What Are Damascus Kitchen Knives? | Jonas Blade

What Are Damascus Kitchen Knives?

Kitchen knives made of damascus are enjoying a surge in popularity right now. With the perennial popularity of cooking shows–I can remember my way back to Julia Child reruns when I was a kid–and the burgeoning universe of food blogs and fine dining restaurants, it was only a matter of time before the culinary world got wise to the wonders of high end custom cutlery. Today in particular, midway through 2021, we are experiencing a moment where, perhaps more than ever before, people have spent real time and energy upping their game in the kitchen as we have collectively weathered the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The following topics will help us understand what a damascus kitchen knife is in more detail:

The History

The Design

The History

Damascus has been around the last few centuries and were even used for swords in addition to knives. In modern times, it would probably not be wrong to say that damascus kitchen knives really took off in the form of Bob Kramer, who is still unequivocally the top name out there. Since the late 1970’s, modern knife makers have been pushing the envelope both technically and aesthetically, and, “standing on the shoulders of giants,” as they say, I can now produce damascus kitchen knives with exceptional properties in both departments.

The Design

A good friend of mine (also a knife maker) likes to say that kitchen knives are among the hardest to make. They are long, thin, and very wide, and they need to be designed with performance in mind more than just about any other knife out there. This is because they get used more than just about any other knife out there. Day in, day out, up and down against a hard surface, they need to have just the right stiffness and flex, just the right edge shape, just the right ergonomics. These are largely questions of design, but the technical considerations are every bit as important; the metallurgy of the steel needs to be controlled very carefully in order for the knife to hold up to regular heavy use. 

Adding damascus ups the ante even further by adding a whole new dimension to the aesthetics of a working knife, and a whole host of technical challenges that I need to overcome. There seems to be a pair of common misconceptions about the durability of damascus. Some people believe that it is weaker than unpatterned steel, while others believe it is stronger. The truth is that it all comes down to the skill of the smith including using techniques such as “acid etching”. I can tell you from personal experience that I have done rigorous performance testing of both, and my results paint a clear picture: they are identical. But damascus steel is for sure more complicated, with many more opportunities for error while the knife is being made. This is why it is best to have work made by someone like me.

With identical performance characteristics, you might wonder why you’d bother with the added expense of a damascus kitchen knife over monosteel. It is a valid question, and in all honesty it is not one that I would casually dismiss. They feel the same, they perform the same, but one is more expensive; why bother? The simplest answer is that they just have that X-factor. They stand out. They feel more luxurious. For now, at least, kitchen knives made of damascus are the finest to be had. 

Want your own customized damascus kitchen knife? Contact Jonas Blade now!

About The Author

Zack Jonas was born and raised in Massachusetts in the 1980’s and is still a New Englander today. With his growing love for art over the years, he took an introductory bladesmithing class at MASSart. It was there that he learned one of his most valuable lessons, which is that everyone has some insight worth learning. Today, he is a full-time bladesmith and feels incredibly fortunate to have found his calling.