Friday, March 28, 2014

The Kitchen Knife Fora
For the past few years KitchenKnifeForums is where I have shown the majority of my work and maintained my internet presence at, I've also been an administrator and/or moderator there as well. While I will continue to post there as a vendor I will no longer be performing the duties of an administrator/moderator any longer.

You can now find me at a new online discussion group (actually a Fora) called, where I will have my own sub forum labeled JapaneseKnifeSharpening / Dave Martell Knives. I will keep this forum updated with what I'm working on, what direction my business is taking, and just generally making it a friendly place for you (my customers) to interact with me. I would welcome you there as members and if you decide to stop by please make sure to swing by my sub-forum and say hello.

Thanks for your time, please keep in touch.

Dave Martell

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Evolution of a Handle Maker

The very first knife that I rehandled (for money) came back to me to get the handle trimmed down. The owner's wife has taken a liking to the knife but disliked the wide rear end it has. Early on I used to make the butt end(s) pretty wide (doing so because of lack of knowledge) and on this particular handle the owner had specifically asked for wideness in the butt so he got it as that's all I knew anyway.

So here's the evolution of my handle making caught in pictures. Actually it's not completely accurate as I use small diameter pins these days and different liner material but it does show how I've changed the shape, contours, and finish in subtle ways.

BTW, all of the "old" pictures were taken when the handle was first done way back when.

One of the major changes (although it really barely shows) is how I've changed the way I shape finger wrap relief on the underside of the beak (?) of the tang. This feature does more for handle comfort than anything I've seen or experimented with.

I threw these bonus shots in for the owner....

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blade Thinning Service

One of the most requested services that I perform is blade thinning. Since a knife is basically a wedge (triangular in cross section) it's easy to use and sharpen them to the point that they begin to earn this "wedge" description. This can be caused from improper sharpening, edge damage repair, or simply just from being a thicker knife that's been properly maintained over many years. There comes a point where thinning at just (or above) the edge doesn't work any more and the performance has tanked - this is where I come in.

What I do is I thin the knife back to what it's thickness once was, or even thinner, down into the edge. The knife is instantly transformed into a cutting machine again, it looks better too, and it is now MUCH easier to sharpen into the future.

Here's a very typical example of what I do when thinning a gyuto. I hope that you can see the difference in the blade's thickness from the before & after pictures. Again, this is typical, not in anyway a special job and it's typical of what you can have done to your aging knives if interested.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shun Kramer Meiji SG2 Damascus Redo

Here's a Shun Kramer Meiji SG2 6" Chef's Knife that came in for some spa treatment. It was thick and the factory damascus was somewhat faded although still factory shiny. I was tasked with thinning the blade, getting rid of the factory logo, and bringing out the contrast on the damascus. Here's the results...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Here's a vintage knife that came in for the full refurb. It's a c. 1879-1928 American Cutlery Co. Chicago slicer.

The owner asked that I fix the edge chips, correct the profile, & thin the blade while retaining the maker's mark (which was very lightly done). He also wanted a handle mounted too since apparently knives feel better in the hand with these things. He asked to maintain the full tang if at all possible, and supplied the wood.

The job went well except for the tang as it was just way too thin at the ass end (it was super tapered - the major problem here) and way too thick at the choil with many ups and downs in between. Even though I tried my best to save it I finally had to give up and grind it down. I then tried my best to replicate the feel and shape the tang but I sure do wish that I could have saved it none the less.

On the blade finish, I made a conscious decision to leave behind some of the original battle scars on both sides of the blade, sort of like leaving some history to it. It felt wrong to erase it's past completely.

In the end this knife feels great in the hand and surprisingly the blade gets STUPID sharp so I'm sure that the owner will enjoy using it. :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dishwashers + Custom Knife Handles = Don't Mix

I just got finished working on a rehabilitation of a custom handled Artisan gyuto that was sent through the dishwasher by mistake.


I had done the initial rehandle on this knife in a premium AZ Ironwood Burl and thankfully we went with a wood this hearty as I think most others would have been toast.

The left scale had buckled (shrunk) slightly away from the bolster/tang but all over the wood was reduced in thickness exposing sharp surfaces from the pins and tang as well as some minor cracking was seen at the middle pin. I decided to keep the wood and fill in the gaps & cracks with CA glue and then sand everything flush to see what I had to work with. Surprisingly, little evidence of damage could be seen at this stage so I decided to press forward.

The problem appeared in that the wood was extremely dry, so dry that when sanded I got very little of that orange ironwood like dust and little to no orange oil would appear on a wet rag. I then dunked the handle in a cup of teak oil and was amazed to watch the handle drink this stuff up like a sponge - yes literally - like a sponge. I soaked it for a couple of hours and then went to hand sanding and hand rubbing oil into the surface. I continued on this process for days, over and over again until the handle didn't want anymore oil. I can't say how many coats it took overall, something like 40+.

I finished with two hand rubbed coats of my (new) top secret oil formula-mix and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Yes it's not as orange as it once was, it's actually a tad darker too, but overall the look is nice and the feel is buttery smooth which I believe is even better in this respect than it was originally.

Now the owner can once again hang this on the wall (or in his block on the counter) with pride and his wife doesn't have to live with the shame anymore.






Sunday, October 6, 2013

Devin Thomas, Stefan Keller, a friend name Jim, + Dave Martell = A Collaboration

This project started off about 2 yrs ago (?) with Jim, KKF's esteemed admin, ordering a gyuto from me (this was the 8th knife order I received). Jim had a vision for his Martell gyuto....he wanted me to make a larger size than I had done before (a 270mm), he wanted a Stefan Keller custom handle (that would match his other 2 Martell knives with Stefan handles on them), and he wanted the steel to be damascus from Devin Thomas. A KKF collaboration was born!

