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View Full Version : An exotic chefs knife and the story behind it



RiffRaff
05-22-2012, 08:19 PM
Hereís a custom knife by Kevin Harvey of rural South Africa. If you havenít heard of him, his standing is something like Murray Carterís in his region of the world, the respected director of his own knife-making school and the winner of many awards for artistry. He partners with his wife and students for most of his work and turns out some of the most creative knife designs Iíve ever seen. Epicurean Edge carries some of his work.

The knife itself is beautiful, local in materials and spirit (the handle is warthog tusk and African blackwood; the damascus is Kevinís original design), and is the product of the most cooperative relationship Iíve ever experienced between client and knifemaker. Thatís the part I want to focus on, how his openness and accessibility, despite his reputation, made this little project possible.

Has anyone else ever been though something like this? I became totally entranced with the dudeís way of life, described on his website http://www.heavinforge.co.za/ and linked articles. I contacted him out of the blue and, after a few months of back and forth emails (which included preliminary drawings and construction diagrams), arrived at a design that wound up on my doorstep eight thousand miles from his ranch on the African veldt.

So, pardon me if I wax poetic for a minute, but this knife has a lot of dreams wrapped up in it. Itís not just an efficient tool whose technical details we might hammer out in the forum, but a symbol of an admired lifestyle (the same way Ed Fowlerís knives affected me), cultural talisman, object of art and emotions and a kind of link between two strangers, worlds apart. This purchase was the opposite of an anonymous one at Sur La Table or on Amazonóand those purchases have their place, too, needless to say. But as you look at this knife and are itching to know how it performs, I just want to emphasize again all that went into it: Kevinís creativity most of all, but also his accessibility and my persistence (he was reluctant to ship to the U.S. at first). The knife is what brokered contact between this home cook and that rural craftsman.

Kevin is a skilled engraver and he recommended a gold-leaf-embossed butt cap that was inspired by Japanese ďtsuba,Ē or sword guards, that often feature butterflies. The petty wasnít part of the order but Kevin created it out of the same billet and offered it to me with a piggy-back sheath he threw in without being askedóhence the caterpillar and butterfly motif. The blackwood and warthog tusk make this 210mm knife a little handle heavy, and the grind isnít ideal. But it will find use at special occasions and family gatherings. Any thoughts?

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ecchef
05-22-2012, 08:30 PM
Kramer-esque blade shape. Nice work though.

ThEoRy
05-22-2012, 08:37 PM
******* cool!!! That's a piece of functional art for sure. How it performs you'll have to let us know but man that's one bad ass looking knife!

GlassEye
05-22-2012, 08:52 PM
Those are pretty cool, I like the endcaps more than the rest of the knife.

NO ChoP!
05-22-2012, 09:04 PM
+1 on Kramer'esque profile. IU'd like to see a close up of the damascus. It seems to have some vertical sun ray type lines, which are pretty neat. Whats the steel?

Very ornate, unusual and special...

WildBoar
05-22-2012, 10:45 PM
Looks very, very cool -- what a striking knife! But really no reason his knives should not evolve towards being great cutters. You have his ear -- send him some info on thinks that make for a good performer (i.e., tempering processes, convex grind, distal taper, etc.). If he can produce a knife that looks like that, and cuts like a Kramer, that would be the best of all worlds.

Thanks for introducing us to this talented maker!

Salty dog
05-22-2012, 10:57 PM
ugh

knyfeknerd
05-23-2012, 12:37 AM
Nice, really freaking nice. I doubt my meager chef's salary could ever afford me such a sweet set.

RiffRaff
05-23-2012, 06:41 AM
+1 on Kramer'esque profile. IU'd like to see a close up of the damascus. It seems to have some vertical sun ray type lines, which are pretty neat. Whats the steel?

Very ornate, unusual and special...

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"A blend of carbon steels," is all I have.

Oh, come on, Scott. I know it's not your style, but didn't I see a Mr. Itou in your lineup . . . ?

Marko Tsourkan
05-23-2012, 08:06 AM
Can you include heel shots of this and other knives? It's hard to have an opinion about a knife without seeing its geometry, and even heel shots won't tell much. A video of actual cutting would be better.

What to many outside this forum looks like a kitchen knife, to some here it might look like a bowie with a kitchen knife profile.

Impressive skill on a last knife you posted, no doubt about it, but performance in a kitchen knife is a king. Aesthetics is important, but secondary to performance.

M

Lefty
05-23-2012, 08:30 AM
Those are special, for sure. They aren't every day knives, just as you said, but they are really nice looking pieces. If they perform well, that's even better.

RiffRaff
05-23-2012, 09:03 AM
Can you include heel shots of this and other knives? It's hard to have an opinion about a knife without seeing its geometry, and even heel shots won't tell much. A video of actual cutting would be better.

What to many outside this forum looks like a kitchen knife, to some here it might look like a bowie with a kitchen knife profile.

Impressive skill on a last knife you posted, no doubt about it, but performance in a kitchen knife is a king. Aesthetics is important, but secondary to performance.

M

Nice to hear from you, Marko. Here's a shot of the heel, but it's hard to tell what the grind is from this shot just as you predicted. The heel flares out a bit, which gives some finger comfort and provides a graceful transition to the bolster. For comparison's shake I included a shot of a Michael Rader/David Lisch damascus. Same idea, it flares out. I'll try to get a video going and include more heal shots in the future--thanks for the tip!
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Mike Davis
05-23-2012, 09:28 AM
I can say aesthetically it is a beautiful knife! Looks a little thick in the geometry dept. but still a very nice set.

Eamon Burke
05-23-2012, 08:17 PM
Very cool set.