My custom knives are handcrafted with the greatest care, but it is still a tool, and like any tool it has to be properly cared for, regardless of how expertly it has been made. Maybe you’ve seen the show Forged in Fire, and watched some of the things they do to knives… all I can say is don’t do that! Don’t use your knife as a prybar, chopper, axe or screwdriver. Buy one of those tools instead. Knives are not meant for that!
A bit about our knives
I use 440c exclusively for my kitchen and cheese knives – well, almost exclusively. I’ve made a few exceptions for artistic purposes, but when I do that it will be clearly noted so you always know exactly what you are getting. 440c is a high-carbon stainless steel, which gives you the best of both worlds: the tough edge holding ability of high-carbon, and the stain resistant qualities of stainless steel which most people prefer in their cutlery. This makes 440c an excellent steel for kitchen knives.
In this article I’ll talk about care and cleaning for both 440c stainless and non-stainless blades.
Care and cleaning your stainless steel knife
Wash your knife by hand in soapy water and thoroughly dry after each use. Don’t use a dishwasher! Your knife can be safely submerged while washing, but don’t leave it in the sink. Wash and dry immediately. Don’t let it drip dry. The edge will stay sharp longer when dried right away.
With proper care and handling, you will get a lifetime of use from your knife.
Care and cleaning for non-stainless steel blades
Again, no dishwashers! Wash carefully by hand in soapy water. These blades will rust, so dry right away with a cloth – don’t drip dry. If you forget and get some rust (often in the form of orange spots), don’t worry. It’s easily dealt with. Use a high grit sandpaper – 600 grit at least or higher – or use ‘0000’ steel wool, and carefully rub off the rust. Then wash thoroughly with soapy water and dry by hand.
High-carbon blades will develop a patina with use over time. This is a good thing, as the patina forms a protective layer that gives the blade some protection from rust. It also forms attractive and interesting coloured patterns on the blade, a feature that many people like in high-carbon non-stainless knives.
To get a head start on a patina, just start cutting up citrus fruit and onions, then wipe the blade clean.
I produced the patina pattern on this cheese knife (above) by drizzling mustard on it, and letting it sit for a few hours.
Keep your knife sharp! A sharp knife is actually safer than a dull one. I offer sharpening services and will always be happy to help (for a modest fee, of course), but if you don’t want to pay for sharpening services it’s always a good investment to get yourself a good knife sharpening tool.
For most people a ‘pull through’ sharpener is an excellent option. They are inexpensive and easy to use. I’ve had very good results with the Lansky knife sharpener, as well as their ‘blade doctor’, available at Amazon. Smith’s Adjustable Knife Sharpener is also very good, available on Amazon here. Just a few swipes a week will be enough for the average household user.
These work well if the knife has an edge. If the knife edge isn’t maintained and it’s allowed to get too dull, then a typical household knife sharpeners won’t do the trick. You’d be surprised at the number of people I’ve come across, or who have come to me for help, with kitchen knives that are duller than butter knives. If the knife edge is too far gone like that, than you will need to bring it to an expert to have the edge re-ground.
Or you could invest in sharpening stones. If you put in the time and effort to learn how to use them properly, a sharpening stone is also a good way to keep your knives sharp. How to use a stone will have to be the subject of a future post, or you could watch some of the excellent videos on YouTube.
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