How to Care for Your Brand New Japanese Knife (Or Any Other Knife)

October 08, 2021 3 min read 0 Comments

How to Care for Your Brand New Japanese Knife (Or Any Other Knife)

So, you’ve brought home your new knife and you’ve been slicing through all the veggies and meat like a master chef! As with any high performance tool, your new kitchen baby requires some simple maintenance to keep it in primo condition. Don’t worry, maintaining a Japanese knife is easy, and kind of fun!

Washing

Whether you have a carbon steel or stainless steel steel knife, you should definitely get into the habit of washing off your knife with a damp soapy cloth or sponge, and drying it thoroughly after each use. Don’t let your new knife air dry especially if it’s made of carbon steel, as it can rust. Even stainless steel can rust if left wet for too long!. Avoid using abrasive materials like steel scrubbies as they can scratch up your knife something fierce. The plastic green scrubbie is just fine on most knives, but it can scratch a shiny mirror polish.

Keep those babies out of the dishwasher! The extreme heat will expand and contract the metal, and most dishwasher detergent is extremely abrasive. Both will cause major damage to both the handle and the edge. Always hand wash.


Cutting

You’ve heard us say it before, and we’re gonna say it again: Never cut anything you wouldn’t bite with your own teeth. Your knife is sharp, but it isn’t going through any bones or frozen food. Should you navigate around the bone and make sure you extract every juicy morsel of meat? Of course! Just don’t try and cleave through it, and be aware of the brittleness of a harder knife. Opening cans or prying apart frozen foods are also no-nos. Use a can opener, or pull those fillets out of the freezer the night before. You’d think all this goes without saying, but we’ve seen some crazy things at the shops.

The blacksmith that designed your knife worked very hard to get a perfect edge, and the easiest way to avoid chipping or dulling that blade is to cut straight. Try and avoid twisting, cleaving, or prising with the blade. Straight, even strokes will keep your knife in good shape, while also getting you those perfect cuts you so desire. 

Cutting Surfaces

Cutting boards matter! You want to feel as if your knife isslightly biting into the board. If the material is too hard and the knife is bouncing off of the surface, your knife will dull very quickly. We recommend wood or plastic cutting boards. In our shops we use sustainably-made Larchwood boards, which we find are made with the best materials for your knife. Stay away from bamboo, marble, glass, slate and basically anything that’s harder than the steel in your knife.

Storage

You’ve likely got a drawer full of random kitchen utensils. Your knife will get damaged if it’s banging around in there with the other tools, so make sure to store it safely. Display those beauties on a magnet for all your friends to drool over, or in a knife block. Be sure to store them edge-up in your block. If you must store it in a drawer, we have inexpensive hard plastic blade guards with a soft felt interior that nicely hug the blades of your knives. These are a  necessity if you store them in a knife-bag. The covers will keep your knives from slicing the canvas or leather.

The Honing Rod

A honing rod is a  must-havemaintenance tool. This will keep your knife sharp in between sharpenings, think of it as a toothbrush for your knife. You brush your teeth everyday (hopefully), and go to the dentist once or twice a year. Think of us, or your stones, as the knife dentist. Between visits you gotta keep brushing. So hone that knife on the regular, about every one to three weeks, depending on how often you cook.

To use the honing rod, hold it vertically with the rubber end on a dishcloth on your counter (to avoid slipping) with your non-dominant hand holding the handle. Set your knife flush with the rod, then angle the spine 15 degrees off of the rod. The hilt of the honing rods we sell at Knifewear can help you get the angle correct. With  gentle strokes, run the edge — from the heel to the tip of the knife, from top to bottom of the honing rod — alternating sides with each stroke.

If you are unsure of how to effectively use a honing rod, or if you have any further questions about how to care for your new beautiful knife, feel free to email, call or visit the shop anytime and ask. We are always happy to help.

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    Nathan Gareau
    Nathan Gareau

    Nathan started at Knifewear in 2013, when he left the restaurant industry to slang knives. Nowadays, he handles our communications, social media, and YouTube channel. If you're reading words on this website or watching one of our videos, Nathan was involved. He spends his spare time growing food, cooking, fermenting food and booze, and enjoying the great outdoors.