Sazanami: Damascus and Tsuchime Finishes on a VG10 Knife

Ichimonji Sazanami Damascus

The appeal of Damascus knives, including our Sazanami series is their striking appearance. To be honest, I always find the unique Damascus patterns on our blades awe inspiring.

Even just looking at the beautiful pattern makes me feel this knife will cut well. Our Damascus knives attract a lot of attention from customers in store.

The handle on our series is made from reinforced wood, that has been dyed black.

There is a growing trend of various colors being used in knife handles, but personally, I feel black on steel is the best color.

Although it’s called “Damascus Steel”, it’s really a laminated steel, made in a similar fashion to Japanese knives with a hard steel core and softer outer steel shell.

The Damascus outer layer is softer than the core of the blade, and two different kinds of steels with varying hardness levels are used to created the unique pattern.

In short, hard steel takes a shine easily, whereas softer steel becomes hazy and somewhat cloudy, which creates a beautiful and unique contrast that is unique to each knife.

It can be difficult to maintain this pattern after usage however. When this steel is initially produced, the blades are sandblasted to reveal the pattern more clearly. Once you start sharpening the blade on a whetstone, both layers will begin to shine and some of the contrast will be lost as the hazy and cloudy layer becomes shinier like the hard steel layer. I’m always looking for a good way to recreate the contrast between the hard and soft steel.

I think that the real highlight of the Sazanami series is the Tsuchime or hammered pattern. The pattern adds a little more to the handmade feel of these knives. It’s also very practical, helping food slide of the blade easier.

Damascus Knives are laminated knives, so the quality of the steel at the core is very important. This is because the blades are essentially made in three pieces, of about 2mm in thickness.

The inner core is often less than 1mm thick, so the steel must be very hard for edge retention but also for the outer layers to properly forge weld to each other.

Using VG10 Stainless Steel in this series allows the outer soft steel to weld nicely to the core. But the because the core steel is thin, after sharpening you can feel the blade becoming thinner and thinner. Therefore overall it is inferior to an all-steel blade such as our SWORD FV10 series. This is a trade of performance versus beauty.

The design of the knife is very unique, and that must be why it is so popular right now. Kitchen knives are special to cooks and it’s important you appreciate the beauty of what you have. A knife that is beautiful can be easily enjoyed, just as much as a knife that cuts perfectly.

View the Sazanami Damascus Range