Cooking Knives

Today I thought I would do a little post on most of the cooking knives I have made and talk a little bit about that angle of my knife making.

MM Kitchen paring
First we have my most requested knife. My standard paring. The knife featured has a curly maple and bocote handle with a bamboo laminate spacer. I love to make and use paring knives, a paring knife, when made right and fully sharp, can be used for a huge variety of tasks.

slender slicer
Next size up is my Kitchen utility. This knife is not a common order, but is really great to have around in the kitchen. This particular knife has a bloodwood handle and a hand cast and forged copper ”splash” ferrule. The ferrule adds a good transition from the handle to the blade, while not distracting attention from the overall piece.

I do not have any good pictures of my chef’s knives. When I do I will upload them.

a few words on food patina;  I recently got a call from one of the owners of one of my paring knives, the first thing they said is ”I am following all the washing instructions, but my blade is turning black!” Now first, black is not the most common patina color, usually it is yellow, purple and blue (which are quite beautiful to the trained eye). I was able to explain that the color on her blade was the patina, coloration on the blade by acid reaction with food. As a patina grows, so does the knife’s resistance to further patina and rust. The more acidic the food, the stronger the patina, some foods leave identifiable patinas, such as meats, they usually leave a streaked kind of patina. foods such as pineapple carrots and strawberries usually leave yellow patina. I personally like blue patina. The one drawback of patina is the constant question by friends asking ”what is that stuff on the blade!?” Some people instantly assume that it is from some sort of inability by the maker, or even the owner of the knife. But patina is a natural occurrence on kitchen blades made of high carbon steel. Once you get used to it, patina is quite attractive and interesting to look at, rather than a blank, bright silver blade.

Ordering a kitchen knife. Ordering a fully customized kitchen knife is an experience in itself. You will learn a lot about knives, steel, wood, even cooking. There are things I do not do on cooking knives. I do not do any finger grips, guards, cheap Chinese remakes or scandi grinds. Don’t limit yourself to a given design when ordering your knife. There are guidelines for making a given type of cooking knife, but there are no real  rules as long as they do not affect the performance and look of the knife. Cooking knives are among the most pricey knives I make, but the knife is still customizable based on your price range.
I personally like to make personal cooking knives as classy and attractive as possible, the reason being that this knife is a reflection of you, you helped design it, your money made it and your patina reflects what you like to cut. So for an order I like to present materials and design that are at the top of the price range, maybe even above. This is just my natural inclination since I want to make the piece as nice as possible. One of my pet peeves is spending a lot of time making a cheep looking knife.

Kitchen knife heat treatment. Next to bush crafting knives, kitchen knives have some demanding characteristics. I heat treat all my knives based on the use. My kitchen knives are usually the hardest knives I make going up to HRC 63. Heat treatment is the most important part in the making of the blade, and can be done simply, or can be ramped up to increase the knife’s abilities. My standard heat treatment method is as follows: forge at low heats toward the end of the forging process to keep and make grain size small. (offers strength) normalize three times after forging to make grain smaller (again gives strength to the blade). Anneal once, eases stress on the blade. after grinding I normalize once (ensures blade will be hard throughout, with the same grain structure), then quench in the proper oil (makes blade hard). I then temper the blade for three one hour cycles at the proper temperature (softens blade slightly and reduces stress).

For a high performance knife I heat treat as follows, forge at low temperatures towards the end, normalize three times and aneal, after grinding I normalize three times, each at a slightly lower temperature. then I quench the blade three times, deferentially temper the spine, and temper the whole blade at a slightly lower temperature than the previous heat treatment method proposed. This second heat treatment provides a very hard knife that is still fairly strong. A knife treated this way will stay sharp for a long time, and not be difficult to sharpen.

Cooking knives are the soul of the chef, they reflect who the chef is. I enjoy making them ever so much.


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