OUR MATERIALS AND PROCESS
At the root of Koivu Knives is a passion for repurposing unique materials left behind from a bygone era. We are salvage hunters, unearthing visually striking components with a fascinating provenance that transform a basic kitchen tool into something incredibly special.
From distinct, curious wood that offers a glimpse into the past, to impressive steel that once powered an industry; every material we select has its own story to tell. We champion the reclaiming of vintage materials into functional items made for the modern world. Efficiency and exceptional performance are just as important as beauty – our handmade kitchen knives have substance as well as style.
With a rich source of old growth wood from the felling and maintaining of the many green spaces and trees, the metropolis of London is a surprisingly significant source of our materials. Sometimes though, the components we utilise are well-travelled. We have crafted custom kitchen knives from old Vietnamese railway track spikes, reindeer antlers shed by the livestock of the indigenous Sami people in remote northern Lapland, and even pine roots “bogwood” from the bottom of a lake in central Finland!
A carbon steel knife offers superior cutting performance, so we source the highest possible quality by scouring scrap yards, auctions and trusted antique shops to find it. We test the steel to determine its suitability, each knife being individually “Rockwell Hardness” tested to ensure it will continue to perform to a professional standard over time.
We love to use old sawmill blades from the 1950s for their quality and their link to our industrial heritage. So when you’re slicing through that Sunday roast, you’re channelling the past and repurposing it for the present. Plus, you’ll have a great tale to tell at the dinner table.
These are crafted from wood, which takes around 6 months to cut, season, and stabilise to make it suitable for use. The handles often also feature non-ferrous and semi-precious metals like copper and brass, which may be smelted down to add characterful details. One fantastic find was some leftover copper from the bar of the Spread Eagle pub in Hackney. It lent a real artisan quality to the custom chef knives it was used on.
Through previous careers, we have connections to London tree surgeons and bespoke carpentry businesses. This is where we source the wood for our handcrafted kitchen knives, meaning we get the pick of freshly-cut timber from unusual tree species in interesting locations. London’s trees are full of surprises. Sometimes, we find shrapnel embedded deep within the wood – remnants of bomb blasts during the Second World War.
We have also had people bring us randomly discovered wood, like the rare piece of African zebrawood found in a church cellar in Acton, West London. It remains a mystery how or why it got there.
The Completed Knife
We document the individual provenance of every material used, providing customers with a written copy so their stories are not forgotten. This makes us more than just custom kitchen knife makers. We are storytellers, passing on a slice of heritage you can grasp in your hands while doing something as simple and timeless as chopping vegetables for dinner.