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Walter Sorrells

An Old Knife Made New

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A buddy of mine came to me a while back and said asked if I put handles on knives. I kind of sighed because that's not really my thing. But then he told me the story of the knife and I got interested.

 

Apparently his father had been a cook's helper on a Merchant Marine ship during WWII. The head cook had this giant machete-sized knife that he ground down for use as a kitchen knife. One day they put into port somewhere and the head cook went out for shore leave...and never came back. So my buddy's dad became the head cook -- inheriting the knife along with the job. After the war he took one thing home with him from the ship: the knife.

 

He continued to use it in the kitchen every day until he died, at which point my friend inherited it. The original handle had rotted away, so his dad had replaced it with this jury rigged handle held on by bolts and hex nuts. That handle eventually rotted away too. Which is when my buddy came to see me.

 

So anyway, my buddy came out to my shop and we rummaged around in my wood pile until we found some nice snakewood. I didn't touch the blade (except to sharpen it). All I did was replace the handle. As you can see the blade is quite...uh...I think the word is ugly. The handle was boxy and, well, it was kinda homely, too. I was tempted to mess with it to make the handle a little more pretty and ergonomic -- but at the end of the day, that's not what my friend was really looking for. When he looks at this knive, he thinks about his dad. In a way, I felt a little funny about even putting nice wood on it. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for pretty wood.

 

This is the kind of job that reminds you why we do what we do. If you just want something that cuts, you might as well go to Pottery Barn. It's when knives start to worm their way into the fabric of our lives that they come to have meaning.

 

brent\'s dad\'s knife.jpg

 

brent handle.jpg

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Very cool Walter =D.

 

I've got a slew of old kitchen knives from my maternal grandparents (they'd been in the restaurant business all their lives), and even a few from my paternal great grandparents cattle ranch in Colorado. I've considered rehandling them and restoring them...but in the end it's the memories they carry that is what matters for me, and they hold those memories fine just the way they are. The handles are still serviceable (well, mostly lol)...and so they will remain.

 

Great story...and thanks for sharing!

 

Cris

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Great story Walter and good for you for helping out a friend.

Oh ya nice handle with the history behind the knife it finaly deserved good looking scales.

 

Bob

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a very dear friend of mine who was a cook died about 10 years ago and a year later when i finally got up the courage to ask her husband (who is also a best friend) if i could have her big chefs knife (a vintage sabatier embued with her essence) I was told that he had thrown it away cos it was rusty . i was gutted !!

 

good to see an old one brought back to life . good job walter .

 

It is good for us to remember that we only write the start of a story , the rest can be many years in the making .............

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"It's when knives start to worm their way into the fabric of our lives that they come to have meaning."

 

Amen, brother.

 

A year ago this month, my wife and I visited an old friend for our 'final goodbyes'. She had COPD and was not expected to last much longer than a few months. I was asked to rehandle her favorite bread knife. Not an expensive knive by any means with just an inexpensive cast in place plastic handle that had come off the stub tang. So, I used a piece of scrap maple, burned in the tang and used aqua fortis to bring out the curl. She was able to use the knife till she passed this past May.

Knife 004s.jpg

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those are such cool stories "very touching"

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