Hovey at the International Blade Show in Atlanta exhibiting his unique knives which are largely inspired by bronze knives made in China 3000 years ago and now produced in modern steels in rural Georgia for today’s cooks and Chefs.
Atlanta’s International Blade Show is one of the largest in the world and brings together representatives from knife companies, custom makers, suppliers, collectors and knife enthusiasts from all over the world. As a knife maker this gave me the opportunity to exhibit my knives, ask some pointed questions and get some useful criticisms. My knives are independently derived from ancient sources and one question I asked was, “Have you ever seen anything like these designs before?” This question was put to knife making companies, individuals who had been collectors for more than 40 years and even those who grew up in the industry. All gave the same answer.
I had succeeded with several of my designs to derive something that was truly original, which is a not-so-simple task when you are approaching people who have viewed millions of knives during their lifetimes, often designed knives themselves and participated in countless meetings where each company is attempting to bring out something “new” to introduce the following year to make an impact on the market. As a journalist who had covered the knife market for 20 years, much of what was “new” only consisted of putting a new type of scale or decorative elements on a pattern that was designed 60 or 80 years ago.
The Point Series with the original design in center with two variations of points on the left and right. The square hole is to both reduce weight and add a gripping area for the fingers. All these pattern are currently offered.
So what have I got that they thought was new? The oldest pattern that I produce is made after the stone hand ax of our Neanderthal ancestors who perfected the design about 1,000,000 years ago. With these stone axes they butchered huge animals the size of elephants. I derived a design of this palm knife now rendered in modern steels. So far as I know at the moment, I am the first person to offer these as commercial knives. These tools, in effect, underwent a million years of R&D. Why abandon this historical work? Instead I have adapted this design to modern use and designed knives that are basically flat pieces of steel than can skin a deer or wild hog without any difficulty. Apparently no one, but me, has made this logical leap and offered a commercial palm knife.
This Cabbage and Duck Chopper is the largest of our Hovey’s Knives of China knives and illustrates the characteristic features of a ring at the end of the grip and a pencil point with a curved fall of the blade from the top of the blade to the point.
Many of the unique knives from Hovey’s Knives of China have this distinctive ring grip, which serves as a means of hanging the knife at the work station and also to break up spices in a bowl. The sharp needle pencil point at the end of the sweeping curve allows the knife to be grasped at the front and very delicate cutting to be done even with this huge blade. This is a big knife meant to be used by a big person. It is not slammed onto the cutting surface like a cleaver (nor is the blade ground for such use), but the point is placed on the cutting surface and the blade raised, the object to be cut placed under it, and one or both hands used to cut through it. Once something like a cabbage has been quartered, then the quarters may be progressively chopped into finer and finer pieces. This blade, and all others in this series, may be ordered with a right or left-handed grind to allow precision cuts to be made through potatoes, beets and the like. This is an impressive, but very specialized, chopping knife. In average use in a kitchen a cleaver, which we also make and sell, is more effective.
This knife is not a cleaver, but is a General Cook’s Knife. In ancient China bronze was a very valuable material and the knife had to do more that cut.
This is a multi-purpose instrument. You can reach into a pot and stir with it. The blunt point is meant to be used as a scraper. The thick blade may be used to not only move products around on a grill but also to gather up products and serve them. The rounded end of the grip is simultaneously available to hang the knife up by the work place or to break up spices in a bowl. The blade is ground for right or left handed use or may be saber ground on both sides if desired to use as a light-weight cleaver. We also offer an even taller, longer blade as a heavy cleaver.
A Long-Handled Slicer is designed so that the ring fits into the palm of the hand to place the hand further away from the blade.
This knife is designed to cut vertically standing racks of meat, as often done in Greek cooking. The longer grip with its ring allows a absolutely non-slip grip to be maintained on the blade even through the knife and grip may be covered in dripping grease from the rack of meat. To my knowledge no one has incorporated both of these features into a slicing blade to provide a non-slip carving instrument for roasted meat.
The foregoing is a brief review of some of our original designs based on ancient patterns. I will have more to come. What follows are new designs that I have developed from thinking about processes that I do either to butcher and clean game or to process it in the kitchen.
My Original Designs
Aspen Leaf Skinner
A skinning knife needs to be flat to easily go between the hide and the carcass. It is also desirable that it cut on both the forward and backwards strokes. The Aspen Leaf Skinner has a double edged chisel-ground blade and an unusually long handle with a place for a thong to secure it to the wrist. In use the blade is worked back and forth. When it is deployed on the inside of the animal to detach the interior organs the thong helps it to be easily retrieved instead of fishing around in the blood and guts on the inside of a moose trying to find a razor-sharp knife. The blade’s shape is purposefully asymmetric. This allows the flatter-profile blade to be used for pointing a stick and more general use cutting, something the deeply curved blade has difficulty in doing. The production version is shown on the left and the prototype blade on the right.
Hovey ‘s Rib Chopper Prototype (Left) and Production (Right) allow the ribs to be chopped free from a standing carcass.
Detaching the ribs from a vertically hunt carcass requires a cleaver-style blade with a long handle to allow the workman sufficient clearance to swing on the carcass without nearly climbing inside of the animal. When sold the aluminum handle is wrapped in nylon cord to provide a non-slip surface. This cord may be removed and washed. The prototype was forged and ground from a lawnmower blade. The hook is used to help turn and otherwise manage a large piece of hanging meat. While the prototype had a steel pipe handle that is cored with wood, the production version uses a lighter weight aluminum grip. The result is a lighter, well-balanced tool. I have a YouTube video showing this tool in use. It is titled “Adventures in Rural Knifemaking with Hog, Hera and Half-Dog Fred” which you can view at https://youtu.be/ckKxXtMhCJo.
Sushi and Fish Knife bent prototype.
This derivation of my Alaskan Fish Knife is intended for the Sushi Chef to prevent repetitive-motion-injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The hook allows the Chef to open the fish, the broad blade lets him scrape out the insides and scale, while the handle lets him cut the heads using both hands to apply pressure to the fish. This knife may be used drawn towards the user or pushed away. Either way it allows vertical cuts through the meat to be made while the wrist is held in a natural position. I am the only person in the world to take on this particular problem by offering an ergonomically-designed knife.
Who said these were original designs?
These products were shown to representatives of Case Knives, White River Knife and Tool, Inc., and Utica Cutlery who all agreed that they had never seen knives like mine before. Similarly, two sellers of used collector’s and foreign knives who set up nearby were also asked if my knives were like anything that they had ever seen. They also replied that they had never seen anything quite like mine. Bill Schrade, a fourth-generation descendant and his wife attended the show. I promised to show him some knives that he had never seen before. That is a tall order indeed because he was brought up in the business and has been around knives from all over the world all his life. After he had examined these knifes, he agreed that I had, indeed, shown him knives that he had never seen before.