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FAQ

Q. 1. Who makes Carter Knives? 

All of our knives are forged, annealed, heat-treated, ground, polished and hand-sharpened by me personally. I sometimes have hired help to help me with basic tasks such as sand-blasting and basic handle preparation.  

Q. 2. What can you tell me about your hand-made cutlery? 

As a beginning bladesmith, I endeavored to create beautiful, big Damascus bowie knives, etc., such as were featured in many of the knife publications at that time.  However, as I continued my pursuit of cutlery, I found a passion for making kitchen cutlery and other knives for use (neck knives, etc.), rather than knives just just for display.

My goal is that my customers can enjoy "using cutlery" daily as a tool, and that it will contribute to their standard of living well beyond the first day of purchase.

Q. 3. How do you recommend sharpening Carter Cutlery?

I recommend the use of Japanese water stones to sharpen my cutlery.

In theory, sharpening is quite simple. However, in practice, it requires patience and experience to become proficient. 

I recommend my sharpening DVDs for those serious about sharpening. You can sign up on this page for my Free Knife Care and Maintenance Tips in which I cover the 7-step knife sharpening procedure.

Q. 4. How do I order from you, Murray?

First, check out our Japanese Knives link. We might have just the right knife in stock for you.

A customer can place a custom order by email, fax, phone or letter.

Q. 5. What do the Japanese terms and characters that are used both on the knives and in the catalog mean?

Explanation

A Japanese measurement of length, 1 sun = 1.19375 inch or 3.037cm.

An extremely pure (less than 0.03P and less than 0.003S) non-alloy mild steel that is used for laminating, with high-carbon steel for Japanese blades. It enables Japanese blades to be sharpened easily. Used in my Kuro-uchi series, Japanese Pro Series and my Damascus steel.

A brass alloy with color close to gold.

Equivalent to AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute) 1025. When used as an outer laminate for san-mai blades, it adds toughness and springiness to the blade.

Equivalent to the AISI 1035. When used as an outer laminate for san-mai blades, it adds even more toughness and springiness to the blade.

Carter Cutlery Blade Markings:

Mu-teki "without Rival".

Mitsuboshi Trademark symbol for "three stars", registered in the 3rd year of the Keicho era (1598).

Hon-ke "Original location" or legal owner of a business.

Indicates a White Steel #1 core.

Indicates a Blue Super Steel core.

Indicates a forge welded blade in my own shop Hon Warikomi or Hon Kasumi.

Q. 6. How long can I expect it to take for delivery and what forms of payment do you accept?

Approximate delivery times are as follows:

  • Hand-forged blade in stock -- 2 to 10 days
  • Hand-forged blade on order -- 4 to 6 months
  • Custom knife or Damascus knife on order -- 1 to 2 years

We accept personal checks (drawn on an American bank), cashiers checks, money orders, Western Union, credit card payments, and PayPal. All orders are shipped via USPS Priority Mail or Express Mail (EMS). Shipping charges include handling and insurance.

Q. 7. Why use Damascus steel?

Damascus offers a chance to incorporate more skill and expertise into the metal, compared to forging non-Damascus steel into a knife. This is due to an increase in the number of heating and forging operations.

It can be compared to the customization of a commercially available product such as a car. The more the car is modified, i.e. customized, the more the work will resemble the skills, spirit and personality of the artisan doing the work to it.

In this way, Damascus allows me to make a unique end product, and gives me the chance to put more of myself into the steel. Likewise, whether Damascus cuts well or not, reflects the ability and spirit of the smith much more than the inherent qualities of Damascus itself.

Q. 8. Tell me more about Neck Knives.

One of my favorite topics. Let me answer that with several points.

  • Using a Mammoth handle on my hand forged neck knives takes second place to none. No one regrets such a decision if they can afford the Mammoth.
  • Ironwood always looks great as well -- natural, beautiful and stable.
  • The false edge, while not sharpened because the index finger is often placed on the back of the blade for fine control, penetrates with little resistance the way that I grind them.
  • I use mosaic pins in the middle of the handle and peen regular pins at both ends to permanently secure the handle. The best of both worlds!
  • A very interesting topic, when related to neck knives, is concealed carry. I personally think that my neck knives are the way to go. They are lighter, carried more often, more ergonomic, easier to carry and classy to boot, so you are never embarrassed to take it out and use it. Therefore, one uses it more often, thus deploying it becomes second nature. You don't have to spend any extra time training with it.
  • Damascus neck knives are the "Rolexes" of the cutlery world -- affordable, portable and useful. Add mammoth ivory and you have a knife that the grandkids will be bugging you for.
  • I do occasionally wear my neck knife under a shirt and tie, but more often than not I just put it in my outer right-side pocket of my suit coat. It is instantly accessible even when sitting down (as compared to a folder knife in the pant pocket), and no one thinks twice if you casually put your hand in your suit pocket to retrieve it.

