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Every Richard Harris knife is designed using reclaimed materials to inspire a curiosity, creativity and intent with your ingredients. When you deliberately slow down in the kitchen, you have a purpose of creating thoughtful food that nourishes the lives around you.

ETHOS

Made in England and exclusively using reclaimed steel, I breathe new life into materials that would otherwise be forgotten or discarded.

ONE-OF-A-KIND

My goal is to let the unique qualities of the materials shine through. No two knives I make are the same. No mass production found here.

LIFETIME WARRANTY

Prepare a lifetime of food with my knife - I've built it to last. Every knife comes with a lifetime warranty.

AGING GRACEFULLY

Due to my unique material choices, every part of your knife will age gracefully and look even more beautiful as the years pass.

RECLAIMED
IRON
I find this material
completely fascinating:
reminding us of our
industrial past
& giving a new and entirely
different life
to a discarded material
Typically 60-100 years old,
originally made in Sheffield, England.
This english oak was reclaimed
from farmland in Devon
in 1998.
I only use locally sourced
hardwoods that are
slow grown and
sustainably sourced.
They all hold a beauty that is
revealed through careful
shaping & carving...
SUSTAINABLE
TIMBER

Forging a Sigourney Cleaver kitchen knife for Steve 🙂

Made from reclaimed antique Sheffield steel, in a laminated construction with stunningly unique piece of English burr elm for the handle.

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    I recently had the honor of making Steve a sourdough knife.

    What was unusual is that the steel I used was actually reclaimed from the company Steve worked for many decades ago, Samuel Osborn & Co, Sheffield. When Steve first contacted me and mentioned his personal history, the company rang a bell… so I looked through my quite limited supply of reclaimed steel and sure enough, it was there! A quite sizable piece of steel clearly stamped with the Osborn & Co name and logo.

    I believe strongly in using reclaimed materials.

    Thinking differently about our resources and how it affects our every day lives… and futures.

    This personal connection to the material adds another layer of meaning to me.

    I’m very proud of what I was able to create for Steve and hope it serves him and his family for many years to come!

    Q: How long have you been baking sourdough for?

    My Sourdough journey started 6 years ago after I bought my first by Emmaunuel Hadjiandreou “How to make Bread” and since then added so many more from Vanessa Kimbell and loved “Sourdough” by Casper Andre Lugg and Martin Ivar Hvem Fjeld.

    Q: When did you start working at Samuel Osborn & Co ? And what sort of work did you do there?

    I started work at Osborn Steels at the Ecclesfield plant when I was 17 years old and spent 4 years with the company and progressed from a “Slinger” which basically loaded the machines with raw billets for processing to the youngest Radiac Operator where a cut billets to size for the next leg of the processing.

    Interestingly I had 5 Uncles and my step father who all worked in the same factory doing different roles from forging to machining.

    Q: Did you enjoy your time there?

    I loved my time at Osborn Steels it was “proper work” hard graft, sweaty and well paid and worked with honest working class Guys however I decided to move to British Steel Corporation a behemoth of the steel industry in1977 because the money and career prospects were much better as I have always been ambitious and wanted to better myself.

    I left British Steel in 1982 so in total 7 years in the Industry.

    Q: A favourite memory of the workplace?

    My favourite memory was the people, real people no bullshit, straight talking Yorkshire blokes that grafted hard, enjoyed a pint and lived and worked to look after their families.

    Q: Do you recall what sort of tools they were making during your time there?

    Osborn Steels made a lot of steel products that then went onto for finishing at Rolls Royce and other large engineering companies.

    Q: Did you experience/witness some of the decline of British steel/industry?

    I didn’t really see a decline of the industry, however a number of my Uncles stayed to the very end and left the business demoralised and out of work and went through Government retraining schemes.

    Q: How does it feel to have your own sourdough knife made from reclaimed steel originally created by Samuel Osborn & Co?

    To have my own sourdough knife made from Osborn Steels is part of my history, its authentic and will be part of my history and in a way surreal as it feels I am coming full circle on the journey of my life.

    Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

    Sourdough has enhanced my life, I love the authenticity of every bake plus the health benefits and the pure joy of sharing my bakes with friends and family and its opened up new relationships with like minded people…

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    • Derrick29/09/2021 - 6:23 pm

      What an amazing piece of steel and a wonderful bit of his-story, our story and history! ReplyCancel

    • Petsmile06/01/2022 - 12:26 am

      Great content! Keep up the good work!ReplyCancel

    I’d struggle to find a title that sums up the last two years of my life better than “drunk on wrought iron“…

    What I’d actually like to share with you is a small extract from the book “How It Is Made” (1907), by Archibald Williams, which I picked up at an Oxfam only a couple of years ago. I was already well into my wrought iron forging adventure, so as you can imagine, I was delighted to find something written from the early 1900’s about the manufacturing of wrought iron.

    It didn’t disappoint.

