View Full Version : Long Term Knife Storage

07-03-2011, 04:33 PM
Sorry for this newbie question. And sorry for making it so long. I was wondering how to properly store a good set of knives long term, if you only intend to use them on special occasions?

I am a home cook, and have always used Wüsthof. I have wanted to try some Japanese style knives. I got a Shun Classic chef's knife, and I like how well it cuts. Well, yesterday I was in Williams Sonoma and saw that the Shun Bob Kramer Meiji set was 1/2 off. I understand that a mainstream brand like Shun is not going to be as great as a small craft shop Japanese knife, however, these were beautiful knives, reproductions of Bob Kramer originals. In fact, a bit too good looking to use, except on very special occasions.

So, I planned to store them(sorry for how long-winded this post is). I was going to get a metal toolbox, line it with foam, sheath the knives in cardboard and pack them in more foam, and add a silica gel packet or two to keep moisture out. Then I saw this post(I hope linking is alright):

This gentleman posts three posts in a row, all of which were worrisome, and it got me thinking:

1. In sheathing knives, would I not be able to use paper or cardboard, as they are made with acid? Would a plastic sheath like Lamson release gases over time? Is it better to use a magnetic felt sheath, or use vellum paper as a sheath instead, for long-term storage?

2. As foam releases gases, marring the blade, is it better to use museum grade felt, or would foam in this case still be alright? Should I instead try to line the box with something like latex or rubber?

3. Silica gel. According to that man's post, it can wreck your knives, used improperly by not "charging" them. Problem is, he never said they still wouldn't wreck you knives if used properly. Has anyone used silica gel in their knife storage? If regularly charged, do they not dry out the wood/rust the blades, are there any experiences yay or nay? Or is it better just to leave them at regular humidity(I ask as I live in the southern parts of the US, a rather humid place)?

4. Should the knives be regularly oiled? I just don't want to take these knives out for when company is coming over, and find a lovely rust patina all over it.

5. Am I over-thinking this too much?

6. Bueller?

Eamon Burke
07-03-2011, 04:42 PM
Welcome! You've come to the right place.

First things first, rust and patina are not the same thing. Patina is a layer of corrosion that is considered desirable, because it hogs up the space on the steel surface, and helps to prevent deep rusting and reactivity. You can force a patina by applying something acidic, like mustard or vinegar, or reactive, like beef, to the blade. A good patina will go a long way to help a carbon steel knife survive long term storage.

How often are you going to use these? Because you won't have problems with things like foam-gases unless they are sitting for months and months at a time. This is a problem in straight razors, where the thin, reactive steel gets stored for years inside celluloid scales in a closet. The result is deep rust pitting.

All knives should regularly be oiled. Just use some mineral or camelia oil all over it, doesn't take much.

And yes, you are kind of overthinking it. Unless you mean to buy these knives and leave them in a box except on Christmas day. And if that's the case, I can't help you, cause to me, that'd be silly.

07-03-2011, 05:35 PM
The Shun Kramers at Williams Sonoma are made from SG2 steel which is stainless and fairly corrosion resistant. They will not patina. You should only see a problem if you store it with salt or acid on the blade. Store it in the box it comes in. As long as you put it away clean and dry, it will be fine.

I should say it is a waste of a good knife to only use it on special occasions. Knifes are tools, if you like the way it cuts, why leave it in a drawer and use a knife that is less enjoyable?

07-03-2011, 05:38 PM
And yes, you are kind of overthinking it. Unless you mean to buy these knives and leave them in a box except on Christmas day. And if that's the case, I can't help you, cause to me, that'd be silly.

+ 1

07-03-2011, 07:27 PM
The worst thing that can happen to a knife is to not be used. If the only reason for owning the knife is to impress other people, it is like having a Ferrari that never leaves the garage.

07-03-2011, 07:44 PM
Well, my main reason to hold off using the knives at the moment is that I am only used to using Western-style knives. I understand that Shun's knives are more Westernish Japanese knives, but the design is still something I am not used to.
I am afraid of using the knives until I am confident in my abilities with them. I am scared of damaging them, not yet knowing how the lighter, thinner, sharper blades(with different profiles) cut.I wanted about six months to a year to get some less expensive "throw around" Japanese style blades, to get proficient with that style.

There are few things more costly than a neophyte with something valuable. And I wanted to make sure, when I graduated to the Meiji, that I am able to use them.

07-03-2011, 08:20 PM
You will not have any issues with rust on the Shun Kramer. It is a stainless powder steel with a high hardness. It you are waiting to use it until you become more proficient with japanese stlye knives, don't. The Shun Kramer is NOT like any japanese style knife, just made in Japan.

But if you must store the knife, just put it in the box that it came in. There is no need for felt lined, silicon shrink wrap etc...

FYI Bob Kramer would drop his hammer on his toe if he found out the tool was not going to be regularly used. :bladesmith:

07-03-2011, 08:33 PM
Ok. Get busy cutting. Got it. :p