Materials notes and basic maintenance
- 154CM, CPM154, S35VN, AEB-L are all stainless steels. AEB-L is a Swedish razor steel that takes an exceptionally fine, tough edge – perfect for the kitchen. The others have more carbides and are more wear resistant, but do not take quite as acute an edge angle.
- 1084, O1, A2 are “carbon” steels, which will patina with use (fine), and rust if neglected (bad). Wash/rinse/dry quickly as appropriate. These are higher maintenance, especially as kitchen knives. A2 is sliiightly more rust-resistant than 1084 and O1, and it has a fine carbide structure giving it very good wear-resistance. It cuts a very long time.
- I use and recommend Howard’s Butcher Block treatment (or similar) for protecting carbon steel blades that may touch food (available from ACE or Amazon). It’s good for your cutting boards, knife handles, and blade steel. Wipe on, then wipe off the excess. Try not to get a thick layer inside your sheath, as it may trap debris.
- “Natural” or “unstabilized” woods are traditional wood, and not impregnated with a resin. They will be waxed or possibly sealed with a varnish-like material, but you should definitely avoid letting them soak in water, and they may require minor up-keep.
- Sheaths can (and should) be cleaned and *dried* periodically. Kydex is heat-sensitive. Don’t leave it on the dash of your car in July (that’s January for you inverted folks). Kydex sheaths WILL scratch your knives eventually, it’s a fact of knife-life. It’s not the kydex itself, but rather the tiny abrasive particles that will get caught inside the sheath by static cling.
- No knives should go in the dishwasher ever. In fact, any kitchen tool that is made of more than one material should not go in the dishwasher. The extreme heat from the hot water and steam will cause the materials to expand and contract at different rates, which will eventually destroy glue bonds and drive moisture into tiny spaces where it doesn’t belong.
- Please don’t ever cut on glass or ceramic. Ever. “But what about…” Nope, not even then. If you do, your knife will be instantly dull where it struck the harder material.
- And REALLY please only use your birudashi’s bottle opener with the sheath ON! The more you use your birudashi in a short period of time, the more difficult it may become to remember this rule. Practice makes perfect.
Sharpening is both a complex and simple subject. I usually sharpen by hand on 11″ EZE-Lap diamond plates. Below are a few rules of thumb:
- Sharpening is grinding, but very slowly. Remember that you have to remove a small amount of material. Keep that in mind as you observe your process. Ultimately you will be re-shaping the edge to YOUR method/muscle memory for that knife. The only exception (sort of) is a kitchen steel, which is best for standing up rolled edges.
- I recommend diamond “stones” for any medium-to-high carbide steel. For simpler steels you can use natural Arkansas stones.
- Edge Angles: Edge angle depends on steel type, heat-treat, and application. Below are general rules of thumb.
- 154CM and other large-carbide steels: 20 degrees per side (dps), or 40d inclusive
- CPM154, S35VN and related PM (powdered metallurgy) steels: 15-20dps
- A2, O1, and other Medium-to-high carbide carbon steels: 15-20dps
- 1084, AEB-L, 15N20 and other high-hardness, low-carbide steels: 12-20dps