Q. 9. What are some of the more technical aspects of Carter Cutlery?

I have just spent the past few hours treating blades in a pine charcoal forge. This is work that can only be done in the evening when there is no daylight to confuse the colors.

I often forge similar knives in batches of 50 or 100. This gives me economy of motion and allows for the very best quality control. I'm able to really "get into the groove" during each repetitive motion.

Keeping a wide blade flat, straight, and untwisted after quenching in water takes considerable more time and skill than a narrow blade. I had to change the price at some point and decided on 6.5 sun because orders over that size are rare. Therefore, they become "one off" custom orders which require special attention compared to blades in the normal line-up.

The knives should come in around HRC 63-64 after I heat them in a pine charcoal fire, quench them in water, then temper them over the open flames of the forge. I use no modern measuring device for temperature, etc. It is all done by eye and experience (and a silent prayer never hurts, either).

I can only guess as to the HRC of each blade as they are all heat treated one at a time, by hand, without the aid of any modern devices.

When asked about my laminated blades, I answer the following:

My san-mai is a 30%/40%/30% combination. The 40% is my core. You need to experiment to find out what combination and forging techniques work best for you. It took me approximately 10,000 blades to figure it all out. What works for one will not necessarily work for another. As with most things, experimenting and gaining experience is the best route to success. If the steel is in the center of your laminate, it will always be in the middle, regardless of hammering or rolling. The only problem that can happen is that you grind metal away from one side or the other. I never grind the flats of my blades and therefore the steel always remains in the middle.

After I forge my blades, I sandblast them and then cold forge them which makes the surface smooth, flat and shiny. If I do it right, little sanding is necessary.

I recommend that customers keep my kitchen knives in their original box, open but in a drawer. That way the are out of harm's way, stay sharp and are instantly accessible.

Q. 10. Why do some blades chip?

There are 3 possibilities to consider when a blade has chipped or the point has broken off:

  1. The blade has a coarse grain structure, a result of overheating during the construction of the blade. Blades with fine grain structure typically will be stronger, tougher and offer better edge retention.
  2. The blade has fine grain structure, but has been insufficiently tempered, a process that compromises hardness for toughness.
  3. The blade has fine grain structure, and sufficient temper, but was pushed past its performance limits in respect to its edge geometry. This can be remedied by removing some thin metal from the blades edge by sharpening.

Q. 11. What can you tell me about resharpening damaged blades?

What sets my cutlery apart from the industrial standard is the high Rockwell hardness of the steel core and the extremely thin edge for superb keenness.

While this combination is ideal for "sharp" cutlery, it leaves the edge susceptible to "chipping" if the blade is forced to do a task for which it is not designed.

If you chip one of my blades, please return the blade to me and I will repair it for a small fee.

Resharpening does not affect the performance of the blade and is a regular form of maintenance for Japanese style cutlery.

Legitimate wear on cutlery is like the odometer on a classic motorcycle: something to be proud of.

Q. 12. What is the best maintenance for Japanese blades?

Kitchen cutlery should be lightly oiled and kept in their original boxes or away from other cutlery when stored. After use, they should be rinsed, dried and put away.

Carter cutlery should not be put in the dishwasher.

Outdoor cutlery should be treated with the same respect, lightly oiled, and returned to their sheathes after use. Any discoloration of the steel edge that will occur over time will not affect the performance of the knives. Sharpening will remove any discoloration.

Q. 13. Which is the best steel, White #1 or Blue Super?

(Technical answer)

There is no such thing as a "best" steel for every application. However, there is a best known steel for a given application. The steels I use are top quality and each are specialized in one way.

White steel, my personal favorite, is an amazingly pure steel and therefore the carbides in the steel allow for the keenest edge possible. So, when a surgically clean cut is required, such as in some type of food preparation (sushi, etc.), or in woodcarving, White steel reigns as king.

Blue Super steel is basically White steel with chromium, tungsten, molybdenum and vanadium added. This results in oddly-shaped carbides in the steel, so keenness is sacrificed somewhat. However, the new carbides enable this steel to retain its edge longer than any other grade of cutlery steel. Therefore, Blue Super steel is the king of edge retention.

(Practical answer)

While there is a scientific explanation as to the difference between the two steels, after I extensively forge them, anneal them and heat treat them by hand, the differences become less apparent. Ultimately, it is up to the customer to judge. They both produce a superior blade if I do my part.

Q. 14 How can I apply a discount to my order?

Gift certificates, promotional offers, or discount codes are only applicable to in stock inventory or scheduled services, unless noted otherwise. Discounts only apply to the order total before shipping. Promotional offers must be mentioned or indicated at the time of placing the order to receive your discount. Carter Cutlery cannot retroactively apply a discount to a past order. Only one gift certificate or discount code may be applied per order. In the event that someone feels that this is an unfair policy, give Murray a call at 503-816-6556 and he will try his best to make you feel as a valued customer.

Carter Cutlery Co.
2038 NW Aloclek Dr
Suite #225
Hillsboro, OR 97124