I used to think of knives as nothing more than a sharp piece of metal occasionally used to slice up vegetables. But that’s not the case anymore! Besides blades designed for precise operations, there are also various kitchen knife materials. In this post, we will explore the different surfaces that knives can have. Knives can be hammered, dimpled, or made of textured steel like Damascus to enhance their performance.
The typical flat blade with a smooth steel surface is the easiest for most manufacturers to produce. It is simple to machine polish a flat surface and make it the blade’s flat side as it is a natural outcome of the grinding process.
However, the flawlessly smooth surface tends to make food adhere more easily, especially wet foods, which are commonly used. This can be problematic. Anyone who has cooked before knows the frustration of having to scrape tomato slices or minced garlic off the edge of a knife. This is where textured surfaces come into play.
A hammered blade is intentionally dented and textured during production, giving it a vintage appearance with dimples. Similar to dimples, the resulting uneven surface traps air and prevents food from clinging to the blade’s flat side. Japanese-style blades, particularly high-end traditional Japanese knives, often have this characteristic.
Although most commonly associated with Japanese knives, Damascus steel is a softer coating of steel used in various types of blades. It is typically used to cover the core and edge of a knife, which are often made of stronger, more brittle steel. Damascus steel kitchen knife materials do not have a smooth surface as it is constructed from multiple layers of folded steel. Instead, it features a rough, textured surface that behaves similarly to hammered or dimpled steel. The blade’s small valleys trap air, preventing food from adhering to it while cutting.
Flat vs. Textured Blades
Textured blades work well for slicing and chopping tasks that don’t require very small pieces. For mincing and extremely fine chopping, a flat blade is more suitable. This is because small food particles can get stuck in the blade’s dimples or other imperfections, making them harder to remove. While flat blades can also have food sticking to them, it is easier to swipe them off.
Moreover, textured blades require a bit of extra care during cleaning. They can be more difficult to clean thoroughly, and food particles can get trapped in them. Additionally, water can get trapped in tiny reservoirs, increasing the risk of corrosion or discoloration.
However, these blades excel in slicing tasks, so it’s worth having one for precise cuts that other knives may not handle as well. If you decide to have both a slicing and a chopping knife, make sure to sharpen the slicing knife only with a ceramic or glass honing rod. Using a steel honing rod may alter the edge’s characteristics. You can also explore several kitchen knife materials.