KNIFECARE by Neels van den Berg

  • Never use knives to pry, dig, or chop. Get a pry bar, shovel or axe instead.
  • The weakest part of any knife is usually the tip, which happens to be the most abused part! Take care of the tip, and the rest of the blade will follow.
  • Never throw knives unless the knife was specifically designed for that use.

Caring for Steel

  • Carbon and carbon-based Damascus steels will rust if not cared for. To prevent rust, do not store your knife in its leather sheath. The chemicals used in tanning of leather may react with moisture in the air, leading to corrosion of any steel.
  • Stainless steel blades are corrosion resistant not corrosion proof and if not cared for, like carbon steel blades, will corrode albeit less readily than their carbon-based brothers.
  • The higher the concentration of Chromium found in the steel, the higher the resistance to corrosion. That said, all blades should be equally well cared for.

Oil & Wax

  • Oil or wax your blade and wrap it in a soft cloth for storage. Use the sheath only when you are using or wearing the knife. Wipe off the oil or wax before using.
  • Do not wash your hand-made knife in a dishwasher. Wash by hand in warm soapy water; do not let it soak in the water. Dry immediately, don’t leave it to drain in the drying rack. Oil the knife with olive oil if it is used regularly in the kitchen or with a gun oil or Museum / Renaissance wax when storing.
  • Wood handles usually benefit from a light coating of furniture wax or Museum / Renaissance wax and a good hand rubbing.


  • If rust spots appear, rub the blade with a metal polish like Brasso or a very fine (0000) steel wool, then oil or wax the blade.
  • Don’t confuse rust with a patina or stain that may appear on your knife after cutting something acidic. This is normal and adds to the character of your knife.

UV Damage

  • Do not use oil with silicon in it as this can cause rust as well as attract dust.
  • Do not leave knives and sheaths in direct sun or high heat. Ultraviolet light oxidizes woods and bleaches the colour out of some gemstone. Heat bakes the protective oils out of most hardwoods and weakens adhesive bonds. Prolonged exposure to the sun and heat can also destroy knife sheathes.


  • Do not use any kind of oil on the sheaths; this will cause them to soften, weakening their protective function, softening glues, sealants, and dyes.
  • Some carbon steel knife blades are blued. Bluing is a very thin patina that can eventually wear away, leaving a grey metal finish. These are used to lightly protect or cosmetically enhance the blades. They are rust inhibitors, not rust preventatives.

Carbon-based Damascus and carbon steel knives, axes and swords have been around for thousands of years, so with care, you can own a future antique!

Normal Cleaning

  1. Clean immediately after use.
  2. Attempt not to return a dirty blade into a leather sheath.
  3. Use warm soapy water – no chemicals.
  4. Dry immediately.
  5. Do not heat dry, use a cloth and air dry out of direct sunlight.
  6. Oil the pivot and screws and wax the blade if to be stored.
  7. Fold in cloth and return to storage.
  8. Daily use blades can be oiled with Olive Oil.

Heavy Duty Cleaning

  1. Never attempt to scratch dry dirt or food of a knife.
  2. Soak only the steel blade in luke warm water for no longer than 30 minutes.
  3. Wash with warm soapy water – no chemicals.
  4. Inspect, if still dirty, repeat the process.
  5. Once clean, follow on from point 4 under Normal Cleaning.


  1. Use Silicon spray or silicon based oils.
  2. Use heavy duty steel wool or kitchen scourers.
  3. Use acid or other chemicals to clean your blade.
  4. Do not leave knives or sheatehs in direct sunlight.
  5. Do not oil sheathes.
  6. Do not wash knives in a dishwasher.