How to look after your Savernake knife

Knife Care & Sharpening

With proper care, your Savernake knife is guaranteed for life.

Some thoughts on care and sharpening.

If you care for your knife it will give you a lifetime of service.

The single most important thing to remember is not to put it in the dishwasher. It will not enjoy being sprayed with salty detergent and being heated to 80ºc!

In the event of a guest (or someone else trying to be helpful) putting your knife through the dishwasher, we offer a handle replacement and blade re-conditioning service for £50 + p&p.

As the knives adapt to the heat and humidity of your kitchen, there may be a very slight expansion or contraction of the handle material. This will be most noticeable in a natural wood handle, less so in a stabilised handle and almost imperceptible with Richlite or similar materials.

The expansion will be most noticeable around the area of the pins. If you like, you can use some 400 or 600 grit sandpaper to smooth the handle down.

Natural wood handles would benefit from occasional oiling (we prefer Danish Oil). Make sure the handle is clean and dry and apply a good coating of the oil, leave for 5 mins and wipe off any excess before leaving the knife overnight for the oil to settle and cure. If you usually store your knife in a leather wrap, leave it to dry for 24 hours before returning it the wrap to avoid any staining or product transfer.

Our stripey handles have finishing oil applied. It is applied in the same manner as Danish oil, but will take less time to cure.

If you need any oil we will have included a little bottle to start things off.

All of our other handles have a very light layer of wax applied when they leave us, and if you’d ever like to restore a bit of lustre then a thorough rubbing with some beeswax polish will see you right.

All handles will benefit from regular use.

Any engraving on the blade is a two-part process. The main cut removes around 1/20th of a millimetre of steel, with a secondary black finish applied as the top few microns of the steel are annealed. The deep engraving will last the lifetime of the knife, whereas the black will very, very slowly fade over time as you clean the blade, and hence we recommend not using too much elbow grease (or too abrasive a cleaning agent) on any engraving as you’ may hasten its demise.

Some thoughts on sharpening

The best way to look after your knife is to hone it every time you use it, thereby having to sharpen only occasionally. Our knives are made to be as hard as possible while still being able to take a good honing.

Understanding the difference between honing and sharpening is the single most important thing you can learn (as regards caring for a knife). A good honing steel, such as our own range (with the ability to match the handle to your knife) is vital, and you should use it gently every time you cook, if possible – see here.

Until recently, we were of the opinion that the many ‘quick-fire’ sharpening devices out there are like hangover cures – if they actually worked then we’d all have one. However CATRA (Cutlery Allied Trades Research Association) make an excellent device called the Catrahone which we have used and highly recommend. It’s not going to get your knife as sharp as the day you receive it, but we’ve tested it against ancient onions, green peppers with skins like rhinos, the slipperiest of tomatoes and large legs of recalcitrant lamb and found it to be absolutely spot on in all respects.

If you prefer whetstone, we suggest you watch this chap on YouTube as we find him to be the least full of rubbish and pleasingly lugubrious – he will recommend you go to a very fine grit, but we think that anything above 2 or 3 thousand isn’t necessary for kitchen use.

This whetstone will be great to start off with, and at only £20 it doesn’t matter if you take a few bits out of it while getting the hang of things. If you find you want to go up a level (that one being 400/1000 grit) then this one will get it ridiculously sharp.

The last step in sharpening is removing the burr – the hide side of an old leather belt will do, or buy a strop such as this one. A bit of baby oil on the leather will help you get a nice, even covering of the polishing compound.

As with most things, you get what you pay for. The stones above will do you well to start – and not be too expensive if you make a mistake – but ultimately better stones with give you a better edge. Our preferred brand is Naniwa.

We very highly recommend this sink brace – it allows you to put the knife securely on a sink and keep a trickle of water flowing. It assists in achieving a zen-like calm while sharpening.

If you’re of the ‘kit’ persuasion, then we suggest the Edge Pro.

And if this all sounds far too much like hard work? Then just post your knives back to us and we’ll do it all for you.