Every BLADE Show has its trends. Some are easy to predict. We’ve already covered the micro-knife phenomenon, but kitchen knives were everywhere this year, and not just from the makers you would expect.
Perhaps most surprising, L.T. Wright has gotten into the game big time, with a full complement of new designs, including the Camp Kitchen, a 7” chef knife, and three utility knives, the Traveller, Large Pouter, and Small Pouter with 6”, 5”, and 3.5” blades respectively. Steel on these is AEB-L, which has been a very popular choice for knifemakers this year. These ought to be hitting dealers soon.
You could also get the LTWK’s as a set, including a custom carry bag with kydex inserts for easy camping and traveling.
Right across the aisle from LT was Smith & Sons Knife Company. I always enjoy their booth, not just because they have some of the best lighting at the show, but they are a fine group of folks to boot. They had a striking set of kitchen knives on display. Also in AEB-L and sporting their signature stonewashed patina, the 3 piece set also featured a sinker cyprus stand. I thought it was a great way to show off the blades while also keeping them out of a bacteria-laden knife block.
Right around the corner I introduced myself to the guys at PB&J Knives. I bought a Nessmuk from them (because of course I did), but while I was there I also got to check out their new kitchen offerings in 15N20 steel.
They had a slicer, and some chef and petty knives, but I especially liked their paring knife design. It is hard to do something original with a parer while still having it work in all the right ways, but I think they’ve pulled off something very nice.
There were plenty of other makers with kitchen knives on display – far too many to mention in depth – so I’ll include those photos below.
In addition to the dedicated kitchen implements, there were also some very nice kitchen/camping crossover blades being shown, and all the ones that I saw were taking a cleaver-esque approach.
The first I found was a prototype Camp Cleaver from White River Knives. Looking like the lovechild of a cleaver and a Nessmuk, the design instantly spoke to me. The 5/32” thick stonewashed blade of S35VN has a stunning shape and the handle contours were excellent. The handle looks like it has micarta pins, but they are actually just pins that are hiding metal fasteners for greater strength.
Our friends at T.M Hunt Custom Knives also brought a cleaver to the show that is one big chunk of badass O1. Like a lot of what Todd creates… “badass” truly is the best moniker.
ESEE also brought their recently unveiled CL-1 Expat Cleaver, which pairs the handle shape from their Junglas chopper with a blackened and stonewashed 1095 cleaver blade. More on this knife in a bit.
We saw the debut of a high profile kitchen accessory this year as well. WorkSharp brought a new belt sharpener to the show specifically geared toward maintaining your culinary blades. With a built in timer and magnets to keep metal dust to a minimum, the unit also comes with an innovative stick hone that has a few tricks up its sleeve. I’ll have a general overview of that device soon.
The story doesn’t end there. I was also on the lookout for some personal kitchen acquisitions this year. I always like to spend my money on my friends, and boy did they deliver this year.
Dan Eastland of Dogwood Custom Knives has a couple of very nice culinary designs that he brought to BLADE, including a chef/santoku-esque pattern and a slicing/boning knife. He has been prototyping and developing them for a few years with the help of some chef friends in the Atlanta area.
I actually managed to snag one of his chef knives last December with blue burlap handles and 3/32” CPM-154 blade steel, but being handmade, each one it a little different. I picked one up off his table in 1/16” CPM-154 and G10 handles, and there was something magical about that one in my hands. I knew I had to bring that bad boy home.
My other kitchen purchase came from our good friend Christopher Berry aka Big Chris Custom Knives. I needed a good paring knife and ever since handling Clay’s copy of Chris’ Bird and Trout the night before, I knew it was a contender. I wound up walking away with a nice one in CPM-10V steel – the same stuff that cut over 500 feet of cardboard and was still shaving sharp in my Pocket Fighter review.
It was hard to not pick up something else from Chris; he had a bunch of great chef knives and a SteelHead on his table as well. I will own one, someday!
I also got into the cleaver trend and picked up one of the prototypes from White River. Between my Nessmuk obsession and similarities to my own Canteen Knife design, it was a must-buy. I actually had a good time with Matt Cammenga from the company comparing our respective designs.
I also had my winning ticket drawn when ESEE was giving away a handful of their CL-1 Cleavers! I had my eye on possibly buying one anyway, so the win allowed me to stretch my budget a bit!
Thanks for all your support this year folks. Now here are a few more kitchen knives I photographed down in Atlanta.
A beautiful pair of French Chef knives and a Santoku in AEB-L from Forged In Fire Champion Pete Winkler of Cross Knives.
This very classy Bern Santoku was spotted at the Sugarcreek Forge booth.
Another shot of some more from PB&J.