Our knives are made from high-carbon steel which will grey with use (this coloration is called the patina, and the pattern will be unique to your knife). The patina will become a protective layer for the blade and will help prevent rust and oxidation.
Until the patina is developed by your first few days of hard use or first bag of onions, the steel will cause minor discoloration on some vegetables and may produce a slight smell with acidic foods, like onions or pineapple. This is normal and can be mediated by placing the cut pieces in water or lightly oiling the knife before cutting. Wipe the blade routinely while you cut acidic foods, particularly until the patina is fully formed. The patina will narrate your food story to everyone who sees the blade. A knife used primarliy on meat has a thin almost translucent hue while a vegetable knife will develop bold patches and stripes. The blade above shows both.
Wipe or rinse and then dry the blade immediately after use. Allowing the knife to remain wet or dirty for an extended period will cause the knife to rust.
For safety and ease of maintenance store your knife on a magnetic rack or block where it will dry quickly. Damp drawers are not good for knives as the edges get beat up and dulled, the steel can rust, and searching fingers can get cut. Leather sheaths and wooden sayas also are not best for long-term storage.
Use wood or plastic cutting boards - end grain wood is best. Glass, ceramic, granite, and the like will dull any knife very quickly.
For sheathed knives, regularly oil, wax, or silicone treat the blade and do not store in places like attics or basements where humidity fluctuates. Regular use is the best thing you can do to keep the knife in good condition. If you are going to store a knife for a long period, oil it well and leave it out of its sheath as leather can absorb moisture and could cause rust.
Don't put your knife in a dishwasher. As the matter of fact, don't even let your knife see the door of your dishwasher open. Dishwashers force movement of handle materials and blunt edges. They are bad for your knife.
There are many good guides on knife sharpening on the web and in print. We prefer traditional waterstones in a 1000-6000-strop sequence, though there are other good sharpening systems.
For regular touchups we suggest a superfine ceramic steel (1500 grit or finer) which are relatively inexpensive. This combined with very occasional whetstone sharpening will keep your knives humming with very little time expenditure.
Do not use serrated sharpening steels. The serrations cause microserrations in the blade and make the knife seem sharp temporarily but in the end will cause it significant damage due to the fact they remove too much metal. Smooth and superfine ceramic sharpening steels are fine. A leather strop will also perform admirably.
We will sharpen, clean or repair any of our knives free of charge as long as you arrange transportation to us.
If a knife rusts
If you stored a knife in a wet sheath or left it in the sink overnight, don’t worry, rust is rarely bad enough to be an issue. Use either a scotchbrite pad, Flitz polish, a rust eraser, steel wool, (or if in the woods, very fine silt in a stream) and simply lightly polish the blade. The dark grey oxidation that is left, unless there is pitting, is harmless and adds to the story. Take care to place the blade on a secure surface like the side of the sink or the countertop while you are removing the rust
For our handles made of natural materials such as wood or antler, avoid soaking or prolonged wetting/drying. If a handle looks dry and dull, refresh it with Danish Oil, butcher block oils, Teak Oil, and other penetrating wood oils. If rough edges or joints develop from shrink/swell of handle materials you can steel wool or lightly sand the joint or handle.
If the shrink/swell of the materials breaks a glued joint, either return the knife to us for repair or apply a small amount superglue to the crack. The glue will penetrate, seal, and fill the crack. Then, lightly sand until the repair is no longer visible on the surface.