kitchen. If you'd like to store your knife in a drawer, use a drawer insert in which the knife has it's own place and it won't get into contact with other utensils.
Stropping and sharpening
One of the most important parts of knife maintenance is a regular stropping and sharpening. Any knife, no matter how well made or expensive, will get dull from time to time and needs a touch up to get back to it's original sharpness.
This sharpening process can be divided into two parts: stropping and sharpening:
When using your knife the edge will roll a bit on a microscopic level. You will feel this as the knife loosing a bit of its sharpness. With stropping you can get your edge back into alignment and make the knife feel much sharper. Frequent stropping of your knife will make it cut better and postpone the need for sharpening.
I recommend using a leather strop paddle with a bit of polishing compound for stroping. The leather is gentile on the hard knife edge and the polishing compound refines the edge a little while stropping. You might be used to using a metal honing rod for alligning the edge. This works well on knifes with softer steel. My knifes are of high hardness and using a honing rod incorrectely can damage the edge.
If the knife is really dull, and stropping will not help anymore, it's time to sharpen the knife. The best way of doing so is by hand on (japanese) water stone. Electric sharpening devices generally take off way more steel than needed and can possibly ruin the hardness of the steel by overheating the edge. Depending on the status of the knife and your preferences, a quick tune up on a 3000 grit stone and some stropping might be enough to get the knife back to sharp.
I you are not able to sharpen your knifes yourself, I'd be happy to sharpen all knives made by me. Included in the sales price is two free sharpening session per year. More sharpening can be done for an additional fee. Please contact me for any question on sharpening or if you want me to sharpen your knives.
One more thing to keep in mind is that there are 'sharpening'devices on the market that are atcually very bad for the edge of any high performance kitchen knife. Two of them are pull trough sharpeners and these very soft honing steels typically found in the knife block of cheap sets of kitchen knives. So please don't use them!
Using the knife
You'll be getting the most out of my kitchen knives if you use them well. Here are some tips for proper use.
Firstly, use the right knife for the right job. By default, my knives are ground quite thinly so they cut really well when chopping vegetables and slicing meat. That also means that the knives are not suitable for chopping trough bone or frozen food, as those are too harsh on the knife and will damage or chipp the edge. If you are looking for a knife for rough work, contact me and I can make a knive completely to your needs.
Secondly, choose the right surface to cut on. Somehow glass and ceramic cutting boards are a thing, but these are very bad for your knives. These cutting boards are much harder then the knife steel and will dull the edge very fast. The same goes for your kitchen counter top. I recommend a quality wooden (end grain) cutting board as main work surface. These are stable for cutting and gentle on the knife edge. For raw meat, fish and chicken I'd go for a soft plastic cutting board, as the wood boards might take up some of the meat juices and be less hygenic. Keeping your wooding cutting boards well oiled is always good to do, but better safe than sorry.
Thirdly, use good cutting techniques for more precise, faster and safer results. I like a pinch grip on my cutting hand for control and accuracy. Make sure you use the claw technique for your hand holding the food to reduce the risk of cutting yourself.
Also, don't scrape the knife edge sideways over the board to move food around. This is bad for your edge alignment and you will require more frequent stropping and sharpening. Simply flip the knife around in your hand and use the spine of the knife.
And it should go withouth saying that you definetely shouldn't use the tip of the knife as a pry bar or screwdriver