What Material Is Used to Make Santoku Knives

What Material Is Used to Make Santoku Knives

What Material Is Used to Make Santoku Knives is a Logical Question

The quality of a knife’s steel makes or breaks its quality. The knife steel is usually a balance between elasticity and hardness: If the steel is “too” soft, it cannot be sharpened to an ideal point, and if it is “too” firm, it breaks more quickly (learn more about the degree of hardness HRC of knives). However, the quality of the knife is greatly influenced by both the material and the maker of the knife. Even the best raw material is of little value if the steel is not thoroughly tempered and treated.

The advantages and disadvantages of the most popular materials for Santoku knives are listed below:


Stainless steel is especially popular in the manufacture of Japanese knives (usually Yasuki steel). With these, a higher hardness can be achieved (this is due to the fine particles caused by the hardened structure “martensite” and “carbide”).

Aogami (blue paper steel) and Shirogami (white paper steel) are two examples of traditional classic steels. They got their name from the vibrant packaging. Shirogami and Aogami both have hardness ranges between 63 and 65 HRC and 65 and 66 HRC, respectively. However, there are several more high-quality carbon steel sheets.

Advantages: These steels are very hard, can be sanded very sharply and very easily, and remain sharp for a long time (high edge retention). For manageable money, you usually get very good cutting performance. These properties are difficult to achieve with stainless materials and then cost a lot of money (e.g. PM steel).

Disadvantages: Knives made of these steel rust quickly, so they require some maintenance and are more susceptible to handling errors (blade breakage).

It is for you if you’re seeking premium, conventional, and edge-resistant sand. Be ready to pay a bit more attention and work into your knife (do not put it in the sink, dry it immediately, best oil).

What Material Is Used to Make Santoku Knives


The really classic Santoku has a small drawback that requires a little more care than usual: it’s not stainless steel. Japanese manufacturers usually use non-stainless carbon steel such as Aogami or Shirogami.

At the same time, Santokus also offers modern stainless steel grades such as X50 CrMoV15 (the cheapest variant of a certain quality still available), VG5, VG10, VG12, VG MAX, and many more. These also offer a very good quality (depending on the manufacturer) and are usually cheaper and do not rust.

Advantages: Compared to classic Japanese knife steel, they do not rust and do not require much maintenance. Depending on the steel, they also achieve very good machinability and hardness. They don’t require a lot in terms of pricing. If you do without “bells and whistles” such as damask optics, you get a great price-performance ratio.

Disadvantages: They often do not reach the hardness of typical Japanese knife steels. Therefore, they are generally not as sharp and do not retain their sharpness for long.
If you’re looking for a relatively easy-care, high-quality, and affordable Santoku, then it’s for you.


So-called powder metallurgical steels, often known as PM steels, are relatively new in the world of tool materials. This steel is made by pressing (sintering) iron under high pressure and at a temperature close below the melting point of iron with a variety of powdered raw ingredients (alloys). The distribution of the alloy is hence fairly even. Higher toughness and edge retention are the results.

There are several PM steel sheets available in a range of compositions. SG2, D2/SKD11, MC63, and MC66/ZDP-189 are examples of common ones. Following is a general summary of PM steel’s benefits and drawbacks:
Advantage: Steel may be mixed extremely precisely and separately. As a result, it is possible to attain a specific level of toughness in addition to high hardness and sharpness. In spite of having a similar hardness, the blade is therefore less prone to chipping than traditional hard knife steel.

Disadvantages: These knives are often very expensive due to the complexity of their manufacture. Sharpening these knives is not for beginners. In addition, the ingredients are difficult to understand, so you often have to rely on the manufacturer’s information.

Tip: Before buying a knife, be sure to find out about the exact name of the powder steel and its performance (and, if necessary, experience reports) and compare them with your own ideas. For example, not all PM steels are stainless steel.

If you are looking for a very high-quality, hard, sharp, and cut knife for frequent use, then it is just right for you. You get a knife for that, but you have to be prepared to invest a bit more.


In this tool design, hard (usually non-stainless) steel is usually forged with 2 softer steel protective layers as the core layer. It only cuts (usually hard) nuclear steel. This ensures good sharpness and edge retention. The slightly softer/more flexible outer layer gives the fracture-prone hardcore a certain toughness (transverse load) and prevents corrosion.

Advantages: Despite the hardness and edge retention, the blade has a certain toughness and is, therefore, stronger than a single-steel blade of the same hardness. You also have to see the optics as a clear advantage.

