Grinding of a damascus knife

Welcome to the professional league

No question – in terms of sharpness, damascus knives play in the professional kitchen league. The extreme and long-lasting sharpness, as well as the exceptional layers, look make the heart of every knife lover beat faster. But even the sharpest blade eventually loses its sharpness. The fear of ruining your favorite kitchen treasure with your own grinding attempts is widespread. We have a solution! We have summarized the special details that need to be considered when sharpening the prestigious damascus knives.

What is the difference between a Damascus knife and a classic chef’s knife? 

Japanese damascus knives are made of very high carbon steel, which have a hardness between 60-63 Rockwell (HRC). In comparison, our European chef’s knives are between 55-58 HRC. A higher HRC allows your blade to be sharpened with an even finer grid, to reach a better sharpness that will last longer – even with intensive use. However, due to the high degree of hardness, damascus blades are also more sensitive and require more maintenance – because the more carbon is in the steel, the more susceptible it is for corrosion (rust). Therefore, high-quality damascus blades should always be well dried or maintained with appropriate oils.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KIND OF DAMASCUS KNIVES?

While manufacturing damascus knives, various kinds of steel are welded as a „billet“ under temperatures going up to 1.200 degrees Celsius. Like puff pastries, the steels are stretched and folded until the desired number of layers is achieved. After further treatment, these layers create the typical damascus pattern. Basically, we distinguish between two types of damascus blades: the classic or „wild“ damascus and the industrial damascus knives.

Wild Damascus

Classic or „wild“ damascus uses high-quality steels that are exclusively suitable for cutting. The production requires a high degree of manual labor, which is also reflected in the price: a classic damascus knife thus, very quickly cracks the 1.000 euro. There are no limits to the price for passionate knife collectors.

Cutting layers damascus

On the other hand, knives made out of industrial damascus are considerably less expensive. Here, only the cutting layer in the middle of the blade is made of qualitative carbon steel, which is surrounded by softer or tougher steel. These softer steels provide the typical damascus look but are usually not able to slide through cutting materials, as they are too smooth. This is why qualitative carbon steel is used for the cutting edge. Due to the technically more favorable process, good models can be purchased in a price range of 50 to 250 euros.

What is important while grinding a damascus knife?

Grinding speed

Mechanical or electrical grinding methods can quickly generate high temperatures on the blade. Excessively high temperatures will damage the steel permanently – the blade will literally burn. In addition, more material is removed than actually necessary. A high degree of experience is required here, and, above all, attention should be paid to cooling the cutting edge while sharpening. For this reason, manual grinding techniques are usually recommended for high-quality knives.

UNIFORM PRESSURE

Due to their high degree of rigidity, damascus knives react sensitively to punctual pressure, such as with classic pull-through sharpeners or honing steels. Therefore, it is important to grind the edge of your blade as evenly as possible to avoid nicks and chippings in your precious knives.

Reproducible angle

The decisive factor to take care of the most precious blades is to maintain a constant grinding angle and exactly reproduce it for future sharpenings. This is not an easy task while sharpening freehand and it certainly requires a certain amount of practice and time. A reproducible grinding angle ensures a fast grinding result for minimum material removal to ensure the longevity of your knives.

Which grit is the right one? 

A conversation about sharpening knives will always lead to a discussion about the used grit and the final results on the blades. 

In most cases, the grits of whetstones are specified according to the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS). Countless variations from very coarse grits starting at #400 to the finest grits of #10.000 are currently available on the market. Some are natural stones, others are industrially produced corundum or ceramic stones up to diamond surfaces. The principle is the same – material removal.

Basically, the finer the grit you use to sharpen your blade the sharper the cutting experience will be. We have simplified the time/effort ratio of the result after countless tests.

Our conclusion 

In order to achieve the best sharpening results and to avoid any damage to your blade, it is essential to avoid building-up excessive heat on the cutting edge. Due to the high carbon content, damascus knives are very hard, but they are also sensitive and require appropriate care. In order to sharpen a damascus knife in a short time and with little material loss, a constant grinding angle is crucial. The choice of grit can be self-determined from useful daily utilisation to professional sharpness.

About us

We would have never thought that we would find each other professionally, after all, these years. But when our individual skills found the right common project, amazing things came out. A supposedly simple tool that impresses people all over the world. Knife sharpening like a pro – but simpler.

The HORL® Sharpener

With years of experience in the sharpening industry, we now have built knowledge around all the grinding methods and their inconveniences. We have taken on the topic and developed a solution in which everybody can easily sharpen their damascus knives with the same precision as a professional.

  • the rotating movement of the grinding surfaces recreate a perfect uniform sharpness for an even blade
  • the magnetic angle support ensures a constant angle that can exactly be repeated to maintain the sharpness
  • the precise grinding angle limits the abrasion of material, extending the longevity of your knives

We are a family of innovation pioneers with 25+ years of experience in knife sharpening based at the foot of the Black Forest.