[2008-07-17] The remarkable beauty of one-piece cable damascus knives

A collection one-piece of cable damascus knives; the four at left are of the variety which interests me.  They feature one piece construction by forging from steel cable, which has been doubled over to form the handle, where it is still identifiable as cable.

The above photo is from Wayne Goddard's outstanding book $50 Knife Shop. It shows a collection of what Goddard calls "all-steel wire damascus knives." "Cable damascus" seems to be a more common term for knives forged from wire cable manufactured for some other purpose. "Wire damascus" seems to commonly denote knives forged from billets of twisted wires manufactured solely for the purpose of forging a knife. My interest is solely in the former variety, that is, in cable damascus knives that have been manufactured by forging an old piece of wire rope. Even more particularly, I like cable damascus knives which are of one-piece construction, like those shown in the photo, without any other materials or parts such as bolsters, handle scales, etc. Finally, and most particularly, I like one-piece cable damascus knives like those shown at left in the above photo, which feature a doubled-over length of the original wire rope forged in as a handle.

I find this very particular artifact (especially the upper leftmost example) rather astoundingly beautiful in its elegant minimalism. Here is one material (wire rope) and one process (forging) which provides for the transformation of a common piece of trash into a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, fine handmade tool. What's more, as beautiful as the resulting knife is, it is utterly unpretentious, even to the point of being proud of its humble origins by showing them off in the handle. A single piece of steel, expertly crafted to be beautiful, functional, and entirely complete without the need for any kind of ornament or secondary material, and with a hip "creative reuse" twist to boot.

last modified 2008-07-17