A knife is a versatile tool, but it needs proper care to stay sharp and functional. But what is the proper care for different types of knives, and how can you keep all your knives in the best condition?
Types of Knives
It is important to learn what type of knife you have in order to care for it appropriately. Understanding a knife’s intended use will help you plan for the best care to keep it sharp, functional, and easy to use for many years.
There are five basic categories of knives…
- Kitchen Knives These are any knives with the primary purpose of cutting and preparing food. Kitchen knives can include general use utility knives as well as paring, boning, bread, carving, fileting, and cheese knives, as well as heavy duty cleavers and chef’s knives.
- Outdoor Knives These knives are generally heavier and more durable for outdoor use in different weather and terrain conditions. These knives include bushcraft, hunting, and survival knives, as well as more specialized outdoor blades like the machete and kukri.
- Pocket Knives These versatile knives are foldable and generally have multiple blades of different sizes for different uses. Some pocket knives may have completely different blade styles, and many incorporate different multi-tools into their design as well.
- Fighting Knives Fighting knives are specifically designed for combat, both offensive and defensive, and they typically require specialized training for effective use. Boot, tactical, and throwing knives are all fighting knives, as well as bayonets and throwing stars.
- Specialty Knives Other types of blades that may not fit into a more generalized category but still require proper knife care include scalpels, craft knives, box cutters, dive knives, and electrician’s knives. Each of these knives has a very specific purpose and is intended for specialized use.
Best Knife Care
While knowing the type of knife you have will allow you to care for it exactly as intended, all knives require the same general basic care. If your knife is covered under a warranty, read all the terms and conditions of that coverage to be sure none of the care you provide will invalidate the protections and guarantees for the knife. Similarly, always practice proper safety when using knives and do not use them in any haphazard manner that may be dangerous.
To properly care for a knife, it will need…
- Proper Use Do not use a knife as a screwdriver, hammer, pry bar, can opener, or any other tool except the cutting for which it was designed. Improper use can not only be dangerous, but can also chip, crack, or dull the blade so the knife will not function well.
- Appropriate Cutting Knives should always be used only for appropriate cutting. Do not use a knife as a saw, and be sure you are using safe, proper cutting motions to protect the blade. Do not use the blade to scrape food to the side or otherwise use contrary motion that may cause dullness.
- Cleaning Knives should never be placed in the dishwasher, where they may be knocked about or exposed to other conditions that could mar the finish or damage the blade. Instead, wash the knife in warm, soapy water, and dry it promptly to eliminate any rusting or spotting.
- Sharpening All knives will need periodic sharpening to keep a fine cutting edge. If you do not know how to sharpen the blade yourself, seek out a professional to ensure the edge is kept at its optimum sharpness. Good quality knives should be sharpened 2-3 times per year.
- Storage Do not store a knife in a silverware drawer tumbled with other implements or utensils that could dull or nick the cutting edge. Instead, store the knife in a dedicated holder, along a magnetic mounting strip, or in a proper sheath.
- Oiling Knives with joints and hinges, such as pocket knives, should be properly oiled so the hinge does not catch or stick. Solid knives may also be lightly oiled to protect against rust in areas with high humidity or salt in the air.
- Tightening Just as hinged knives will need periodic oiling, they should also be tightened regularly so the handle and all joints with other tools are secure and will not open unless properly used. Some straight knives may also need regular tightening on the handles.
With proper care, a good quality knife can be a valuable, useful tool for many years. By taking care of your knives and using them properly, you will be able to enjoy sharp edges and efficient cutting whenever you use a knife.