A side benefit of my regrinding and knife sharpening service is that I get to see some interesting antique knives. These August Eickhoff knives are beautifully made, have a wonderful balance, a lovely patina, and given the amount of distal taper (both on the blade and the tang) must have been forged. Eickhoff also made round knives (aka. head knives) for leatherworkers which occasionally show up for sale today. In the late 19th century, Eickhoff was located at 381 Broome St, NYC, making scissors, woodworking tools, and resharpening knives. He served on the NY Board of Education, and advertised his wares in a Teachers College Educational Monograph. It may be time to make a few reproduction Eickhoff knives.
Adam’s Practical Bookbinding has an intriguing passage regarding knives to cut binders board:
Instead of sharpening the knife, the tip is broken off, exactly the same as modern Olfa type snap-off blades, except that there were no score lines to make the snap. The description of the knife makes it sound similar to a mill knife. I’m not sure why a broken edge would be sharper or hold the edge better when cutting something as abrasive as boards. Recently on the Book Arts Listserv there was a discussion about resharpening Olfa knives to save a few pennies. Could the original broken edge be superior?
Adam, Paul. Practical Bookbinding. London and New York: Scott, Greenwood and Co. and D. Van Nostrand Co., 1903. (p. 86)
The cutting edge of this knife is slightly wider than the narrow Swiss and French knife that I currently make, but the length of the blade is wedge shaped so the area that is gripped is still comfortably narrow. Also, it has a secondary bevel, which accounts for the strange looking, extremely acute 8 degree primary bevel. The advantage of a secondary bevel is that there is much less metal to remove when resharpening or stropping. This is especially the case with a thick and wide knife like this. The primary bevel is fairly roughly ground: only half a millimeter of the secondary bevel, which is the cutting edge, is fully sharpened and polished. In a normal knife of this thickness, the length of the bevel would be about ten times this amount. Although I don’t think the time spent sharpening the bevel corresponds one to one, it does take significantly less time.
The drawback of a secondary bevel is that there is not really enough metal to feel it resting on your sharpening system, so this knife is recommended to those that have some experience in sharpening. This wide cutting edge is useful for hogging off leather for edge paring and also used in a scraping manner for headcap and spine areas. The slight wedge shape on the leather handled knife, and the rounded thumb holds on the wood version provide excellent control.
A2 cryogenically quenched steel, HRC 62. Length: 6.75 inches (171mm). Width: 1.875 inches (48mm) at cutting edge, tapering to 1.375 inches (35 mm). Thickness: .094 inches (2.4mm). Weight: about 5 oz (142 g). Primary Bevel: 8 degrees. Secondary Bevel 13 degrees.
ITEM# WRKL: Leather Handle $125.00
ITEM# WRKW: Wood Handle $225.00
Jennifer Evers, MSIS Candidate, CAS in Conservation of Library and Archival Materials (UT Austin, Spring 2011) painted and gave me this lovely watercolor of her English style A2 paring knife. Nice job! Thanks!
These are the newly designed set of lifting knives, available for sale in the tool catalog section on the left. Both of the knives are made from 01 steel, hardened to about Rc 59. This hardness results in a durable edge for the prying and cutting. The knives are polished, with no handle, so they can be used under water for backing removal. They are based on a Roger Powell design, are perfect lifting covering material, splitting boards, and mechanical backing removal. They can used by right and left handers. These knives will pay for themselves the first time you successfully lift something without having to do additional repairs. Both are 6″ long, and 1/16″ thick, half the thickness of the previous model. The large knife is 1″wide, and perfect for lifting covering materials, splitting boards and mechanical backing removal. If you are a paper conservator, and normally remove backing material with a scalpel, you will find this knife much more efficient, and safer for the user and the artifact. The small 1/2″ knife is perfect for smaller books, turnins, lifting spines between raised bands, etc…. The rounded, beveled corners allow you to twist the knife when cutting through slips, for example. These knives are the perfect union of quality, simplicity and functionality. The set includes two knives and a folding leather case, held together with magnets and protects the blades when not in use. $225.00
Above is an example of blind stamping, using just water and the heat of the type to create the impression on a piece of vegetable tanned horsebutt leather. The font is Edinburgh, brass type from P & S Engraving in the UK, the top line 14 point, the bottom two 10. I’ve had these letters for 20 years, and the wear, especially on the “Y” in “PEACHEY” is evident- time to get some replacement letters! This is the stamp on the blade cover for the new, A2 knives which has been cryogenically treated. For more technical information about cryrogenic treatments check out nitrofreeze. Please read more about the new knives in the new tools page on the right, and the results of testing in the post below which convinced me to use this new steel for leather paring knives.