About the Maker

Hi, my name is Robert Trimarchi. I’m a maker situated in Footscray, Melbourne.

During my childhood I was surrounded by men and women who made, built, installed, stitched, altered, prepared, and groomed. My father was a barber, turned builder; my mother is the reason I love preparing food and appreciate the tools used in the kitchen.

I was working on various woodworking projects when I decided to take the plunge into crafting culinary tools. I proceeded to over-engineer a jig to make my first knife. That file jig was replaced in time with a motorised knife grinder and the weeks ahead were filled with constant burns, ground fingers and a lot of bandaids until the muscle memory set in.

Today, I make knives almost exclusively. It’s a craft involving many elements, processes, and various materials. Essentially, a knife is a piece of steel that cuts efficiently. However, I want my knives to be strong, sharp and comfortable with a distinctive aesthetic. Like any process that is performed by hand; it’s honest and true. The end result is a hand-crafted piece with its own individuality.

 

The Process

Making a knife is a very methodical process. Although slight changes can be made within the process, a system needs to be followed in order to maintain a level of consistency, quality, and performance. The following is a brief rundown of each process from steel stock, to precision culinary cutting tool.

Currently, I use high Carbon steels, 01, 1095 and 52100 specifically. I will grind using stainless on request but, I do enjoy the fact that carbon steel will in time patina; Patina is a natural protective layer that creates a sense of life to the steel which differs from its stainless counterpart. High carbon steel is also favoured for its edge retention and ability to develop a hamon “blade pattern”; a Japanese heat treatment technique which adds an aesthetic to the blade.

anvil and hammer for knifemaking

Forging / Stock removal

Knives can be formed by either stock removal method or hand forged.  The stock removal method requires the use of a pre designed templet to copy a profile onto a sheet of steel or bar stock.  This profile is then cut out using an angle grinder and then refined on a knife grinder.  Forging a knife can be achieved using various methods and machinery.  I currently use: a gas forge, anvil and forging hammer.  The process is much more labour intensive but feels natural and honest to the craft. Forging also introduces traditional methods such as pattern welding and integral bolsters which can only be achieved via the forge.

Heat Treat

Every carbon steel blade produced at ‘the nine.’ is normalised and heat treated in a temperature controlled heat-treatment oven. The process post heat-treat differs for high carbon and stainless steels. Stainless steels are plate quenched – cooled and placed in a sub-zero enviroment before tempering whilst high carbon steels are oil or brine quenched and tempered. All blades are tested with a hardness tester pre and post tempering to ensure the steel will perform to its full potential.

The Grind

The grind is both a physical and mental process. The initial heavy grind will remove the bulk of excess material forming the desired grind. Using varying grades of grinding belts, the refinement stage requires slight adjustments and regular sighting of the blade to further fine-tune the angles until a symmetrical or asymmetrical grind has been achieved.

Hand Finish

Although I have tried various belt configurations, nothing beats a hand-sanded finish on a knife blade. It’s a tedious process but I find it hugely rewarding and strangely relaxing.

Handle Work

Wooden handle material is hand picked and stabilised where necessary. (Stabilising is a method where the handle material is placed in a pressure chamber, saturated with stabilising resin and set under vacuum. The pieces are then placed in an oven to cure the resin within the wood). Wooden or composite handle scales are epoxied and pinned for full tang handles while hidden tangs are drilled and hollowed. Handles are then roughly shaped on the grinder and finished by hand.

Sharpening

All knives are sharpened free hand on Japanese ceramic stones, honed on a leather strop and oiled ready for the end user.