The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

Category: Knife Makers

One of the last samurai sword makers holds to tradition

With the amazing advances in technology, it’s hard not to lament the skill and craftsmanship required of people long ago. Few of us still know how to build fires from nature, develop film, memorize telephone numbers or do thousands of basic tasks we might have had to do just a decade ago. Fortunately, there are those that keep traditions alive by preserving its most fundamental purpose.

It could probably be put more elegantly, but mass production ain’t got nothing on Korehira Watanabe. Watanabe is one of the remaining few Japanese sword makers in the world who creates koto swords through traditional methods. The most amazing part is that there are no longer blueprints or how-tos on what Watanabe is accomplishing. When the samurai died, most of their secrets of swordmaking died with them. However, Watanabe claims that he has come to the closest to replicating the truly mythical samurai sword.

He has been working on swords for the past 40 years, quietly and consistently practicing his craft in order to create the best possible weapon. He trains a disciple in hopes that his passion and method of traditional swordmaking is not lost. He also feels that people often update methods to conform to newer technology, but it loses so much of the enthusiasm and rituals of the past.

This guy deserves a Check out this remarkable video of a master at work.

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SOG Knives introduces limited edition "Gunny Series"

Gunny Fixed Blade

If you’re not familiar with The Gunny, you really don’t know knives. The Gunny, whose real name is R. Lee Ermy, is a retired Marine drill instructor and noted actor. He’s appeared in such films and shows as Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Leaving Las Vegas, Toy Story, The Simpsons and many more.

So, what does this guy have to do with knives?

Well, not only is he the official spokesman of SOG Specialty Knives, but he’s also worked with knifemakers to design his own knife sets.

Earlier this summer, SOG Knives and Gunny released two amazing limited edition fixed blade and folding knife to create the “Gunny Series.”

The knives are limited to 1,000 pieces each, but that’s not the amazing part. Continue reading

Renowned knifemaker Blackie Collins killed in crash

Knifemaker and all-around knife innovator Blackie Collins died in a motorcycle accident yesterday, according to Blade Magazine.

The 71-year-old was killed after his Triumph motorcycle veered to the right and struck a guardrail. Even though he was wearing a helmet, the crash was still fatal.

If you’re not familiar with Walter Wells Collins, aka Blackie, he was internationally known for his contribution to the knife world.

Here’s Blade Magazine’s description of his work:

Blackie was known for any number of different knives, knife materials and knife mechanisms, including the assisted opener, the first use of thermoplastic for knife handles (Gerber LST), the Bolt Action lock and much more. He also invented a number of sheath mechanisms for the diving knife industry.

Since Blackie was a young boy in school, he always wanted to make knives and guns. In fact, he used to recall an incident at his elementary school when his teacher asked each student in the class what they wanted to be when they grew up. Unlike the other students who wanted to be doctors and lawyers, he said he wanted to make guns and knives, much to the chagrin of his teacher.

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Kramer knives slice through coke cans like butter

Chef knives have to be extremely functional knives because of all the work they have to do.

One moment the knife might be used to chop meat. In another instance, it might be used to dice a tomato. Then, it might be used to cut a row of water bottles in half after sawing into a metal bolt.

Well, maybe chefs won’t be using their knives to do the final task, but simply knowing it can be done is good enough. Master bladesmith Bob Kramer recently demonstrated the sharpness of his knife by slicing into unopened Coke cans for Popular Science (you can also watch the amazing video at the link).

Kramer’s knives, which usually go for about $10,000, are highly coveted among chefs. There’s actually a year-long waiting list that you have to get on through a lottery system just to get one of his custom-made knives.

Fortunately, for those of us who can’t afford to blow $10,000 on one knife or would rather buy 155 KA-BAR survival knives, Kramer is releasing an affordable (or at least relatively affordable) line of knives for $300.

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College sword makers create sword for ‘Thor’

Yesterday, the Ball State University Daily News ran a great piece profiling two local swordsmith students who were given the opportunity of a lifetime when a props team commissioned them to make a sword for the movie “Thor.”

BSU metal design major Andrew Davis and David DelaGardelle had started their business MAD Dwarf Workshop while they were kids in high school. After developing their sword making skills for fun, they began selling really cool swords online.

Their big break came, however, when a props team working on the film “Thor” contacted them to design and construct the Sword of Heimdall.

