FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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Our Knives Top
For questions regarding the materials we use, what we mean by the various parts of a knife and how to care for our knives.
Glossary of Knife Terms
What do all the various knife terms mean?
You certainly don’t have to be a knife geek to buy a Savernake knife – so here’s a helpful guide to the various terms you might see referred to throughout the website!
B – Bevel & Bespoke knife. Each blade is painstakingly sharpened by hand to create a 15º bevel. This allows for the perfect balance between cutting efficacy and edge strength. Our high tech Swedish steel is incredibly strong and tough. This means it requires a great deal of scrupulous work to create the optimum cutting edge. But once created it stays razor sharp for a long time. We can also sharpen to a 10º bevel which will literally shave the hair off your arm but which will require more frequent sharpening. A bespoke knife is a knife that we design completely from scratch for you based on your specification and wishlist.
C – Concave & Custom knife. Also CATRA. Concave refers to the signature shape of our blades. Whilst several grind styles exist, we opt for a full hollow grind, resulting in a blade which is concave in profile. This approach is favoured for several reasons: it produces a light knife, due to the removal of more steel than other methods; it makes for smoother cutting and slicing, due again to the lack in metal passing through an ingredient; large ingredients are far less likely to stick to the side of the blade due to a reduced surface area when compared to a flat grind; and finally, a hollow ground blade will stay sharper for longer, due to a thinner blade profile. Custom knife refers to the standard and additional customisation options available on any of our standard knife models. CATRA stands for the Cutlery and Allied Trades Research Association who carry out testing on knives to rate them for sharpness and durability. See Rating for more information on how they rate Savernake knives.
D – Dishwasher. The thing you must NEVER wash your Savernake in (or any other knife for that matter). Our knives are made by hand and tested to withstand a lifetime of use in the kitchen with proper care and attention. Our handles are resolutely NOT designed to withstand the kind of temperatures found in an average dishwasher and the salts used in the detergent will ruin a sharp blade and corrode it over time.
E – Edge & Engraving. The bottom cutting part of the blade. Complimentary laser engraving is included as standard on all our blades and aside from text, we can also engrave an image, logo, family crest or motif if you provide us with a hi-res png image. If you would like us to design an image for you there will be an additional charge due to the time involved. 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. Please be aware that as soon as a knife is engraved it becomes non-returnable other than in the event of there being a fault with the knife.
F – Furnace. Our blades are tempered to achieve a perfect combination of hardness and longevity by rapidly heating them to 1,080ºC before removing them, clamping them in under 100 seconds and then super cooling them to -81ºC before allowing them to return to room temperature.
G – Grind. See detail under Concave.
H – Heel & Honing. The very back of the blade is referred to as the heel and this prevents the knife from continuing to rock backwards when chopping. Some chefs prefer a deeper heel, particularly if they have larger hands in order to provide better knuckle clearance. Honing refers to the method of realigning the blade edge to maintain sharpness, as opposed to sharpening which removes metal from the blade edge to resharpen a blunt or damaged edge.
I – Infinite. The number of knife customisations available when choosing a Savernake knife! With over 10,480 variations available to our standard knife models alone, plus complimentary engraving available as standard on all our blades you are almost certain to own a unique Savernake knife.
K – Knives. Not just kitchen knives! We also make exceptionally fine utility and outdoor knives. Find our models in the specialist area of our shop or get in touch if you have a bespoke knife in mind.
L – Liner. The coloured material between the handle material and the visible metal part of the handle (the tang). This helps provide a secure fit between the handle material and the tang which are generally different textures as well as offering a pop of colour and additional customisation. Liners can be made from a variety of materials – we generally use G10 (a type of fibre glass) but can also make liners from resin soaked paper to offer a wider range of colours.
M – Material. This describes the steel we use for our blades as well as the choice of material and liner we use for the handle itself. View all our standard material options here. Or if you have a particular piece of wood or other material you would like us to use please get in touch.
O – Oil. Natural wood handles benefit from occasional oiling (we prefer Danish Oil) and we supply every wood handled knife we send out with a small quantity of oil to get you started. Refer to our knife care FAQs for information on how to apply. Our striped handles have a finishing oil applied in the same manner as Danish oil but takes less time to cure.
P – Pins. The pins are used to secure the handle material and liner to the tang and add a decorative element to the handle. We use either stainless steel, silvered nickel or brass pins for the majority of our knives dependent on what material is chosen (some pins go better with certain materials than others). We can also make pins from resin to offer a different effect.
