The Art of Making Custom Knives

The fine custom knives from one North Carolina craftsman are hand cut, painstakingly polished, and highly valued by collectors.


| July/August 1981


Bob Parrish is the proprietor of a shop named RP Knives that's located in MOTHER EARTH NEWS' hometown. Besides being the individual kind enough (and trusting enough) to lend us several thousand dollars' worth of his inventory for photographs, Bob is a custom knife craftsman. He allowed us to slip into his workshop and take a peek at (and a photo or two of) some of the painstaking steps that go into the production of Robert Parrish knives.

The artisan told us that the major differences between custom and commercial knives—other than the customer's freedom to influence the design—are that only one person (a very skilled one) works on each of the handmade tools from start to finish, and that a number of very time-consuming steps go into preparing the product.

For example, Bob begins forming the edge of one of his creations with a 36-grit disk. He then proceeds with a 140-grit wheel, and follows up with 240 paper backed by a file. At that point, the knife is heat-treated (it's first wrapped in stainless foil for protection), and the craftsman returns to 240 paper to remove any imperfections. Next on the list come 320- and 400-grit papers. Finally, to bring the blade to a mirror finish, the steel is buffed on wheels with 500-grit, 800-grit, and 1,000-grit compounds in succession. All told, more than 100 steps go into the making of an RP knife ... and the results speak for themselves.

Custom knives are rapidly becoming valued collector's items. Many can command prices of well over $1,000. But a very fine knife offers more than aesthetic and investment advantages. You might be surprised to learn, for example, that because of the smooth finish given to the metal, a mirror-polished blade may have only one-fifth the surface area of a less-polished commercial knife of the same dimensions—and as a consequence will be much more resistant to corrosion.





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265