Do you use a laser?
Instead, I use acid to etch my knives. First, I make and apply physical masks to each knife to protect areas I want to preserve. Then, after selecting the right chemicals for the job, I submerge the knives in an acid bath to eat away at the exposed areas of a blade. I’ve found that acid produces a very clean and consistent etch, giving the highest quality results possible without a computerized laser.
By creating physical masks from my hand-drawn designs, each knife ends up being unique as well. Some lines may be a little thicker or thinner, a detail larger here or smaller there. Corrections or tweaks to the design are achieved by painting a masking fluid directly onto a knife before it is dipped in acid. All things said and done, I love the craftsmanship required to produce my work, and I wouldn’t trade the unique flavour it brings to every single knife.
Can I use your knives? Are they just for collecting?
My hope is that you use them and love using them.
They’re meant to bring some extra joy and flair to your cooking experience. Because of that, I only work on blades that have proven reputations. My goal is to provide knives that are a pleasure to use and of a quality that will last for generations.
With that said, I’ve also committed to making all of my designs limited edition. I will only ever make ten of a kind. I may create different designs of similar theme or composition, but it is in no way guaranteed. Each blade comes with a certificate of authenticity and a print of the concept art for the design.
How deep are they etched?
The exact depth varies because I use a manual process.
I etch each blade to roughly 0.2 millimetres (7.8 thousandths of an inch). Enough to catch the light and feel tactile, but not enough to make using the knife unenjoyable.
I’ve experimented with other depths, but I’ve found that this is the perfect balance between performance, visibility and feel.
Is the strength/ durability of the knife compromised?
Because the etch is relatively shallow there is no effect on the strength of the knife.
The knife I use daily has a very deep etch because it was one of the first blades I worked on, and I was still experimenting. Despite that, I’ve used it as a prep cook in a professional kitchen in downtown Toronto, as well as at home. I don’t work at a restaurant anymore, but it’s still my main knife and has never shown any signs that the metal is weakened.
Where do you get your knives?
While I would love to try my hand at making knives, I don’t think I’ll ever be a knife maker.
Instead, I’ve opted to work on blades that are made on mass by renowned manufacturers. There are a lot of fantastically designed, high-quality knives out there that I’d love to get my hands on.
As far as independent knife makers go, I’ll only work on their blades with their express permission. It just feels weird to take another person’s handcrafted work and essentially vandalize it, however good my graffiti may be.
For custom projects, I’m not this snobbish. However humble a knife might be, if it’s the one you love using, I’ll treat it with the same respect I show to high-end cutlery. (Learn More)
Is the performance of a knife affected by the artwork?
This one is a deceptively complex question so we’ll take it one step at a time.
When slicing parallel to the cutting board, moving sideways through something, there will be slightly more resistance than there would be with a smooth knife.
When slicing perpendicular to the cutting board, the artwork can add some resistance to your cut if the etched side is facing your off-hand. Because of that, a knife will be slightly better suited to a right-handed user if the art is on the right, and a left-handed user if the art is on the left.
I put my artwork on the side opposite to the knife maker’s touchmark and branding, so you’ll have to read each knife’s product description to see which hand it will be better suited for.
This is also specific to your dominant hand. For example, when using a claw-grip, it’s undesirable to have the artwork rubbing against your knuckles as you guide the knife and keep it safely away from your fingers. This is another reason that having artwork on the right side of the blade for right-handed users is preferable and vice-versa for left-handed users.
Softer foods can get caught in the details of the artwork, which was one of my considerations when choosing the optimal etch depth.
Because the etch is shallow, stuck food is easy to clean when you wipe down your knife with some soapy water. Provided that the knife is not left dirty, allowing the food particles to dry out, you shouldn’t have a problem cleaning it. I get the feeling that anyone reading this takes excellent care of their knives, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
When slicing harder foods, the artwork actually has the potential to reduce how likely it is for slices to stick to the side of the blade. Of course, this depends entirely on the specific design and whatever complex physics it introduces to the blade’s surface. I’m in no way saying it’s a sure thing, just that I’ve noticed it in the past.
Do not put your knife in the dishwasher. The high temperatures will cause the handle materials, metal and whatever adhesive that binds them to expand and contract at different rates, pulling a knife apart over time. Knives can also get chips taken out of them as dishes rattle around in your dishwasher. Instead, use a dishcloth or a sponge to wipe the blade clean with soapy water.
Store your knife on a magnet or knife block if possible. If kept in a drawer, use a sheath to protect the blade from other objects. Always dry your knife thoroughly before storing it.