Japanese Knife Care and Information
Taking care of your knife.
There are few things lovelier than a beautifully handcrafted Japanese knife. And there are few things we get more questions about than how to take care of them.
So consider this the guide to your new Japanese Knife.
Japanese knives are easy to use and take care of. They provide an edge that is second to none, but a little respect goes a long way.
Knives are made of steel.
Water and moisture rusts steel
Do not use a Dishwasher. It’s no good for the blade and worse for the handle.
Different knives will have varying metal elements. Depending on what the maker prefers these will provide different results. Some like high carbon content because it provides great edge retention, but too much and rust is basically guaranteed.
Our knives contain a higher level of carbon, so once you’ve finished using your knife, hand-wash and dry immediately. Paper towel is better than cloth because it is always dry.
If some light rust occurs, give your knife a clean and a light scrub to avoid it spreading.
When kept and maintained well, a carbon blade will develop a black patina that actually aids in protecting the blade against rust.
When your knife is ready to be sharpened, always use a sharpener that is experienced with Japanese blades.
Do not use diamond or rough steel to sharpen.
Japanese knives are traditionally sharpened using a three-step process; gradually using finer grit stones to achieve a sharp, smooth edge.
We recommend anyone who provides this service to ensure a correct bevel and proper edge.
Japanese Knives are lighter and finer than their western counterparts so think about what you’re using your knife for.
Watch out for bones and frozen foods, but take equal care with the surface you’re using. Avoid glass and ceramic, concrete and stainless bench tops and look for end-grain chopping boards or softer plastic.
We recommended storing your (hand-washed and dry) knife in the box it came, but a knife block or magnet is fine. Avoid soft cases like leather or plastic as any unchecked moisture will cause rust.
Steel is not just steel. The below elements may be found in varying amounts depending on the manufacturer and the craftsman’s requirements.
Some are added for hardness or for blade retention. Some prevent rust, increase strength and wear resistance.
Carbon (C) – You’ll find carbon in every form of steel, but find too much and rust will follow. It’s great for hardness and edge retention and overall resistance to wear. Knives are generally considered ‘high carbon’ if they contain 0.5% carbon and should be what you’re looking for. Too much though and corrosion is almost guaranteed.
Chromium (Cr) - Specifically for corrosion resistance. Stainless steel will traditionally be 13% chromium
Molybendum (Mo) – Toughness. Reducing the chances of chipping, molybendum is found in quite a few blades because of it’s ability to maintain strength at high temperatures, making for easy manufacture.
Nickel (Ni) – Toughness and an aid during manufacturing that helps to limit distortion.
Vanadium (V) – Is a toughness and wear resistance element. Found in premium steels that allow for a super sharp edge.
Cobalt (Co) – Can help with hardness. Not common, but used to help in the cooling process to achieve hardness.
Manganese (Mn) – Does a bit of everything. Too much and a blade can be brittle, but helps with tensile strength and wear resistance.
Silicon (Si) – Great for strength, with similar effect to manganese, but in particular helps to remove oxygen which which can lead to blowholes and pitting in the steel.
Niobium (Nb) – Helps in steel manufacture to aid fine grain structure, which improves wear resistance and prevents chipping. The best known steels use niobium for edge retention results like no other.
Tungsten (W) – Usually added with mollybendum and chromium to improve resistance to wear and tear.