Disadvantages: No universal disadvantages. But you should keep in mind: Just because very hard steel is surrounded by softer steel, it is by no means a solid all-rounder. Even hard-cutting edges can break and be damaged if handled improperly.

Note: Be sure to choose good core steel that suits you. If the blade should be stronger and not rust, then VG10 or VG Max Stahl may be the right choice. If you want an extremely hard, sharp blade, the Aogami steel core is a good choice.

If you are looking for classic, high-quality and stable Santoku Knives with an exciting look, in my opinion, this is the right place for you. Depending on the material, you do not need as much care as with a knife made of pure carbon steel.

What Material Is Used to Make Santoku Knives


Theoretically: The core made of high-quality steel is enveloped/enveloped by a Damascus steel jacket (the steel layers are folded several times and welded together), which gives the knife an elegant look (the core remains free at the cutting edge, responsible for cutting). ). As a rule, this is not real damask steel, but a so-called rolled laminate (which is based on the look of damask).

Damascus steel has no effect on the cutting performance of the tool compared to conventional damask known as “wild damask”. The core steel provides hardness and sharpness, the damask coating for the support of elasticity – but it’s more about appearance.

Advantages: Looks very similar to a “real” damask knife, so it’s definitely a highlight. According to many manufacturers, the damask layer should also provide more elasticity. This is not necessary for most steels, as they rarely bear such high loads. If the core steel is not stainless steel, the outer layer can prevent corrosion. If this is advertised as a cheap knife, it is certainly not a real damask knife, as it can only be made “rust-free” by elaborate manual work.

Disadvantages: more appearance than being? The added value of sheathing Damascus steel is manageable. Hard cores can also break cutting edges if handled improperly, and Damascus steel does not improve cutting performance. Optical components and the associated higher production costs often drive up prices.

Note: Damascus is not a protected term. Every knife in damask look can call itself that. Many other methods that do not raise the tool’s quality can be used to produce this effect. High-quality knives can benefit from a damask coating (the price of such knives is usually over 200 euros). For this, however, the damask must be authentic and complement the core steel in a qualitatively meaningful way. But more importantly, be sure to use high-quality nuclear steel. If you want to enjoy it longer, do not buy “spectacular” damask knives for 20 euros.

If you’re willing to spend a little more on your knife’s chic look, it’s for you. Especially if nuclear steel should be (and always should be) good steel, the price is quite high.


In this process, several layers of different types of steel are stacked on top of each other and repeatedly hammered, folded, hammered again, etc., until the result is a blade consisting of several thin layers of different steel. At the end of the process, the blade is immersed in acid, exposing the different layers of the knife.

The advantage is that, depending on the application, steels with different properties can be combined. This allows me to combine extremely hard steel for edge retention and sharpness with softer steel for flexibility and elasticity. Compared to a damask knife with a “normal” steel core, the different steels used have an influence on the cutting performance, as they form the cutting edge.

Advantages: Various combination steels complement each other perfectly, resulting in knives with excellent properties that are particularly suitable for the respective application. The damask pattern on the blade also looks good. These knives are strong and, with proper care, may last a lifetime or more.

Disadvantages: Price. These types of knives are usually hand-forged. In addition, very high-quality steel is used. This comes at a cost. Pure shell plots in Damascus alone can cost 200-300 euros. Therefore, the price of these knives is usually between 300 and 1000 euros (upwards almost without limit).
Note: This type of knife can squeeze the last few percent of the potential out of the knife. Whether this “10-20%” difference in quality is worth the 100 to x% higher price compared to a good single-steel knife, everyone has to decide for themselves. They are definitely the highlights and knives of life.

If you are looking for a knife for life, this is the one for you. They want to get the last percentage out of the knife. They already have many knives and are now looking for the “icing on the cake”.


Ceramics is more of a novel material for blades and has its advantages. Ceramic can be a good choice, especially for a Santoku that needs a hard, sharp blade. Visually, it is certainly not for everyone, but it more than makes up for it with its generally cheaper price.

Advantages: Ceramics is a very hard material. As a result, the blade is very cut-resistant (rarely needs to be reground) and very sharp. It is also affordably priced and simple to clean up.

Disadvantages: Ceramic (especially cheap ones) is very inflexible due to their hardness and is extremely prone to chipping of the blade. Even a small fall or misuse can make the knife unusable. Especially the knife tip breaks off slightly. However, since the top of Santoku is quite round, the problem of lace breakage is not so obvious.

If you are looking for inexpensive and easy-care sand that is still sharp and retains its edge, then it is for you.

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