Last Updated on 2 years by Alex James
When choosing a kitchen knife, you may notice that the blade surface of Damascus kitchen knives looks different. This is no coincidence. The Damascus Kitchen knife set making has used a variety of finishes over the centuries, ranging from blacksmithing to polished and unpolished finishes. And also in some cases, you can notice another special aesthetic and practical component – coating the blade with a layer of varnish. What does this finish entail and how is it reflected in the final knife product?
Which one to choose?
Consider the five main types of finishes on Damascus knives. And in a separate paragraph, let’s talk about varnishing. It is important to note that the differences in these coatings are purely aesthetic and do not affect the performance of the knives. Some chefs will, of course, insist that certain finishes give better performance or allow food to glide easily across the blade. However, this is purely subjective. The technique of the knife will have more of an impact on the performance of a kitchen knife than its aesthetic finish. However, the aesthetic of a knife can have an emotional impact. If you cook with beautiful cutlery, you are more likely to develop an attachment to it and enjoy your kitchen more. And this, in turn, can even affect your culinary skills!
So, the five main types of finishes for Damascus kitchen knives are:
- Kurouchi – Black Finish
- Nashiji – Migaki Pear
- Tsuchime – Hand Forged
- Damascus – Damascus
Kurouchi / Black finish
A knife with a Kuruchi finish appears to be unfinished. As if the blacksmith was just tired and forgot to finish the finish after forging the knife. It is also called “forge finish”. In Damascus, “kuruchi” means “first black”.
The Kuruchi finish is the least refined of all Damascus kitchen knife finishes. This is a traditional rustic finish in which the knife retains the black scaly remnants of the forging process. These knives are usually cheaper. This finish also gives the knife certain properties. For example, this minimizes the reactivity of a carbon steel knife; the knife will have a certain rustic charm and aesthetic that will be ideal if you prefer rustic style in everything.
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Such knives look unique and no two knives will have the exact finish. On the other hand, blacksmith finishes have a certain degree of durability, and some of them wear off more quickly than others, especially if you clean them with an abrasive. To keep this coating much longer, it is recommended to clean them with a non-abrasive detergent.
Nashiji / “Pear”
Nashiji means “pear skin pattern” in Damascus. It seems to be slightly cool in its texture, which comes from a finishing technique where the surface of the blade is left somewhat unfinished. This effect mimics the skin of an Asian pear. Nashiji’s finish differs from Kuruchi in that it has a smoother look than Kuruchi. The Nashiji finish falls somewhere between Kuruchi and the finely polished Migaki. In addition, they are very affordable.
Migaki / Polishing
Migaki is a polished finish on Damascus knives. Here the degree of polishing will vary depending on the master. Therefore, the degree of reflectivity of Migaki knives will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some manufacturers achieve a near-mirror finish, while others achieve a matte-polished finish. Polished Damascus knives look quite elegant, but a finely polished knife has its downsides. The more polished the knife, the more noticeable the scratches will be on it, which will ultimately ruin its aesthetic appeal.
Tsuchime / Forging by hand
The Tsuchime finish refers to a hand-applied finish. It is impossible to achieve any semblance of uniformity in hand-forged steel, so these finishes have the greatest variation in texture. Textured finishes will not only vary from brand to brand but within the same brand! Blacksmiths use different hammer points to create Tsuchime finishes and to etch cold patterns into knives, they can even change the frequency of marking. The final product is truly beautiful and is the ultimate expression of individualism and truly organic design.
Damascus steel originated in the ancient city of the same name in the Middle East. This steel is as old as ironworking itself.
For centuries, Damascus’ methods were a closely guarded secret, and the true formula disappeared forever sometime in the 18th century. But this entailed the use of various techniques for creating the blade, with some of the unique additions of steel creating its amazing pattern.
Modern Damascus pattern knives use different grades of steel that are stacke together many times, usually around a pure knife steel core. Once layered, they are heate, hammered, and welded, and the process is repeate as the number of layers continues to grow exponentially. The result is a distinctive pattern forged from layers of steel that looks beautiful. Damascus steel knives tend to be a bit more expensive due to the complex forging process involved in making them. These knives are also usually very sharp and durable. They try to imitate the look of the Damascus steel knives of the past and do so with some success.
What is Sabidome or why do manufacturers varnish a knife blade?
Often, when buying a knife, you may notice an additional transparent layer on its blade. Which is Sabidome. This is a kind of protective film that is present on knives with a high-carbon steel blade. Translated from Damascus, this word means “rust protection”. Such a layer is applied to the knife blade to minimize its susceptibility to rust during transport.
When buying such a knife, you can see small scratches on the blade and mistakenly think that this is a factory defect. But it’s not! These are just small spots on the protective film, which can be easily removed if desired, or you can leave this layer – it does not affect the quality of the knife when used but prolongs its durability.