Damascus kitchen knives are gorgeous. However, they’re also generally more expensive than non-pattern stainless steel knives. That causes some questions.
Are Damascus knives worth it? Are they just for looks? And would a Damascus knife make a good all around knife?
The Damascus process creates beautiful wave-like patterns on the knife. But not all Damascus knives are equal. They are generally more expensive than regular blades because of the artisan work.
The strength of Damascus steel depends on the quality of the metals used, and great Damascus uses a meticulous forging process that ensures no risk of delamination. A good Damascus knife will cost you around $200.
There are cheap knock-off Damascus knives on the market, but you get what you pay for with them. Junk is junk.
So if you buy a bargain Damascus knife, be aware that while it may be pretty, it won’t be practical for everyday kitchen use.
What Is Damascus Steel?
Damascus steel was initially used to make swords in the Middle East during the medieval period. But the method was all but lost around the 16th century.
Damascus, pattern weld, and Wootz are all names for types of steels and blades. The basic idea behind making Damascus knives is to fuse two or more steel alloys through various layering methods, which makes the beautiful wavy pattern.
But the practice of making real Damascus steel was a well-guarded secret. And over the years it has been lost. There is still some real Damascus cutlery in existence today, but it is very scarce.
Modern-day Damascus kitchen knives
The vast majority of layered steel made today is either san-mai or pattern welded. Japanese knives commonly contain san-mai steel.
This is a technique of sandwiching three sheets of steel. A san-mai blade has two outer stainless steel layers, with a harder stainless or carbon steel core like VG-10.
Because the objective is to have a very hard edge that fuses with the stainless steel rather than mixing with it, there is no folding done.
The other kind of pattern welded steel is what we today call Damascus. The Damascus kitchen knives sold today use different grades of steel repeatedly folded together, usually around a pure, knife-grade steel core.
The majority of them use two sheets of Damascus wallpaper to laminate a harder core. The Japanese use a technique of cladding the core with softer steel, allowing them to make swords and knives with super sharp edges without making the blades too brittle.
Damascus cladding is the same as soft steel cladding. It’s just a matter of appearance and price.
Are Damascus Kitchen Knives Better than Regular Stainless Steel Knives?
Basically, it’s a matter of personal preference. Many Japanese knives combine stainless steel with Damascus patterns, giving you the incredible beauty with strength and corrosion resistance.
The truth is, when you compare a regular stainless steel knife with a comparable Damascus knife there is virtually no difference in how they perform. The difference mainly lies in the aesthetics.
How We Reviewed
To give you the best sense of value, we compared a variety of Damascus knives. We took a careful look at features, price, and the reputation of various brands.
Finally, we researched professional and customer reviews for an in-depth understanding of value over time and customer satisfaction.
The Best Damascus Knives
Here are our top picks for the best Damascus kitchen knives.
Zelite Infinity Chef Knife — Alpha-Royal Series
The Zelite Infinity 8-inch chef’s knife is visually stunning with its Japan Tsunami Rose Damascus pattern. And it’s not just a pretty face — it also performs brilliantly.
This Damascus knife features Japanese AUS-10 super steel with 67-layer high-carbon stainless steel. It’s liquid nitrogen tempered, giving it long-lasting strength and performance.
The triple riveted rounded military-grade handle is also gorgeous. It attaches to a forged full tang, which provides the knife with extra strength and durability.
The razor sharp blade is 12 degrees on each side, and the tapered bolster ensures perfect balance. The Zelite Infinity Chef Knife also comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects if you buy it from Zelite.
This knife costs from $120 to $135. Like some other Damascus kitchen knives, this one gets extremely high ratings. Amazon users rated it 4.8 out of 5 stars.
And out of over a thousand customer reviews, a whopping 90 percent of them gave this knife 5.0 out of 5 stars. Zelite uses imported Japanese steel for this knife, but some people complained that Zelite makes it in China.
Shun Premier 8-inch chef’s knife
The 8-inch Shun Premier Chef’s Knife features a blade core of high carbon VG-10 Japanese super steel, which is known for its superior edge retention.
The center is clad with 16 layers of corrosion-resistant Damascus stainless steel on each side, making the blade strong and flexible. The sharp edge features a 16-degree angle.
And the forged full-tang knife will last a lifetime. Unlike some of the other Damascus kitchen knives, Shun makes this one in Japan. It is also NSF certified for use in commercial kitchens.
This Shun knife costs from $175 to $225, and it also gets excellent reviews. Amazon buyers rated this knife 4.6 out of 5 stars. Out of more than 250 customer reviews, 80 percent of them gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars. Most people love this knife.
However, some complained that the blade chipped when they did things like cut through bone.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8-inch chef’s knife
Master bladesmith Bob Kramer created this stunning knife with Henckels, and it doesn’t disappoint. Kramer’s design features an extra-wide blade to ensure knuckle clearance even for very large hands.
Henckels makes this knife in Japan by combing SG2 micro-carbide powder steel with an ice-hardened Cryodur blade to create scalpel-like sharpness.
These Damascus kitchen knives stay sharper for longer and can handle more sharpenings over their lifetimes.
The gorgeous 100-layer Chevron Damascus pattern protects the super steel core of these knives. The edges are angled at 9 to 12 degrees on both sides.
Of all of the Damascus kitchen knives that we reviewed, this one is the most expensive, costing from $325 to $500. But it’s also exquisite.
Amazon buyers rated it 4.1 out of 5 stars. Many of the customer reviews on this knife commented on how long the very sharp edge lasts.
