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How Bladesmith Quintin Middleton Hand-Forges Damascus Steel Knives

By blending different material and styles, the South Carolina-based forger makes truly unique knives

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At Middleton Made Knives in South Carolina, Quintin Middleton makes Damascus steel chef knives by welding two types of steel together. The bladesmith extends the concept of “blending” into his forging process as well. “My style is Japanese a little bit, but I take bits from the Japanese culture and the European culture, and kind of blend it together to make my own,” he says.

The blending of styles can be seen in the bunka knife he makes in our video, which combines design elements of rectangular Japanese nakiri knife, and a pointed European-style chef’s knife. Aside from the expert craftsmanship, what makes Middelton’s knives truly unique is the pattern on the blade. The wavy design appears after applying a chemical called ferric chloride, which highlights the contrast in the two types of steel. “I want to make the grain pop because we went through the whole process of using two types of steel,” he says of his signature mark.

“The reason I got into knife making is a boy’s love of making a sword,” he says, referring to sword-brandishing childhood heroes like Conan the Barbarian, He-Man. “That’s where the passion for swords, or knives, or adventure really started.” As a teen, he had the opportunity to be mentored by a master bladesmith. After learning how to make many types of knives and swords, Middleton decided to focus on making chef’s knives. He shadowed chefs in professional kitchens as they used his knives, then went back to the drawing board to refine his design and technique. Now, his pieces are highly regarded by chefs, and have been featured in magazines like Food & Wine and Martha Stewart Living.

“Instead of doing thousands at a time, I’m doing one knife at a time and I’m paying attention to the small details, the little things that come from my 18 years of making knives, my experiences, my mistakes,” Middleton says. “I’m putting everything inside that knife. Each and every knife I make.”