the making of ...
Born and raised in Dallas, I studied at the Kansas City Art Institute before transferring to Columbia University, where I was graduated in 1985. Most summers I worked as an auto mechanic in Manhattan at Zumbach Sports Cars. After graduation I remained in New York City, working as a graphic designer and art director before before moving to Berlin in 1990 where I continued working in graphic design. In the mid-90s I became interested in designing tableware and ended up concentrating on the knives. Since 2002 my primary occupation has been the design and production fine cutlery which I currently export to over 20 countries around the world. I guess you can call it a living.
In the workshop I often think of something Horton Foote once said:
You‘re at the mercy of whatever talent you have
That's me, waiting for the Mothership to land and explain the finer points of G-Code programming for the CNC milling machine. If you buy a Haas machine, make sure and purchase the "Communicate with Aliens" option. It really comes in handy...
Now I have two surface grinders, one is a 1954 Jung substantially upgraded and running stones; the other is my trusty old ABA from 1942 upgraded to run belts. The belts allow for quickly grinding workpieces flat. Both machines have industrial dust collection units attached.
One tool you do not want to skimp on is the metal cutting bandsaw. This old workhorse is made by Mössner in Germany and will last several lifetimes given proper care. Mine is from the 70s and still going strong.
For final product design and engineering, I use a parametric, 3D CAD program called Solidworks. It is expensive but once again, a very necessary piece of equipment if you want to produce knives of the highest quality in a reasonable amount of time.
Before I started in on CNC machining I had no idea how critical fixture design and construction was in the manufacturing process. I spend easily as much time designing and making fixtures as I spend actually machining parts.
Even using CNC milling and CAD design software, many hours of hand work go into making all of the knives I produce. Probably the most time consuming are folders. Here's a shot of my assembly bench.
DIN SK40 tool holders are one thing I never seem to have enough of... and these little guys are expensive. Figure between €40 and €120 each for the ones in this photo. Poor quality tool holders are not worth having.
In the new workshop I finally have enough space to place the two Haas CNC milling machines side by side. On the left is my 2001 Mini Mill, just about the most versatile machine in its class. Next to it the TM-1 from 2005. I bought that one new and it is a fantastic machine.