Care Instructions ~ caring for the surface, edge and handle of carbon steel kitchen knives

   Care of the surface, handle and edge of carbon steel kitchen knife animated-butterfly4

broken knife

OIl the blade

above top; throw away stainless. Bottom- click to enlarge

Click here to (see 1:20 thru 7 minutes) learn about carbon steel kitchen knives from the original one and only Julia Child ! This is a PBS show first broadcast in early spring of 1963. Julia talks about carbon steel kitchen knives; how to care for them and why to buy carbon steel kitchen knives in the first place. She even takes the time to clean one of her blades. Although I would suggest avoiding using a scouring cleanser, and simply go right for a scrubbie sponge as shown as you read below.
This whole video is wonderful, as the ever charming Ms. Child gives her unique take on French Onion Soup. Bon Appétit !

The Blade or Surface
As far as the blade/surface portion of the knife is concerned, I rinse and wipe it off with a clean dry cotton kitchen towel after I use it. That is all I do, and the blade stays silvery gray. Then I leave it to air dry in the dish drain.
If I want a blade bone dry, I will clean off surface when I finish using the knife, rinse it and then I use a paper towel to dry surface & handle. Paper towels really dry off all the moisture, as opposed to a dish towel which almost always leaves some moisture behind.
     If  I am cooking, I will wipe off pretty consistently between food types throughout the process, and do a double wipe when finished. This includes my wood cutting board. I generally hang a towel over my shoulder when working, but many pull a towel through their belt or apron string, ala “Chef Pepin”.
     Re: oil blade for ease of cutting – I have tried it for a few weeks using Canola oil. Initially after drying and I am finished using, but now only before working with sticky stuff.  It does work !

Above: Said scrub sponge w/ green scouring pad on one side.
Scotch-brite is twice as durable as all other brands and I highly recommend it.

 If I cut something that sticks to the surface like cheese, or if I cut raw meat, I use hot water and the green side of a scrub sponge to abrade clean surface off and then “wipe it off”.  You can also use salt  (Kosher is the best) to clean off the wet surface using a rag or wash cloth. This will allow the built up surface patina to stay put while removing all else. Soap will clean as well, but if you wash with soap, thoroughly dry with cotton or paper towel and let air dry. You can also (optional) warm blade up and oil surface, but I never do this as there is no need. I am not using the surface to cook on and the oil will not stay on.
Other ways of cleaning a really abused knife surface is using sand paper grits of 120, 240 and then 320. This is very heavy duty only for the worst kek and rust on a knife.  Rinse when done and as always, dry off surface completely.  Any knife you have, no matter how funky and crusty, can be renewed back to the surface with a bit of work.

How I finish all handles

→Here is a video on a few pre-made finishes if you want to take the time.

    There is no such thing as a hard impenetrable (by water, oils, surfactants, etc.) finish that does not have some toxic repercussions in the home or in the environment. If you want an environmentally clean handle on your fine kitchen tool, it has to have some form of upkeep. Since I and my family consciously try to avoid household chemicals in all forms, then the trick for me was to find a clean finish that needs to be periodically renewed and to keep it easy and simple. I will describe process as follows.  During the machining/sanding process, between 36 and 120 grit belts, I dip the wood handle  in water and then allow it to dry. This will raise the grain, which is then sanded down. I go up to 400 grit, which removes all visible scratches. This will prevent grain raising when your handle gets wet years down the line.
Once I finish with the machine sanding phase, all my handles are then hand sanded to 600 grit, then given a coat of grain filling Bulls Eye wax free Shellac, to fill in the wood grain.  Shellac is suspended in alcohol and as clean as a finish can get. The shellac penetrates the wood and fills in the grain, which is all I want.  Once Shellac is dry, I steel wool the shellac off using 00, 000 and 0000 grade steel wool, and then apply my oil/wax mixture and allow to sit for 2 hours while the wood absorbs any oils, leaving the wax on the surface. Then I hand buff  the wax out .  The blade is then inscribed with my logo;
bad logo2 and finally all oils are cleaned from the blade surface using a soft sponge and dish soap.
To refinish at home, simply allow wood handle to dry out (ideally for 1/2 to 1 day), and use sandpaper to sand down the raised grain on the wood. Any abrasive material will work, even the green side of a new scrubbie sponge.

You can finish a handle at home

Hint* ~ Grit on sandpaper is identified by number.
Grit goes from coarsest at 36,40, 80 grit to medium at 120, 150, 180, 220 on up to fine and very fine. Most projects start with medium and go to fine.
Sheets are fairly cheap to buy. For most non-crafter types, sanding blocks work great in the kitchen – like around 120 grit. Just ask for sanding blocks at the hardware store. One has two large surfaces and two edges. It is basically a thick sponge with sandpaper surface. Useful around the kitchen so keep it. You can also use it as a sharpening stone. Also ideal for knife and cast iron pan surfaces. etc. See section under this one for more about sanding blocks.

