Monday, May 23, 2016

Introduction & Motivation

Hello everyone,

 I guess a short introduction is in place - in particular to avoid false hopes that this blog is being written ab an experienced knife maker that is now going to share his hard earned experience. Wrong :) I am standing at the very beginning of a knife making journey and though that it could be of interest of other to share 'live' the first steps, decisions & mistakes.

Who am I

Since our existing experience and daily life has a great influence on how we approach new problems I would give you a brief view of who I am. I was born and raised in Slovakia where I studied nuclear physic. Together with my then-girlfriend we came to Germany for a PhD (both in physics). Being a PhD student at GSI in Darmstadt was a great experience and I met some extraordinary people - many of whom I feel honoured to be able to call my friends. Once accomplished we moved north for a post-doc position and once that one approached to its end 3 years later we started to look for a job in industry and finally ended up as developers in lithography optics and that is what we both do as of 2016. For me it means in-front-of computer job.

For a long time analogue photography was for me the escape and creative realisation, but once our little girl was born the time became more constraint and I had to reduce those activities a lot. In the mean time I became interested in Japanese kitchen knives and free hand sharpening. But there was a growing need for a more creative manual work and in early 2016 that just bursted in a knifemaking.

Where I stand

As of march 2016 I have a tiny (just under 4m2) workshop with most tools that are necessary to make simple knives.  The only power tools I plan to use is a drill press - the rest is manual or manual jigs (more about that in future posts).

 I have made 3 blades and I am just starting to make a first handle. I hope there is much more to come - I am eager to learn and try new things. I do not expect to get beyond hobby, but I would like to be able to make a usable outdoor and kitchen knives, even if some technique is going to remain out of my reach. It would be an accomplishment should I ever get as far as being able to sell a knife here and then, but from current perspective that is just a day dreaming.

Please note

You may have noted already - I am not a man of few words. So of you have any questions or comments - please do not hesitate to share or ask. I will try to help if I can.

If you are a knife maker yourself and find I have miss represented some information I would be most thankful for a correction. After all - I am just learning the craft.

If you have particular topic or questions you would like to hear covered or answered - just go ahead and ask. I will do my best.

So - enough of the introduction - let's get started :)


  1. Hi Matus, thank you for sharing your thoughts. A question that came to mind is what do you mean by making knives? that is to say, do you mean grinding to shape blanks that have already heated and hardened, or do you actually forge them from a bar of steel, or somewhere in between? how do you choose the shape and profile?

    1. Hello Ernesto, thank you. I will of course get into details with the upcomming posts, but indeed I have something 'in between' in mind.

      Currently I do not have the possibility to try forging blades (I would love to though), so that will have to wait. On the other hand while it is possible to grind the blade from hardened blank, it is also much slower process, because (1) the hardened steel will be slower to remove and consume more abrasive matrials, and (2) you need to ne slow as the blade can get very hot and ruin the heat treatment.

      The basic blade dimensions (length, height and thickness) are often based on the knives I have or have used. The blade profile is something I would mostly design with a pencil and a piece of paper, or use existing knife as motivation. The most important part (in particular for kitchen knife) - the blade geometry (the grind) - is something where I use my experience with different kitchen knives. It is also something I will need a long time to get a good handle of, because minor differenes impact the performance of the knife greatly. So it a circle of 'motivation -> trial -> error" I will expand on the topic in the future.

  2. Hi Matus, I've been following your progress on KKF with great interest and I have a request; could you take some pictures of your workspace? It sounds cramped but I'm sure you've figured out some ingenious ways to make it work.

    1. Hello nwdel, thank you. I have some photos and will take some more (probably a short video too). I have an article comming up (which will probably be called "Before you start")in which I also show my workshop and I will share how I handle the "space challenge". As I am thinking of it now, I may write a separate post on my workshop alone.