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Blade Finish and Impact on Cutting Feeling

In addition to the geometry, the surface finishing of the blade has a significant impact on the cutting feeling. It’s quite logical – the lower the friction between food and blade, the less power is needed for a cut. The friction is also called drag. As a rule of thumb, the smoother the surface of the blade, the lower the friction.

However, there is another element to it - adhesion. The smoother the surface of the blade, the stronger the adhesion of the food to the blade. Adhesion can be an issue when cutting harder food like carrots or potatoes. Especially with mirror finish blades, the adhesion can be very strong, so that more power is needed for a cut than with a non-mirror finish, despite of the low friction of the polished surface.

 

Here are the most common finishes of knife blades:

Picture of a hollow edge knife blade without grinding

No grind

Seen on inexpensive knives with hollow-grind. Usually rough surface with a lot of drag.

Picture of a knife blade with grinding by normal machine and smooth satin finish

Normal machine grind

Most common on Western knives and mono-steel Japanese knives. Semi-fine finish and reasonably low drag.

Picture of a knife blade with mirror finish

Mirror finish

Not very common due to the fact that it's an additional process in production and one that exposes scratches. Low friction and drag will produce a smooth cutting feeling with some food. On hard food, the adhesion effect will more than offset the benefit of low friction, especially if the blade has a flat grind.

Picture of a knife blade with mirror damascus finish

Mirror Damascus

Finish on multi-layer blades, where one set of layers has a mirror finish and the other set a sandblasted matte finish. Normal drag on par with normal machine grinds.

Picture of a knife blade with etched damascus finish by etching

Etched Damascus

A Damascus pattern can also be created through etching of a blade. It will usually produce a dark grey or black finish, which can look striking, but usually produces a bit more drag than other finishes.

Picture of a knife blade with tsuchime hammer finish

Hammer finish

Another typical finish of Japanese blades (Tsuchime in Japanese), where the blade has a lot of indentations. This finish will reduce drag, as the contact area of the blade with food will be reduced. However, the indentations may make cleaning of the blade slightly more difficult.

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