I am very happy with the results and I don't feel this way often. The grind of the blade came out about as perfect as I can hope to do, the steel was a treat to work with, and Stefan's handle is a work of art that is like putting icing on the cake.

If there's one thing that I'm upset with it's the quality of the pictures I'm showing here, I just couldn't capture the beauty of the depth of the damascus pattern. It's so frustrating to see in person how the pattern moves and looks 3D and then looks so flat on the screen. I took about 80 pictures and these are the best.

The steel used is a combination of 52100 & 15n20....yes you read that correctly. Can you say double high carbon?
And to make sure that the steel gives up it's maximum performance we had the Boss Hoss (that's Devin Thomas in case you're not in the know) do the heat treat on it so we know it's going to kick ass. 

Well I hope that I did my part in this project, I know that Stefan, Devin, and Jim did theirs, I'm thankful for having been given the chance to work with these guys.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Magic of a New Knife Handle

I've been telling people for years how magical Stefan's handles are....just slip one onto your knife and it can make the rest of the knife shine....not to mention get sharper too! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Aritsugu Kiritsuke Repair

I got in this Aritsugu Kiritsuke with a broken tip, chips in the edge, with about a 45deg micro bevel. This maker's knives are among the hardest to sharpen let alone do repairs to and this one challenged me as usual. I wasn't to do a full refurb here, just a tip repair and sharpening so it's far from perfect, what do you think?

Friday, July 5, 2013

These are some of the brands/make knives that we specialize in sharpening....

Ashi Hamono, Akifusa, Ajikataya, Al Mar, Aritsugu, Artisan, Asai, Blazen, Brieto, Bu-Rei-Zen, Carbonext, Carter, CCK, Doi, Dojo, Echizen, Fujijiro, Fujitora, Fujiwara, Gekko, Gengetsu, Gesshin, Glestain, Global, Goko, Gonbei, Haruyuki, Hattori, Heiji, Hideo Kitaika, Hideo Kitaoka, Hiromoto, Hirotomo, Hokiyama Sakon, Hon Kasumi, Houwa, Ichimonji, Ikeda, Inazuma, Ino, Inotada, Ishido, Itou, Itto-ryu, Ittosai, JCK, Jin, Kai, Kamata, Kanehiro, Kanetsugu, Kaneshige, Kansui, Kasumi, Kato, Katsushige, Katsuhiro, Keijiro Doi, Kenma, Kikuichi, Kiya, Kiyotsuna Josaku, Kiyoshi Kato, Kiyotsuna Josaku, Kobayashi, Kochi, Kogetsu, Konosuke, Korin, Kumagoro, Kumidori, Kurosaki, MAC, Magotsugu, Mamiya, Martell, Maruyoshi, Masakage, Masamoto, Masazumi, Masanobu, Minamoto, Misono, Miyabi (Henckels Japan), Mizuno, Monzaburo, Moritaka, Nenohi, Nenox, Oishi, Richmond, Ryusen, Sakai, Takamura, Takayuki, Takeo Murata, Tsukasa, Tsutomu Kajihara, Saji, Sakai Kikumori, Sakai Yusuke, Sakon, Sasaoka, Seikon Dojo, Seki Magoroku, Sekizo, Shigefusa, Shigeki, Shiki, Shimatani, Shiraki, Shun (Kershaw), Sugimoto, Suien, Suisin, Tadafusa, Tadatsuna, Takeo Murata, Takefu, Takagi, Takahashi, Takahisa, Takamura, Takeda, Tamahagane, Tamashii,Tanaka, Tanegashima, Teruyasu Fujiwara, Tetsuhiro, Togiharu, Tojiro, Tokifusa, Tosa, Tsukasa Hinoura, Tsutomu Kajihara, Watanabe, Yamashin, Yusuke, Yokayama, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Yoshihiro, Yoshikane, & Zakuri

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1st Martell nakiri is DONE!

The Martell nakiri blade is 180mm made from O-1 hardened to Rc61 with the use of cyro. The handle is western style full (tapered) tang using dyed Oregon maple burl for the scales and African blackwood for the bolsters along with G-10 liners and copper pins. This came out so nice and I'm thrilled with it. Well her she is....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watanabe Blade/Martell Handle - Nessmuck Knife

So every once in awhile we get in a special project, something completely different from the norm. Here's a unique knife that came in for a handle. The knife came to me without a handle installed, just a tang to work with a rough idea as to what was required. The customer had commissioned Watanabe to make him a Nessmuck knife. (In case you don't know who Nessmuck is - check him out).

I was to make a handle to match the blade. Watanabe being Japanese added a marked design influence to this style of knife but I was completely lost as to what to do for my part. The customer pretty much left it in my hands with some gentle nudges for ideas but still nothing clicked. Over 8 months passed and I just couldn't figure this one out, then it hit me, that I should do a Japanese inspired handle -duh! My thought was that since the blade was obviously Japanese knife tradition inspired, and since I do my knifemaking inspired by Japanese blades, that I should use this as the connection. So what you see here is my blend on my USA handle making work and what I get from Japanese hunting knife inspirations.

The wood is Hawaiian Signature (sourced from Stefan Keller) and African Blackwood ferrule (sourced from Burl Source)

So here's some pictures, the Watanabe/Martell Nessmuck knife....