4 Best Ways to Care for Your Japanese Knives
Knife sharpening and storage tips—straight from from the artisans who make them.
It takes a lifetime of work for Japanese blacksmiths to become masters in their craft—they spend decades bent over hot coals, steadily folding steel into the gorgeously unique handcrafted blades we see today.
Though we normally only see the end product, this July, we’re being given the chance to view this intricate blacksmith work in person thanks to two events that Knifewear will be hosting as part of their Masakage and Ironclad Knives Blacksmiths 2018 Canadian Tour. The retailer has invited Japanese forgers Yoshimi Kato and Takumi Ikeda, and master sharpener Takayuki Shibata to Alberta, where they’ll be crafting blades at an Edmonton Japanese festival (July 14) and at a special breakfast event during the Calgary Stampede (July 15). Each event invites visitors to discover what it’s like to be inside a master smith’s forge.
The smiths and Shibata-San, who claims the title of “World’s Greatest Knife Sharpener,” will also be sharing their tips on how best to care for Japanese knives at home—because of the unique quality of their steel, keeping them in tip-top (sharp!) shape requires more attention than your standard kitchen utensils. But because we just couldn’t wait until July, we spoke with Shibata-San and Knifewear founder Keven Kent for a sneak peek of the upcoming events—read on for their best knife care tips!
Both Kent and Shibata-San emphasized that Japanese and European-style knives need to be treated differently. “Japanese knives are like a Porsche and European knives are like a Jeep,” says Shibata-San. “Japanese knives are sharper but weaker; European knives aren’t as sharp, but they’re tougher.” As such, it’s important to treat your Japanese knives with extra care because they’re more prone to chipping and cracking.
2. Watch Your Angles
The most common mistake that happens at home is sharpening your knives at an inconsistent angle. “With Japanese knives, [it’s best to] sharpen at a 15-degree angle, which makes them extremely sharp,” says Kent, “but if you wobble off that angle, or don’t use a sharpening stone that’s completely flat, you won’t get a good edge.”
3. Store It with Care
It’s crucial to properly store your knives: “You don’t want to chuck the blade in a drawer where it can bang around against other things and [become] dull,” says Kent. Rather, he recommends you buy a magnetic knife block: “Japanese knives look super cool—why not show them off?”
4. Have Fun!
Shibata-San hopes his workshop will take some of the stress out of knife care. “Unless you start a sharpening business, you don’t need to be serious,” he says. Simply take your time practicing the proper technique and you’ll be sharpening knives like a pro in no time.
Want to know more about Japanese knives? Watch the artisan blacksmiths in action at these events in Edmonton and Calgary!
Forging and Sharpening Demos
Saturday, July 14 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Knifewear, 10820 82 Ave. NW, Edmonton
Stampede Breakfast / Forging and Sharpening Demos
Sunday, July 15 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Highline Brewing/Minch Chau parking lot
More information is available here.