Updated: Feb 27, 2021
There is no clean way to make a knife.
To make a knife you need to get dirty. Literally. At the end of the day you wind up looking like a chimney sweep in a Dickensian novel. And figuratively. By getting down and dirty with the process. From the rhythmic hammering of metal on anvil to the silky smooth caress of hand sanding a knife, the process is a sensuous waltz played out on the shop floor where power tools become surogate dance partners and the blade is the belle of the ball. It's Dirty Dancing meets Popular Mechanics (if anyone cared to make a musical about a backyard blacksmith).
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...”
And along the way you you get covered in dust. Head to toe. Looking like a coal miner at the end of a full day underground may not be most people's idea of glamorous, but to a knife maker it's a badge of honor. As Teddy Roosevelt exclaimed, "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
I am squarely in the striving valiantly phase of things where there are plenty of errors to go along with the successes. There is no perfect knife, only the desire to make a perfect knife. So I keep going and getting dirtier by the day. Forge on everyone.