I use carbon steel because it gives my knives an unbeatable sharpness. Carbon steel is preferred by many knife users because it's easy to sharpen, it take a fine edge and has a liveliness that stainless steel lacks. You do, however, need to give carbon steel knives just a little extra care to keep them in top shape. There are trade-offs in everything.
When I forge a blade into its rough form with hammer and anvil, the labour-intensive process creates a very strong result. As steel is hammered, its internal "grain" or structure changes to follow the shape of the blade. The grain essentially become continuous, which is why forged blades are much more resilient. The process of hand-forging is the opposite of mass production. It's virtually impossible for me to craft two knives that are exactly alike. Each knife is hand-forged and no two are the same. I work to certain shapes, styles and sizes, but I let the final design of each knife develop by itself.
My knives are Japanese inspired. Japanese knives are built differently to Western knives. It is all about cutting performance, pure and simple. The edge of a Western knife will bend when damaged; a Japanese one will chip. The Japanese style allows for greater sharpness though, so to me this compromise is worth it. There are essentially three factors that make Japanese knives unique: they have thin blades, sharpened to a higher angle and hardened to a very high level.
You will find that the appearance of the blade changes over time. Don't worry, the patina that forms is a normal reaction between the carbon steel and the air, as well as the properties of the food you cut. Your knife’s unique patina gives it a little character and some protection.
Make an effort to wash your knife straight after using it (by hand - not in the dishwasher!) and dry it immediately. Don't leave it on the draining board overnight. This risks the knife starting to rust. Your knife will not be damaged by rust spots as long as you gently scrub them off.
A knife is a cook's single most important tool. It should be treated with care. Carbon steel won't let you get lazy, because it insists on being treated right. It's a self-respecting metal like that. In return, it gives you one of the sharpest, hardest edges you could ever hope for.
1. Keeping your blade dry
Wipe your blade after every use with a dry cloth. The more you use your knife, the more it will create its own patina and protection.
2. Sharpening your blade
It is best to use a Japanese whetstone and a leather strop. This requires practice but it will give a much nicer edge and polish. Just follow the bevel I have already made to the blade.
3. Protecting the wood
Use linseed oil to buff your knife’s handle from time to time. For the blade, use camellia oil — like the Japanese samurai of old used to do. To store your knife, use your saya, a magnetic bar or a dry cloth for protection.
3. Protecting the wood
For your handle, use linseed oil from time to time. For the blade, use camelia oil - like the old Japanese samurai. To store your knife, use your saya, a magnetic bar or a dry cloth for protection.
Using a Japanese whestone
Sharpening your knife on a regular basis will keep the edge in great condition.
You can't use a regular steel honing rod on Japanese style knives. The steel I use is typically harder than the steel used in a cheap sharpening rod so it simply won't do anything, and you risk damaging your knife.
To get the ultimate edge on your knives, you are going to have to invest a little time in maintenance. Using a set of whetstones will get the best result.
This is an enjoyable part of owning and working with Japanese knives, and the satisfaction from a job well done is worth the effort. It's not as hard as you might think!