      To avoid getting cut while working on a blade, masking tape is ideal but a towel works great also.  This is not necessary, but I have to mention it. If you do not want the brass bolster to get scratched, wrap with making tape. Then get sandpaper in sheet or block form at a hardware store. Rub handle wood using first 220 – 240 grit and then 320 grit. If you need to, you can start with 120 grit. Rub back and forth the long way, until old kek build up is gone. This takes two minutes. What works best is to use a hard or soft block that you wrap the paper around or try a coarse/fine sanding block. **This is the perfect time to Fill in any gaps between wood and steel with wood filler or yellow glue. You can get many colors of wood filler at the hardware store. Combine yellow glue with some saw dust and pack it into the clean dry crack and allow to dry. If you do not have saw dust, some lint will work fine.  You could also  sprinkle baking soda in the clean dry crack and drop on some super glue. Baking soda will speed up the reaction and the result will be very hard. Sand clean. Then wipe on any convenient oil or wax or wax/oil and allow at least 30 minutes for the wood to soak it up. Then re-coat and keep this up for around 3-4 coats. You can use any oil pressed from a nut or even seed oil. No petroleum products please. When the wood does not soak up oil any more, your done. You can then apply a paste wax to the surface. Just make sure to review the products ingredients.
I finish my knife handles with an all in one, oil/wax finish as the last step, and then hand buff. I make my own, but Howard’s makes a product called ‘Feed-n-Wax’ that is excellent for kitchen knife handles and all wood furniture and I recommend it.
 Wood is like any natural material, a little bit of upkeep always goes a long way. Now wipe off and start motor.


           41DGg4OlTvL._SX300_  knife-sharpenerI use Smith’s sharpener. They use opposed carbine to shave a tiny bit off the edge. Available in local hardware & sporting goods stores.
There are cheaper Chinese knock offs around, but should be avoided, as they use easily ‘crack-able’ ceramic, instead of real carbide.
Carbide is way harder than steel and very strong. Smith’s dual carbide head is adjustable and replaceable.

38 second graphic Video ⇒HERE⇐ on how to use it.
This method takes 5 seconds and edge is always wicked sharp. It does make the bevel a little steeper than it would be using stones, but it is fast and has worked for me for 25 years. I always hold the knife with the back against something solid, exposing the edge. Hold it square to the edge !
Then I draw it only one way, from back to front, and do not bother with the fine ceramic side, which in my opinion does nothing. I find this method safe and reliable. Attach a float if you take it on a boat.

Using a steel rod or butcher is a very very hard method to master. It is easier, I think, to draw the sharpener over the knife, as you will get more control. **This method if NOT done incorrectly (over 20 degrees) will ruin a bevel by rolling it. You basically sharpen the edge off. Very easy to do.
Many many people use this method and have no idea why they are dissatisfied with the edge of their knife. Basically, they are  rolling or flattening their edge, instead of refining it. So I say avoid it if your the average person in the kitchen and not on the line in a slaughter house.

. anim_sharpening_rod

     Your knives will need to have the edge brightened/honed up every 4-6 times they are used, depending on what you do with it. You should notice, after awhile, that the knife will hold a great edge for a long time. It will be noticeable. If not, let me know. This edge holding ability, equals satisfaction with the product which cannot be shown before hand, only experienced over time. The overwhelming feedback I get is that the edge holds really well.
The wood handle will last forever, if you will keep it from soaking in the sink. Never place any knife in the dishwasher, ever. Your using a fine tool, made by hand.
With the videos mentioned or found on You tube, anyone can learn to use a stone to hone with, with time and patience.  In a sense, a honing is a light sharpening where you only work on the very edge, rather than the bevel and the edge.
Learning to sharpen/hone is a nice skill to have but in my opinion is unnecessary if you do not have the time or inclination. Hence, I encourage you to get the simplest cheapest sharpening tools you prefer and go at it , with NO FEAR.
My knives are made to re-edge and with the smallest effort, you can have sharp ready to go knives with little effort.

Cast Iron Cookware & iron woks or ‘keep it dry’…

     No matter what condition a cast iron pot/pan is in, it can be brought back to new-ish condition. Simply start with a coarse sand paper like 120 and start sanding. If 120 does not work, try 80 grit and then 120. The old built up surface kek will then be removed with enough elbow grease. Then rinse with soap and hot water. Place on stove top after wiping dry and fill the bottom of pot/pan with kitchen oil (no mineral oil) and bake at 200 degrees F. for about an hour (vid above says 500 degrees – no thanks).  The pan will be HOT so watch out when removing! Wipe clean after temperature of the pan is warmish using paper towel and tongs. Once it is cool, dredge bottom with salt, and wipe clean. Thereafter, I clean my pan with salt and a paper towel or sponge green side, if there is cooked on kek (eggs) or just add water to hot pan and let cool.  Hardware store bought sanding pads (medium or 120 grit) really work well also, and last a long time. If you went this route, do not use the pads for anything else but your in house projects.

   Product shown below is called a sanding block.
You can buy then in any hardware store and great
for heavy scrubbing in the kitchen.⇓


     They come in all the grits. I have an 80 grit block in my kitchen (fairly coarse) that I’ve had for years, which was a freebie thrown in the box with a sanding belt order. I use this block all the time for cleaning out a cast iron pan, clean off a BBQ grill, or any heavy scouring. I suggest getting one that is around 140-180 grit for the handle and blade portion of a carbon steel knife & clean a cast iron pan or grill. It will remove built up stuff on the handle so you can re-oil it, and clean off surface of a blade. It can remove a bent point as easy as kiss my hand, AND you can even sharpen with it. Can be found in any hardware store, cheap.


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