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Q & A with Matt

Ask Matt

By William Henry May 3, 2019

Have a question about the William Henry multiverse? Email and Matt will choose a couple to answer in this monthly forum...

Question:  How long does it take to make a WH knife?

I’ve always answered this question “Until it’s done”. Maybe a little trite, but it’s the truth. It’s also true that we orchestrate a global dance on many of our knives, working with master artisans wherever they may be to bring the best to each aspect of the design. As a result, an average knife takes about a year to complete. Yep, a year. Involves anywhere from 6 to 11 different shops in as many as four countries.

We source amazing materials, work with a number of shops and artisans to prep those materials and turn them into precision parts to our specifications, and then go thru 500-800 separate steps in our Oregon studio to craft each knife from those custom parts. Not easy to do, near impossible to copy, and a daily miracle that we pull it off.

Question:  Where do you get your damascus blade steel?

William Henry doesn’t make our own damascus steel – it is an incredibly complex mix of art and science, and we’ve spent over 20 years finding and building relationships with the best damascus blacksmiths in the world.  These master artisans, often one guy in a back-yard shop with equipment built from scratch, have perfected the art of forging tapestries in metal.  All of them have proprietary patterns that they’ve developed that no one else can replicate, and often we commission then to make custom patterns just for WH.

If you’ve ever seen taffy being made, just imagine that being done with anywhere from 50-140 layers of three different alloys of steel, glowing red out of a forge, contorted and twisted and recombined and sliced and rolled and manipulated again and again.  Somehow, these blacksmiths take sheets of disparate steel alloys and turn them into durable works of art that also rank among the finest blades the world has ever seen.  I mean, damn...