    There were some interesting details on how the furnace is constructed and the puddling process, but I am often more interested in the human story of how these things came to be…

    Puddling, especially the balling part, is very hard work, probably the hardest work required in the iron industry. The heat issuing from the opened working door distresses a visitor even if he stands a good distance away. This I know from personal experience. So you will easily understand that a man who has to stand close to the door, and at the same time move nearly a hundredweight of iron with a heavy tool, has a rather hard time of it. Though clad in the lightest possible garments (and in very few of them), he perspires freely at every pore, and in the intervals of puddling is obliged to replace frequently the moisture he has lost. If wise, he chooses barley-water, or some other non-alcoholic drink; if unwise, beer.

    A story was told me by a gentleman well acquainted with the iron-makers and their ways which illustrates in a very positive fashion the relative values of the two classes of drinks to a man who has to perform such strenuous work as puddling. There was in a certain ironworks a teetotal “gang” – a father and three sons – who had to endure a considerable amount of chaff from their non-abstaining fellows. In order to show that a man who drank barley-water was a “man for a’ that”, they challenged any four of their mates to do as good a week’s work and earn as much money as they. This challenge was promptly accepted, and both parties fell to. Now, puddling at ordinary speed is exhausting, but puddling against time taxes human endurance to the utmost. The moral of this tale lies int he fact that at the end of the week the teetotalers were sadly weary men, but still able to use their rabbles, and the non-abstainers were… in hospital.

    After that, barley water was met with greater respect”.

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      A few months back I was listening to Jonathan Pryzbyl of Proof Bakery (Mesa/AZ) interview his local flour miller. If you’ve got the sourdough bug, I highly recommend his youtube channel – Amanda, Jonathan and his team give a really interesting insight into what it’s like to run a 100% artisan sourdough bakery. I really admire their pursuit of not only doing things the slower, more nutritious way with sourdough, but also using better flours and higher percentages of local wholegrain flours.

      I love listening to people who work with raw materials such as bakers and millers, as there are a lot of similarities with what I do.

      Hearing Jonathan talk about the pride he has in his sourdough croissants, you learn so much about how his process has changed since he took over Proof Bakery. From whacking a giant block of butter into a square by hand and doing everything as an ambient proof, to having a precise control over his temperature and time at every stage of the proof. To using a laminator and even having new pastries to experiment with from mastering the process.

      I’m not sure I’ll ever made croissants again

      Have you ever tried making croissants? It absolutely ruined me. I hold my hands up and admit I am NOT a pastry maker. I don’t have a sweet tooth… so the bread I make every week is really all I bake. But when I tried making croissants with friends a couple of years ago… sorry Chris, let’s be honest… they were absolutely awful. Not even recognisable as croissants… if you saw them in the street, you’d think “Oh, that poor squirrel got ran over!”.

      They were that bad.

      And that was with using good old predictable instant bakers yeast.

      Sourdough croissants seems like you’re trying to tame a wild beast that takes over a day to calm down. Not fun, unless you’ve put the blood, sweat, tears and months of work into nailing down the process.

      Something I’ve taken away from hearing about Proof Bakery and their millers, is the idea of process and waste and how they interact with each other.

      Nothing is standardised with Reclaimed Materials

      When I begin forging a Nakiri (a thin knife designed for chopping fruit and veg), I’m not simply stamping or cutting out the shape of the knife like a machine would in a big factory. I’m not even starting with a standard bar stock to which I begin forging. As it’s reclaimed, the material new re-treating and the surface preparing before I can even begin forging.

      Even then, every piece of reclaimed steel is a different dimension. That means gauging the material I need to forge the basic shape challenging at times. More often than not, I try to over estimate by about 5-10%, so to allow for any error or misjudgement…. as you can always stretch at manipulate the steel, but you can’t create something from nothing.

      What this means is sometimes blades are a fraction longer than intended. It’s something I communicate with my clients (I always offer the choice of shortening if required). It’s only been a positive.

      In this case the process itself inherently creates something that is a “waste” of sorts, but when passing it over to you, it’s only been a positive or at least allowed an extra choice a bonus.

      Underdeveloped Process Passes Waste Forward

      There is a new concept I’ve been working on for the paste couple of years. It’s been a great learning experience for me as I’ve learned about an entirely different material and technique. A year and a half ago, if I were to release this concept then, I would have been passing over my inefficient process as waste to you. An inefficient and underdeveloped process means much more time and materials – that you pay for.

      It’s why I spend months if not years testing these things out. I don’t want a process that doesn’t work for me and that you end up paying more for – or that with the combination of those two, just isn’t viable at all.

      Some of you may be wondering, why waste your time with something like that? Why not just make things you know work?

      It’s true that most of this doesn’t really make sense a lot of the time. The only way I can explain it is this….

      Creating something with my own hands, learning about new materials, creating new ideas and these being what connect me with like minded people who use the tools I make in their lives everyday… That is a big part of what drives me forward and interests me.

      So if I just stopped exploring new things, even when they perhaps don’t make much sense at all… I’m not sure there would be much point continuing.

