Sharpening Damascus Knives and Keeping Them Sharp

The selection of damask knives is wide and ranges from industrially produced mass-produced goods to hand-forged craftsmanship. Sharpening should be done according to the quality of the damask knife. For knives priced from several hundred to over a thousand euros, it has a strong value-preserving effect.

Quality characteristics of the damask knife

In the luxury class of damask knives, metal and steel are fire-forged together in up to three hundred layers. In the production of the knives, each blacksmith pursues the achievement of ideal utility properties.

  • edge retention
  • Hardness
  • Sharpness retention
  • If necessary, self-sharpening function
  • Texture and optical structure

Depending on the structure and craftsmanship, a single-layer or at least three-layer blade edge is ground when sharpening a knife in the Damascus style.

Humidity and flash rust

Most damascus knives are not stainless because the use of stainless alloy materials such as chromium severely limits their workability in damascus forging techniques. To rid a Damascus knife of accumulated flash rust, blade oil can be polished on to remove rust. If it is foreseeable that the knife will not be used for a long time, a light oiling is recommended.

Keeping the Damascus knife as dry as possible before storing it is more important than with stainless knife variants because of its corrosion ability. The knife should be cleaned with a soft cloth after use and polished dry. Leaving it in a sink or letting it air dry will promote flash rusting.

Shrinkage of the wooden handle

When the rivets in the handle of a Damascus knife lift or sag, it is due to shrinkage of the handle wood. This can occur especially with knives that have not been used for a long time and have been stored with a damp handle. By re-wetting the handle, the handle wood expands again and “catches” the rivets again. As a preventive measure, the wood can be polished with linseed or olive oil every now and then.

To keep your Damascus knife sharp

1. honing regularly

Always keep a honing leather handy. Honing the blade after every fifth to tenth use will keep it sharp.

2. keep rust free

Always keep your Damascus knife as dry as possible. Ideally, minimize the time it spends lying damp while still in use by drying it in between uses with a soft absorbent cloth.

3. clean only by hand

Never put your damask knife in the dishwasher.

To sharpen your Damascus knife

1. selection of the water stone

A Japanese water stone from 1000 grit costs from about a hundred euros. Combined versions are ideal, where one side has 1000 grit and the other side from 3000 to 8000 grit.

2. prepare water stone

Water your water stone according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. preliminary grinding

Grind first with 1000 grit.

4. main grinding

Perform the main grinding on at least 3000 grit.

5. remove burr

Polish away the burr after grinding.

To have a knife sharpened, select a vendor and have them demonstrate their manual craftsmanship on a “normal” knife.

Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green is a seasoned home chef and culinary expert who has a passion for all things kitchen-related. With her extensive knowledge of the latest kitchen products and appliances, Elizabeth provides insightful reviews and recommendations to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. Whether you're looking for a new refrigerator, blender, or cookware set, Elizabeth is your guide to finding the best kitchen products available in the UK.

      My Buy