So you finally got the knife of your dreams. Now lets talk about the safe storage and display of that lovely blade.
There are many options for protective use and storage and even display of your blades of choice. To understand the options let’s take a look at what type of care each part of the knife needs.
1. The cutting edge.
There are two aspects to caring for your knife’s edge – when in use and when not in use.
When using your knife (depending on hardness) not cutting through bone or frozen foods or anything harder than you could chew for example – that will chip your edge or even shatter your blade.
Use your knife on a surface that is softer than your knife. Your knife will dull when used on surfaces that can’t be penetrated. Think of a hammer on an anvil, there is no edge there.
Surfaces to avoid with your knife
• any kitchen counter (so you get invited back)
• wood or bamboo composites with large concentrations of glue bonding them together
Surfaces that are not as damaging
• most wood (boards, edge grain and face grain)
• composites like epicurean
Surfaces that are knife edge friendly
• end grain cutting boards sometimes called a butcher block
End grain cutting boards are made from a cut of wood so the rings of the trees are visible on the surface. With this design you are cutting with the grain and the fibres open for the blade edge and then close up again leaving minimal marks on the surface of the board and no resistance to the edge minimising dulling of the knife’s cutting edge.
Within the category of end grain boards you have a large selection of various woods to choose from based on size, weight, look, feel and overall aesthetics….
2. The surface of the blade.
The sides of your knives can be scratched and depending on the hardness of the metal some scratch easier than others. Will the scratches affect the cutting edge and functionality of your knife – no.
Do you want to see your knives all scratched up? Of course not. So how to avoid scratches?
• use a professional sharpener or learn how to sharpen properly. Inexperienced stone sharpening will show scratches due to learning curve.
• hone regularly to avoid.
• avoid using a metal magnetic strip to hang your knives on – metal on metal will scratch.
• avoid putting knives in an area where other metal objects will come into contact and scratch the sides of your knife. The best example of this is a drawer with other cutlery.
• other damage is usually rust.
3. The point and the tip of the knife.
Some people use the tip of their knives a lot while others do not. A Nakiri for example is a knife without a tip. The majority of knives do have a tip and some are super sensitive like a fillet knife. How do they get damaged?
• running interference in your cutlery drawer
• being put in a knife block slot that is too short (and the point crashes into the bottom)
• using the point or tip in other careless ways (gore warning – see avocado hand)
4. The knife handle.
Most knives have very easy-care handles. The more natural the handle material the more care required. Here is an excellent article about knife handles.
If your knives have wooden handles they should be dried before being put away. Also various woods, depending on their finishes, need conditioning so they don’t dry out. If your knife is one with a classic tang construction the way they are dried is also important so as to not contribute to rusting of the tang.
Given all of the above information you may be curious about the best way to store or display your knives? Here are some options:
• in an organised drawer
• in a drawer with a blade cover – some knives come with their own covers
• in a knife block (on the counter)
• on a display rack
• Japanese style knife rack
• a knife roll – if traveling
When choosing a knife block the main points to keep in mind are:
• is the edge being dulled by how the knife is put in? (hint you can put knives in edge up)
• will moisture be allowed to drain?
• is the handle able to dry adequately and in a direction that won’t affect tang?
• is there enough room for the tip to not come into contact with something?
• will the blade be scratched?
• do you have the counter-space for the footprint of the knife block?
Take care of your tools and you will have them your whole life.