Heritage Crafts

Knife making

The making of knives, such as kitchen knives and bushcraft knives. See the separate entry for folding knife making.
Currently viable
Craft category
Metal, Wood
Historic area of significance
Area practiced currently
There are still larger companies in Sheffield. Individual makers are working across the UK.


The craft of knife making has prehistoric origins and first existed in a form of chipping stones and were used for hunting and survival purposes. Knives’ design evolved into the contemporary shape we know now in the Iron Ages. The only significant difference since then is the improvement in the quality and types of steel and the way it’s manufactured for durability and utility, but the process of blacksmithing and forging remains all the same.


The techniques of making knives universally consist of blade making and handle making.

The blade is usually made using any or a combination of following processes – stock removal, forging to shape (by forging or blanking), welded lamination, investment cast. The metals used for the blades are usually from the steel family – carbon steel and stainless steels. Different steels have different functionalities and applications and differ in edge retention, corrosion resistance, sharpness and hardness.

Handles are usually made from a range of materials such as wood, brass, plastic or polymer.


Allied craft:

  • Folding knife making

Issues affecting the viability

  • Legislation: There are various laws applying to the sale of knives
  • Recruitment issues: Difficulty in finding people who want to work in manufacturing as people don’t want to get their hands dirty.

Support organisations

Craftspeople currently known

Other information

Total number of craftspeople: A Wright & Son of Sheffield manufactures knives, folding knives and swords and does hand grinding in-house. They have a workforce of ten people – five older people, and five younger people whom they train from scratch, and everyone does a bit of everything.

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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