Blades of Glory...

May 25 2016 0 Comments

It all started soon after the founders of London’s Blenheim Forge Jon Warshawsky, James Ross-Harris and Richard Warner wanted to create Japanese style kitchen knives using traditional Japanese metalworking.

But they didn’t travel to Japan, join a guild, or seek craftsman’s guidance. They just went to YouTube!

Formed in 2012 after making their first knife, consulting a YouTube tutorial and using a makeshift furnace, the trio now spend their days hammering out hand-forged kitchen knives - without ever having enrolled in a steelmaking class.

The founders of Blenheim Forge made their first kitchen knife in the back garden of their Peckham home. It took two years of trying and failing to make a knife as good as the one they made for fun. Most of the Hardwood used to make the handles comes from gardens, customers or the nearby cemetery!!!

And if you need some more inspiration, the following interview with James-Ross Harris was taken from an article posted by Arts & Entertainment and could give you some encouragement;

Quit your job become a … bladesmith

Knife forging: how do you make the cut?

‘I’ve always worked with metal. For a while I made bespoke furniture; then later, when I moved to London, I worked as a blacksmith for three years. During the weekends my business partner Jon and I used to mess around making knives. That led to us buying more and more tools. Before we knew it, we’d started a business.’

What’s your average day like?

‘It takes a lot to get a knife perfect – the quality of the steel, the blade, the balance. So I spend most of the morning hammering away in front of the fire. The afternoon is for grinding and polishing and handle-making. There’s a lot of rubbing!’

Sounds like a great night in. So who do you sell to? No one crazy, I hope.

‘A mixture of foodies and chefs. Some chefs are building up collections with us, and they’ll come back every couple of months to order a new one. We’ve actually got two chefs in there now, chopping up a load of potatoes, giving us some feedback.’

What’s the best part of the job?

‘The fact it’s my company; you’re just so much more involved. Plus, I love the feeling of finishing a knife – some of them can take up to 40 hours of work, depending on the blade. I also love getting feedback from a customer after they’ve used one of our knives for a couple of months.’

I suppose it’s not the best place to receive or give bad feedback – a room full of knives.

‘Yep, you wouldn’t want to say the wrong thing to a client in our workshop!’

So what’s the worst part?

‘The dirt. You get pretty filthy. We burn a lot of coke – it’s good for the steel. Also it took us ages to make Damascus steel, which is the process of folding two steels together to create a blade with hundreds of layers. I think we destroyed more than 300 knives in the end. That was pretty frustrating. But it’s a difficult process – kind of similar to making a samurai sword.’

And what is the market like for samurai swords?

‘I think swords are a bit nerdy really. Plus I don’t want to be selling swords to people!’

Interview by Michael Curle

Now... a question for our very active, passionate and responsive readers:

Have you taught yourself any skilled crafts using YouTube or any other video tutorial from the Internet? If you did, please share with us and leave us a comment.

Cheers, Gaston



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