I have been a huge fan of Murray Carter (Carter Cutlery) since first becoming aware of his work. His story is fascinating, as you can see above. He is quite possibly the only person of European descent to earn a Japanese Master’s stamp, and has earned the rank of ABS Master Bladesmith in the Western tradition as well. He also has the distinction of being the first person to dictate his 5 from the Grinder feature when he recorded this into my phone at BLADE Show.
It seems strange to refer to it as a “privilege” to have purchased someone’s knife. But that is the closest I can come up with to describe the feeling I get when I open the box and use my Murray Carter Funayuki kitchen knife that I bought at this year’s BLADE. It is without a doubt the most exquisite tool I own, a true heirloom, yet is in all senses meant to be used.
First, in a few sentences, please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
Growing up in eastern Nova Scotia, I spent a lot of time in the outdoors both as a Boy Scout and as an Army Cadet. I was always interested in knives as tools relevant to surviving outdoors, hunting, and field-dressing game.
Question 1: What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
I had a chance encounter with Mr. Yasuyuki Sakemoto when I was in Japan at 18 years old. He is a 16th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith and he represented more than 420 years of blademaking history. He was very kind and befriended me. That led to a 6 year Apprenticeship. (You can see more about the Yoshimoto Bladesmiths here)
In terms of Western Bladesmiths, I read up on and followed the work of Mr. William Moran, Ed Fowler, Jerry Fisk, and several others. Ed fowler impressed me in particular for his dedicated study of 52100 steel and the idea that mastering one steel was better than having affairs with all sorts of different kinds of steel.
I consequently dedicated my life to mastering White Steel #1 in particular but I also do have extensive experience using Hitachi Blue steels as well.
Question 2: What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
For my favorite pattern from history, it is hard to argue with the overall utility and function of a kitchen knife. I am particularly fond of the traditional Japanese patterns like the Santoku, Wa Bocho, Nakiri Bocho style kitchen knives that range between 5 and 7.5″. Just for overall ease of use, ease of maintenance, and versatility. I also like a neck knife design for Everyday Carry, but that tends to be more Western in shape and concept than a Japanese blade.
Question 3: What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
I think one of the most significant things in the past couple of years has been the Forged in Fire TV series on the History Channel. It is already in Season 3, and looks like other TV producers are interested in the same theme. It has brought a new awareness to the forged blade, it has brought the concept of bladesmithing to the living rooms of many people across the world who never knew that knives could come out of any other setting than an industrial or factory setting.
I think that social media and the TV have both done a tremendous service to the industry of bladesmithing.
Question 4: Is there a knife from your lineup that you feel best exhibits who you are as a knifemaker/designer in terms of design elements, aesthetic or techniques used?
Again it comes back to the kitchen knife. I think that beauty is as beauty does. Some of my Wa Bochos with the custom octagonal handles although fairly utilitarian and rustic in design, they do kind of capture my sense of aesthetics for lines, and my sense of design in the thinness of the blade, length, width, ease of sharpening, and just a little bit of flair in the materials and construction used in the handle. Simple, but very effective.
Question 5: What is your EDC and why?
I carry a Perfect Model neck knife that is 30 layers of pure nickle-sheet 1025 steel and Hitachi White Steel and its got a nice custom wood handle on it. It fits my hand perfectly and I use it 20 to 30 times a day. It has become a natural extension of my hand.
You can check out more of Carter-San’s work at his website Carter Cutlery. He also maintains a Facebook Page, as well as Twitter (@cartercutlery) and Instagram (@cartercutlery) feeds. If you really have time to explore further, his YouTube Channel has hours of content ranging from knife sharpening, knife making, and even a video of Murray shaving with a spoon.