A fine knife is like any investment in a tool; you have to do some simple things to care for it. Unlike silverware, which may sit in a drawer for years without the slightest care, a custom knife is a finely made tool with an organic component (the carbon in the steel), and can deteriorate if not cared for. You must keep it clean, dry, and stored with access to dry air; avoid sudden changes in moisture, shock, corrosive environments, and residual contact left by handling. Some of the important points on how to keep a good care of your knife are given below.
1. Find a good place to keep your knives:
Some knife owners have stored his knife in the sheath, or forgotten that he's left it in the sheath (sometimes for months or years) and that there are little spots of rust starting to form. We can't say this enough: don't store knives in sheaths! Although, you want to keep it with the sheath, and carry it in the sheath, but long term storage in the knife sheath is probably the most destructive thing you can do to your fine custom knife. Suitable places would be in a knife block or in a drawer (but only if they are in a sheath, as the knives could be damaged otherwise).
2. Clean your knives after each use:
It is recommended that you wash your knives by hand using a mild dishwashing liquid and water. For knives that are supposed to be hand washed, take a soapy cloth and gently scrub the knife, then wash it off with hot water. After washing, rinse with water and dry thoroughly with a towel. Use a clean cloth to dry knives. Knives should NOT be put in the dishwasher. Doing so could damage the sharp edges should they come into contact with other objects in the dishwasher.
3. Keep your knives dry:
After using or cleaning your knife, it is a good practice to dry your knife (the entire knife, not just the blade). Even for blades that are made with corrosion-resistant stainless steel, prolonged exposure to the elements can cause the steel's surface to oxidize. Folding knives should be kept clean and dry of debris, particularly the locking device on lock-blade knives. For example, if you have a carbon steel kitchen knife, it can be rusting even if it does not appear to be doing so. Carbon steel kitchen knives should be oiled with food-grade mineral oil immediately after use to help prevent corrosion.
4. Steel your knives regularly:
A knife's edge has a tendency to roll towards either side of the edge, and decrease cutting power. To steel a blade, hold the knife flat against a surface and slide it along, gradually raising the back of the blade until it JUST begins to cut into the surface. From there, take your steel in one hand, and hold the back corner of the knife's edge to the end of the steel closest to you. "Sweep" the blade towards the tip of the steel, making sure that all of the length of the blade comes in contact with the steel. Do this ten times for each side of the blade.
5. Use knife for cutting things which have lower dulling effect:
Boards made of glass, ceramic, marble etc are completely useless; they damage the cutting edge in the first cut. Wooden and plastic boards are better and have a much lower dulling effect. For the best result use very soft disposable paper or card cutting board.
Periodically, and always after cleaning, apply a small amount of lubricant to the working parts of the knife, particularly the pivot points of a folding knife. Then apply a thin film of lubricant to the entire surface of the blade. This will help prevent surface oxidation and corrosion from moisture.
Some Cautions for Knives:
- ! DO NOT use harsh detergents or cleansers containing chlorine bleach.
- ! DO NOT soak before cleaning. In particular, avoid soaking in harsh cleaning solutions and any solution containing bleach.
- ! DO NOT attempt to cut through frozen foods or bones. If you should slice into something frozen or solid, remove carefully using a slicing (forward and backward) motion. DO NOT twist the knife side to side to remove it. Doing so will bend your edge and possibly chip it leaving a chunk of knife in the solid matter.
- ! DO NOT cut with a chopping (up and down) motion. This is not the proper way to cut and only dulls your knife. Cut with a slicing (forward and backward) motion.
- ! DO NOT use these knifes for any purpose other than for what they were intended, i.e., the preparation of food. Under no circumstances should they be used as a screwdriver, crowbar or wire-cutter.
- ! DO NOT cut on a marble, stone, tile or glass surface.