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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions that are not answered here? Should they be added to our FAQ? Send us an e-mail at Murray@CarterCutlery.com

 
Who makes Carter Cutlery knives?

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What is Traditional Japanese Bladesmithing?

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What are the differences between “Muteki” and “Carter” knives?

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Why are hand-forged knives better than others?

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What steels do you use?

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What is Damascus steel? Does it require special care?

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What are the different finishes on the knives? What about the kitchen knives?

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How do I care for Kuro-uchi knives?

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Does Carter Cutlery take custom orders?

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How do I know which knife is right for me?

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What if the knife I want is sold out?

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How do you recommend sharpening knives from Carter Cutlery?

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What is the best way to maintain Carter Cutlery knives?

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Can I resharpen damaged knives?

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Why do some blades chip?

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How do I use your Knife Sharpening Service?

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Can I come visit the forge?

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How long does shipping take and which service do you use?

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Where can I find information about Carter Cutlery company policies?

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What is the significance of the Japanese artisan knives?

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What do all these Japanese words mean?

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What do the different marks on the knives mean?

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Can you tell me more about the “Shiro” brand knives?

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What makes Shozaburo shears better than normal scissors? Which size is right for me?

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  • Who makes Carter Cutlery knives?

Our knives are hand-forged by Murray Carter, a traditional Japanese bladesmith. All of our knives are forged, annealed, heat-treated, ground, polished and hand-sharpened personally by the 17th Yoshimoto bladesmith himself. The one exception is our Muteki knives which are made by Murray's seasoned apprentices under his direct guidance and supervision. The following video offer a good overview:

 

  • What is Traditional Japanese Bladesmithing?

 

  • What are the differences between "Muteki" and "Carter" knives?

Carter Knives are precision forged to within 95% of their final shape, heat treated in pine charcoal fire, and have all the metallurgical work done personally by Murray. Murray also does the bulk of the remaining work to finish the knife. Carter knives include premium handles with contrasting liners, mosaic center pins, and the famous scary-sharp "Carter" edge that Murray does by hand. Carter knives include composite handles made out of premium synthetics and exotic woods ranging from G10, Carbon fiber, Micarta and natural stabilized woods. 

Muteki knives are forged to within 80% of their final shape. They are heat treated in a coke fire. The work is done by Murray's apprentices under his close supervision (including the sharpening). They include functional Ironwood handles with no liners and functional riveted pins. In simpler terms the Muteki series offers the incredible cutting performance Carter Cutlery is known for at a lower price point.

  • Why are hand-forged knives better than others?

Knives are just pointy pieces of metal, right? Not really. It is a well-known fact that forged knives outperform stock removal and factory knives by a large margin. Mass produced knives are great for the manufacturers; their semi-sharp, slightly rust-proof, and abuse-resistant knives keep people from returning them. However, those qualities are not good for the consumer and deprive people the joys of owning a high-performance tool. 

Murray creates knives to be used. His goal is that Carter Cutlery customers can enjoy "using cutlery" daily as a tool, and that it will contribute to their standard of living well beyond the first day of purchase. Whether they are cooking, hunting, or opening a box, our customers can use their knife with tremendous confidence in it's performance. The trust that they develop in their tool holds special meaning, even when the knife becomes a gift to their grand children. 

  • What steels do you use?

All of our knives are made with laminated steel. In traditional Japanese fashion, we use san-mai construction. Murray now works exclusively with Hitachi White Steel as the core of our knives. The laminates are SUS410 stainless steel or gokunan-tetsu (for our Kuro-uchi series). 

  • What is Damascus steel? Does it require special care?

Damascus offers Murray a chance to incorporate more skill and expertise into the metal, compared to forging non-Damascus steel into a knife. This is due to an increase in the number of heating and forging operations. It can be compared to the customization of a commercially available product such as a car. The more the car is modified, i.e. customized, the more the work will resemble the skills, spirit and personality of the artisan doing the work to it. In this way, Damascus allows Murray to make a unique end product, and gives him the chance to put more of himself into the steel. Likewise, whether Damascus cuts well or not, reflects the ability and spirit of the smith much more than the inherent qualities of Damascus itself. Here is a video of Murray forging Damascus billets:

Damascus steel does not require any special care in terms of sharpening, maintenance, or performance. However, the finish on the knife can get scratched through repeated use of a kydex sheath or become too polished during routine sharpening. The solution is to refinish the knife using PCB Etchent Solution. The process is very simple and should only take a couple of minutes. We demonstrate it in this video:

  • What are the different finishes on the knives? What about the kitchen knives?

Neck knives may have a forge finish or a hammer finish and be polished or unpolished. The difference is aesthetic and you can expect the same excellent performance from all of them. Carter Cutlery offers multiple series of kitchen knives: Kuro-uchi, Stainless Fukugo-zai, High Grade, and International Pro. Each series is unique with their own characteristics, qualities, and benefits. 