      Waste Less Forging

      One afternoon I thought I’d experiment with a forge-only concept. Something that’s made almost exclusively with fire and hammer. I came up with this small herb chopper, as you see below. Overall, it felt like a success. It was reasonably quick to make and as it’s made entirely from reclaimed steel (no other fixtures), the whole process is vastly simplified. The heat treatment done by fire and eye (so no waiting for the kiln). It is much simpler compared to my other work but still made in the same spirit.

      It was definitely fun to be able to take something that’s essential old scrap and make it into a beautiful tool in a matter of a couple of hours. I don’t think I’ll make them regularly available though, but rather as something I can make here and then to take a breather from other tasks. Perhaps I could make a few available for Christmas gifts?

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        Yesterday, an Instagram ‘memory’ popped up on my screen saying that it had been two years since I’d began prototyping the sourdough bread knife.

        Two years!

        It felt like I’d been making them for much longer than two years, but then with everything that’s happened to all of us over the past year, you can lose some sense of time. As I thought back to all the wonderful people who’d commissioned me to forge one, I started to realise this algorithm can probably add up more reliable than I can.

        Sourdough knife, hand forged from reclaimed antique Sheffield steel, with a spalted beech handle and hammered brass bolster. Featuring a distinctive “k-tip”.

        The first prototypes that actually went out into the wild were tested by Jack Sturgess of Bake with Jack and Vanessa Kimbell of The Sourdough School and Sourdough Club. So much has changed with how I make these, it’s almost an entirely different knife now.

        If you follow me, you’ll see that each knife I forge has it’s own personality. I’m not trying to pump out knives that all look the same and fall into that grey of nothingness.

        Design Principles

        From the beginning, the principles of the sourdough knife were always going to be important. I have been baking bread from my early teenage years, much longer than I’ve been forging hot iron. So as with all of my work, it’s my intent for it to come from the place of the cook, not the knife maker.

        I always have in my mind: “What could this be to the baker? How would they use it? Why would they use it?“. Obviously I think about the technical solutions to everything in mind-numbingly extensive detail but I don’t believe that should be the driving force behind what I create.

        Sourdough knife hand forged from reclaimed antique Sheffield steel, with a antique wrought iron bolster and 4000 year old ancient bog oak handle.

        A Slower Process

        We put so much energy into our sourdough baking. We capture the this wild yeast that exists all around us and create the starter that becomes the lifeline of all our sourdough creations for years to come. It’s such a slow, deliberate process, that I feel connects us with the natural world through the grains we use to make this artisanal nutritious bread.

        Flour, water, salt.

        Is anything as humble and beautiful as this?

        The past few months I’ve been using the MockMill that our kind friends Joe & Laura gifted me for my birthday. It’s opened up a whole new world of choice and flavours, but also a whole new world of fermentation. This is a 50% fresh ground hard red wheat sourdough.

        The first several sourdough knives I made were a real challenge. The truth is, even through extensive prototyping, I still felt very much outside of my comfort zone. A long, skinny blade with bitingly sharp teeth… it may sound easy, but forging anything long and skinny is just a world of problems unless you know how to work with them.

        The best way I can describe it is if you have a ten step process and step 1 is less than perfect, you will find yourself chasing that minor imperfection through step 2, 3, 4 etc. And there is an accumulative effect where any minor imperfection can just become worse, where you eventually need to scrap it and start again.

        My method for forging, heat treatment, grinding, assembly, sharpening… everything has changed. Some of them dramatically. Now, thankfully (!), each step feels like it flows beautifully into the next.

        So two years on, my creative process and outlook is more like this:

        1. Always think about my client. What this tool is intended to do, how it will live in their life now and in the future. Always work on improving this.
        2. Have clear design principles that allow everything to work. Always work on improving this.
        3. Use 1 & 2 to inform what I do but not lock me rigidly in one place.

        I think this allows me to create a positive experience and a happy client, whilst giving me creative freedom. I believe this idea of clear design principles is essential… as it can’t ever mean “cut a blank of steel out into this shape”.

        As then it’s just like any other knife stamped out in a factory.

        Thank you

        Above all, as time has passed, more than the fun of making these tools that I hope will be passed down the generations, I am filled with love and gratitude for those who have supported me throughout this journey. It’s been a real joy, but even when things have been tough, some of you kind people have supported me as well… It’s been staggering at times. I’m just a guy whacking away at some hot iron. I’ve been very touched by all of the support I’ve had from you all… some of which goes way beyond anything I’d ever come to expect or image. So, thank you! Without knowing I’m making these for you… it would be purposeless.

        Something New…

        Soon will be the time to announce a new concept that I’ve been working on for a long time. I’ve been really excited to share it with you, it’s just not been the right time yet. Both for personal reasons and also because I’ve been working on refining the process for over a year. We’re pretty much there now…

        Stay tuned!

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          "Richard’s conscientious approach to bespoke knife making is a true model for the future .

          If you want to cut your sourdough with tangible history, check out Richard Harris Knives."

          - Andrew, Los Angeles/USA

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