Caring for your new Japanese Knife-Part 4

Caring for your new Japanese Knife-Part 4

In the first three parts of our knife care series, we discussed washing and storage of your knives. Today we turn to care of your blades and the difference between a Japanese blade and a European (also known as a Western) style blade.

Your Salter Fine Cutlery knife may have one of a number of blade steels. We work together with the finest Japanese bladesmiths using traditional forging methods. Each has his own specialty and own unique finishing look, but all are of the finest quality in steel and workmanship. 

We also check each blade before it receives a handle and before being shipped to you. However, if there was a defect that we did not notice, it is completely covered by your warranty.

Japanese knives are famous the world over for their lightness, ability to take a razor edge, and the edge holding properties. This is due, in part, to the difference in blade thickness and grind angle from the 'Western' style knife you may be accustomed to.

Unless you have ordered our 'combat' chef knife shown below, which is about 5mm thick, most of our Japanese blades are about 2.5mm thick. They are not only thinner than a western knife, but also have a very different grind angle. 

You may have heard the term 'double-bevel'. A double bevel blade normally refers to a blade that can be used by both left and right-handers. Some traditional-style Japanese knives come with only a single bevel blade, meaning it has an angled grind on one side only and is for use by a right-handed chef or can be ordered for a left-handed chef. We sell most of our knives with double-bevel edges like you are used to seeing, but some of our carbon steel knives are made specifically for right or left-handed chefs. Our Charybdis collection all have been ground with a two-sided blade for use by either right or left-handed cooks.

The term double-bevel may also apply to grind angle. A western European knife has normally been ground with two bevels, and can best be described as 'stepping down' to the edge angle, which is roughly at 25 degrees. (each manufacturer has a different grind, but that is a good average). The Japanese blade also has this effect, but is not as pronounced looking, with the blade tapering down to a shallower angle near the cutting edge from where it started at the top of the blade, with the average grind angle at roughly 15 degrees, and some as narrow as 10 degrees.

What does this mean for you? 

In short, it means that your Japanese blade will take an extremely fine, sharp edge. It is a real joy to use. It also means that it is essentially thinner overall, but most notably near the cutting edge. It is therefore, also more delicate than a western-style knife.

The Japanese also make thicker knives with more pronounced grind angles of 30 degrees or more for activities like chopping and boning. We can offer you these blades if you do much of that type of cooking as we can special order most requests.

In Part 5 of our series, we will discuss how to use your Japanese knife in greater detail.

For you knife enthusiasts out there, I realize I am leaving out a lot of details and terminology, but this guide is intended for home chefs who want a basic knowledge of Japanese knives and how it applies to their home use.

I do welcome your comments and questions and thanks again for reading!

The original Salter-Kiku Collaboration "Combat" chef knife with a blade of OU-31 steel and unusual appleseed grind. Decorative handle and presentation box of our rarest old-growth curly koa wood.

Though two different finishes, and both stainless steel, these knives should still be hand-dried immediately after washing to avoid future rust spots.

An eclectic mix, both of these blades, VG10 and R2, are stain-resistant and will last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.




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