Tell me more about these bespoke knives?
Everything we own, is made up of various materials. Today, we want our products to last the test of time, so they need to be made up of high quality materials.
There is two main materials to a knife. Blade. Handle.
Two things to choose. Sounds easy? Not so much.
Sheffield steel is world renowned. Growing up around Sheffield you know your steel. When we started, we did extensive tests on various steels and asked some of the leading blade manufacturers in Sheffield for their honest opinion. What we use now is a steel with a ridiculous name (X50CrM0V15), but its the bomb. Why I have ever bought a knife not made of this stuff in beyond me, seriously, before getting in the knife making business I would buy any old thing, and you really can tell the difference. This stuff stays sharp as f@*k.
X50CrM0V15 is hardened carbon steel, hardened to Rockwell 59 C, perfect hardness for this type of steel. We grind our blade to have a 1.7mm spine on the top edge, meaning the cutting blade is thin and slices better but keeps rigidity in the steel. For those who are not up to scratch with their knife making terms (me only a few years ago), grinding is when you have cut out the profile of your blade from what ever thickness steel, in our case 2mm, you then taper the blade to get a cutting edge on the under side.
The first knife I made with this, I managed to cut myself. Kids, don't play with knives. Don't worry, I have been very cautious ever since and neither me or Alex have damaged ourselves, hopefully never will.
To do this by hand is an art in itself. In January I traveled to Fez, Morocco where I found an alley way of metalworkers who where grinding small knives on foot pedal powered grindstones, true craftsmanship. There, I found other metalworkers who were sharpening scissors and household blades, they would also take knives and put new handles on them.
These men had clearly worked in the winding alley ways of Fez for many years, perfecting their craft in workshops no bigger than a queen size bed. Truly amazing.
Like anyone, I aspire to become a master of the craft like these men. They had clearly done their 10,000 hours to become masters. 10,000 hours is a widely popularised theory by Malcom Gladwell's from the book 'Outliners' but now debunkt to a new scientific study. Any-who, if I can be making knives for living, out of a bedroom sized workshop then ill be happy in later life. Also, if you ever have a chance to go to Fez and enjoy seeing new and sometimes overwhelming places, I highly recommend it, certainly not for the faint hearted though. The Medina is a true maze of wonders.
Whilst climbing mountains in Middle Atlas in Morocco, I and my partner came across the Cedar Forest I found a broken branch and took it home with me, the wood is still in our workshop but if I do get round to using this it will have to go through a stabilisation procedure. Let me explain; Timber stabilisation is a technique used by knife makers to impregnate the wood with resin in a vacuum to fill in all the gaps and turn the timber to a plastic type texture. This allows you to use more fragile materials as handles but still have the durability and strength of harder materials. There is a extensive variety of materials that can be used as handles in knife making, from softwood to bone to fabric composites.
To make up our knives we use scales, a slab of material that makes each side of the handle. We use scales because we use the knife type which is know as 'full-tang' this means the blade profile, when cut out, will include the whole handle, which then have the scales stuck on each side and pins are put through to keep it all together. 'Half tang' is when the profile only goes half way up the handle, the handle is then slotted over this and glued.
There are actually five main materials we use for our handles, not just one, that would be way to simple and we make it nice and hard for ourselves! These materials include; hardwoods, dyed plywood, brass and copper, micarta (layered denim) and timber veneers (layered together). All these materials, when prepared and finished in the right way, are very durable. We chose these materials from various experiments and curiosity.
The micarta came from a previous project that Alex worked on in which he searched for a material that was hardy, provided texture and looked nice when finished, its very fun stuff to work with. The idea of using veneers came from of working for a high end joinery firm, using a variety of veneers in a variety of different ways, making your own kind of plywood. This idea also came from us both wanting to make knives with a 'stacked' kind of effect, lots of different materials slabbed together to create a new materials in itself.
Each material that we use has been considered carefully, experimented with and has a reason why we use it. We know that when you are looking at bespoke items like APOSL knives, they must be made using the highest quality materials.