How Knives Are Made for New York's Best Restaurants — Handmade

there's just sort of a ritual aspect to

knives and cooks that I think is


the emotional connection that you have

to something that you use every day that

you take care of it needs to work well

and do all those things but it's also a

lot more than that


after cooking for about eight or nine

years professionally I had collected a

bunch of knives gotten really interested

in them how they're made it's so

important for me to have had that

experience of using knives in the

professional kitchen working in

restaurants and all that has just

allowed me to appreciate all the details

of a kitchen knife in a way that would

be hard to do if you didn't have that

experience so I think that informs what

I do as a knife maker

doing things by hand is just a more

enjoyable way to do it


the way I make knives is by hand forging

so hammer and anvil there's sort of a

broad distinction in kitchen knives

between japanese-style knives and

Europeans traditionally French and

German the European knives tend to be

made a little bit softer resistant to

chipping but won't hold an edge quite as

long either Japanese knives tend to be

at a higher hardness ground very very

thin at the very edge which means they

will hold an edge longer but will be

more prone to chipping at the edge so

needs to be used by somebody who's aware

of what they're using it can take care

of it but then there's also major

stylistic differences typically the

European style chef's knives have us

blade that sweeps up Western cooks are

taught to cut by rolling the blade

whereas the Japanese knives tend to have

a flatter edge you lift the knife up and

bring it down

there's not one style of knife skills

everybody kind of does their own thing

can you do it quickly and accurately

that's all that matters

so this is the sort of the raw material

that I use the 50 to 100 steel this is

1095 in a square bar I learn a lot about

what I need to do to the material by

touching it feeling it


traditionally knives are made through

forging steel and not cast I think it

has to do with the grain size of the

steel because large grains create sort

of a brittle material casting metal is

heating this metal up to the melting

point and then pouring it into a mold

when you heat steel up the hotter you

get it the larger the grains grow you

want the grain structure to be as fine

as possible in a knife forging steel is

the process of heating the steel up and

hammering it into shape when the steel

gets to a certain temperature it becomes

malleable and soft so it allows me to

distribute the metal where I want it

we're nice and thick here and then we

get very very thin out here you can only

really get that with a forged knife

because it allows you to move the

material out where you want so once we

heat treat it then it's going to become

hard enough to hold a cutting edge and

be a knife the process of heat treatment

is one of the most important things any

sort of process of heating and cooling

the steel to achieve a desired result

you can control a lot of the properties

of the steel based on how you heat treat

the material so every steel has its own

recipe my heat treatment is a two-step

process it involves a quench and a

tempering for the quench that I do I

heat the steel up and then I cool it

rapidly in industrial quench oil when

the steel has been quenched it's in a

very hard state what that also means

that it can be brittle so that's where

the second part of heat treating comes

in which is the temper stage heating the

steel to a lower temperature in order to

reduce the hardness of the steel

grinding the blade and the overall just

geometry of the knife really determines

what it's good at doing and what it's

not as good at doing it's made in a very

organic way I want that to bear the

marks of the maker it's difficult for a

knife to do everything well every night

that I make has an individuality to it

this is a butcher's knife this knife is

specifically designed to butcher meat

you fish very thick at the spine so

they're quite heavy but then they get

very thin at the edge so they cut really

well this is a medium sized chef's knife

they could be used for pretty much

everything from butchering meat and fish

to cutting vegetables on the cutting

board here's a paring knife that I make

paring knives can be used for appealing

vegetables trimming of meat and fish

garlic shallots anything that's kind of

small and thin

I don't work from patterns or specific

templates ever that's why it's so much

more enjoyable for me to work that way

than to get knives cut out by a machine

I find that that limits the expression

that I'm able to put into each knife the

main next thing I do after grinding is

is making a handle I'll usually sawed

down a block of wood it's very important

how a knife feels in your hand and it's

not a one-size-fits-all type of deal you

know you have to find something that

fits your hand well and then the weight

and the balance of the knife is probably

the most important part of the

ergonomics of it cooks are very

protective of their knives oftentimes

there's a certain ritual in the kitchen

of cleaning your knives at the end of

the day and then sharpening them so all

those things help to build a kind of

emotional connection with those tools it

just becomes an extension of your body

it's very satisfying to be part of a

tradition of blacksmithing and forging

that you know goes back centuries

millennia learning techniques that

people have been using for hundreds of

years to be one of not that many people

in today's world doing it to sort of

carry on the tradition or keep it alive

in some ways

so when I finish a knife I sharpen it by

hand on the wet stones is just that

final way of putting some handwork into

the knife and really making it special

coming from working in kitchens and now

making knives that promotes the

expression and the creativity of the

person who's using it that's the thing

that keeps me so motivated to keep

making more knives is seeing a knife

that has imperfections that represent

the fact that it was handmade I try to

do my best to make something that lives

up to the standard of where people want

something that has my spirit put into it

has a story behind it that then goes

into somebody's knife kit and helps them

express themselves through the food they

make they all reflect a certain part of

me and how they were made