GV Knives


by Bernard Levine (c)1998;  

“In the 1840s, with a considerable effort of heating, hammering and grinding, a person could have converted an old file into a knife blade. And with a similar effort of heating, hammering, and grinding, a person could have converted a silver teapot into a doorstop. The question is: why would anyone back then have done such a wasteful and impractical thing?

A persistent popular legend, one that possibly dates back more than a hundred years, maintains that in “the old days,” people made knives from old files. The strength of this legend has prompted many an amateur knifemaker to attempt making knives from old files, with varying degrees of success. It has prompted novelists, journalists, romantic knife fanciers, and other fiction writers to invent historical scenes of famous old knives, such as the bowie knife, being forged from old files. It even prompted an entrepreneur in Havana, Illinois, in 1906 to name his butcher knife firm the “Old File Cutlery Company;” this successful firm continued in business for six decades — not once in all those years actually selling a knife made from a file.

My 2HK 100 x 1220 Belt Grinder

Both in cities and in towns, both on the farm and on the frontier, as far back as the records of history can take us, knives have been common articles of trade and commerce. Anyone, in any corner of the world, could trade a small amount of money, labor, or produce for a brand new, professionally made knife. Today you can buy a first-rate

Swiss, German, Japanese, or American kitchen knife for under $5.

For, if you look at the history of files, and look at the history of knives, it is quickly apparent that prior to this century, files were considerably more scarce, and considerably more valuable than plain working knives. And much like old knives, but unlike modern files, old files were routinely re-sharpened for use, until they were nearly worn away.”

One of my File knives