Kin Handmade Knives
Harriet & Rebecca Murland
In 1994 Tony Murland visited Japan to source quality Japanese woodworking tools, on the trip he saw some amazing kitchen knives that he had no idea existed. Beautifully balanced knives with layered steel blades, elegant handles with a handmade construction. Having a healthy interest in cooking, Tony brought some of these knives back to the UK and the rest is history. Since then Tony and his daughters, Harriet and Rebecca, have built Rendlesham-based Kin Knives into one of the most famous brands of Kitchen Knives, associated with quality and individualism. The Kin Knives range is a collection of products from small manufacturers and in some cases individual craftsmen who in return for being included within the Kin brand have offered Kin Knives exclusivity of their product. Prices range from £30 to over £445 per knife depending on construction and heritage.
What makes a good knife; carbon, laminated or folded steel?
Takamura Gyuto style
Ideally you want to avoid a knife that is completely made of stainless steel. Stainless steel is great at first but is notoriously difficult to sharpen. A knife with a high carbon steel content is going to be much easier to sharpen. The Japanese came up with a laminated concept where the cutting core in the middle is made of high carbon steel and it surrounded by outer layers of stainless steel for strength – http://www.kinknives.com/laminated-knives/
. A laminated knife blade is a blade that is constructed with three layers of steel. The outside layers are stainless steel but the core is a slightly different alloy that is better suited for cutting and sharpening. A laminated blade is by definition stronger than a single piece construction and also allows a better steel to be introduced to the core. These knives are much easier to sharpen than a single piece, stainless steel knife.
The Japanese also make a lot of carbon steel blades http://www.kinknives.com/carbon-steel-knives/
. These knives are very traditional and many Japanese chefs tend to use carbon steel blades, especially for sushi. Carbon steel is the material that all knives were originally made from. The reason that it was used is that it is easy to sharpen and achieves a very sharp edge. In recent years knives have mainly been made out of a single piece of stainless steel. This method of production is not the best way to make a knife but manufacturers favour this material as it is a simple construction and makes a shiny knife. Carbon steel knives will oxidise and discolour. This is not a fault, it is a nature of the material. Carbon steel knives can be sharpened to a razor edge. They must be dried after use and periodically they will need cleaning with lemon juice and a light scouring pad. Traditionally they are treated after use with camellia oil which inhibits the oxidation process. If the fact that carbon steel requires a little bit more maintenance is of concern then a laminated or folded steel knife should be considered.
Folded or Damascus steel
The highest quality knives we sell are folded steel, this is where the maker surrounds the cutting core with multiple layers of folded steel. The layers not only increase strength but also add to the beauty of the blades – http://www.kinknives.com/folded-steel-knives/ . A folded steel knife is a knife with a blade that is constructed of many layers. This construction is called damascus steel. The layers have been heated, folded and hammered many times. In the same way that the laminated knives have a different cutting steel core the folded steel blades also have a central core of cutting steel. The reason that the Japanese make knives in this fashion is that it creates a beautiful blade, a strong blade and a blade with the best performing steel in the core.
So as you can see Japanese knives are made in a far more sophisticated manner than European knives. There are many options to choose from but the main thing to remember is to avoid buying a knife made of pure stainless steel. Whether you choose a laminated, carbon and folded steel blade you won’t be disappointed with its finish, sharpness and ease of sharpening in the future.
Quick Fire Questions:
1. What is the best way to sharpen a Japanese knife?
We recommend to only sharpen Japanese knives on a flat stone. This can either be a waterstone, an oilstone or a diamond stone – see our website for full instructions – http://www.kinknives.com/sharpening.aspx
2. What’s the most popular kitchen knife?
Our best selling style of knife is the Santoku. Santoku means “three virtues” in Japanese making it a multi-purpose knife that takes its name from its ability to easily handle meat, fish and vegetables. If we were to recommend buying one knife, it would be a Santoku.
3. What makes Kin Knives so special?
Most knives on the market are made from a single sheet of stainless steel. Most Kin knives are made of either a laminated or folded construction. These constructions result in a much finer cutting edge. This also means that the knives are much easier to sharpen as they have a quality carbon cutting core running through the centre of the blade.