Help your Carbon Steel Knife Maintain Peak Performance
The first cut you make with a new or newly sharpened knife is so satisfying, but each time you use the blade causes it to dull ever so slightly – that’s true of every knife anywhere. STEELPORT knives use a 52100 Carbon Steel, heat treated to reach a hardness level 65 HRC, meaning our knives will keep their very sharp edge for much longer than average. But, again, every blade will begin to lose its edge over time with use.
The best way to keep your knife sharp for as long as possible is to not let it get dull in the first place. Honing your knife while it still has an edge will prevent you from having to sharpen it often. We recommend a ceramic hone or a leather strop loaded with a fine abrasive. A blade will need honing as soon as you see a difference in performance. A first sign that a knife needs honing is usually sliding on a tomato instead of slicing through with ease. If honing does not restore your edge, then it is time to sharpen, which removes actual metal from the blade to reform an edge – more on that below.
Using your knife as intended will also keep it sharper much longer, and reduce the risk of damage or injury. Your Chef’s Knife is likely the ideal tool for 90%+ of your cutting tasks in the kitchen, but do NOT use your knife to cut through extremely hard items like frozen food or bones. Depending on the size of the animal, you can use a heavy cleaver or bone saw; for chicken, a good pair of kitchen shears are great. Cutting through crusty bread will also quickly dull your chef knife – a serrated knife is the appropriate tool for that.
Similarly, do not cut on extremely hard surfaces, like plates, stone, marble, etc. Always use a proper cutting board. We prefer wood, but hard-rubber or soft plastic cutting boards are all fine.
When your knife is not in use, it’s important to keep your edge protected. Don’t leave your knife loose in a drawer – besides the obvious safety hazard of reaching into a pile of sharp knives, the edges could dull or chip if they get knocked about in the drawer. Almost any way you can protect your blade should be fine – in its original box, wooden in-drawer or countertop blocks, soft-front wall magnets, individual sheaths. It might be trending in some kitchen designs, but please avoid storing your knives on wall magnets with exposed metal as this can lead to chipping.
For transporting your knife, professional chefs and those who travel with their knife frequently should invest in a knife roll with edge guards. For those who will just be bringing it in for sharpening once or twice a year, wrapping the knife in a towel is sufficient.
When it does come time to sharpen your knife, hand sharpen it on a waterstone. There is a bit of a time investment up front in learning how to do it, but we’ve found this pays for itself many times over. Avoid any aggressive machine sharpening or any draw-through automatic devices as they leave you little control and can damage your blade.
We love empowering folks to do their own blade maintenance (and we happen to find knife sharpening a very pleasant and relaxing task!), but if you are having issues or see any damage to your blade, it is best to bring it to a professional. Repairs might involve thinning or reprofiling, and a professional can reset your edge and advise you on how to best maintain your blade going forward.