The BSU story, written by Devan Filchak, goes into detail about what the process was like in creating the epic sword. They were in regular contact with the props team in California, but had almost complete artistic freedom with the sword.

They had to make two steel and bronze swords along with two aluminum versions for stunts because they weighed a lot less.

The swordmaking duo definitely felt a sense of accomplishment once they saw their work featured in the movie and saw toy replicas in stores.

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Four Knives Women Love

Looking for a stellar gift for your girlfriend or wife?  If you’re tired of doing the standard flower, candy, mediocre-looking necklace routine, then consider giving the love of your life something a bit sharper: a knife.  Here are four knives that are especially popular among the fairer sex.

(1) Schrade Primos Linerlock Folder Knife with Drop Point Blade and Pink Aluminum Handle

This sweet-looking, single-blade, folding pocket knife will make any woman swoon.  It is made of stainless steel and weighs in at a svelte 3.2 ounces, making it convenient to carry almost anywhere.  The knife has a liner-lock closing mechanism and its handle is made of anodized aluminum.

Price: $18:99

(2) Transport Pink Buck Knife

Women's Pink Buck Knife

This a great blade for gals on the go.  Small, safe and convenient, this key chain knife has a small blade and a bottle opener.  It’s great for opening boxes or cracking a cold one.

Price: $13.99

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Making Your Own Knife Out of a File

There’s nothing like finding that perfect knife with the right blade shape, handle size and original look that fits your predilection.

This is one reason why custom knife makers tend to do great business selling knives around the world.

The Chicago Tribune recently published a profile of a knife maker who turned a hobby into a successful worldwide business. Amazingly, the knife maker made his first knife out of an old file.

While making knives from scratch can be a tedious process, making your own custom knife from an old file is not overly difficult.

In fact, several very informative how-to articles lay out the process very clearly. The best article on how to make your own knife out of a file is written by Christopher Cody at Woods Monkey.

The process is straightforward but requires some tools, such as a hack saw, bench grinder, scroll saw, belt sander and drill.

To give you a general idea on what’s required, here are some of the steps in the process.

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Seventy-six year-old Idaho knifemaker profiled in Seattle Times

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about a profile that the San Francisco Chronicle published on expert knife sharpener Eric E. Weiss.  Yesterday, I stumbled onto another neat profile of a knife expert; this one, by the Seattle Times, featured expert knife maker Dwight Towell.

Towell, 76, lives on a small Idaho ranch, where he has been making knives since 1966, when he made a hunting knife for his son.

Today, collectors across the world pay thousands of dollars for his custom knives, which have a waiting list of five to six years.

A dagger he recently sold at the Art Knife Invitational in San Diego was purchased for $12,800.  He is currently working on an engraved dagger with 14 and 24-karat gold stones from Russia.

Towell, who estimates that he has made more than 1,200 knives in his life, retired from his job raising cattle in 2004 to focus full-time on making knives.  However, he said he doesn’t plan on stopping making knives anytime soon.

“I have too many people waiting for knives. As long as I can make it from the house to the shop, I’ll keep working. What’s the old saying? If you enjoy doing what you do, it’s not work.”

San Francisco Chronicle profiles life-long knife sharpener

The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran an interesting profile on life-long knife sharpener and knife expert Eric. E. Weiss.  Weiss, 55, has been sharpening knives since he was five-years-old.  He currently earns a living by sharpening approximately 35-40 knives per day, at $8-10 per knife.

Weiss mans a booth at the Berkely Farmer’s Market three days a week and still sharpens knives by hand.  He told The Chronicle that he uses four natural stones while sharpening: soft Arkansas, medium Arkanas, red Indian and ceramic, in addition to six grades of industrial diamondstones as sharpening material.

Like many knife experts, Weiss is critical of using dishwashers to clean knives, which he calls his “No. 1 nemsis”.

People seem to think that any knife can be put in a dishwasher. But in fact it’s like sandblasting your car in order to clean it. The knife is banging against the basket, getting chips, nicks, dents, dings. And if the knife has any sort of quality steel to it, the dishwasher can remove the edge in two, three washings.

In the profile, Weiss also attempted to clear up the often repeated myth that a sharp knife is more dangerous than a dull one.

When he’s not sharpening blades, Weiss said that he is an avid reader of knife history, from tactical knives to survival knives to hunting knives.

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