The History of Knife Making
What would you say is the best man-made invention throughout the ages? Some might say the electric light or the telephone or perhaps the automobile. But of course, we would argue that the best thing made by man is the cutting edge. The first knife-like tools were made in prehistoric times. These hand tools, or Oldowan, are the oldest known and said to have first appeared 2-3 million years ago. They were made by chipping stones to create a chopping or cutting edge and were typically made from a single "core" stone. These knives were made and used as needed and for hunting purposes and basic survival.
Right through the Old Stone Age or Paleolithic period, as well as the Neolithic Age or New Stone Age, knife tools were made from, you guessed it, stones! Even though this period is known for the innovation of many more types of stone tools, it is only much later different materials started being used for tool making.
The new era that followed used materials like copper and bronze, and even though these blades looked better and were more durable, they were not as sharp and held very low edge retention. This is then also the period in which the art of knife sharpening was born!
The most important time in the history of knife making is probably the Iron Age (between 1200 B.C. and 600 B.C). This is when man realised the potential of mining and processing materials. Specifically, the process of mining rock, then separating the ore by crushing it, and smelting the iron out of the rock by heating it. This is where iron was invented, a substance which had a great advantage over all previous man made tools. Man finally found a material that was both durable as well as sharp and it held its edge well!
Since the iron age the only thing that has really changed is the significant improvement of the types of steel, though in effect the same basic process is still the same today. The process of blacksmithing, cold forging and tempering is timeless.
Greatest yet most humble invention of all times? Yes! The knife still has a phenomenal presence and utility. It is still man's best friend and trusted companion throughout the ages, performing a great range of activities like hunting, cooking as well as its use for a multiple of recreational adventures. One could say that civilisation, as we know it, was built on the blade of a knife.
The Arno Bernard family has been making knives since the 90's and have mastered using quality steel for durability, as well as sharpness and edge retention, but also style - Tough enough to use, nice enough to collect.
In this video Ruan Bernard shows you the process of making a paring knife, from start to finish, using the trusted Arno Bernard knife making methods. This paring knife was made from S35VN steel and a Burlap canvas handle.