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best damascus knives

The Best Damascus Knives in 2021

Author: Joanna Davis

Home & Kitchen Expert

Damascus knives are special kitchen knives that impress with excellent sharpness and workmanship. In our best list, after reading countless tests and comparisons on the Internet, our team has also given ratings on the degree of hardness, handle materials, blade length and more.

Kitchen Damascus Knife Set, YanXuan Series 9-Piece Kitchen Knife Set

Kitchen Damascus Knife Set, YanXuan Series 9-Piece Kitchen Knife Set
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Kitchen Damascus Knife Set, XingRui Series 9-Piece Kitchen Knife Set

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[8-Inch]Chef Knife FANTECK Professional Damascus Chef Knife

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Kitchen Damascus Knife Set, WanRui Series 9-Piece Kitchen Knife Set

Chef Knife FANTECK Professional Damascus Chef Knife
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VKA0199 Handmade Damascus Steel Kitchen Chef Cleaver

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Utility Paring Knife FANTECK Chef Knife Damascus Stainless Steel VG10

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Zelite Infinity Chef Knife 8 Inch, Damascus Japanese AUS-10 Super Stainless Steel

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Chef Knife-8 inch Kitchen Knife Gyuto-Japanese 67-Layer Damascus Steel

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Zelite Infinity Santoku Knife 7 Inch - Alpha-Royal Series - Japanese AUS-10 Super Steel 67-Layer Damascus

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LEVINCHY Steak Knife 4.5 inch Professional Japanese Damascus Stainless Steel

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Curved Slicer (Butcher) Knife 10 Inch - Damascus Japanese VG10 Super Steel 67 Layer

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Frequently Asked Questions: Damascus Knives

What is a Damascus Knife?

The characteristics of a Damascus knife or Damascus knife are clearly defined: This type of knife has a blade made of multi-layer folded steel. This special process creates a wavy line pattern on the knife blade, which is a clear proof of traditional quality. In addition to their exclusive appearance, damask knives also impress with their excellent blade sharpness.

The term Damascus knife is not protected, so there are also cheap knives of inferior quality offered under this name. Therefore, for those who are not familiar with the subject, detailed information about the original damask knives is very interesting.

A damask knife test winner stands out not only because of its decorative blade pattern, but it convinces above all with its typical sharpness. The basis for this is set by the specially processed blade steel. The typical pattern in wavy lines can be seen on all versions, regardless of whether the knives come from the Far East or Europe.

Typical characteristics for chef’s knives with Damascus blades are, in addition to the strong and durable material, the ergonomic shape and the long-lasting blade sharpness. This ensures the proverbial knife sharpness and sets clear standards not only in the kitchen.

How does a Damascus Knife work?

The operation of a damask knife is just as simple as that of a normal kitchen knife. It glides particularly smoothly through the material to be cut and is easy to handle due to its pleasant shape. The basis for precise cutting without excessive pressure lies in the special method of manufacture.

This not only leads to the exceptional sharpness, but it is also the cause of the wavy lines on the blade. This pattern is based on the combination of two different types of steel folded by the production process.

The hard and tough steel types carry other elements, including nickel, carbon, manganese and silicon. These provide differentiation of the individual properties. Forging involves folding the two types of steel several times. This later leads to the characteristic pattern that appears on the blade. Another reason for this blade pattern is the subsequent treatment with acid.

In this process, the layers react differently to the acid, resulting in the interaction of the two steel colors. This deviation in the color tone is thus a second cause for the interesting pattern. For optimal stability of the knife, the Damascus steel is generally used only on one side, while inside there is an extremely hard steel core. This guarantees the absolute strength of the knife.

Thus, the Damascus pattern marks only the other side, the outside of the Damascus knife. The standard hardness of these knives is more than 60 HRC. Below we list the common steel categories to give an overview of the specific characteristics of each.

  • 1.2008 or 1.2063 = very hard (degree of hardness up to about 67 HRC)
  • 16MnCr5 = with high chromium content
  • 90MnCrV8 = often used for tools, with high manganese content, extremely hard
  • ck45 = extremely tough and at the same time flexible
  • C60 = tough and at the same time excellent to harden
  • C10501 = very good quality, frequent use as high performance steel.

In the elaboration or control of the pattern, the layered damask is the basis for the damask that is created from the pattern used in each case. In this process, a distinction is made between different types of patterns.

Stamped patterns are introduced into the layer damask when it has been heated to the necessary forging temperature. For this purpose, there is a special die that is hammered directly into the surface. This is followed by grinding the surface so that it becomes flat. In this step, individual steel layers are also cut and, if necessary, exposed. 

This treatment gives the machined damask package its characteristic pattern after forging. When it reaches its final shape, this pattern is particularly evident. How deep the pattern is actually sunk into the steel depends on the exact thickness and composition of the damask package, as well as on the nature of the dies.

When the punch pattern is staggered, it is also referred to as a combing die. In this case, the pattern runs through the entire package, but the middle layer is deformed the least. If it is a non-combing die, the pattern remains more on the surface, so it does not extend as much into the steel section.

