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Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:20 am

Browsing this and other knive selling sites, I often stumbled upon the term 'hand made' and i wonder what this actually means, or what are all the things it can mean. And I do get the obvious part with a hand made knife made by hand of a skilled blacksmith and not by a machine of some sort.
Still I am sure that in every possible way, there are always machines and people using these machines.

So my questions are: what exactly does hand made generally mean?
Which lines in This site are hand made in that sense?
What about the handles?

Thanks in advance

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:12 am

Typically hand-made means that the knife started as some sort of metal stock, was heated until it was red hot, then hammered into shape by a person with either a hand-held hammer or some sort of mechanical hammer. Then it is ground on a wheel or belt of some sort, again by hand. The more expensive knives even have hand sharpened and finished edges, as in the last guy that touched it put it to a stone or something to give it a final edge as opposed to just running the edge on a wheel and calling it done.

Machine made knives are typically stamped by a machine from a sheet of stock and finished by an assembly line.

These are generalizations of course, but it should help in answering the question about what makes a hand-made knife.

The handles I am not too sure of. If it is a machine made knife with little human interaction then the handles are likely a cast plastic of some sort. I think a lot of wa style handles are made by another source than the maker that made the knife. I would think that the handles on these knives are hand done with the difference being the level of finish and quality of wood or materials used. Of course machines are used in almost all cases, but they are machines like grinders, sanders, etc. that require a person with some skill to operate.

A couple off the top of my head that I know are hand made (because I have looked at them, lol) are:

Yamashin - http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yamashinknives.html

Goko - http://www.chefknivestogo.com/gokoknives.html

There are many, many more that are hand made on the site, typically those with a japanese name. lol You will also find some knives by American blade smiths as well. The pages usually mention something about a blacksmith or some such which is a good clue that someone made the knife.

I don't know about the Tojiro ITK line, but the DP line is machine made, as are knives by companies like Shun, Global, and Mac. Not to say that these are bad knives, just that there is not a blacksmith involved with beating out the steel into knife shapes as far as I am aware. lol

I am positive there is someone (or quite a few "someones") that can give you a WAY more comprehensive list as to which knives are hand made. I'm still new to Japanese knife makers myself, so while I know how a hand made knife is typically made, I don't know for sure exactly which makers or which lines of their knives are hand made.

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:26 am

Yes to expand on DefMunky's explanation we tend to use the term to differentiate between small blacksmith shops that are doing most of the steps of the knife making process with humans. But of course in a sense all knives have elements of hand made and machine made production methods. So for instants Wusthof knives use lots of automated robots to do many of the tasks of knife making. They are mass produced but of course people are still doing quality control but these are considered by me and most people as not hand made. I would group most of the major German and Japanese companies in this category. Shun, Global, Wusthof, Henckels, F Dick, Messermeister etc are all in this group.

Also they don't necessarily need to be hammered out to be hand made. Most of the guys in the US and many in Japan that are small makers tend to use belt sanders/grinders or grinding wheels to grind their knives (it's generally referred to a stock removal) and these guys are certainly making knives by hand. Butch Harner, Stephan Fowler, Adam Marr, Devin Thomas, Randy Hass etc. are all making knives with this method and they are certainly considered hand made.

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:49 am

Oh yeah! Sorry I forgot about stock removal! A LOT of hand made knives are done via stock removal versus forged blades. You can see some examples of this on the makers pages in the forums. Some of the pics show patterns drawn on bar stock before they are cutout, heat treated, and ground.

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 1:57 pm

This is not hand made in my book:

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 2:00 pm

This is hand made.

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:47 pm

Wow that Wusthoff video was amazing!

Todd in Chicago

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:32 pm

The Wusthoff video was very interesting, and makes me want a knife sharpening/polishing robot... though that factory is the last place I'd want to be when the robot uprising happens! lol

The second video reminds me that those that can, do. Those that can't watch YouTube videos of those that can and wish they could too. lol l love watching a craftsman at work. :)

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:38 am

So i assume the richmond knifes are also handmade according to a 'layout' that you, mark, developed?

Re: Let's talk about 'hand made'

Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:55 am

i dont smelt the steel(yet) and i dont grow the wood for the handles but more less i do everything else (dont make my own pinstock or screws ether)
i have made gane but its much better for me to buy it from a pro maker same goes for damascus. i can do it but i woudl have to go to another makers shop anyhow since i dont have a forge setup right now

i am really hoping that carpenter steel will come out with powdered damascus steel mixes as soon as the damasteel pattent ages out
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