How to remove lacquer from a Japanese knife

Some Japanese knives are finished with a lacquer coating which is applied by the maker in order to protect the blade from moisture during storage, shipping and until such time as it's ready to be used.

It can be seen most often on highly polished blades and often looks like a rainbow finish like you can see on Sakai Kikumori's Choyo range below but we recommend you take a few minutes to remove this before use.

How to remove lacquer

  1. Gather the necessary materials: You will need acetone or nail polish remover (preferably acetone-based), cotton balls or a soft cloth, protective gloves and a well-ventilated area.
  2. Apply acetone: Dip a cotton ball or a soft cloth into the acetone or nail polish remover. Gently rub the lacquered areas of the knife with the acetone-soaked cotton ball or cloth. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid scratching the knife's surface.
  3. Let the acetone sit: Allow the acetone to sit on the lacquered areas for a few minutes. This will help soften the lacquer and make it easier to remove.
  4. Wipe off the lacquer: After the acetone has had a chance to work, use a clean cotton ball or cloth to wipe away the softened lacquer. Repeat the process as needed until all the lacquer is removed.
  5. Clean the knife: Once all the lacquer is removed, wash the knife with warm, soapy water to remove any remaining acetone or residue. Dry the knife thoroughly with a clean towel.
  6. Apply protective oil: After removing the lacquer, it's a good idea to apply a thin coat of protective oil to the blade to prevent rusting. Camellia oil is commonly used for this purpose with Japanese knives. Apply a small amount of oil to a clean cloth and rub it onto the blade in a thin, even layer.