First things first: a Damascus knife requires more care than a normal European chef’s knife . You have to be aware of this. Yes, it’s incredibly hot. But resharpening Damascus steel either requires a little practice or belongs in the hands of a specialist!
This post deals with the Damascus steel chef’s knife in general . So the chef’s knife, which each of us has in his Damascus Kitchen Knife Set, just the blade is Damascus.
However, the Damascus characteristic is available for almost every kitchen knife shape. Both the paring knife and the cleaver are available with a Damascus blade. I’ll only go into the chef’s knife. However, the blade properties are identical and apply to all types of knives.
Chef’s knife Damascus test: recognize real Damascus Kitchen Knife Set
Before they set out to search for a new Damascus, they need to know how a real, original Damascus chef’s knife ever seen. On the Internet I keep coming across a lot of replicas that only visually imitate the special beauty of steel!
In order to recognize genuine Damascene steel , they have to be a professional. Mostly pay attention to the following points:
- the price: a Damascus chef’s knife costs significantly more than 70 euros. A particularly low price is the first, very clear indication that it is not a real Damascus knife.
- Damascus knife set: “Fake” Damascus knives are often sold as a set – at low prices.
You are welcome to extrapolate that. If a good Damascus steel chef’s knife costs 240 euros, the set must cost several hundred euros.
- Damascus knives are never made in China!
- The blade often has a Japanese inscription, but never a Chinese one
- The real chef’s knife made of Damascus is originally hand-forged (more on this in the next paragraph )
Real Damascus knives only hand-forged
If you want to buy a real Damascus knife, it is always hand-forged in its original shape! However, this has its price. The blank for the blade or the steel used is priced at 250 to 500 euros. You can expect prices of 600 euros and more for the finished knife.
By optimizing the production and further development, you can find good knives made of Damascus for 300-400 euros.
Many knives advertised with Damascus – why?
The entire copies of the original Damascus chef’s knives are available in large numbers and for incredibly low prices on the Internet. But they are never hand-forged chef’s knives. Both the handle and the types of steel used have nothing in common with the original.
The advertised knives use the term Damascus in the sense that the blade is made of several layers of steel pressed together. Sometimes even the steel used is very inferior. These knives are not recommended. It is a mass product and as you know, the real chef’s knife is hand-forged from Damascus – so it is unique!
My opinion: does it have to be hand-forged?
A hand-forged Damascus chef’s knife no longer has to be. Very few people still know how to really use such a cutting tool. However, I cannot recommend these inferior knives that I just wrote about. It has little to nothing to do with Damascus !
Recommended and well-known manufacturers of Damascus kitchen knives
- Fujitora (Tojiro)
- Kai (European version of the Damascus knife)
- GEN Takumi
- Kasumi Sumikama
Beguiling beauty with a mystical past
The hallmark of Damascus steel is its wavy texture. It occurs when several layers of steel are welded together by rolling, hammering, and folding. With a mysterious etching and polishing technique, the characteristic wave structure of Damascus steel comes to light.
The technical properties of this mysterious material seem almost profane in view of its beauty:
History of the Damascus chef’s knife
The name “ Damascus steel ”, on the other hand, is a bit misleading: It was not the oriental blacksmiths who were the first craftsmen who made swords, knives and axes with this steel. The real creators of this famous material are the Celts. The oldest example of their legendary blacksmithing is a sword, which is dated to 500 BC . The corrugated steel found its enthusiastic smiths all over Europe from their home in southern Spain at the time, who practiced copying this art and refining it further.
Even the Vikings made their blades and hatchet from this material. Only the Romans disdained swords made of Damascus steel – which of course did not have that name at the time – but preferred to rely on their own swords. However, the aesthetic properties of this material quickly became very popular, so that the manufacture of jewelry and cult objects from Damascus steel quickly found widespread use. This remained so until the middle of the 18th century when Damascus steel was used to make ceremonial weapons for the aristocracy. Even the first firearms were made with this material.
Due to its elaborate production methods, steel lost its importance in Europe in the middle of the 19th century, as inexpensive and more efficient production methods for steel were available.
Keeping it alive through traditional craftsmanship
Damascus steel may no longer have come into question for the production of mass-produced items due to the industrial revolution, but its tradition was maintained in other parts of the world. This is especially true for the Indian and Ottoman regions, as well as for the Southeast Asian islands. To this day, Indonesia has a traditional forging culture, which still produces and processes steel in small factories.
The famous Kriss with its typical wavy blade is only really originally made of Damascus steel. And that is still the hallmark of this material today: originality and the need for a high level of expertise and experience. Damascus steel products are always made with attention to detail and are not mass-produced items.
High quality Damascus knives for your Damascus Kitchen Knife Set
There is therefore no need to ask why it has to be Damascus steel for the knife block. It doesn’t have to – but it may. If you love something special, that certain something extra in terms of exclusivity and aesthetics, then the kitchen knife made of Damascus steel is an excellent opportunity to meet your own quality standards. Make yourself happy day after day with bread and chef knives that are absolutely individual and breathtakingly beautiful.
Handling and care of knives made of Damascus steel
The fine, black lines on a knife made of Damascus steel are deposits of carbon. There is a particularly large amount of this in this material, which makes it particularly hard . This is good when it comes to cutting and sharpening.
Care for high-quality Damascus knives is a must
However, if the knife is not used for its intended purpose, it reacts very sensitively: used as a lever or placed on an overly hard surface, nicks can appear or the entire knife can breakthrough.
That is why you only ever use your Damascus knife for what it was made for:
As a blade that glides smoothly through bread, fruit, vegetables or meat. Always use a high-quality wooden base for this.
Well used, however, there comes a moment for every knife when it has to be sharpened. A fine-grain whetstone is suitable for a Damascus Kitchen Knife Set. The “Arkansas” or “Belgian chunks” are best suited for this. As a complement to the knife, a suitable whetstone is the ideal investment. With oil and a little practice, you can always bring your kitchen knife back to the best sharpness.