Damascus and Carbon steel knives are better than stainless steel knives but they do require a little care. Here are some tips to help you care for your knife.
Given Damascus is a high carbon steel they need to be cared for and considered unlike the disposable stainless knives most have in their drawers.
You will want to keep your knives stored in a dry space. Long term storage in leather sheaths could result in the blade rusting due to the absorbent nature of leather. We recommend preparing your knives for storage if you do not plan on using them for extended time periods.
Coating the blade in Vaseline or a light oil (such as WD 40 or olive oil) will keep the moisture from staining the blade. If you are going to store them in leather we recommend you prep the blade, wrap it in plastic wrap then insert the knife in the sheath. The plastic wrap will act as a protective barrier between the steel and the leather. Once removed after storage simply clean off the blade and use.
If the blade does develop some rust or corrosion we recommend wet sanding the blade using WD40 with 1500 wet/dry sandpaper or 0000 or 000 steel wool. The WD40 acts as a cutting agent. This usually will restore the blade to its original state with little effort.
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Balance - Refers to how the weight of the knife is distributed along its length. Generally, a knife will balance at the guard or at the forward edge of the handle. A chopping knife may intentionally be made with the balance point farther back to distribute more of the weight in the blade. Distributing more weight in the handle make for a "quick" and more maneuverable blade.
Blade - Everything in front of the handle or guard. Blade length is measured from the tip to the guard halfway up the blade.
Blood Groove - A groove or recess cut into the sides of the blade. A common misconception is that the purpose is allow blood to drain down the blade or to prevent suction when withdrawing the knife from an animal or enemy. See "Fuller" for the actual function.
Bolster - A piece between the blade and the handle. Primarily a decorative piece, it also serves to help balance the knife. In some case’s the bolster may be shaped in such a way as to also serve as a guard.
Butt Cap - A piece attached to the end of the handle. Usually made of steel or brass, it's primary purpose is to help balance the knife although it can sometimes also be used as a striking surface.
Choil - A recessed portion of the blade just in front of the guard or handle. This allows sharpening the entire length of the cutting edge. The choil can sometimes also be used to "choke up" on the knife by placing your forefinger in the choice for more control of the knife.
Clip - The downswept portion on the leading top edge of some blades. Sometimes called a false edge, it may, or may not be sharpened. Typically found on Bowie style knifes, the main purpose it to focus the blade at the point of penetration.
Edge - The cutting edge of the blade.
Fuller - Sometimes mistaken called a "Blood Groove", a fuller is a groove or recessed area on the sides of the blade. The purpose is to stiffen and lighten the blade.
Grind - The part of the blade that has been ground to a cutting edge.
Guard - Separates the blade from the handle. The purpose is to keep your fingers from sliding onto the blade. In the case of a fighting knife, it may also serve to prevent your opponent's blade from striking your hand.
Handle - The grip portion of the knife. Handles are typically 3 1/2 - 5 inches long on a fixed blade knife to allow a full grip. Handles can be made from a wide variety of materials and attached in a variety of ways.
Hilt - Everything behind the blade.
Pins - Used to attach or secure the handle to the knife.
Primary Bevel - This is the angle ground from the spine or flat portion of the blade down toward the cutting edge. There may, or may not, be a secondary bevel right at the cutting edge.
Ricasso - The unground portion of the blade between the cutting edge and the guard. This maintains this portion at maximum thickness for strength. This is also where the makers mark is usually found.
Secondary Bevel - The angled grind that leads directly to the actual cutting edge. The reason for grinding a secondary bevel is to thin the steel at the cutting edge for a finer, sharper edge without weakening the blade by thinning a larger portion of the blade.
Spine - the unsharpened top edge of the blade.
Swedge - Similar to the clip or false edge, it is a ground portion on the top edge of the blade.
The Northeast Cutlery Collectors Association, Inc. is a 30+ year old Association serving old, factory & custom Knife collectors. We collect pocket knives, hunting knives, antique bowie knives, military knives, antique swords, Damascus Steel knives and more! Our association is based in New England, but our membership extends worldwide.