Damascus kitchen knives are very popular in the world. The most distinct feature of damascus knives is its unique pattern on the blade. It’s like this…
That mysterious wave pattern tends to stimulate desires for possession for people; it’s not the case for everyone but for many people I guess even those who aren’t interested in kitchen knives. Imagine if you possess a coolest designed damascus kitchen knife. It may change you to a cooking lover, or it may make you cannot stop using it without a reason.
In fact, damascus kitchen knife is fun to use because it generally cut things better than standard knives. It is because most of damascus knives are made of high quality expensive steel materials which gives higher cutting quality. You’ll hardly have a complaints on damascus kitchen knives in terms of cutting performance.
In this post, I will introduce cool, romantic and mysterious damascus kitchen chef knives, especially chef knives and santoku knives. In addition, we introduce one of the most famous “non-damascus” Japanese chef knife brand for comparison. Please take a look if you’re interested!
Kinds of Knife Handles and Materials
First of all, where does “damascus” come from? There is a city named Damascus in a Middle East country, Syria. The name “damascus knife” is derived from Damascus city in Syria.
In present, there is also a kind of steel named “damascus steel”. According to Wikipedia, Damascus steel was a type of steel used for manufacturing sword blades in the Near East made with wootz steel. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. Such blades were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering, and capable of being honed to a sharp, resilient edge.
The genuine Damascus swords were objects of adoration among knights. Recent research revealed that the Damascus sword has features of formidable sharpness, difficulty to rust, flexibility and unique wave patterns, which are result of its making process.
Damascus sword had spread not only neighborhood countries; it was brought to European countries by the crusaders and highly valued by European royalties.
Until today, many people pursue mysterious charms of the Damascus all over the world. Here’s an example of such guys.
Is the Damascus chef knife of today genuine?
Actually, damascus chef knives or kitchen knives sold today are imitations of the Damascus swords in medieval. Such knives have inherited the name of “Damascus” to express mysterious and valuable impressions.
In other words, the genuine Damascus swords have the unique wave patterns to realize excellent performances as an arm, whilst wave patterns of damascus chef knives today are for another reason. Let’s take a look at the structure of a damascus chef knife.
Structure of Damascus Blade
Looking at the figure showing cross section of the blade of a damascus chef knife, you can see why damascus-like pattern doesn’t work for cutting ability of the knife. Gray part at the center of the blade is generally made of hard material so that the knife cut foods well. This is where touch foods and cut them. Soft stainless steel layers which form damascus pattern are joined to the hard cutting part of the blade.
The number of layers forming damascus pattern is different among products. Generally speaking, the more number of layers a knife has, the more beautiful and complicated damascus-like pattern is made. However, it doesn’t affect the knife’s cutting performance because, as you see, it won’t touch the food to cut.
What is the advantage of damascus chef knives?
The advantage of the damascus chef knives is their cool design.
In present, damascus pattern part of the blade of chef knives or kitchen knives is made of different (soft) materials. The layered damascus part is joined to the non-damascus hard steel blade which cut foods and which will be located at the center of the knife blades. Sometimes people think the damascus pattern knives sold in the market reproduced the cutting performance of medieval Damascus swords, but it is misunderstanding unfortunately.
That unique wave pattern of the damascus knives doesn’t have to do with their cutting performance. The part of that wave patterns on the blade doesn’t touch foods to cut. Those damascus patterns are added for to add beautiful design to knives. Replicating the wave pattern of the legendary Damascus swords, makers can give high class feel to their knives.
Having said that, damascus chef knives has cool designs actually. Without that damascus pattern, the knife looks too simple and less expensive. In fact, many people take damascus knives because of those beautiful wave patterns. It can be said a “brand”.
For example, products example of damascus chef knives introduced in the latter part of this post cost more than $100. Of course they cut foods well because finest VG-10 stainless steel is used as the center of the blade where actually cut foods. A simple designed knife “Seki Kotetsu”, for example, is made of same VG-10 stainless steel in its blade, and it cost only $50.
Comparing those knives, to be honest, cutting quality doesn’t differ. The price differences are due to the cost of making damascus pattern and attaching it to the blade.
(please let me excuse that VG-10 has several grades in accordance to HRC hardness etc., so the material may not completely same. Some VG-10 knives cost more than $300 (=our product;) because they use highest quality VG-10)
Generally, the knives named “damascus” are flagships of brands/makers, so their blades are made of high quality materials. Thanks to the material placed at the center of the blade (not the surrounding damascus patterns), those knives has higher cutting quality.
Introduction of Damascus Chef Knives
Chef knives with damascus pattern are sold for more than $100 in the market, which belong to higher price range as kitchen knives. Because those products are well made and have sharp and nice blades, many people will be content with those knives. (Let me repeat one more time, it cut well not because of the damascus pattern, because of the good material at the core of the blades)
When you want to choose a damascus chef knife, you should choose one with your favorite design. The advantage of damascus knives is their cool design. Damascus knives are more artworks than utility goods, so you should enjoy their appearance of clearly expensive and high grade.
Damascus Santoku, Zenho
The blade has 17 layered damascus pattern. The core part of the blade is made of VG-10 stainless steel, so it has excellent cutting quality. This one is said to be the best seller of the maker. Made in Seki, Japan.
Price: approximately $130/€110
Damascus Santoku, Tangon-Ryu
The blade has 33 layered damascus pattern. In addition, bents are made in upper part of the blade, which gives more accent and makes it hard for foods to stick. This knife has elegantly designed handle trimmed with metal, hand finished by artisans. Made in Echizen, Japan.
Price: approximately $150/€130
Damascus Gyuto, Chef Knife
The blade has 33 layered damascus pattern. Bents are made in upper part of the blade. Core part of the blade is made of 10A stainless steel. Handle is made of rose wood, which gives traditional taste, and handle cap is made of horns of water buffalo. Made in Sakai, Japan.
Price: approximately $145/€125
That famous Aritsugu doesn’t have damascus knives
Aritsugu is one of the most famous chef knife brand in Japan. It’s only sold in shops and the head store is located at Nishiki market in Kyoto city. Visitors from overseas visit the store in Kyoto one after another to buy Aritsugu knives.
Their elaborated craftsmanship has made finest chef knives for more than 450 years. From housewives to professional chefs, many people hope to possess Aritsugu knife one day. Their products are durable and sometimes said to last a lifetime.
However, Aritsugu doesn’t make damascus knives.
On the contrary, their products are modest and simple. Someone who are not interested in knives probably cannot tell the difference between Aritsugu and knives sold in home centers. Although Aritsugu knives has high cutting quality, you need careful treatment and maintenance. Otherwise it gets rust easily and become dull.
We can say Aritsugu is oppositely positioned product to damascus chef knives. It may be individual preferences which people choose as a chef knife.
Which do you like?
Author - Hiro
Lived in Kyoto in school days, I was impressed by profundity of history and tradition of the city. Had a job to join the three major festivals of Kyoto: Aoi, Jidai and Gion festivals. Love Kyoto and Japanese culture.
Manager of OrientalSouls.com, selling items of Japanese culture, tradition and craftsmanship. I'll introduce interesting information about Japan!