Even More Books…


Well, one more book. I have about twenty knife and swords books in the sights for future purchases, but I am still in the middle of reading the first seven I already have purchased. The flu-like illness that has been bugging me on and off for two weeks is unfortunately not very conducive to reading, especially to reading in a foreign language.

But Marcus was so very, very kind and has sent me this beauty, which I have not seen offered anywhere here. I must say it is a lovely book on first sight and it became a cherished possession instantly.

Now I had not planned on buying a book specifically about japanese knives, because I intend leaving making japanese knives to the Japanese, but there is no denying that they have a reputation of being superb tools so it won’t hurt to know about them. Quite the opposite, I am sure there is a lot of knowledge in this book that will be beneficial to me and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

However this makes me think a little – all the knives that I have made so far and that I intend to make in the future are my own designs and represent my aesthetical preferences as well as my style of using a knife. And whenever I look at works of other knife-makers (which I do not do very often), often I see that everyone develops a distinctive style. For example Bob Loveless has been renown for drop-point small hunting knives, Walter Sorrels sells mostly very pointy and straight, tanto-style all-purpose knives, Stefan Santangelo seems to like knives which have a slight forward angle between the blade and the handle with a little kink in it etc. I have no doubt that all these knives are perfectly functional and comfortable to use. There is no single “correct” knife design.

I find it remarkable how expressive can be a piece of craft that is essentialy just a sharpened sheet of metal with a piece of wood to hold it with, even when looking at just the outline.


Incidentally you can see two things in the last picture. Firstly, my left middle finger is nearly completely healed. There is still slight swelling and an area with tickling-burning sensation when touched, but it gets constantly, albeit very slowly, better. Secondly, in case you are wondering, that is my school pencil-case, about thirty years old by now.

Comments

  1. avalus says

    It is good to see your finger is much better!
    It would be boring if people would not invent their own style over time, wouldn’t it?

  2. voyager says

    Your finger is looking pretty good and so is that book.
    I’m looking forward to seeing how your very own “Charly Style” develops and evolves. (I hope you’ll be blogging about it.)

  3. Jazzlet says

    Good to see your finger looking so well healed.
    I too am looking foreward to the refinement of the Charly knife.

  4. says

    There are some Japanese knife-makers who express an attitude I do not agree with -- namely that the Japanese cooking knife is the perfect epitome of the cooking knife and nobody should try to make anything different. Now, I almost agree with the first part but innovation is always worth trying. For one thing, the current state of Japanese cooking knives is a result of shortages of natural resources before WWII. I get that it’s nice to be able to make a knife using just a little sliver of high carbon steel along the edge, but it is not necessary to do that -- then, the question is: “is it really better?” Well, it’s certainly something to watch the Japanese knife-makers build a dozen knives using the same amount of steel that an American knife-maker would grind off in a surfacing pass. It’s a very typical Japanese aesthetic: do things the hard way and act as though the hard way is the only good way. No, it’s just the hard way.

    My best knife is a small Japanese paring knife I got from a flea market in San Francisco in the 80s. It’s superb. The blade is mostly cheap iron, with an inset edge of Hitachi blue steel or something very close. It’s still my daily use knife unless some day I manage to make something better. Ha, ha, ha.

  5. says

    @Marcus

    There are some Japanese knife-makers who express an attitude I do not agree with — namely that the Japanese cooking knife is the perfect epitome of the cooking knife and nobody should try to make anything different.

    I cannot say I am suprised at that, because Japanese, whilst admirable in many ways, are also still very nationalist (not in a good way). Not only do I not agree with this sentiment, I consider it to be utter snobbish rubbish. There is no perfect knife (and katana is not a perfect sword). Every tool has a trade-off, so you have either to compromise on the specialization in the function or the ammount of tools.

    A “perfect” knife for vegetables will be rubbish at de-boning chicken or dismembering a pig carcass. A “perfect” de-boning knife will be rubbish at vegetables etc. There are tasks where thin blade is ideal, but also tasks where stiff, thick blade has its place. If wou wanted to have a “perfect” knife for every single task, you will end up wiht a knife rack a meter long and growing continuously. And whilst this tool bloat indeed is what happens inevitably to every craftsman, be it a cook or a carpenter, there always is and will be space for sub-optimal but versatile tools too, as well as for individual expression.

    BTW. I do not know too much about Japanese knives yet, but I personally really dislike the handles and the fact that they are not full tang. My mother would have trouble using those skinny handles with ther atrhritic hands. And having the blade pulled out of the handle mid-work is not ideal either.

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