Why a quality kitchen knife is the perfect Christmas gift
Ever wondered what makes a really great kitchen knife? Here the experts at I.O.Shen knives explain what to look for this Christmas
All knives are graded for hardness. The harder the steel in the blade, the longer the knife stays sharp for and the more exquisite the cutting edge feels. In contrast, the softer the steel, the quicker it blunts and it doesn’t ‘feel’ as sharp, even when it’s brand new out of the box.
For many years, knife manufacturers have been trying to use increasingly harder steel in order to achieve the ultimate cutting edge. The hardness of stainless steel is measured on a scale called Rockwell; Rockwell 62º (also known as HRC62) being the highest grade commercially available. However, the brittleness of such hard steel has always been a limiting factor – therefore knife manufacturers have had to stop short of what is considered ‘the ultimate steel hardness for a knife’.
Standard single layer Japanese knives will typically rate at between Rockwell 54 -58º. This is the outer limit of steel production as any higher would result in snapping or chipping of the blade if misused.
I.O.Shen Mastergrade knives use a traditional Japanese knife manufacturing technique called San Mai to overcome this problem. By using a layer of extremely hard Japanese steel (Rockwell 62º), which is sandwiched between two layers of softer stainless steel (Rockwell 10º), they can produce the ultimate cutting edge. The softer layers add a protective shock absorbing element to the blade, whilst the HRC62 steel which runs through the middle is exposed at the edge of the blade to ensure that your knife is the sharpest blade that can possibly be manufactured.
What distinguishes I.O.Shen knives from other Japanese knives (apart from the San Mai technique) is that the handles have more of a Western influence. Most, if not all, Japanese knives are very light and have metal, bamboo or wooden handles. I.O.Shen handles are heavier and have the weight of a traditional German knife with the added benefit of Japanese steel which has been honed to a 15º angle.
The handles also have a very distinctive Tai Tang pattern in the handle, making them a stylish knife choice. Chef Felice Tocchini says that using I.O.Shen knives is “…like working with a piece of art”.
I.O.Shen knives are designed in the UK by expert knife designer and owner, Natalie Clifton, or they’re collaborations with some of the UK’s best chefs and then manufactured in Japan. Recognised for their excellence, I.O.Shen knives are perfect for professional chefs and home cooks who’d like top-of-the-range, professional quality knives.
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