Care of Your Quality Knives


In general quality cutlery should not be run through the dishwasher for several reasons. The detergents used are very strong degreasers so wood handles will be stripped of their natural oils causing them to split or crack. It is also dangerous in that someone else reaching into the machine may not realize or see the knife and get a wicked cut. The machines are designed to spray water at a relatively high pressure which can jostle the silverware and cause the knives to bang around and dull the edge.

Hand Washing

We recommend washing all knives by hand. I believe hand washing is gentler to the wood handles. The blades can be washed and dried immediately, and then the knife should be stored properly. High carbon (and Damascus) should be lightly coated with camellia, tsubaki, or olive oil and kept in a dry place. High carbon knives should never be stored in a leather scabbard.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel knives require more care than stainless knives. Carbon steel knives have a tendency to react to highly acidic foods, which cause the steel to turn a dark gray to black if the acids are left on the blade. The best way to avoid this is to rinse and wipe the blade immediately after cutting the highly acid foods, then wipe the blade and go back to cutting. If the acids or water is left on the blade they may cause some dark spots or even small rust spots. If this happens, it can be easily remedied with a green scotch bright pad and a little soap. First, place the flat of the blade on a flat surface like a cutting board. Next, apply a small quantity of soap on the scotch brite along with a little water. Now you can scrub the blade with confidence. If you scrub the blade without placing it on a flat surface, you could cut through the sponge and possibly cut yourself. Damascus knives should not be polished with abrasive products.

Wood Handles (Scales)

We believe wood handles have a much nicer feel in the hand than plastic or metal handles but they require more care. We suggest never soaking your knives in water, especially if they have wood handles. Soaking your knives in water can make the wood swell and possibly crack. It's best to gently wash the handle with a mild soap, rinse, and dry. If you notice that the wood seems to be drying out, you can apply a small quantity of Danish wood oil, teak oil, or rosewood oil with a paper towel. Let this soak in for 20 minutes and wipe off the excess. This should keep your handles looking good for many, many years.

Antler Handles (Scales)

We only use red deer (Elk) antlers since they are a renewable resource. These knives can be soaked in water without concern for swelling. They should be washed with mild soap, rinsed, and dried. Bees wax or mineral oil applied to the scales every month or so will ensure that the horn keeps its luster.  

Sharpening Notes

High carbon knives (regular and Damascus) are not stainless. This is another reason not to clean them in a dishwasher. The best knife blades are made of carbon steel, which simply is not stainless. However, it requires only a little care to keep them from getting rusty. Just dry them after use! Only before a long period of non-use does the blade need to receive a smear of oil.  The best protection is Camellia Oil, which can be obtained from Atlantis.

 If the knife gets rusty, it is not a disaster. The rust will disappear as soon as you sharpen it. Additionally you can use a rust eraser.

    Keep the knife regularly sharpened. The best way to sharpen a high carbon (Damascus) is on a whet or water stone. Dry grinding wheels are not a good idea. Domestic knife sharpeners should also be avoided. Any dry grinding wheel will cause the high carbon steel to soften, and the performance of the knife will be affected. Most steels and domestic knife sharpeners are too hard and coarse (they may cause tiny individual cutting particles to break off). Japanese water stones are always preferable in sharpening high carbon steel (Damascus) blades

    The choice of stone should be between grain size 800 and 1200, and it should be laid in water first for about 5 minutes. Position the stone so that it is unlikely to slip, and draw the blade over it at an angle of 10 - 15 with lengthways or circular movements under gentle pressure so that the whole length of the blade is treated. Do be careful to maintain the same angle throughout the process. The more acute the angle, the sharper will be the cutting edge - but, of course, also the more delicate!

    Knives made in three layers with the cutting edge sharpened from both sides have to receive the treatment on both sides. Those made in two layers and sharpened only from one side are only ground on the sloping edge. Be careful to hold the bevel against the stone over all its length.

    Honing is the removal of the fine burr that has arisen during sharpening, and the polishing of the blade. Here the choice of stone should be a hone of grain size 4000 to 6000 and you should give it the same preparation as the sharpening stone. The knife is moved over the stone in the same way as described above, but with a slightly more oblique angle (the knife is held a little more steeply). When honing, change sides often if the knife is made of three layers, but always maintain the selected angle if possible. For the knives made of two layers but sharpened on one side only, the treatment is basically the same but with one small difference, that the flat face is also taken over the stone, without lifting it at all. In this case, the stone must be absolutely flat.

    When you have sharpened and honed the knife, oil it.

Contact us if you have any questions on the care of your quality knives.

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