Carbon Steel Knives

Carbon Steel knives  will tarnish from oxidation. The result will be a “Patina” which is a thin coating on the knife created as the metal reacts to the atmosphere. This is a desirable effect. The Patina will eventually protect the knife from corrosion. I have seen knives  that have turned nearly black from building up the Patina. Always remember to wash and dry the knife thoroughly after every use as carbon steel knives will rust if you let them. Severe rusting will cause pitting that can quickly destroy the knife.

Sharpening Stone Basics

A question that’s often asked is “What is the best sharpening stone to use?”
The simple answer is, you’re going to need more than one. The basic purpose of a stone is to restore the proper shape to the knife and to establish a new edge. In order to do that, you’re going to need an aggressive stone that’s going to remove stock quickly. Using to fine of a stone will take much too long and wear the stone prematurely.
After the edge has been established and you are satisfied with the shape of the knife it’s time for the next stone. From this point it becomes a polishing process. The coarse stone you started off with is going to leave deep scratches in the knife and you need to polish them out. The finer the polish the sharper and stronger your edge will be.
The best practice is to not wait until the knife has turned into a butter knife. Try to keep up with it. If you can reestablish the edge with a 1000 grit stone the rest of the process will go much faster. We often use a 1000 to 5000 to 8000 grit combination.
If you are just starting out don’t expect perfection right away. It takes practice. Start with an old knife you don’t care too much about and use light pressure so you don’t wear out your stone. Develop your technique and build up muscle memory. Consistency is the key to sharpening. If you can maintain the same angle throughout the process you’ll get good results.

Benefits of a Sharp Knife

From the Sakai Takayuki web site.

“When cutting a tomato, have you ever smashed it? Have you cried when cutting an onion? These problems are caused not by the food but by a blunt knife. A blunt knife adds extra force to the cut surface, and the food cells collapse. For food, such as an onion, the lachrymator within the cells is released as the cell collapses, causing the tears in your eyes to flow. In addition, when cutting thin, soft food like fish or a tomato with a blunt knife, you have to move the blade back and forth for many times. When this happens, the color at the cut surface becomes dull, the luster appearance was gone, degrading the fresh look of the food. Moreover, oxidization develops rapidly at the cut surface, so the food loses firmness and taste. In other words, the sharpness of a knife is a decisively important issue for cooking.”