A cut pattern is created by performing a material removal in the raw damask. To achieve this effect, the damask is milled, drilled or ground. Subsequently, the damask package is given a flat surface again by the following forging process and is further processed in the same way as the stamped damask.

How the pattern on the damask steel was produced cannot be readily determined. Therefore, a cut is possible for an exact determination. However, for most of the known patterns, the specialists know about the production or about the particular process.

Popular and frequent variants of the pattern-controlled damask are Large and Small Roses, Pyramids, Ribbon Damask and Wave Damask. In addition to these stand-alone pattern types, there are stamped patterns that mimic torsion patterns. These include, for example, the False Turkish Damask pattern and the Star Damask pattern.

The torsion patterns on the damask steel have a particularly noble effect. This is a special technique that results in an exceptionally regular pattern. The torsion pattern extends completely into the structure of the steel and has a long history. Especially the earlier ceremonial swords bear such elaborate decorations. Apart from these historical treasures, this special technique is hardly seen nowadays, neither in utility weapons nor in kitchen knives made of Damascus steel.

What are the advantages of Damascus Knives?

Many top chefs swear by the sharp and durable chef’s knives with damask blades. Amateur chefs are also relying more and more on these outstanding knives. The extremely hard material ensures that the knives glide through any cutting material and show hardly any signs of wear even after many years of use. In addition, the knives impress with their unmistakable damask pattern, which characterizes the blades and provides a noble touch.

Damascus knives should be used exclusively for cutting and never for prying open latches or other purposes. Even though the extremely hard and sharp blade is relatively elastic, it can be damaged if handled incorrectly. To prevent the knife from losing its sharpness, it should not be used on a hard surface. So metal, glass or porcelain as a base for the damask knives are not a good choice.

Instead, wooden cutting boards are particularly suitable. These do not unnecessarily stress the blade, and in addition, a base made of the natural material wood is the classic in the kitchen anyway. This is due, among other things, to the antibacterial effect in connection with meat and other food to be cut.

Advantages of damask knives

  • they are extremely sharp
  • they have a high degree of hardness due to the layers of material,
  • they are suitable for several purposes, for example, for cooking, fishing and hunting,
  • they are often available as a set of knives,
  • they are available in numerous designs.

When using a high-quality knife, the sharpness may deteriorate over time. As sturdy as a Damascus knife is, every now and then it is necessary to sharpen the blade. This is best done with a sharpening stone, as rotating machines or a sharpening steel can put too much stress on the steel.

If you feel unsure about using a sharpening stone, it is better to have the knife sharpened by a professional. Regardless of how the Damascus knife is used, it should not be cleaned in the dishwasher. Even if the steel is stainless, it should always be rinsed only by hand to avoid damage.

Types of Damascus Knives

The two main variants of damask knives differ in the type of steel. This can be the so-called wild Damascus or core steel. The damask blade from the traditional wild damask is coreless. During the manufacturing process, as already described, two types of steel are alternately forged and folded.

These two processes can be repeated several times until a multi-layered blade material is created. This combines the best properties of the two original types of steel. The more often the steel has been folded, that is, the more layers there are, the more valuable the Damascus is.

Due to the numerous transitions of the materials, which are visible on the edge of the knives, lead to a fine sawing effect. This makes the blade even smoother and sharper. The damascus knives that are still made in this form today are almost exclusively available in handmade quality.

However, there are only a few manufacturers who work with the complicated technique. Among others, manufacturers such as Mazami Azai, Markus Balbach and Uli Hennicke offer the knives made of wild damask. Due to the manual production, these damask knives are relatively expensive and thus become real works of art.

Much more common today are Damascus knives with a blade made of core steel. This is an extremely hard core, which only has a sheath of damask. This variant has proven itself for several decades and has been continuously perfected. VG or AUS steel grades are usually used for the hard core. Powder metallurgy steel is also suitable for production.

How many layers of Damascus steel are used in these modern knives does not matter so much. Sometimes it is only a single layer, then it is a three-layer steel. Still, the effect of the sharp blade is hard to beat. A multi-layered nickel damask has comparable cutting power, but looks much more aesthetic: Here, the transitions of the materials are reflected in the fine lines that line the blade, so the knife also makes a visual statement.

How are Damascus Knives tested?

A damask knife supports fatigue-free cutting, especially if the handle has the right shape. Precise work is a given with chef’s knives as well as with pocket knives, fishing knives and hunting knives. A damask knife test winner convinces in all respects and was not only checked in terms of sharpness.

Hardness and sharpness

Unsurpassably sharp damask knives, for example, have 272 or 512 layers of steel and are ground on both sides. Depending on the steel quality and processing type, they convince with an extraordinary quality, which is evident when cutting through raw or roasted meat.

Damask pattern

On the blade, the fascinating pattern gives information about the manufacturing method as well as the value of the knives. In various damask knife tests, numerous versions perform well, whether it was core steel or wild damask.

