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Cutlery

blades, knives, blade, trade, required, various, pocket, spring, stone and leather

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CUTLERY. Cutlery broadly considered may include any article with a cutting edge. From a trade and makers definition, it com prises only pocket knives, table knives, razors and scissors. These are four distinct and separate trades, and although all four are often carried 'on by one firm, many manufacturers confine themselves to one branch only. Pocket knives generally include all kinds of spring knives, hunting knives, etc., and table knives include carvers, butchers' and cooks' knives. In each of the four divisions of the cutlery trade, the process of manufacture is somewhat similar.

Pocket In olden times the same man made the blades, ground and finished, and fitted them to the handles, which he also made. With the development of the factory system, each branch became divided into three separate trades, viz., forgers, grinders and sutlers or hafters. Taking the process of manufacture in spring knives as typical of all branches, and as followed in Sheffield, England, and elsewhere in the old established way and carried on by those firms who have maintained a reputation for quality, many methods have been introduced in different countries to substitute various machine processes for producing blades other than forging by hand, but nothing quite to equal the hand-forged article has been produced. The steel, which should be converted from the finest brands of Swedish iron, is melted, cast into ingots, then hammered into bars and rolled in strips of width and thickness suitable for the sizes of blades required. The blade maker or forger takes one of these strips, cuts it into convenient lengths, heats to a warm red a por tion of one end, sufficient for a blade, in a clean fire of small coke, roughly hammers out the required blade and chops off from the string of steel just enough for this and the tang (i.e., the part of the blade by which it is fastened into the haft). This process is called mooding, the workmen making as many moods as required for the quantity ordered, or for his day's work. He then reheats these moods separately, and with a hammer on the various bosses fixed in his anvil, or stithy, works the tang into the re quired shape; the other end, the cutting portion of the blade, is then reheated, the nail mark put in on a boss for that purpose fixed in the anvil, the sides hammered flat, and edge of blade as thin as possible. This is all done at one heat, and is called smithing. It is this hammering from hot to cold that imparts the lasting cutting qualities,provided the blades are made of good steel. The blades then go to the grinder, who °lays the tangs, i.e., he grinds off the rough surface on that part on which the name is put; this is done by the marker with a punch used either by hand or in a fly. The blades then go back to the forger to be hardened and tempered. Each blade is heated separately and dipped in water, after which it is of a whitish gray color, having shaled— i.e., a thin outer surface has peeled off. The blade is now quite brittle, and requires tempering; this is done by slowly heating on a steel plate over the same fire as used for forg ing. The degree of temper required is judged by the color and goes from a light straw to tawny yellow, reddish brown or blue according to the different styles of blades and purposes for which they are used, pen blades being gen erally left a straw color, and pockets a reddish brown. The blades are now ready for the grinder. This man sits on a horsing,— a kind of wooden saddle,—partly under and in front of which between his legs runs a stone in a trough with sufficient water in the bottom to just catch the surface of the stone and keep it constantly wet. Grindstones vary in diameter according to the class of work to be done, and run from about 14 inches for small pen blades, to five feet for carvers, but the grinding of each is restricted to its separate trade. The blades

are set in (put into handles) in the rough ground state. In some cases in jack knives the grinder also finishes the blades, but generally this is done by others after the blades have been fixed in the hafts by cutlers. The cutler is given the necessary parts, blades, springs, scales and covering, and works these into the knife. Springs are filed out of sheet steel, except in the case of pruners and large jack knives, for which they are often forged by a spring forger; another separate trade for the workman. The spring forger also makes some kinds of scales, viz., those used for large pruning and sporting knives, and various articles other than blades that are put into knives. Generally the scales are made by scale makers, another sub sidiary trade, and the covering of stag, ivory, pearl, horn, bone or wood of various kinds comes from the cutters of these several ma terials. The cutler works to templates, or as he calls them °fitting things? This is the most complex and ingenious of the three branches in the trade; he has to bore and file each spring to his measure, harden, temper and finish the same, bore tang of blades, and fit to measure and finish the edges — fit to measure plate and bore the scales, put on the covering after the necessary preparing, then nail the several parts together and get up the haft. This is done by different degrees of filing, and grinding on glazers (wooden wheels bound with leather and dressed with glue and emery of various grades). Stag is finished on brushes, the smooth cover ings on buffs or dollies. The buffs are wheels similar to glazers, with softer leather, dressed with oil and rotten-stone or rouge, and the dol lies are made with layers of cotton cloth be tween side plates, and dressed as buffs. The cutler having made up the various parts into knives, the blades, being unfinished, have to go back to the grinder or finisher to be either glazed or polished, as required. For this, handles are wrapped up in paper or anything else that will keep them clean, and the blades left open — not more than one at each end at once. The pocket blades are whitened, i.e., re ground on a harder stone than that used for grinding, then glazed, first on a rough and then on a finer glazer, and buffed to give a brighter finish,— if required polished they go from the fine glazer to a small wooden wheel bound with leather and dressed with crocus, and which runs much slower than grindstone's or glazers. With pen blades of any quality the sides are lapped instead of glazed, i.e., the wheel on which this is done is bound with lead (run on in a mold) instead of leather; by this means a truer and better cutting edge is secured. The cheaper qualities of pen blades are finished on the glazers, either leather bound, or made of wood, without any covering, but blades so finished are inferior to those that are lapped. If polished the pen blades go from the lap to the polish as in the case of pocket blades. After finishing, the blades are wiped and greased, joints cleaned, and the knives then go to the whetter, who rubs the edges on a hone (oil stone) to remove the rough edge left by finishing. This is often done by women or girls, but the better work is always done by men. The whetter rubs the blade backwards and forwards on his stone at a slight angle so as to leave a thin white line called the kennel along the edge on either side of the blade. The knives are then wiped by women. joints oiled, wrapped up and put in boxes, and are ready for market.

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