"You'll see a shadow move through the blade. That's the steel transforming."

Anthony Bourdain is kinda like a collie, isn't he?

Tall, deeply inbred, and profoundly stupid. Wow.

Posted by Rob De Witt at September 14, 2015 5:17 PM

"....bend the blade at a 90 degree angle without the blade breaking...."

I'd like to see that.

Posted by ghostsniper at September 14, 2015 7:40 PM

If all knives were made to these standards, only the well off would own knives and they would be a major item in the last will and testament.

Give me a $10 knife and a good $5 whetstone - I'll cut onions and peppers with the best of them for at least 25 years.

On 'tother hand, glad this obsessive compulsive feller has found a way to turn his need for perfection into an honest living.

Posted by Jimmy J. at September 14, 2015 9:20 PM

My ex brother in law was a member of the Knifemaker's Guild. He quit 'em over excessive travel & show requirements proved to consume his profit margins on his work.

And the internal politics in these societies are a big factor in the "who's who" in the rarified atmosphere of upper echelon knife & sword makers.

Still, those gents turn out some of the finest words of art in any medium made by hand. Go to a top-flight knife show somewhere, and the work is simply amazing.

Like Bordain or not, but he's done his viewers a service by introducing 'em to the art of the knife.

Anyway, Gerard....kindly check your email? Sent you one yesterday from this address, sir. Thanks!

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by Jim at September 15, 2015 8:15 AM

I love ma a good smith.

I want a good hammer and anvil.
Really craft by hand. It would help keep me out of trouble don't you know....also I have a certain audience I could cater to.

Posted by OdinsAcolyte at September 15, 2015 1:33 PM

Edward Abbey wrote somewhere, in a quote that stuck with me, that American men love all things well made and deadly.

Posted by John A. Fleming at September 15, 2015 3:38 PM

"Like so many American men, Hayduke loved guns, the touch of oil, the acrid smell of burnt powder, the taste of brass, bright copper alloys, good cutlery, all things well made and deadly."

Edward Abbey, "The Monkey Wrench Gang," J.B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1975.

Posted by Punditarian at September 15, 2015 4:52 PM

You all can keep the cheap Chinese and Pakastani steel. You will spend more time straightening and sharpening the blade than you will working with it.

I have a good Damascus made by Stekke. 320 layers. Skins deer all day long without putting a stone to it. Next best thing is an Anza blade, made from an old file then re-tempered. Unbelievably sharp and a great tool. Skinned deer and cattle with it. Depending on how it was tempered, probably not as flexible as the Damascus but priced within the reach of the average sportsman (me).

Cheap beer, ok. Cheap Bourbon, no. Cheap knife, hell no.

Posted by Snakepit Kansas at September 15, 2015 7:53 PM

Depends on what you're gonna do with it I suppose.

I have a Buck 112 right next to my wallet in my back right pocket that I bought new for $16 in Germany in 1976, and though the edge has been honed 100's of times it still does what I ask of it.

In my front left pocket is a superknife that I've had for at least 15 years and hundreds of blades installed in it.

These are working knives that see multiple use almost everyday from the mundane (trim a fingernail to opening a bill) to the arduous (pry a nail from a board to scraping a gasket off a valve cover).

Though I do own a pretty knife or two, I have not much use for such things.

First and foremost, knives are tools, just as the seashell was 100,000 years ago.

Posted by ghostsniper at September 15, 2015 8:14 PM

Ghostsniper comprehensively says it best. Thank you.

Posted by Snakepit Kansas at September 15, 2015 8:27 PM

Thank you Punditarian, I am obliged to you. It brought a smile and a thrill to me, to finally recall the source of that favorite quote.

Posted by John A. Fleming at September 15, 2015 9:50 PM

For the price of this work of art I can buy ten, maybe twelve "lesser" knives. I like the Zero Tolerance knives.
For some a Damascus knife is collectable, a "safe Queen". I have a use 'em and perhaps lose 'em policy with any knife I carry.

Posted by chasmatic at September 16, 2015 5:37 AM

Once you have used a good, sharp chef's knife, you don't ever want to use anything lesser. It nestles in your hand just right. The feeling when it glides through an onion, rather than popping through the layers because of pressure, is like the way silk feels against your skin.

I would not mind spending a few hours learning how to sharpen. I know a little, but not enough.

Posted by Gordon at September 16, 2015 7:33 AM

Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. As every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music.

“Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”

Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and following things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.

“A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.

“However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”

“Excellent!” said Lord Wen-hui. “I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!”

Translated by Burton Watson
(Chuang Tzu: The Basic Writings, 1964)


Posted by Punditarian at September 16, 2015 9:03 AM

All well and good. For me knives are weapons, not kitchen utensils.
If I can open both femoral arteries with a smooth thrust and withdrawal all is well.
Sorry for the graphic example. Sometimes the hell hounds are at my door. The story turned me the wrong way, shrug.
Perhaps I should have said "for me a sundial is just as good as a Swiss watch."

Posted by chasmatic at September 16, 2015 10:09 PM

Hi Gerard, I note that on occasion you have quotes from Ed Abbey in your masthead. I nominate the one above quoted by Punditarian.

Posted by John A. Fleming at September 16, 2015 11:57 PM

It's pretty damn good, that's for sure.

Posted by vanderleun at September 17, 2015 10:18 AM

This discussion has been interesting.

The fact that we can buy excellent working knives for a fraction of the price that these handmade knives cost, is an example of the technological and social progress that was enabled by free markets and the industrial revolution.

Think back 500 years ago. At that time, every knife would have been made by hand. The quality of the knife you had would be a result of the skill and knowledge of the smith, what raw materials he used, how he handled them, and with what science, art, and passion he manipulated them.

There would have been a big difference in quality, I'm thinking, between the knife made by a low-IQ, low-energy, low-information iron pounder, if you will, and the knife made by a real master.

Nowadays, probably 90% of that difference has been erased, if not more. The mass-produced knife you can buy for an hour's wages represents the culmination of many expert smiths' knowledge, passion, and perseverance, reproduced hundreds and thousands of times in a carefully structured and closely monitored process.

I have no doubt that Bob Kramer's knives are a joy to behold and use. I have no doubt that his knives are palpably better than any other knife you can buy anywhere at any price.

But I think the difference is much less than it would have been 500 years ago.

For 99% of us, the amount that Mr. Kramer's knives surpass the mass-produced quality knife is probably too small to justify the cost, and the wait. For the few (and it seems many-er than he can keep up with) who live with a knife in hand all the working day, it may be worth it.

How great that we live in a country that is still free enough to make that possible!

Posted by Punditarian at September 18, 2015 8:57 AM