Bloodroot Blades is the eighteenth in my Sunday series featuring American Artisans. There are so many exceptionally talented craftspeople, designers, and small companies across this country and this is my chance to introduce them to you. These artisans are creating beautiful, useful and delicious products that elevate the experience of everyday cooking, dining, and entertaining. They’re using skills, techniques, and materials that might otherwise be lost in our era of mass production. Their work makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you.
Luke Snyder and David Van Wyk are the talented craftsmen behind Bloodroot Blades a company specializing in exquisite, one-of-a-kind artisan kitchen knives based in Athens, Georgia. If you have a favorite knife you know how central it is to everything you do in the kitchen, and a good one is worth its weight in gold. What makes this company so unique is that every piece Bloodroot Blades makes is hand forged from recycled and repurposed materials — they create their line of luxury Western and Japanese style knives from scrap metal scrounged from junk yards, auto parts, and machine shops.
We believe in recycling and repurposing materials and you will notice that instead of incorporating the rare in our knives, we specialize in identifying interest in the everyday or ignored. At our volume, using recycled steel is not cheaper than buying new steel; however, these materials allow us to impart interest and story into each blade. Recycled steel also increases the uniqueness of each piece and forces us to be innovative and flexible with our limited supply of each material.
Bloodroot Blades’ website is fascinating and visually stunning — even if you’re not a ‘knife nerd’ you’ll get sucked in, I promise! Be forewarned, the prices are high, ($300-$1200+) and in fact these bespoke knives are as much heirlooms as they are kitchen tools, but they are so popular there is actually a waiting list to order them, the current lead time for custom orders is 41 months!
Both men grew up among craftspeople, Luke’s father was the blacksmith and woodworker in residence at an historical farm and so even as a young boy he had access to a coal forge and blacksmith’s tools, and David came from a family of woodworkers. But it wasn’t until David asked Luke to design a chef’s knife for him as groomsman’s gifts that the spark was ignited that eventually led to the two friends dropping their day jobs and forming Bloodroot Blades in 2013.
Every part of every one of these knoves has a story to tell, from the ‘unknown’ steels that they reforge for the blades, to the gorgeous handles. The handles are crafted from intricately patterned spalted and burled wood, reclaimed antlers, and touches of metals like copper and brass. Some of the recycled steel blades are treated with a protective and decorative patina using natural acids such as vinegar or mustard. The acid creates organic patterns in the steel that helps protect the blade from deterioration. The beautiful example at the top of the post is an all purpose Santoku chef’s knife with a spalted maple burl and cooper handle and a mustard patina.
Their series of Legacy Knives are custom pieces that incorporate materials supplied by the customer, objects of special personal importance, into the blades or handles. Everything from antique aprons and rolling pins, to bullets, military badges, even lucky pennies, can be incorporated to make a completely unique and special keepsake. The knife shown below includes a piece of antique lace laminated into the handle–how cool is that?
Another thing I love about Bloodroot’s site is how much information they provide about the process–it’s fascinating to read through and VERY in-depth! The site supports budding knife-makers by providing a rare and detailed look into the tools of the trade and Bloodroot’s unusual methods. They even provide a knife making’s lexicon, check it out, you’ll learn something!
Even if an heirloom quality knife isn’t likely to fit into your budget anytime soon, Bloodroot Blades offers some great tips about knife care and maintenance that are useful for all of us, here are just a few ~
- Wash your knife and then wipe it dry immediately–leaving it wet for a long period of time will allow it to get rusty more quickly.
- If your knives do rust, use either a scotchbrite pad, Flitz polish, a rust eraser, or steel wool, and simply lightly polish the blade.
- Keeping knifes on a magnetic rack is not only safer than reaching in a drawer for your blades, but also allows them to dry better than being kept in a closed drawer.
- Wood or plastic cutting boards are best –other materials like glass, ceramic, or granite can dull a knife.
- For regular sharpening touch ups Bloodroot Blades suggests a superfine ceramic steel (1500 grit or finer) which are relatively inexpensive.
For a very special occasion, or as an impressive and thoughtful group gift, I think beautiful, heirloom-quality knives like this are a great choice. All the knives are warranted for life, and come with free maintenance.
Bloodroot takes custom orders, and sells current stock through a lottery system:
On the first Monday of each month at noon EST, we have a sale of 20-25 knives using a lottery system. At noon EST, we will send out a link to the sale to our newsletter subscribers. The sale will be open from 12:00pm – 6:00pm EST, during which time you can submit your email address for as many knives as you would like. We will then randomly select a customer who will receive first right of purchase for each knife (one knife per customer), and we will contact the winners the following day.