P.O.Box 3057, Windhoek, Namibia
What is so fascinating about knives? The answer is quite simple; the near endless variety of shapes, materials and finishing styles make knives an outstanding everyday tool. From a simple blade to the highest degree of craftsmanship and artistry, that is what makes knife making so interesting. My interest in knives dates back to my early childhood, when I bought a small pocket knife from my first pocket money. I was born in Germany in a town called Kaiserslautern. Soon after I completed my apprenticeship as ‘Elektromaschinenbauer’ (Electric Machine Builder) I decided to see a little bit more of this world. An advert in our local newspaper gave me the opportunity to get a job in, what was called in those days, ‘South West Africa ‘.
Very soon I had a contract for 3 years in my pocket. In October 1958, the aeroplane, not Jet, landed in Windhoek after a 3 day journey from Frankfurt to Windhoek.
I was allowed to use my spare time to do some private jobs in a very little workshop. My interest in making a knife according to my own idea was the next step. At this time, it was very difficult to get materials needed to make a good knife. In a heap of scrap, I found a piece of spring steel from a broken ‘Bakkie’ spring. With very basic tools I started to make my first knife. It was a kind of a bit too long dagger and the finish was not as it should be. But, it was my first try and the result was not too bad either. Then, work was more important and knife making was put on a back burner . In 1970 my employer retired and I could take over his business. It was a big challenge, because the business was expanding and I had to move to bigger premises. In the meantime I was the bread winner of my wife and two sons and we could feel the financial pressure. But I managed the situation and very soon the urge of knife making awakened again.
In the late 1970’s, knife making became more and more popular in South Africa and now it was possible to obtain material and help from the more experienced knife makers. It was also possible to buy South African magazines and a lot of literature from mainly the USA. With the knowledge I obtained from these sources I started to build a belt grinder, ordered some steel from South Africa and began grinding some simple blades.
Today, after experimenting with different grinding techniques and some less successful trials, I’m able to make knives according to the highest customers’ demands.
Earlier this year (2012) I was accepted by the Cape Knifemakers Guild as a member. Generally I do my own designs, but I’m always willing to consider customers choices of designs and materials.
The strange thing about knife making is that after a successfully finished piece, you still think it could be perfected even more. But, this critical thinking assures perfection and therefore guarantees the customer of a high degree of craftsmanship and quality.