HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
What have you made lately? Share your food adventure

Handmade Steel Kitchen Knives

heegady Dec 11, 2012 10:33 AM

I recently saw a snippet in a magazine (can't recall which) about a small knife maker, possibly on the west coast. He had great pounded steel kitchen knives for around $100-$200. I can't seem to recall the name of the shop. Can anyone help? Thanks!

  1. g
    gracenote Dec 11, 2012 12:04 PM


    it this it?

    1. k
      knifesavers Dec 11, 2012 09:07 PM

      Someone brought me a very rustic yet well made deba/santoku/cleaver hybrid that they bought at a vendor in the Oxbow Market in Napa CA.

      The more I held it the more I wanted one.


      1. w
        wabi Dec 12, 2012 06:23 PM

        I dont know the maker, but one caveat I might offer with custom knives. You get what you pay for. Yes you can save money, but go with an established maker. You will get a sharp knife you can use.

        3 Replies
        1. re: wabi
          kaleokahu Dec 13, 2012 10:09 AM

          Hi, wabi: '...go with an established maker."

          Maybe, or kinda, I say.

          There are lots of unknown makers out there turning out pieces that are better than most mass-produced knives. The hard part is finding them and educating yourself to recognize quality and ask the right questions.

          But if you find a quality maker with 0% celebrity status, you can have excellent knives for not much money. AND, you can have them made to your own specs, matching, etc.

          I have a bladesmith acquaintance here in Seattle who is well-known for his swords, but has next to zero following in kitchen cutlery. To him, chef's knives are boring. But he can make a full-on custom chef for about $400 that rivals my friend Bob Kramer's blades.

          Custom blades don't make for good CH knife banter (you can't debate the same Iwannagetanambetsu Blue Paper #8), but they can make for hella knives and a lot of easy pleasurable, satisfying use.


          1. re: kaleokahu
            wabi Dec 13, 2012 09:48 PM

            Kaleo...Howzit! I always enjoy your posts.
            You are right...there are a lot of relatively unknown knife makers out there making GREAT knives for reasonable prices. I just want to emphasize that there are a lot of guys who are facile with a grinder who will take a long piece of medal, sharpen it and call themself a knife maker. It takes an experienced knife maker to know the choices of steel, the hardening and the edge geometry to make a knife that is going to both perform daily, stay sharp and be able to be resharpened.

            I am honored to call among my friends some of those celebrity knife makers, and have learned a lot from them over the years. Guys like Ken Onion, Stan Fujisaka and Tom Mayo have forgotten more than most knife makers will learn in a life time. It's finding a guy (or woman in deference to my friend Audra Draper one of the few women Mastersmiths) who knows what makes a good knife, and then getting them to make you one. And quality work doesnt come cheap. Your friend's $400 custom chef's knife is a pretty good deal in a custom knife. If you look at the time that it takes to build a custom kitchen knife from scratch, whether it be forged or from stock removal...knife makers need to charge enough to make a living. My recommendation would be to buy a knife from some of the smaller custom makers with a reputation for great knives like Murray Carter, Joel Buckiewicz or Shosui Takeda. They all make knives that are razor sharp right out of the box, with great balance and ergonomics.

            I know it's just my personal preference, but I would rather spend $300 on a Takeda knife from a great knife maker, than to pay $200-250 from a some novice with a grinder and a load of fresh belts.

            While not an absolute, you do get what you pay for.

            1. re: wabi
              kaleokahu Dec 13, 2012 10:56 PM

              E wabi, maika'i au, a 'oe?

              Really well said. We have no disagreement.

              Usually, when I hear the maxim "You get what you pay for" applied to blades, I kinda cringe imagining someone thinking they're following it by dropping a mortgage payment on a licensed Kramer. When in all likelihood the $400 custom from a skilled lesser-known would be mo'bettahs.

              The trick, as you ably point out, is discerning the "skilled" part...


        2. BIGGUNDOCTOR Dec 12, 2012 06:32 PM

          There are tons of custom knife makers out there. There are several on www.iforgeiron.com that do this for a living. There are also several knife forums to get info from.

          Show Hidden Posts