Damascus is a long lost techniques of adding layers to a knife. It gives it beauty and supposed non stick benefit. Today, damascus knife are only simulated, whether its via acid or other method, they are superficial at best. While it may be superficial, it still produce a beautiful knife. For this reason, people pay top dollar for it. Luckily, the Best Damascus Chef Knife Set still uses quality steel and retain its edge well. They will perform just as well as other higher end knife.
What is Damascus?
Damascus is a type of steel that originated in souther India. They have patterns that resembles marbling. The method of making true Damascus steel has been lost. There have been many attempt to recreate this method but all has been unsucessful. The reports have stated that it can be either due to raw materials or just skillsmanship. The last recorded manufacturing of Damascus steel was around 1750.
One thing to note is that even though Damascus steel is highly sought after, modern steel perform better. They are stronger and generally hold an edge better.
Is Damascus Chef Knife good for Chef Knife?
The Damascus pattern is purely aesthetic. It does not give any performance benefit. The ridges might give it marginal nonstick performance. But most would not notice it. What you are paying for is mostly looks and the envy of your fellow cooks.
What Kind of Steel do Modern Damascus Knife Use?
It really depends on the manufacturer and the knife. Each will have their own blend and forging method. One is not necessarily better than the other. Some might be harder for better edge retention. Other might be softer for durability. You really need to look into each knife for a better idea. As stated before, most manufacturer just use ferric chloride or muriatic acid to give it that beautiful etching. Overtime, it can wear out and that etching will start to fade.
Cleaning and Care
Cleaning is the same as any other higher end knife. You should always hand wash it. Most modern damascus knife uses stainless steel so rusting isnt that much of an issue. But that does not mean its impervious to it. If you soak it in water or use the dishwasher, dont be surprised if it becomes a rusted mess.
I recommend drying it with a towel after washing. Just use a regular soap and water to clean the knife.
Sharpening is the same as any other knife. The best result is via a sharpening stone. They take out less steel than the machine and gives your knife the longest life.
Best Damascus Chef Knife Set List
Below, you will find a list of the Best Damascus Chef Knife Set. Since these knives uses different steel, shape and handle. You should find one that best suits you. My choices are based on how I perceive it to perform and how well it fits my hand.
ZWILLING J.A. Henckels 34891-203 Chef’s Knife Damascus (Best Overall)
Kramer is a master blade smith specializing in Kitchen Knives. His custom knives ruin into the thousands. However, we paired up with Zwilling to make a more affordable option. This model uses a extremely hard sg2 core so that it holds a edge well and cut food like butter. However, that hardness comes at a price, its really brittle. I accidentally hit mines on my oven and it chipped the tip. So While it does cut well, you have to baby it. I recommend using it for vegetables and some meat. Bones will chip it badly…
Miyabi Birchwood GS2 7-pc Knife Block Set (Most Beautiful Set)
Miyabi is a Japanese Brand owned by Zwilling. The handle and marbling is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Since its essentially own by the same company as the Kramer model, it uses the same SG2 powder steel. The same care and procedure should be used. In terms of comfort and usability, I think its inferior to the Kramer model. However, that might differ based on your personal preference.
Tojiro DP Damascus 3-piece Knife Set (Best Buy)
Tojiro is known for their quality knives at a affordable rate. This damascus line is no different. You get three knives that will perform most kitchen task. The VG-10 core is one of the most popular steel around. It holds its edge well while retain its durability.
Shun Classic Blonde 5 Piece Starter Knife Block Set (Best Buy Alternative)
Shun is known for their high quality knives. While I think some of their knives are overpriced, for Damascus, its pretty affordable. This starter set like the tojiro gives you all the tools you need. You pretty much get all that you will from torjiro with the addition of a sharpener and knife block. Whether its worth the additional cost is up to you.
Damascus steel are beautiful knives. They dont add any performance or benefit, but they sure are pretty to look at. Thankfully manufacturer still use quality steel on the knives. The best of the bunch is the one made by Kramer. The handle is comfortable and so is the profile. However, alternative such as Miyabi is good as well. For more affordable damascus knife, the model by Tojiro and Shun is good. The steel is a little different but they are also much more affordable.
Looking for more Japanese Knives? Check out our article on the Best Gyuto Chef Knife.