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Knives Fit For A Samurai!

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There are fewer joys in the world than slicing seamlessly through a ripe tomato with a sharp knife. Sadly, that experience is often a rarity – why do so many of us put up with frustratingly blunt kitchen knives?

Enter Hinoki, the Japanese and Australian made brand, directed by Hamish Grace. Combining Samurai-era knife-making techniques, and contemporary design, this brand is a cut above the rest!

28th October, 2019

Photo – Daniel Herrmann-Zoll, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

Photo – Daniel Herrmann-Zoll, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

Photo – Daniel Herrmann-Zoll, Styling – Nat Turnbull.

Miriam McGarry
Monday 28th October 2019

‘Once you experience these details for yourself, it is very difficult to go back to a Western blade’ – Hamish Grace.

Hamish Grace explains that the Hinoki brand is a little different to other knives on the market, as their production is split across continents, between Japan and Australia. The blades are developed over 103 individual steps (!) in Sakai, a city renowned for metalsmiths and with a lineage back to the time of the samurai. Hamish explains ‘when the samurai were banned from carrying katanas (single-edged blade sword) at the end of feudalism, many swordsmiths switched to making cooking knives.’

The blades may no longer be used in martial arts, but the precision and techniques continue the tradition. The process is so precious that not even Hamish is allowed to know the technique of finishing the blades with a black oxide treatment!

Once forged, sharpened and (secretly) treated, the blades are sent to Adelaide, where Lex the handle maker brings his Scandinavian training to handcrafting timber handles. He uses Japanese woodworking techniques of ‘shou sugi ban’ – a process of charring wood, cooling it, and finishing with natural oil to preserve the wood and protect against decay. (There are NO short-cuts in the making of these knives!)

These processes not only create an aesthetically beautiful object, but Hamish highlights that all of these time-tested techniques create a ‘far higher level of hardness’ which results in a blade with a finer, razor sharp cutting angle that retains its sharpness for longer that Western-made options. He emphasises ‘once you experience these details for yourself it is very difficult to go back to a Western blade.’

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net