R – Each of our knives is tested for its hardness on the Rockwell C Scale, and we consistently hit 60. As always Wikipedia can explain this for you in detail, but roughly speaking the higher the Rockwell number, the stronger and more durable the edge. Of course, the harder the steel then the more difficult it can be to sharpen, but once it is sharp then it will stay that way for a long time. Some people prefer a slightly softer steel, in the region of 58, so that they can regularly top up the cutting edge on knives that are not doing heavy duty work. For this reason we can work to a range of hardnesses. Savernake Knives scored Excellent by CATRA for both sharpness and durability and are rated in the top 2.5% of knives tested globally.
S – Steel. The metal used for the knife blade and tang. We almost exclusively use Swedish Sandvik 14c28n, although on occasion we use RWL 34 powdered metallurgical steel and other exotics. For prototypes we use 420C, the steel used by most other knife manufacturers for their final product. See our materials page for more information about our steel.
T – Tang & Tailored knife. The metal part of the handle. We make full stick tang handles meaning the tang is the same length and depth as the handle itself and is visible between the handle material. A stick tang means that the tang is much smaller and isn’t visible (think of a lolly stick being pushed into a frozen lollipop and you get the idea). A tailored knife is a standard Savernake knife that you then ask us to tweak an element of eg make the handle a different size or shape.
W – Wax. 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.
What steel do you use for your knives?
We almost exclusively use Sandvik 14c28n, although on occasion we use RWL 34 powdered metallurgical steel and other exotics. For prototypes we use 420C, the steel used by most other knife manufacturers for their final product.
Why do you only use stainless steels?
One could possibly (just possibly) argue that 20 or 30 years ago carbon steels were still of better quality for high-end knives than stainless steel, but now that is simply not the case, and the top-end specialist steel manufacturers almost entirely concentrate on improving their stainless knife steels over others.
For us, choosing a metal type that corrodes as a knife blade makes little sense. Some will say that the ‘patina’ (i.e. rust) that invariably develops on a carbon blade tells a story, but we see this as an attempt to turn a bug into a feature. Also any knife that turns black when cutting onions – surely the mainstay of a kitchen knife – is of dubious utility.
Jay Fisher has quite a lot to say on the subject.
Will you use another steel for a bespoke blade?
Yes, of course – it’s your knife! Although not particularly our cup of tea, it is possible to get (at great expense) Damascus-pattern stainless steel, so that’s always an option if you like that sort of thing but would like to continue to use corrosion-resistant steel.
A rather better option might be Japanese layered steel.
What does hardness mean?
Each of our knives is tested for its hardness on the Rockwell C Scale, and we consistently hit 60. As always Wikipedia can explain this for you in detail, but roughly speaking the higher the Rockwell number, the stronger and more durable the edge. Of course, the harder the steel then the more difficult it can be to sharpen, but once it is sharp then it will stay that way for a long time. Some people prefer a slightly softer steel, in the region of 58, so that they can regularly top up the cutting edge on knives that are not doing heavy duty work. For this reason we can work to a range of hardnesses.
What handle materials do you use?
We use a wide variety of different materials to make the main part of our handles: natural wood, stabilised condensed wood, Richlite (paper stabilised in a phenolic resin), Corian, Durat (a composite material made from recycled, post industrial waste), epoxy resin and G. F Smith paper. All make wonderfully robust and attractive handles, so deciding which to have is very much a question of personal taste. All of our knives are made-to-order and as such, are all customisable exactly how you’d like them.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the options available on the website, or you’ve got something particular in mind, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can discuss the options. Where possible, we’ll always try our best to make the knife you want.
Do you use wood from the Savernake forest for your handles?
A question we are asked regularly! And the answer is no – we chose to name the company Savernake Knives because Laurie lives in it, spends a lot of time in it, we can see it from the amazing view afforded to us by our workshop and while we’re very, very good at many things, thinking up imaginative names doesn’t appear to be one of them.
Knife Care & Sharpening
How should I care for my Savernake knife?
If you care for your knife it will give you a lifetime of service.
The single most important thing to remember is NEVER 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.
How should I sharpen my Savernake knife?
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.
What’s the difference between sharpening and honing and how regularly should I be doing it?
