Salter Fine Cutlery

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Caring for your new Japanese Knife-Part 3

Once you have owned and used a fine hand-forged knife with the warm feel and comfort of a handcrafted wood handle, you will wonder why you spent so many years using anything else!  I get this type of comment all the time from our satisfied customers.

In this blog series, we have been discussing tips for caring for your new hand-forged knife. When you have made the decision to purchase any high-quality knife, you surely are not intending to 'abuse' or 'misuse' your knives. Yet, I have read many, many other knife makers web sites and all say something like 'we will not warranty your knife against abuse or mishandling'.  Ours says something to the same effect.

We offer a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship or materials, but there is no warranty against what you may do to damage your knife. However, if you DO have a problem, we have and will do all we can to help you. Customer service most definitely extends beyond the sale! 

So what DOES constitute mishandling? Hopefully, this blog series will help answer all your questions. In Parts 1 & 2, we discussed how you should wash your blades and handles. Here, we continue with more tips and guidelines.

I regularly abuse our knives, sometimes during testing, sometimes quite by accident. 99.5% of the time, you won't damage your knife, but damage it you CAN. Just a couple weeks ago, I dropped my favorite knife onto the tile floor. Tile doesn't bounce much, but that knife sure did! The knife was fine and suffered no damage. My hand (where I tried to grab it) was not so fortunate, but that is another story. However, I was quite aware that my mistake could have resulted in a broken tip. I was also aware that had it broke or bent, it could have been repaired! 

Although the wood has been thoroughly sealed with water resistant sealers to last for many years, the phrase "water is woods worst enemy", certainly applies. We all know if a pipe breaks and floods the house, water damage can result. Left in standing water, a knife handle can also be affected. At the very least, it will prematurely dull and destroy the final finish. At worst, if left standing in water overnight, for example, the wood grain can raise, or in a worst case scenario, shrink or crack.

If you cut a lot of citrus or very acidic foods or fruit, never let your handle sit for prolonged periods in the juice. Instead, set the knife aside onto a dry area, cloth or paper towel. Caustic or acidic foods can cause the same effects as sitting in standing water.

I once spent an entire day peeling and cutting mangoes after my tree decided to be extra generous in its yearly crop. There was mango juice everywhere! I had to wear gloves because the acid and toxins in mango are so strong as give my hands a rash. Because I didn't give my knife the same care and decided to see just how far I could push the handle in my abuse, I allowed it to sit in a pan of mango juice for about ten hours. The side of the knife that was face down took the most abuse. It was not damaged, but the handle did need a couple new coats of finishing tung oil applied afterward to renew the sheen.

If your knife is inadvertently washed in an automatic dishwasher, the oils in the finishing products will quite literally cook from the intense heat, turning the handles black. They may also suffer some of the effects listed earlier, including pulling away from the metal tang.  

This sort of damage is not considered a manufacturing defect, however, it can normally be repaired. We will be happy to assist you with the repairs and will only charge a nominal fee based upon actual hours of handle repair and shipping costs, but will refurbish the final finishing at no cost.

The video below demonstrates the best way to wash your knives and handles.

160mm small chef knife with brass bolster and koa wood handle by Salter Fine Cutlery

In our next blog post, we will continue with a discussion about your blades and how to use your new Japanese knife.

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