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New Team, New Tools for Cut Throat Knives

Creative People

We’ve seen such a huge interest in artisan knife making over the past two years. At the start of this resurgence, the first local knife maker we featured was Aidan Mackinnon, a passionate blade smith who launched his business, Cut Throat Knives, in 2014.

This month, we revisit Aidan to talk tools, business growth and ‘Kaizen’, in partnership with Dremel.

 

6th November, 2017

Aidan Mackinnon established Cut Throat Knives in 2014. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘We’ve grown from a one-man operation to two full time bladesmiths, one part-time, and a leatherworker,’ tells Aidan (pictured centre beside apprentice bladesmith Faustina Delany and woodwright/bladesmith Reza Bolouri). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Faustina in the workshop. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘We are committed to creating a uniquely Australian Kitchenware brand,’ tells Aidan. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Aidan using the Dremel VersaTip, his choice tool for fine detailing and texturising. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Aidan at work in the Coburg North workshop. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Cut Throat Knives has expanded its line-up to include five regular kitchen knives, beautiful end grain chopping boards, a line of leather chef rolls and leather aprons, in addition to their limited edition blades. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Monday 6th November 2017

‘The concept of ‘Kaizen’, continuous improvement, influences everything we do’ – Aidan Mackinnon.

It’s been a busy two years for Melbourne knife maker Aidan Mackinnon. Since we first discovered his work back in 2015, Cut Throat Knives has gathered a huge following, and Aidan has significantly expanded his business, moving from a small workshop to two much larger studios, and taking on employees.

We recently caught up with Aidan to catch up on the growth of his business, latest collaborations, and his constantly evolving craft.

Aidan, we’ve seen such a huge interest in artisan knife making since we first discovered your work back in 2015! What have you been focusing on since we last spoke?

Cut Throat Knives has been going at full pace. We’ve grown from a one-man operation in a tiny room, to two full time bladesmiths and a leatherworker.

We’ve also expanded our range to include five kitchen knives, beautiful end grain chopping boards and a delicious line of leather chef rolls and leather aprons.

Importantly, all of this is still handmade in Melbourne.

Do you feel your knife designs are always evolving?

The concept of ‘Kaizen’, continuous improvement, influences everything we do. Our goal is to make each knife as the best knife that we can make. In this way, we are constantly refining our knives and constantly evolving.

I don’t ever want to get to a place where I am perfectly happy with what we do, it will mean that I’ve lost the ability to push this craft to the next level.

You’ve just released a unique collaboration of knives and sporrans with a prominent taxidermist ! Can you tell me a little bit more about this project?

Sure! We worked together with Scottish Vegan Taxidermist The Dapper Dead to bring about the wildest Cut Throat Knives limited edition ever.

The Dapper Dead brings 21st century Scottish approach to taxidermy, only using roadkill or animals which have died naturally for their kilt accessories.

We worked together to create a limited edition run of six sets of a Sporran and a ‘Sgian Dubh’. Our take on the Sgian Dubh redefines the traditional kilt accessory, featuring a shaped tang that reflects the matching sporran, and a transparent handle.

This was a side step from our normal offering of kitchen knives and tools, but we love working with creative people!

Since expanding your team, what new tools and machinery have you added to your workshop?

Wow where to begin. I was operating off a single 48inch grinder when we last chatted.

Since then we’ve got three 72 inch grinders, a disc grinder, 2 drill presses, two electric kilns, a forge with a forge press a rolling mill and a sand blaster!

We’ve also got a number of Dremel tools, which we use for their versatility.

The Dremel 4300 is used for fine detailing, and for creating texturing on certain parts of the the handle. We splashed out and got the flex shaft tool, which makes it even more useful for the fine work that it excels at.

And we’ve just got access to the Dremel Versatip Butane Torch, which we are very excited to start doing some pyrography with. We’ve got a selection of different pyrography tips to pursue this new element of what we do. This has become my new favourite tool and I’m still getting used to it, but the ability to quickly and easily take up the art of pyrography is very exciting.

What is the most exciting thing about being a knife maker in Melbourne today? And on the other hand, what is the most challenging?

It’s really exciting to see the community of knife makers growing in Melbourne so much, and the support we’ve had from industry and the broader public has been fantastic.

The challenge is still in communication. When people think chef knives they think about Solingen Germany or Seki Japan, our goal is to make them think Melbourne.

Where can our readers find you?

We are very excited to be back at the Big Design Market next month, and we are working incredibly hard to have enough stock that we will not be sold out by the last day!

We should have a nice selection of all our core knife offerings, our leather line-up, some end grain boards and we will have a couple of complete one-off pieces as well… hopefully some with some pyrography as well.

Catch Aidan and his team at the Big Design Market, December 1st – 3rd at Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building.

 

Since inventing the high-speed rotary tool more than 80 years ago, Dremel has become the most trusted name in its category, providing creative solutions for hands-on designers, craftspeople and artists. Dremel’s leadership in design and manufacturing has made it the top selling rotary tool in the world, a reflection of the company’s commitment to innovation and quality.

For information on Dremel products, project ideas and problem-solving tips, visit the Dremel website, here

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.