Honing requires a decent honing rod and serves to reshape the very edge of a blade after it becomes misaligned through frequent and inconsistent contact with a chopping board. A professional chef will do this every time they cook. Far from the fast-paced, slashing technique that we often see on television (we’re looking at you Mr Ramsey), this should be done slowly and methodically. The key is to maintain the same angle, or as close as is humanly possible, as you slide the blade’s edge along the rod, alternating sides as you do so. The perfect angle will be dictated by the angle of the initial bevel made by the maker of the knife, but generally speaking, a chef’s knife will be somewhere between 17-22 degrees.
Regular honing will delay the need for sharpening, two terms which are often thought to mean the same thing. Sharpening will generally need to be done a couple of times a year, with a whetstone being the most effective method. This is a slightly more involved process with numerous online videos and tutorials showing how it’s done properly.
Can you recommend the best sharpening method?
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.
Help! I’ve hacked my way through a recalcitrant leg of lamb, what should I do?
We offer a complimentary sharpening and edge retention service once a year for the first 3 years after buying your new knife. Details are included with any purchase, but we will of course always be prepared to repair a damaged knife, be that a chipped edge from slamming through a pig carcass or from a helpful house guest putting your blade through the dreaded dishwasher.
Custom, Bespoke & Tailored Top
What we mean by custom, tailored and bespoke and how to redeem a custom or bespoke knife gift invitation.
Can I add an image or other custom engraving to my knife?
You can add whatever you like to your knife, and we can do most designs at no extra charge.
We strongly suggest that if you are looking at a full-blade design, you consider a silvered (rather than black) finish as our engraver is quite forceful and so a full blade engraving in black will detract from the smoothness of the blade, and therefore hamper its cutting action.
Our complimentary engraving service includes:
- Using a typeface of your choice beyond the options available in the configurator
- Including an image, provided that it is black and white (no shades of grey) and can be supplied to us in at least 1000 x 1000 pixels, and then preferably in a vector format (.AI, .pdf, .SVG) or failing that a high-quality .jpeg or .png.
- This image should also be able to fit on the the blade in its entirety when positioned by eye.
If you would like us to design your engraving from scratch, or are unable to meet the criteria above, then we will unfortunately need to charge £150 per design (as there’s a lot of very fiddly work involved!).
If the design is repeatable across several knives – in that all we need to do is re-position it slightly to fit the blade – then you would need only pay this cost once for a set of knives.
However, if you’re contemplating a full-blade, knife-specific design then we would need to levy the charge for each individual knife.
Custom, Tailored & Bespoke Knives
What’s the difference between a custom, tailored and bespoke Savernake knife?
Our custom knife option allows you to choose from any of our standard knives and then customise it by choosing from a wide selection of handle materials, liner colours, spine patterns, different blade edges and adding your own complimentary engraving to the blade. There are 44,380 different options to choose from, so you are practically guaranteed a unique design. Use our configurator to customise your knife and create an account to be able to save and share your design with someone else, or apply your customisation to other knives to build your own set. Custom knife prices start from £250.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for within our Custom range, then you may wish to consider either our tailored or bespoke knife making service – read on for more details.
What does tailored mean?
Our tailored option allows you to tweak the design of any of our existing knife models to suit your own personal preference. We can tailor any combination of individual elements making up the overall finished knife – whether this is the handle material, handle shape or size, knife design or blade profile.
Simply choose your tailored option/s and add to the price of the standard knife. Our individual tailored options are priced as follows:
Handle Material (e.g. G. F Smith, resin) – from £100
Handle Shape or Size – from £100
Knife Design – from £300
Blade Profile – from £200
If you would like us to tailor any of our existing knives please get in touch with us to discuss options. Please note that any tailoring will add a minimum of 1 week extra making time to our standard lead-times.
I’d like to design my own knife – is this possible?
How do I commission a bespoke knife?
Our Bespoke knife service always begins with a conversation. Whether you know exactly what you’re looking for, or you only have a vague inkling, we will work with you to develop a design that’s truly unique and completely tailored to you. From concept to complete in 8 weeks, this is precision engineering just for you. If this sounds like the perfect option for you, why not get in touch to chat it through with us.
What’s the largest blade you can make?
We’re set up to make any knife you can possibly dream of, with our only constraints being the size of the plate in our steel mill and the size of our furnace. At present, the largest overall length we can make is 500mm, and since we recommend a handle size of at least 150mm for a long blade, then this would mean a resulting 350mm blade length (14″) which we consider ample. We can make knives larger than this, however it means making the blade and handle separately and welding them together which differs from our current standard making method.