Kuro-uchi: Traditional rural Japanese cutlery. These knives have a White Steel Core and are laminated with Gokunan-tetsu.
Stainless Fukugo-zai: These knives have a White Steel core and are laminated with SUS410 Stainless. The blade is left unpolished.
High Grade: Hitachi White Steel core laminated with SUS410 stainless steel polished to a high finish and attached to a premium, hand-crafted handle.
International Pro: These knives feature stainless-clad, fully polished blades with full-tang construction and premium handles. They combine traditional Japanese elements with Western design. 

  • How do I care for Kuro-uchi knives?

Although Kuro-uchi knives do not resist oxidation as well as stainless knives, any discoloration will not affect performance. If you do not like the patina that your knive develops, then it can be removed by sharpening. Kuro-uchi knives should be treated with the same respect as other high-performance kitchen cutlery - dried after every use and stored safely so it does not bump into anything. If there is going to be a while between uses then we recommend using Japanese Blade Oil on the knife to prevent rust. 

  • Does Carter Cutlery take custom orders?

At this time Carter Cutlery is not taking custom orders. After making over 20,000 knives in 26 years Murray has realized that in the time it takes to complete one custom order he would be able to produce multiple knives of superior quality and use his expertise to choose the best dimensions and materials of the final product at his discretion.

In the past, custom orders have taken more than a year to complete. Eliminating custom orders enables Carter Cutlery to stock a more diverse selection of knife styles and ultimately benefits our customers as we can offer this larger selection without the pause in production for a custom order. We will continue to produce a wide variety of knife styles paired with specially selected handle materials.

If you are looking for a particular product and do not see it in our selection, we suggest signing up for our New Product Alerts which display the newest additions to our inventory. Additionally, we do appreciate feedback and product inquiries as this helps us determine and focus on the needs of our customers as a whole. Please contact us at Murray@CarterCutlery.com

  • How do I know which knife is right for me?

We hold ourselves to a very high standard of quality and stand firmly behind the performance of all our knives. The best knife for you depends on your cutting needs, budget, and personal preferences. Although there are some new models, we have created the following guides to help you decide what is right for your particular situation:

  • What if the knife I want is sold out?

Our knives can sell out very quickly. Each knife is unique so when you see one that is right for you grab it before it's gone! The best way to keep up with new products is to subscribe to our New Product Alerts, which will automatically send a summary of our new products to your e-mail.

  • How do you recommend sharpening knives from Carter Cutlery?

We recommend the use of Japanese water stones to sharpen all cutlery (especially ours). Sharpening your knife is an essential part of owning high-performance cutlery and will truly make the knife "yours". In theory, sharpening is quite simple. However, in practice, it requires patience and experience to become proficient. For those that would like to learn freehand sharpening, we hope you will consider our award-winning Sharpening Instruction Videos. You can also sign up on this page for my Free Knife Care and Maintenance Tips in which I cover the 7-step knife sharpening procedure.

  • What is the best way to maintain Carter Cutlery knives?

Carter Cutlery knives should never be put in the dishwasher. Kitchen cutlery should be lightly oiled and kept in their original boxes or away from other cutlery when stored (magnetic strips work well too). After each use, they should be rinsed, dried and put away. Outdoor cutlery should be treated with the same respect, lightly oiled, and returned to their sheathes after use. Any discoloration of the steel edge that will occur over time will not affect the performance of the knives. Sharpening will remove any discoloration.

  • Can I resharpen damaged knives?

What sets our cutlery apart from the industrial standard is the high Rockwell hardness of the steel core and the extremely thin edge for superb keenness. This combination is ideal for "sharp" cutlery. However, if the blade is forced to do a task for which it was not designed, then it leaves the edge susceptible to "chipping".

If you chip one of our blades, please return the blade to us and Murray will repair it for a small fee. Resharpening does not affect the performance of the blade and is a regular form of maintenance for Japanese style cutlery. Legitimate wear on cutlery is like the odometer on a classic motorcycle: something to be proud of.

  • Why do some blades chip?

There are three posibilities to consider when a blade has chipped or the point has broken off:

      1. The blade has a coarse grain structure, a result of overheating during the construction of the blade. Blades with fine grain structure typically will be stronger, tougher and offer better edge retention.
      2. The blade has fine grain structure, but has been insufficiently tempered, a process that compromises hardness for toughness.
      3. The blade has fine grain structure, and sufficient temper, but was pushed past its performance limits in respect to its edge geometry. This can be remedied by removing some thin metal from the blades edge by sharpening.
  • How do I use your Knife Sharpening Service?

The most direct way is to purchase our Knife Sharpening Service before sending your knives to the following address:

Carter Cutlery
2038 NW Aloclek Dr
Suite #225
Hillsboro, OR 97124

Please include a note with your contact information and any special instructions. Be sure to package your knife in a sturdy box with sometime protecting the tip of the knife. You may include payment with the knife - the fee is $20 per knife with $15 return shipping. Alternatively, let us know ahead of time that you are sending us your knife for sharpening and we can contact you after the work is complete for payment information. 

