Having a desire to make something and knowing how to go about it can be quite and experience. I have often looked at custom knives in awe and amazement with what can be done but have never ventured into the knife making world.
Recently I met someone who is an artist and craftsman when it comes to making knives and all you have to do is look at his work to see why. Peter Demmer is a Canadian knife maker who has brought his European Craftsman skills to the art of knife making. Peter makes all sorts of knives from custom Chef Carving Knives, to hunting, fishing and survival knives and even to everyday utility type knives, you can see more here www.terrierblades.com
Recently I invited myself to his workshop to make a video for our viewers on the art of custom knife making and Peter walked us through the entire process from beginning to end.
He started off by showing me how the shape of the steel is cut with a high-speed water jet tool, to create the basic shape of the blade and handle. The material he uses is special stainless steel that he purchase in large sheets. Once the basic shape of the knife is set out, the next step is to temper the steel which requires a special technique ...
In order to temper stainless steel the way he needs for knife making, the blade use be deprived of oxygen so each blade is encased in an envelope of stainless steel then is placed in his kiln where it tempers for a specific amount of time, around 20 minutes or so. When the knife is brought from the oven it is plunged into a special oil cooling bath that tempers the blade and gives it special hardness and flexibility properties.
From here, the knife will, depending on the type, will go to have a handle fitted. This handle could be made of all sorts of material from wood, to horn or antler, special plastics, metal or whatever is needed for that particular knife. The process of making the handle is exacting because the 2 halves need to line up perfectly and then be riveted together, and they must match perfectly. At this point the handle may or may not be attached depending on the knife, but the next step in the process is finalize the blade shape and to create the cutting edge.
This may sound easy, but imagine ... you are working with a blank piece of steel that is often less than an 1/8th of an inch or 3mm wide, and now you must put a cutting edge on this that is exactly down the middle of the steel blade. This part of the process is done on his belt standing machine and during the grinding period he will have to change belt grits several time before the blade sides are shaped and a cutting edge has been created.
After the blade sides have been shaped, and perhaps the handle has been put on, the final step now is the polishing and sharpening of the blade. Again specialized belts and polishing pads are required to give the knife it's highly polish and glass-like sheen and finally the knife is completed.
But there is more, what about a place carry this knife if you are a hunter, a fisherman or hike who needs a good quality knife for the outdoors? You probably will want some sort of a sheath and Peter even makes these out of top quality cow hide. After the shape of the knife is known, now comes the sheath making time (if the knife is to have one). If you have never worked with genuine cow hide, that alone is an experience. This material its'elf can be almost up to 1/8th thickness and is very tough to work with. This is not like the leather on your car seats, this is more like working with carpet it is so hard, but Peter has his ways and with his techniques and in time a beautiful matching sheath is made to match the custom knife.
If you are interested in seeing more pictures of Peter's knives, you can visit his website at www.terrierblades.com
I know for me, this was an amazingly educational day, to see first hand the process of knife making right from the raw material to the finished product. Thanks Peter for taking the time to show us this.
Copyright - Colin Knecht