I mentioned that I got a knife for Christmas made by a local blacksmith that I was going to have to learn to use. The knife was made by Andy Waller, a blacksmith here in Oxford. There had been a blacksmith here in Oxford named Mr. Hall, who’d had a shop on Tyler Avenue, the alley running down from South Lamar, in a space behind both what was once the Gin and what was once Murfs. He opened the shop after returning from shoeing horses for the Army in Texas during WWI; he’d been a blacksmith since before that, learning where he’d grown up in Ripley. When I was in high school and college, I would go and hang out in his shop, where Mr. Hall welcomed any visitors. Andy bought Mr. Hall’s anvil and other tools when Mr. Hall finally retired in the late 70s, and has them in his blacksmith’s shop out where he lives on an old section line road near College Hill. The anvil is pictured below in Andy’s shop.
Sometime in the Fall at a local craft show, I saw a beautiful knife that Andy had made. As did Mr. Hall, Andy begins with automobile spring steel. The knife looked to me to be a great kitchen tool, and just simply a beautiful thing. I didn’t buy it, but instead asked Andy to make me a pairing knife. And, on Christmas, my wife gave me the knife I’d admired.
Here’s the pair. Andy made a sheath for the knife I’d originally seen, which I didn’t initially think I’d need, but my knife block is full in my knife drawer, and it turns out to be a handy way to take care of it.
Here’s a closer picture of the deer bone handle he made (the handle on the paring knife is Osage orange or bois d’arc wood, which I liked getting because Mr. Hall favored that for knife handles) . These pictures do not do justice to the knives.
Both knives have thicker blades than I’m accustomed. What that means at least with the larger one is that it’s just a different tool to be used in a slightly different way. It slices extremely steadily and straight– it’s ideal for anything that needs a long cut in a straight line. It’s nice and sharp and makes quick work of chopping vegetables. The blade is too thick for it to be a carving knife. I’ve used the paring knife slightly less but like it a great deal, too.