Types of Japanese Steel
What kind of steel do Japanese manufacturers use? Why are they the hardest steel? What are the benefits? All these questions are frequent in the world of Japanese knife making, and hopefully I can answer those questions for you today.
Japanese knives are typically made of a type of high-carbon or superior-carbon steel, which is known for its hardness, durability, and ability to hold a sharp edge. That is the main reason why professionals are bias towards a high end Japanese knife.
One of the most common types of steel is called VG-10 steel. It is a high quality stainless steel that contains around 1% carbon and 15% chromium. That blend gives it excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention. But not the best edge retention on the list.
SG-2 Steel is also known as "powdered steel." SG-2 is a high-performance stainless steel that contains high levels of carbon, vanadium, and molybdenum. It's known for its exceptional sharpness and edge retention for a stainless steel.
White steel, called "Shirogami" is another type of carbon steel. High hardness rating and just as good as Blue Steel or "Aogami" in terms of holding an edge, the white steel is a bit better with corrosion resistance.
Blue steel, called "Aogami" in Japanese, is a type of carbon steel that contains a high amount of carbon and is well known for its hardness factor and ability to hold a sharp edge for a long time. It is more susceptible to corrosion, but a professional that cleans and cares for their knives allow this type of steel to be one of the highest quality carbon steel for professional usage. Aogami steel is regarded as one of the highest quality of metal that can be used for a high-end, elite level knife.
These high carbon steels are often used in combination with traditional Japanese forging techniques, such as the "Honyaki" method, to create knives that are both beautiful and functional.
The "Honyaki" method is an expensive and time consuming method of forging, using a single piece of steel to allow for the strongest bonds in molecules with its steel. Because the Honyaki method uses a single piece of steel, the resulting knives are highly prized for their strength, sharpness, and durability. They are also considered works of art, with their unique patterns and shapes reflecting the skill and craftsmanship of the individual artisan who created them.
As a result, high end carbon steel knives are typically reserved for use by professional chefs and serious home cooks who are willing to invest in a high-quality, handmade knife that will last a lifetime with proper care.