– The Patina
Carbon Steel naturally stains over time and more quickly in the presence of acids. Foods that contain acids will create colors and patterns on your blade, and as the patina forms it will help to prevent future rust and oxidation. It is possible to “force” the patina with natural acids such as vinegar. To do this wipe the blade with a towel soaked in vinegar and allow it to sit on the blade for a few minutes and then re-apply, but do not let the vinegar dry onto the blade. The longer the vinegar stays on the blade the more the patina will develop. When you are satisfied with the level of patina simply rinse the blade thoroughly in water and dry immediately. If your blade does form rust it is not the end of the world. Simply use a fine steel wool, a scotchbrite pad or fine grit (400+) sandpaper to gently remove the surface rust.
To prevent rust from forming on your blade and natural handle materials from warping it is important to never put your knife in the dishwasher, but rather hand rinse and thoroughly dry your knife before storing it. Natural handle materials like wood and horn will absorb water if they are not dried after washing and cause the materials to swell and then shrink as they dry. This can cause the handle to separate from the tang of the knife. Your knife will arrive with a generous coating of mineral oil, but will dry over time and will need occasional reapplication. You will notice the handle will begin to feel rough to the touch as this oil is leeched out of the wood. I recommend mineral oil because it is non-toxic, easily available, and inexpensive. Tung oil, teak oil, or danish oil are other options, just don’t use vegetable oils (canola, Olive, etc) they will oxidize in the air and become sticky and rancid.
– Edge Care
I highly recommend the use of honing steels to maintain your cutting edge. Your knife will arrive sharp and will maintain that sharpness for a time, but every knife dulls. With general use the thin steel on the edge of your knife will begin to deform and roll to one side or the other. The use of a honing rod before each use and during extended use will realign your blades edge and you will notice improved performance. When honing your knife no longer revives the edge it is time to resharpen. Unlike honing which merely straightens the edge of your blade, sharpening actually removes material and reestablishes a proper geometry to the edge. I will be happy to sharpen any knife you purchase from me, if you provide shipping/transportation of the blade to and from my shop.
– Use and Storage
Using your knife on wooden or plastic cutting boards will greatly improve its edge retention. Use on ceramic, steel, granite and other materials which are harder than steel will immediately begin to destroy the edge of your blade. Storing your knife in a drawer with other blades/utensils is both dangerous for your hands and detrimental to the edge. Magnetic knife racks and open ended knife blocks are better ways to insure your knives stay sharper longer.