Handle

An ergonomic handle is also part of a strong cutting knife. Whether it is a classic chef’s knife, an extra-sharp Santoku knife or a pocket knife, a Damascus knife comparison test winner also focuses on a certain comfort. That’s exactly why grip was also taken into account in tests.

Shape

The blade shape is determined by the type of knife as well as the manufacturing process. Generally, forged knife blades taper downward. In this they differ from the less good knives, because the latter have only one bevel at the bottom. The result is evident when cutting: The tapered blades glide easily through the material to be cut, while the knife blades with only a bevel have a noticeable resistance.

What should I look for when buying damask knives?

The decision for a single damask knife or a complete knife set depends on the main purpose of use as well as on the individual requirements. Here, the hard and sharp knives score above all with their first-class, indestructible quality. This makes them an excellent choice compared to conventional chef’s knives.

However, there are some details to consider in order to enjoy the companions for the kitchen and on the road for a long time. For example, the blade should have a certain elasticity despite its excellent hardness.

It also makes sense to choose a cutting edge that retains its sharpness over the long term, even under heavy use. Information regarding possible resharpening is helpful when choosing a knife and provides information about the preservation of the blade or blade shape.

An important selection criterion for a Damascus knife, in addition to the blade quality, is the shape of the handle. This says something about the handling and should provide the desired comfort. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you will be happy with a relatively light, narrow handle that fits comfortably in your hand.

A pocket knife or hunting knife, on the other hand, should have a certain weight to offer more safety. It is important that the handle has no sharp edges, but nestles in the hand with rounded corners. This way, the fingers will not get tired even during elaborate snipping tasks. For people with small hands, relatively short handles are advantageous, while wide and large hands cope better with long knife handles.

If the choice falls on a knife with a wooden handle, special care should be taken to ensure that it does not absorb too much water. The Damascus steel itself can also be sensitive to moisture, depending on the overall quality and workmanship.

Damascus Knife Accessories

If the damask knife is rarely used, it should be oiled before use. Among other things, coconut oil and camellia oil are suitable for this purpose. These and other types of oil are available as accessories to the knife. Also a soft cloth for cleaning and a protective sheath should not be missing, so that the Damascus knife can always be stored safely.

For the hunting knives, in addition to the sheath or scabbard, there are also fastening tabs that fix the tool to the belt or jacket. On the one hand, this serves as protection against injuries, on the other hand, the valuable knife is not lost in this way.

For sharpening the damask knife is necessary to use a grinding or sharpening stone. This stone is much more suitable than a sharpening steel, which could fray the knife blade. The accessories for sharpening can be used not only for the knife made of Damascus steel, but also for other cooking and leisure knives.

Those who have not sharpened knife blades before and are unsure about the application should take precaution and seek expert help. A professional knife sharpening shop is the right address here.

For the storage of knives, there are various elements that are either integrated into the drawers and cabinets of the kitchen or complement the functional look and allow direct access. In a professionally furnished kitchen, the damask knives with their elegant look can be seen: they are equally a tool and decoration. Nevertheless, some caution should be taken into account because of the sharp blades.

Knives and other cutlery hung above the countertop look great, but they must be far enough away from children’s hands. So, a practical and at the same time stylish device for hanging cutlery is an excellent addition to the kitchen decor. Also useful and practical are drawer inserts for the knives. During daily use, if necessary, care should be taken to point the blades to the rear, so that no one is injured when reaching into the drawer.

Damascus Knife Alternatives

In the range of chef’s knives or damask knives there are numerous models that are not only simply useful knives, but true cutting artists. However, there are also other high-quality kitchen knives in various sizes that are especially suitable for meat or fruit, for example. Stainless steel knives are another popular alternative.

These can withstand heavy use and, unlike knives made of Damascus steel, are dishwasher safe and resistant to rust. The blade quality plays the main role in the selection of a kitchen knife, but the primary purpose should not be neglected.

Cooks also make a good choice with knife blades made of triple-layer steel. These special blades also impress with a good degree of hardness and strong cutting power. They thus offer comparable quality to the damask knife made of core steel. Many quality brands have correspondingly high-quality products in their range. In a well-equipped kitchen, the different types of knives are combined with each other.

Thus, there is an ideally suited damask, stainless steel or ceramic knife for the respective purpose. Hunting and pocket knives are also available in different qualities or made of various materials.

A damask knife test provides information about the particularly sought-after and proven kitchen knives that also score points with cooking professionals. Many experienced star chefs and also private users opt for this noble knife variant, because cutting is done much faster with it. In addition, the damask knives convince with their high durability, as a damask knife test proves.

For small chopping of herbs, the Damascus steel is less suitable. In this case, the typical cleavers are more likely to be used. They are not a real alternative, but they are a useful addition to the kitchen cabinet. Otherwise, there is a wide range of vegetable, fruit and other preparation knives in various shapes and sizes.

However, the kitchen knives with damask blade are characterized by an extraordinarily good value and are thus still considered proven and aesthetic classics with tradition.

Last product update on 2021-03-07 | Source: Amazon Affiliate