  • Can I come visit the forge?

People are always welcome to visit our storefront. We are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. However, we are unable to have visitors inside the forge except by special appointment in advance. The best way to see the forge is to visit us during one of our Open Houses, which are held on the first Saturday of every month (with some exceptions). Please send any other visitation inquires to Murray@CarterCutlery.com

  • How long does shipping take and which service do you use?

Our preferred method of shipping is USPS Priority Mail. We have a very successful history of shipping with USPS and find them to be reliable, consistent, and quick. A tracking number is automatically sent to your e-mail as soon as your order is shipped. If you are in the United States, then USPS Priority Mail takes an average of two days. For international customers, shipping time varies depending on customs.

  • Where can I find information about Carter Cutlery company policies?

Carter Cutlery company policies can be accessed anywhere on the website in our footer. We have a Shipping/Return policy, a Privay Policy, and Payment Policies (don't forget our Terms of Use). If you cannot find the information you are looking for, then please e-mail us directly at Murray@CarterCutlery.com

  • What is the significance of the Japanese Artisan Knives? 

These knives are handpicked by Murray Carter during his travels in Japan. Their unique, superb construction truly represents each artisan that made them. Functional and beautiful - these knives, and the attention to detail put into them, tell a unique story about their maker. These hand-forged knives represent the finest metallurgical package available from Japan, and the others represent some of the finest meticulous craftsmanship available world-wide.

  • What do all these Japanese words mean?

sun = an old unit of measurement in Japan, similar to our inch, but divided into ten "bu." Ten sun = one shaku, about a foot. Metric roots go way back!

Hocho = "kitchen knife." Also seen as "-bocho." Literally in Chinese it means "kitchen worker," which is indeed what these knives are.

Fukugozai = "composite material." We use a core of white steel for these knives with SUS410 stainless steel on the outside.

Kurouchi = "black hammered." A knife that has the upper half of the blade unpolished. Very characteristic of traditional Japanese knives. 

Wabocho = "Japanese kitchen knife."

Santoku = "three virtues." A multi-purpose knife that can be used for both push- and draw-cutting of meat, vegetables and fish. The kitchen Wharncliffes of Japan! Great for chopping and scooping, and easy to sharpen.

Funayuki = "ship going." Fishermen used these as they were versatile knives. Great for simple food prep chopping and draw-cutting.

Nakiri = "vegie cutter." Square end with upturn blade edge makes for push-cutting all kinds of greens with precision. 

Sujihiki = "sinew puller." A long thin slicer for cutting along the sinew to separate large hunks of meat cleanly.

Gyuto = "beef knife." Similar to a Western chef knife. Lengthy ones are used for slicing and carving meat, shorter ones for detailed work.

  • What do the different marks on the knives mean?

muteki.jpg Mu-teki "without Rival". An alternative to our premium blades, Mu-teki knives are heat treated and hand-forged by Carter Cutlery staff.

mitsuboshi.jpg Mitsuboshi Trademark symbol for "three stars", registered in the 3rd year of the Keicho era (1598).

honke.jpg Hon-ke "Original Location" or legal owner of a business.

w.jpg Indicates a Hitachi White Steel #1 core.

s.jpg Indicates a Hitachi Blue Super Steel core.

h.jpg Indicates a forge welded blade in my own shop Hon Warikomi or Hon Kasumi

  • Can you tell me more about the "Shiro" brand knives?

As many happy customers can tell you, our Shiro knives are truly a joy to use. Simply put, they are the best kata-ha knives in the world. These special knives are meaningful beyond their tremendous performance. A true piece of Carter Cutlery history - our Shiro knives represent the relationship of trust and mentorship between Murray and Kenichi Shiraki that has been decades in the making. 
Although Mr. Shiraki's knives can be purchased from other sources, Carter Cutlery is the only place to get Shiro knives. When you buy a Shiro knife you are getting the unparalleled metallurgical expertise of Mr. Shiraki combined with the "scary sharp" edges and superb craftsmenship that Carter Cutlery is known for. Shiro knives are in a league of their own. 

Want to see Kenichi Shiraki in his own forge? See the video below of our 2011 Japan tour.

  • What makes Shozaburo shears better than normal scissors? Which size is right for me?

Shozaburo shears are wonderful for many reasons, but it is their performance that makes them the best in the world. Fair warning: if you cut something with Shozaburo shears, normal scissors will never be the same. Their hand-crafted, precision construction results in the laminated steel blades meeting perfectly flush for truly clean cutting. Murray Carter has been trained personally by the president of Shozaburo and is the only person in North America that is certified to repair Shozaburo products. 

The different sizes are a matter of personal preference and depend on the tasks the shears will be used for. A hairdresser may use shorter length shears because they are easier to maneuver while a seamstress may prefer to use a longer size to cut more material at a time. If you use shears on a regular basis as part of your job or a hobby, then Shozaburo is an investment that you will serve you well for decades to come. 

Want to know more about Shozaburo? Below is a video of our factory visit in 2010.