​handcrafted knives
​by Sergio Muelle,  AWCF
Handmade Knives, carefully crafted with an absolute holistic approach. All aspects; from the forging of the blades, working of the wood for the handles and even melting of brass or bronze for components such as ferrules, guards and pommels are done by hand in the workshop.  Fully bespoke and personalised knives with 100% of client's input towards the design, from concept, style and characteristics, to finished item.

Crafting The Knives

All my knives are made from High Carbon Steel as this allows for the making of the best quality blades, easy to sharpen and also retain the edge more readily. It is the most traditional type of steel used in bladesmithing and still favoured for the best performing knives. I believe it’s only ethical to try to recycle as much as possible and there is a lot of excellent quality steel available for bladesmithing. Old files, farrier’s rasps, leaf spring, coil spring bandsaw and milling blades are all made of high carbon steel.
Steel is essentially Iron with Carbon and other elements added to make it harder.  Traditionally this was achieved by forging out the impurities in the Iron Bloom (iron obtain after smelting iron ore) while at the same time carbon from the coal used for fuelling the forges would incorporate itself into the stock. This process meant that the steel had to be stretched and folded repeatedly in order for it to be of high quality blade grade. Once the blade was finally forged, a pattern could be observed on its surface, like oil or water marks that reflect the multilayers of its genesis. In ancient times this was valued as the sign of a well worked blade, synonymous of no impurities, great flexibility, resistance and a very sharp edge.
This is what was known in Europe as Damascus Steel (as it came from ‘The Orient’). Nowadays it’s at the Foundry where all impurities are extracted and other elements are added to make the different grades of modern steels and a monolayer is more than adequate for a top quality blade.
I also make a modern take on damascus steel which is called Pattern Welded steel. Typically, I’ll start with 8 or 12 layers set one upon the other forming the ‘billet’. The billet is brought to a near white heat in the forge and hammer welded to form a solid block or ‘stock’. The stock is now stretched and thinned to a quarter of its original thickness folded over and welded again. This process is repeated until the final stock contains, at least 40-50 layers and occasionally I’ll reach 300-500. These blades boast a unique pattern which at times can be very intricate.
Once forged, shaped and ground on the linisher belt, the blade is ready for Quenching (also known as Hardening). The steel is brought to a Critical Temperature to then be cooled quickly. This alters the molecular structure by hardening it through contraction which allows for an edge. I favour the ancient Japanese technique which involves using clay to cover the back or spine of the blade in order to achieve a Differential Tempering. This means that the covered area is not as hard as the edge, giving the blade a bit of flexibility. This process sometimes leaves a very pleasing shadow along the blade which is called Hamon in Japanese. The blade is now ready for the Tempering in an electric oven for 2 hours, process repeated three time.
The handles are made of recycled or recovered hardwood sourced locally to me. The wood is stabilised by immersing in treatment liquid within a vacuum chamber. This forces the air out so the liquid can reach throughout the piece leaving the wood rot free and ready for the hard life of a knife handle. I don’t hesitate to use wood that has been previously inhabited by woodworm and grubs, the tunnelling is repaired and this adds a further ‘uniqueness’ to the knife.
On Bushcraft/Survival knives I also like to use cloth laminated  Marine Grade polyester resins as these make very hardy, all weather handles.
The brass I use for guards, ferrules and pommels is recycled from melting figurines I find at car boot sales. I often add copper piping to the crucible as this makes a mild bronze with a lovely pink hue. I can also use silver nickel and aluminium.
I like to see each piece I make as unique and personalised. A Soul can be imbued into each knife by using a source of high carbon steel that perhaps belonged to a family member or holds a sentimental value for the future owner of the blade, these could be files, plane blades, mill blades, bandsaw blades, chisels, etc. Likewise, a specific piece of wood can be used for the handle, or cloth incorporated in a resin handle. Any piece of non-ferrous metal can be melted down for a guard or ferrule.
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