One of the complaints about this knife is that the sides of the blade are not smooth like a regular chef’s knife, so it causes some friction when cutting larger objects.
Miyabi Fusion Morimoto Edition chef’s knife
The Miyabi knife is a collaboration between Zwilling J.A. Henckels and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and comes from Japan.
It combines Western-inspired ergonomics with an authentic Japanese blade style. The edges are 9.5 to 12 degrees, and the knife features a Henckels VG-10 super steel core blade wrapped in a beautiful 64-layer flower Damascus pattern.
The triple riveted full tang Western-style POM handle is thicker at the end to prevent slipping. It balances perfectly in your hand for safe, tireless cutting.
The Miyabi knife costs from $130 to $215. It received similar ratings to the other Damascus kitchen knives; Amazon buyers rated it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Overall, the reviews are excellent for this knife. Many people commented on how razor sharp the blade is when it comes out of the box.
Some people also complained that their Miyabis chipped when doing things like cutting into chicken bones.
Dalstrong Chef’s Knife — Shogun Series X Gyuto
Like the other Damascus kitchen knives, the Dalstrong knife is beautiful to look at. This 8-inch chef’s knife features an extremely sharp AUS-10V vacuum heat-treated Japanese steel with 66 layers, which ensures ultra strength, stain resistance, and durability.
The razor sharp edge is 8 to 12 degrees on each side, and the triple-riveted ergonomic handle attached has a full tang. It feels perfectly balanced in your hand. This knife is also nitrogen-cooled, making the blade flexible and corrosion resistant. It comes with a lifetime warranty against defects. This is a forged knife, but the Damascus pattern is laser-etched.
This Dalstrong Damascus knife costs from $130 to $145. Like the other Damascus kitchen knives, this one gets extremely high ratings. Amazon buyers rated it 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Out of hundreds of customer reviews, 90 percent gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars. This knife is gorgeous to look at, but people also rave about its insanely sharp blade. Some people complained that this knife is mass produced in China. Others complained that the free protective sheath that comes with it is subpar.
What Does a Regular Chef’s Knife Offer?
These top-selling knives aren’t as pretty as the Damascus kitchen knives, but they do match in quality.
Mac Knife MTH-80 Professional hollow edge chef’s knife
This 8-inch chef’s knife is Mac’s most popular knife for everyday use. It features a thin steel blade with dimples, which allows the knife to glide through sticky foods smoothly.
The thin blade combined with the sturdy bolster give this knife the perfect weight and balance. The edges are honed to 15 degrees, making the blade very sharp.
The steel alloy used in this knife is high in carbon, making it very hard. It also contains molybdenum, which makes the metal more flexible and less likely to chip. Mac manufactures this knife in Japan.
The Mac MTH-80 costs from $145 to $175. Like the Damascus kitchen knives we listed, it gets outstanding ratings. Amazon buyers rated it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Out of many customer reviews, 85 percent of them gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars. People rave about the sharpness of this knife. While it does hold its edge for a long time, once it dulls, it is very easy to resharpen.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8-inch stainless steel chef’s knife
This Henckels 8-inch chef’s knife is another top seller. It features a forged high-carbon stainless steel that is ice-hardened to ensure the blade stays sharper for longer and is corrosion resistant.
The triple riveted ergonomic handle secures well to the full tang. And the laser-controlled edges are 15 degrees per side. Henckels also offers a lifetime warranty on defects.
This Henckels knife costs from $140 to $185 and gets excellent ratings. Amazon buyers rated it 4.7 out of 5 stars. Henckels offers some of the best knives on the market.
People who own them seem to love them. If you’re looking for the best knives, then you can’t go wrong with Henckels.
Wusthof Classic 8-inch chef’s knife
The Wusthof Classic is a German knife that features a forged high-carbon stainless steel blade. It also has a triple-riveted full tang handle that adds stability.
The sturdy bolster and finger guard provide comfortable, safe cutting. The sharp edges are 14 degrees on each side. Wusthof also offers a lifetime warranty on any defects in this knife.
This Wusthof knife costs from $150 to $165. It may not be as beautiful to look at as the Damascus kitchen knives, but it gets excellent ratings. Amazon buyers rated it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Out of almost a thousand customer reviews, 87 percent of them gave the Wusthof knife 5.0 out of 5 stars.
The vast majority of people love this knife, but some complained that they had unknowingly bought fakes that were subpar quality.
You can avoid that problem by purchasing directly from the manufacturer or Amazon, steering clear of third-party sellers.
Looking at the Pros and Cons
Every product has its upside and downside. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons Damascus kitchen knives present.
- Damascus kitchen knives are gorgeous to look at
- They have excellent edge retention
- Extremely sharp blades
- They are more expensive than other knives
- They don’t work any better than regular stainless steel knives
Do Damascus Kitchen Knives Make the Cut?
The simple answer is if you love what the patterned Damascus knives look like, and you can afford them, then yes, they make the cut. You tend to get what you pay for with good knives, and the Damascus knives are no different.
The patterns on them make no difference in the knife’s performance. The critical thing to consider is whether the blade is stainless steel or high-carbon steel.
Carbon steel knives are generally sharper, but they require more maintenance. So if you love the appearance of the Damascus, you should choose the knife that you like best.
But know that the performance of the knife is more dependant upon the quality of the steel core of the blade and the quality of the metals used in the folding process.
The best practice is to go with a reputable brand and know that if you want the best, you’re going to have to pay for it. Do you own a Damascus kitchen knife? Tell us about it!
Last update on 2022-10-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API