Knife Care Tips

Below are some tips on caring for your custom knife. Following these will ensure a long life for your investment. Follow these tips for your user knives and for your display knives.

Tip #1: Use the knife for it’s intended purpose

A knife is a knife and not a screwdriver, pry bar, or hammer. If you own a hunter, the blade geometry, hardness, and material are intended to be used as a cutting/skinning tool. If you treat it as a machete or hatchet you will increase the chances of ruining the knife.

Tip #2: Care for the knife when not in use.

A sheath is a great way to carry your knife, but it is typically not a good idea to store your knife in a sheath for long (weeks, months) periods of time, particularly if the sheath is leather. The leather can trap moisture, and oils in the leather can oxidize the blade over time. This is true for even stainless steels. After all, stainless steel is stain resistant, not stain proof. When storing your blade, it helps to give the blade a thin protective layer of oil or other protective coating to keep the blade from oxidizing. For my personal knife collection, I like to use renaissance wax. This is a high quality micro-crystalline wax polish used by museums and many knife collectors. I just put it on with a soft cloth and buff it off. It can be applied to all parts of the knife, as well as leather. It’s not cheap, but one jar will last for hundreds of applications.

Tip #3: Cleaning Your Knife

A high quality knife should not be used in the dishwasher. The dishwasher will dull the blade . Not to mention, extreme temperatures will wear down epoxies used to help secure the handle material. Instead, hand wash the blade with soap and water. Rinse the blade and dry with a clean soft cloth before applying oil or wax to the blade.

Tip #4: Sharpening Your Blade

I’m no expert on knife-sharpening, but I know this technique works for me, and i’m happy to share it with you.

I prefer to use a lansky sharpening system for my knife sharpening. What I like about the Lansky is there is no guessing about getting the right edge angle. You get the same angle with every stroke, and a consistent angle is very important to getting a good edge. Using the Lansky,  I work my way through the honing stones until I have a sharp edge.  How do you know when it’s time to move to the next stone? When a side is finished, the very edge of the blade will develop a burr. You won’t be able to see it, but you’ll be able to feel it (with practice) by running the tip of your fingernail over the edge in the direction away from the spine. When your fingernail catches, it means the edge is rolled over. Make sure you get it where your fingernail catches at any point along the edge. Then it’s time to move to a finer stone. Repeat until you get to the finest stone.

For the final step, I run through a series of compounds on a leather strop, in the direction opposite from cutting, at the same angle used for sharpening. This removes the burr, resulting in a very sharp edge. I like to test the sharpness by pressing the edge against my fingernail at various angles. The sharper the edge, the smaller the angle in which the blade will dig into the fingernail if you don’t like scratching your fingernails, you can do the same test with a Bic pen.