FAQ

Frequently asked questions

“There is no place in England quite like it. Savernake is an epitome of every phase of beauty in our countryside” Arthur Mee

Because half of us live in it, both of us spend a lot of time in it, we can see it from the amazing view afforded to us by our workshop in Chisbury and while we’re very, very good at many things, thinking up imaginative names doesn’t appear to be one of them.

If you can find a knife profile and design you like, but would like some individualised engraving or a different handle for example, then call or email us; as long as the handle material’s not too wacky or the engraving too convoluted, we’ll make the knife for you for the same price as the base model on the website. We call this a customised knife, to distinguish it from our bespoke efforts.

We continually have a number of different knives making their way through our workshop, and we can customise these for you at relatively little expense – the blade’s finish, the wood used on the handle and the engraving are all processes we can alter easily. We are able to carry out relatively sophisticated image manipulation – bearing in mind that we’re not graphic artists – and so can etch almost any image (including a photo), but obviously clear and less shaded images work best.

Just get in touch and let us know what you want – once we’ve settled on the design, we aim to have the finished blade in your hands in a matter of weeks. A photo or a sketch is a great starting point for discussion (but please include something for scale). More details can be found in the bespoke section of the site.

We almost exclusively use Sandvik 14c28n, although on occasion we RWL 34 powdered metallurgical steel and other exotics. For prototypes we use 420C, the steel used by most other knife manufacturers for their final product.

One could possibly (just possibly) argue that 20 or 30 years ago carbon steels were still of better quality for high-end knives than stainless steel, but now that is simply not the case, and the top-end specialist steel manufacturers almost entirely concentrate on improving their stainless knife steels over others.

For us, choosing a metal type that corrodes as a knife blade makes little sense. Some will say that the ‘patina’ (i.e. rust) that invariably develops on a carbon blade tells a story, but we see this as an attempt to turn a bug in to a feature. Also any knife that turns black when cutting onions – surely the mainstay of a kitchen knife – is of dubious utility.

Jay Fisher has quite a lot to say on the subject.

Yes, of course – it’s your knife! Although not particularly our cup of tea, it is possible to get (at great expense) Damascus-pattern stainless steel, so that’s always an option if you like that sort of thing but would like to continue to use corrosion-resistant steel. This is the sort of thing we’re talking about.

A rather better option might be Japanese layered steel.

Simply put, it’s the shape of the profile of the blade when viewed from the base or the tip. For most of our knives we prefer a very slight hollow grind – it aids in maintaining a cutting edge, minimises the weight of the knife and provides the smoothest cutting option. The cutting edge is a compound bevel. A very basic illustration of the types of grind we use are below.:

Some woods work beautifully as they are – the more rustic handles made of walnut, oak, beech, ash and the like respond to being simply oiled and cared for. The more exotic woods, such as palm wood, cocobolo and rosewood are more suited to fine sanding and polishing, and are sufficiently oily in themselves to last for a very long time.

However certain woods respond well to being stabilised, and some (such as spalted beech) are unusable without it.

We find that, aside from the obvious benefits of effectively having a handle that is effectively solid heat- and chemical-resistant resin, the stabilised woods can be sanded and polished even more finely than unstabilised.

Each of our knives is tested for its hardness on the Rockwell C Scale, and we aim for around 60 to 62. As always Wikipedia can explain this for you in detail, but roughly speaking the higher the Rockwell number, the stronger and more durable the edge. Of course, the harder the steel then the more difficult it can be to sharpen, but once it is sharp then it will stay that way for a long time. Some people prefer a slightly softer steel, in the region of 58, so that they can regularly top up the cutting edge on knives that are not doing heavy duty work and so we make in a range of hardnesses.

The most important thing to understand is the difference between sharpening and honing. Sharpening involves the removal of metal in order to create a cutting edge, while honing (generally using a honing steel) sees that edge maintained. Sharpening is an art form unto itself, but the trick is to find a system that works for you and stick to it. If you’re looking for sharpening materials then Knives and Tools are as good a place to start as any, and have clear explanations of the methods available.

Your knife should really require very little maintenance, less occasional sharpening and frequent honing. If you have a non-stabilised wooden handle then the odd touch-up with Danish oil – or equivalent – will be all you need.

The main thing to remember is not to put your knife through the dishwasher. Not only will it damage the handle, the steam and salt will – even with the best stainless steel – cause corrosion, particularly at the cutting edge.

Lastly, if you have a finely-balanced, delicate filleting knife then don’t use it to hack your way through a recalcitrant leg of lamb!

We offer a complimentary sharpening and edge retention service once a year for the first 3 years after buying your new knife. Details are included with any purchase, but we will of course always be prepared to repair a damaged knife, be that a chipped edge from slamming through a pig carcass or from a helpful house guest putting your blade through the dreaded dishwasher.

Please have a gander at our Ordering and Returns policy under our Terms and Conditions

 

Buy one of our unique knives today

Core

Beautiful Essentials from £180 to £320

Esoterica

Innovation & Exploration from £150 to £600

Esoterica

When we’re not working on the Core collection or creating our bespoke knives we experiment and innovate. We use different materials and try to create knives that have one specific job in mind. We look for where no knife exists and try to fill that hole and we work with others on exploratory collaborations. The results – when we’re happy with them – are found here, along with knives that we feel have a place in the kitchen but are not general enough in purpose to be included in the Core.

Bespoke

The game-changer from £750

Bespoke

We are the only authentic source for fully tailor-made knives. Others will offer individuality or a pretty handle or some engraving, but only we can make a prototype-led one-off in a matter of weeks.

Design a completely bespoke knife

Learn more

Esoterica

When we’re not working on the Core collection or creating our bespoke knives we experiment and innovate. We use different materials and try to create knives that have one specific job in mind. We look for where no knife exists and try to fill that hole and we work with others on exploratory collaborations. The results – when we’re happy with them – are found here, along with knives that we feel have a place in the kitchen but are not general enough in purpose to be included in the Core.

Bespoke

We are the only authentic source for fully tailor-made knives. Others will offer individuality or a pretty handle or some engraving, but only we can make a prototype-led one-off in a matter of weeks.

Design a completely bespoke knife

Learn more