French knives manufacturing
Cold or hot forging ? The verb ‘to forge’ refers to the metal’s deformation at both high and low temperature. A craft dating back to the discovery of metal, rendered popular in the Middle Ages. Weapons, jewellery, statues and currencies passed through the blacksmith’s hands. After crushing the mineral, he melted it in a furnace with the aid of bellows, beat and hammered it and recast it. He then added other components to it. For instance, bronze comes from adding tin and copper.
Did you know ? The Eiffel tower is made of wrought iron using the puddling technique.
While the temperature rises in the gas forge, the cutler concentrates on preparing the essential tools for the confrontation awaiting him. Return to the Iron Age ! The hammer blows resonate throughout the workshop. The heat from the forge spreads and everyone feels sweat beading to the beat of the hammer. While the steel takes shape, heats, cools, ignites again and plunges into the oil, the cutler already imagines the emerging blade and delights in combining it with Morta, the black oak of Brière. The steel reddens, blackens, hardens and ends up accepting its new hardness. But it’s only with the Atelier JHP stamp that it finds its true personality.
Traditionally linked to ironwork and building hardware, wrought iron fits in perfectly with the art of cutlery. A real forged knife presupposes it was made from a hot forged steel bar. That notwithstanding, the market offers knives entirely or partially hot or cold forged. How do you recognize them ? A forged blade is meant to be heavy and solid, with no welding point. It requires less sharpening. The proof comes with time. In the meantime, seek advice from your artisan cutler.
Like a mechanical watch, less precise than a quartz watch, but endowed with so much more charm, the forged blade acquires a patina because it is not stainless. High in carbon, over time it will bear the unique marks of its use, which will make your Morta knife an absolutely personal object.
We refer more to ‘stock removal’ when talking of cold forging. This forming process involves removal of material. Morta Knives only supplies hot forged blades.
The choice of materials for forged steels.
As with any end product, especially for objects handcrafted by traditional methods, the choice of raw material is a decisive factor. The question doesn’t arise for the handle. Morta reserved the exclusivity of the entire Atelier JHP workshop since its creation. No! More than that! Morta quite simply represents this workshop’s reason for being. The cutler Jean-Henri, who has always been fascinated by knives, saw in this object the perfect setting for the unique oakwood from the marshes of Brière known as Morta.
For his As-Forged product line, he selected carbon steel (90mcv8) for its exceptional 60 HRC Rockwell hardness.
We should first explain that the forged part includes the blade and the tang. The tang is the part of steel extending from the blade into the handle. It is pierced to allow it to be attached to the handle.
At Atelier JHP, we prefer to assemble our original knives full tang for greater solidity.
The right overall balance that gives the finished knife a comfortable grip and perfect ergonomics.
Annealing makes the steel softer and simplifies filing. It is a matter of heating the steel to quench temperature, then letting it cool slowly in the dying fire of the forge. Others prefer to use a tank filled with vermiculite (clayey mineral).
The grind hones the work previously done, notably on the blade’s contours. This can be done with a simple file. After making the hilts (ricasso or full tang), the blacksmith ends with the cutting edge.
Normalizing (heating the steel then letting it cool) is repeated at least twice, making a total of three operations. This heat treatment refines the grain of the metal, which may have increased during the annealing. A good cutler avoids problems of contraction cracks (due to too rapid cooling) or deformation of the blade.
Lastly, the quenching heats the steel until it becomes red, then cools it in a controlled way by plunging it into a bath of oil, preferably vegetable oil. Each type of steel has its own heating temperature (change of state, namely when the entire mass is transformed) around 1,000 degrees. The goal of this operation is to harden the steel.
By removing the tensions created by the quenching, the annealing stage finally gives the steel the perfect hardness required. This involves inserting the blade into a furnace twice. Between each pass, the steel will have fully cooled.
To finish making his piece, the blacksmith works on the surfaces with the aid of increasingly fine abrasives, until the desired result is achieved.
Then comes the blade polishing and sharpening stage.
Please note, with certain knives the forged attribute is used mistakenly. Only the bolster is forged (part of the steel forming the junction between the handle and blade). It is then often forged by upsetting. How do you recognize a real forged knife? Ask a cutler worthy of the name, if you want high quality professional knives.
Straight, compact model knife for everyday use and average-sized vegetables. While it dislikes the term multifunctional, it nonetheless holds its own in versatility. In the home or garage, on outings or properly stowed in its sheath, it tackles any perilous situation, like a picnic or a weekend with friends.
The chopping board swoons on its arrival. Salami and other cured and cooked meats envy everything it cuts. With such dimensions, it’s a scramble! A little dignity please. One at a time. Outdoors, like a dagger, it is useful for hunting trips and if need be as a survival knife. You never know when you might encounter a stampede of dry sausages from Brière or Guémené.
Comfortable grip for the smallest of the folding knife product line. This folding pocket knife can be taken everywhere, without moderation. Its 9 cm length (folded) fits into any pair of jeans or bag. It is equally useful as a kitchen utensil and for DIY.
Very handy and relatively compact (folded length 11 cm), it’s the perfect compromise between the mini pocket knife and XL model. Fixed blade highly valued for hunting, fishing or picking outings.
This is in the big league, with its 24.5 cm blade (folded length 13.5 cm). Game and fish had better watch out. Steaks and slices of bread won’t resist. What a joy to be sliced by such a utensil! Steak, vegetable, cheese knives: what will you do with your latest acquisition?
Indispensable for a fixed knife, plan for a sheath to stow your As-Forged. The workshop offers it in ebony black leather. The folding knife models will find refuge in a leather case (also black). Do you prefer the horizontal or vertical model? Each can be attached to the belt, ready for use at any time, anywhere. All are embellished with the JHP stamp.
All the accessories are for sale on the e-store. You’ll find there all the prices and delivery charges.
In store, the cutler welcomes you in person.
These beautiful high-quality blades require nothing more than a simple whetstone or sharpening steel for easy, effective sharpening.
Unlike a stainless steel blade, a dry cloth is preferable for cleaning.
Likewise for the wooden handle. Keep it dry. Treated with vegetable oil in the workshop, it is already protected and acquires a patina from your hand with use over time.
So? Have we succeeded in convincing you to discover Atelier JHP’s artisanal knives and accessories? The Morta Knives e-store gives the description, prices and delivery terms and conditions of all the products in stock. For more details contact us, or better still, visit the workshop in Saint-André-des-Eaux for artisanal cutlery French-style.
You’ll be amazed by the kitchen and table knives. Warning to chefs and fans of fine blades!
You’ll also see all the other product lines, fixed knives, folding knives as well as the different types of steel (Damascus, stainless and of course As-Forged).
Choose your options between the ivory inlay, the vulcanized fibre or customization with different types of engraving.
For the wooden handles, that’s another story we’ll be happy to tell you. The wood comes from the regional nature reserve of Brière.
See the grind stage in our video.