Knife Gift Invitations
I’d like to gift someone a knife but aren’t sure what model or customisation they’d prefer?
If you’re nervous of customising a knife on behalf of someone else, our custom knife gift invitation allows you to give someone a particular knife model which they can then customise themselves. Our custom knife gift package includes:
- Personalised gift certificate
- Personalised letter outlining the design process
- Beautiful brochure about their knife
- Branded Savernake keepsake gift box, in our signature black Richlite which opens to become a chopping board
Prices for our custom knife gift invitations start from £130 for a customised honing steel and £275 for a custom knife.
If you’re unsure of which model to choose, then a safe bet may be to opt for a Savernake Gift Card, prices of which start from £50. And add the option of a keepsake Savernake keepsake gift box, which transforms into a supremely useful chopping board if you’d prefer a gift card with a difference.
I’d like to gift someone a bespoke knife – is this possible?
Absolutely! Our bespoke knife gift invitations make exceptional presents for very special occasions – or for people who are very hard to buy for! Working with our expert knife makers and crafts people, our bespoke knife gift allows the lucky recipient to design their very own knife from scratch – and includes a personal, guided tour of the workshop, knife consultation, acrylic mock-up of their design followed by a fully-functioning steel prototype and last but not least, their finished knife itself. All gifts are sent in a keepsake Savernake gift box which transforms into a chopping board once opened – the perfect surface for them to use the finished bespoke knife to slice on.
Our bespoke knife gift costs £950.
I’ve been bought a custom or bespoke knife gift – what do I do next?
Congratulations! If you’ve been lucky enough to have been gifted a Savernake custom or bespoke knife gift, your accompanying gift card will include a QR code and have a redemption code written on it. Using any smart phone (Android or iPhone), launch the camera app and hover the lens over the QR code. This will automatically open a personalised web page with instructions for how to customise your knife or start the process of commissioning your bespoke knife, dependent on which option you’ve been gifted. If you’re confused or experience any technical issues then please get in touch with us and we’ll be delighted to help by phone or email!
I’ve been bought a custom knife gift but would prefer to choose a different knife model – can I change it?
Yes of course. You’re welcome to choose any of our standard custom knives to the same value as the knife you’ve been gifted or to pay the additional if the model you’d prefer is a more expensive knife. Just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.
Shipping & Returns Top
Information on shipping methods, prices and lead times, returns and what's covered by the Savernake lifetime guarantee.
The Savernake Lifetime Guarantee
How long are your knives guaranteed for?
Our products are guaranteed for a lifetime. We also offer a reconditioning service for damaged knives for a small fee. Please note that putting your knife through the dishwasher will automatically invalidate the lifetime guarantee and whilst we are happy to repair them for you there will be a charge involved.
We’re sure you’ll love your new knife. If there’s something not right with your order, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Will you resharpen my knives for me?
All Savernake knives include complimentary sharpening and servicing for the first three years of their life. After this, you are welcome to return them to us (please deliver them in person or via recorded delivery) for us to sharpen them for you for a small fee per knife. For advice on honing and sharpening, take a look at our knife care FAQs.
How long will I have to wait for my knife to be made?
Every Savernake product is made to order. The quest for perfection takes time, so please allow 4-6 weeks for your order to arrive. Wood, G.F Smith paper and custom-designed handles will generally always take at least six weeks to make due to the additional finishing required. At peak times, our making times may sometimes take longer but we’ll always advise you of this on the checkout page prior to you confirming your order.
I need a knife in a hurry – what are my options?
We try and keep a small selection of ready made knives available to buy in our online shop so it’s always worth taking a look to see what we have available. If ordered by 2pm we can have our ready made knives engraved and posted to reach you by the next day. If you don’t see anything you like then please get in touch to see if we can make a knife for you as a priority order. Our gift cards and knife gift invitations make fantastic presents and again, in most cases we can have these sent out for next day delivery – do let us know when ordering if you need them by a particular date.
What delivery methods do you use?
Your order will be delivered next day, registered delivery by Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed which are insured but require a signature. Your order will arrive in its specially-designed tubular Savernake packaging, including guidance on knife care and a small sample of finishing oil if you’ve ordered a wood handled knife.
Items destined for overseas delivery will be sent either by Royal Mail International Special Delivery or by whichever postal service they have a relationship with. We use USPS or UPS for deliveries to the United States.
Please note that in the UK, Royal Mail are unable to deliver without a signature or to anyone under the age of 18 years and may ask for age verification if you look particularly youthful!