IRONSIDE EDGE WORKS
Creating the Divine Companion
Ironside Edge Works was started in July of 2017, established as a brand (Originally “Ironside Armoury“) and as a full-time operation to create Combative Knives.
My original motives for pursuing the art of knifemaking was somewhat selfish… I needed a quality Combative EDC Knife for myself, but could not afford to buy one from some of the talented makers around me at the time. I decided instead to put my creativity into shaping metal, and soon I had crafted my first blade…
My background in Combative Arts has given me certain perspectives, both learned and imparted by mentors, which influence the design of the knives I make. I typically use Pikal blades for my own Combative style, so I’ve devoted a lot of time to making and perfecting this unique style of knife.
But I also consider myself a minimalist and heavily influenced by traditional Japanese swordmakers, for whom each part of the sword has a practical purpose, yet can also be beautifully crafted. I’ve never held the belief that form should follow function – the two should co-exist. I like to think my knives speak to the soul, as well as protect it.
My style will, and has continued to develop since my first blade (pictured left). But I feel my knives fill a unique niche of being wholly practical, extremely robust Combative edged weapons, designed with a singular purpose, that are also carefully considered artistically and crafted to showcase their natural aesthetics.
The blades I make are typically shaped from simple High Carbon steels like O1/Bohler K460. Though old fashioned and “low tech”, steels like these have been used for edged weapons for centuries and to some degree I appreciate that they require more care and maintenance than modern stainless steels. These blades will rust if you neglect them, but they age so very well. Some of my Masterworks Knives are made from Hitachi Aogami and Shirogami steels. These rare Japanese steels are modern and high tech but still carry a tradition in them. They are as close as we can get to traditional Tamahagane in an off the shelf mill steel.
Breaking from tradition, I do also offer blades made from Elmax, a high carbon stainless steel which exhibits very high levels of performance. It is truly an exceptional blade steel.
I have always tried to keep my process entirely hands on, but since 2019 the increased demand for my knives meant that it was time to embrace certain modern production techniques. Every single blade is still finished by hand, by human touch, but some more mundane tasks are left to CNC processes. Every knife blade however is beveled and ground freehand, polished, etched, assembled by hand, and laboriously sharpened on Japanese water stones. While this “low tech” approach has its drawbacks, chiefly being slower, it also produces a more unique piece honed by a human touch.
This can be seen in my work. Each piece is unique. Each one has its own characteristics that make it special. No knife blade leaves without being felt in the hand, treated with the reverence such a weapon deserves.
The idea of a tool having such reverence that it is considered a “Divine Companion” may be quote lost in today’s world, but in centuries past it mean’t a lot more to carry a weapon – in particular a finely crafted blade.
A quality blade finished to high standards, and beautifully adorned like that of the Samurai’s katana was not a common item. For many people it was the only blade they ever owned, quite likely passed down from one generation to the next. It was an item that you looked after because your life could very well depend on it.
In our modern age we are no longer used to looking after things. Perhaps this is why I love high carbon steel, because it forces you to look after your investment. It needs to be treated with care, and as it ages it wears its scars, its imperfections and its history quite visibly. Much like we change with time and age so too will the blade.
When we adopt this approach to the bladed tools we carry each day, knowing very well we may depend on it to protect us, it becomes more than a simple object and it becomes a Divine Companion.
BUYING A KNIFE
Both are produced entirely by hand using the same methods, with the Masterworks series merely offering more high end and exotic materials. Occasionally Masterworks Knives will also be limited edition or even once-off designs.
I currently produce less than 200 knives a year. Irrespective of the demand this is a decision I have made so that I can focus on maintaining the high standards I’ve set for my work. I have limited my custom order book to 12 or less per month, again this is to ensure I have the time to devote to each knife and ensure that it is as perfect as I can make it.
I am just a one man shop, not a factory. I also do work slower than most other makers. This is due in part to my processes and techniques, but also down to the fact that I am very slow and methodical when it comes to my work . There are also logistical challenges like ensuring a steady supply of raw materials, most of which I have to import, and the slow pace at which most of my local suppliers move.
So, while I always do try to aim for a reasonably fast turn around of 6-8 weeks, it can quite often be longer than this. It simply takes as long as it takes. If you are the type of person who is impatient or needs instant gratification, then I’m probably not the person to order from.
Alternatively, you can keep an eye on my Instagram and Facebook pages for ready to ship knives. These are knives I have made that are in need of a home. They usually move fast, so its worth setting up your notifications for my posts if you’re looking to grab something without going through the custom order process.
For more information on ordering, please go to the Ordering page.