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Carter Cutlery February '08 Newsletter


Whitecrane Knife News

I can't wait for decent weather so that I can get busy with a new batch of Whitecrane Utility/Fighting knives. The first batch, which we completed and had up on our website for sale, sold out in a matter of days. This knife really is the most innovative design since I started making neck knives several years ago. After wearing and using mine for several weeks, I can confidently say, never before has such a large knife been so well concealed on the body so comfortably. It is accessible by either hand in any posture.  The knife is a handful of cutting fury, a long slender scary sharp blade and a beautifully polished choice handle. What makes it all come together though, is the well thought out and executed Kydex sheath. Made from one thick and one thin piece of Kydex, the sheath actually has a slight curve in it to conform to the curve of your hip where it is worn. The clip on the sheath is another engineering wonder; it can clip on your belt without the need to undo your belt and thread it through. The clip is so effective; there is no way to pull the sheath out when drawing the knife. It really is a sight to behold.  Everybody who sees it wants one. If only we had a Whitecrane knife tree growing in the backyard... I suggest calling to make a deposit on a Whitecrane knife from the next batch. The price is $440.00 plus shipping. 

Murray, writing
a book... ?!

With all the abnormally cold weather, it has been hard to put in 8-10 hour days outside, especially out on the sharpening stones, grinding blades. My biggest scar, 7 stitches on my left thumb, came from sharpening a sushi knife years ago, with cold numb hands. I know, some of you manly men will laugh at only 7 stitches, but what can I say, I've led a sheltered life. Ha!  During this inclement weather, I've been cutting the bladesmithing time back to about 6 hours a day. This has worked out fine because I have spent a considerable time indoors, typing on my laptop, writing the rough draft of a very exciting book. I've got more than 80 type-written pages so far, and it keeps on coming! I'll share more details about the book in the months to come. Everyone who is involved in the project is super excited to see it come together. I've been honored that some of the top names in the industry are contributing to the effort.  Stay tuned...

Carter Cutlery in
the News

One of the best things that happened to me in my adult life was the day I realized that the world doesn't revolve around me.  Part of the responsibility that comes with that realization, is recognizing the people around me who are helpful and contribute to our success. I publicly recognized Steven Dick of Tactical Knives in the October '07 Newsletter, and Ed Fowler in the November '07 Newsletter. This month I would like to share with you an article from the newspaper "Vernonia's Voice" in which we honored a local hero.


January '08 Reno Knife Show News

My recent business trip to Reno was a great success. Tim and I worked very hard leading up to the show, and were pleased with the inventory we were able to take and show.  As a business team, we discussed what our expectations of the show were. Expectations not only in sales, but more importantly, in establishing a relationship with new customers. We surpassed them by a margin of 70%.

Bladesmithing School

The April course #302  (Forge welding and completion of a Damascus Steel Knife) has sold out.  Look for a report in May's newsletter.

The next class is #301 (Forge welding, forging and completion of a Kuro Uchi Series Knife).  Seats are available, but filling up fast.  This course is limited to four students.  Course date is May 23-35, 2008.

June will bring us three course options.

#100 (Introduction to Japanese Bladesmithing)

#101 (Forging and completion of a Personal Neck Knife)

#102 (Forging and completion of a Stainless Fuku-go Zai series Kitchen Knife)

See WEB site or call for more information on upcoming courses.





Dear Friends,

We've been having very odd weather up here in the North West lately. Let's see, we've had snow, followed by rain, followed by snow, followed by rain, well, you get the point. The rain we expect, but not snow. My bladesmith shop, commonly referred to as a forge, is not heated, and my sharpening/grinding stones are outside. Tim has been kind enough to light the forge each morning, with scraps of wood that need to be disposed of anyway. The problem is that all the heat just goes up the chimney likes it's supposed to, and apart from the heart warming crackle of burning wood and the visual stimulation, it barely raises the temperature inside. So next week the local A/C/heater man is installing a gas space heater that filters the air to boot. Should have done it sooner, but better late than never. Just in time for this month's bladesmithing school, I might add.  

Want to know one of the secrets of Carter Cutlery...
Read on...

Since arriving in the U.S., I have given up most of my bad habits that I had developed in Japan. That's not to say that Japan is a bad place, but the temptations can be overwhelming for an 18 year old who arrives from America with no responsibilities. In all the extra time my new lifestyle affords me, I have spent a considerable amount of time studying what the world calls "The American Dream".  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't subscribe to the idea that a certain amount of money can buy you happiness. I do believe however, that having financial goals and being fiscally responsible can bring great blessings to those around you. Being a blessing to those around you, and a strong spiritual foundation is what I believe brings true happiness.

Towards the goal of creating a successful business I have dedicated much money and energy to learning all I can relative to the subject. Two years ago I was very fortunate to study business under Dr. Ignatius Piazza, who helped me jump start many of the successful business strategies I implement today.  Dr. Piazza continues to advise me and encourage me on a part time basis despite being extremely busy with his own business, Front Sight  I am extremely grateful to Dr. Piazza and admire him greatly.  "Naish" is a great All-American role model.

Another great motivational speaker and small business consultant I met is John Patrick of TPG, Incorporated. John has a very colorful background and is a part time preacher at Household of Faith Community Church. He focuses on the importance of a business being of service to society, through financial viability. I was so impressed with John that I recently hired him to be my personal business consultant. He was involved with, among many things, the hiring of my administrative assistant, Tim McCalla.  Most of you know what a success that decision has been, as you have dealt directly with Tim on the phone or through e-mail. You know how dedicated he is to serving you, and what a loyal employee he is.

For those of you who have a strong interest in total financial planning, and have enjoyed following the continued success of Carter Cutlery,  with John's permission, we will be offering his special CD set called "Small Business Boot Camp".  John's CD's are so interesting and informative, you will want to listen to them again and again. Tim says John's voice reminds him of Ronald Reagan! Some of the topics covered in his CD set are:

  • How to enjoy the ADVANTAGES of building your own business
  • How to embrace the CHALLENGES of building your own business
  • The REAL REASONS most businesses fail
  • Cash Management
  • Competition
  • Marketing
  • Recruiting faithful employees
  • Leadership
  • Minimizing your taxes
  • Building TRUE VALUE in your business
  • The importance of priorities
  • Feast/Famine analysis

You won't want to miss out on these CD's, and we'll price them way below what it would cost to attend one of his seminars. More next month...

An amazing coincidence, an amazing person
and some amazing knives!

When I was living in Kumamoto, Japan, I met a man named Gerard who was at the time teaching French at the local prefectural University. We lived quite near each other and often went to the local restaurants together for dinner, some drink and camaraderie. Gerard had a special liking for fine French food, and so we visited some of the better French cuisine restaurants when we could afford to. It was with Gerard that I found out what they do to those poor geese to render such succulent livers. I also found out that there is nothing 'sweet' about sweet breads!

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Gerard finished his contract and headed back to France, and I moved to the countryside to start my own village bladesmith shop. I had just finished my apprenticeship with Yasuyuki Sakemoto, 16th generation Yoshimoto bladesmith.

A few years went by, and for some strange reason (I suspect it may have been the after affects of the goose livers) I started to study the French language. All day long I would listen to language CD's and cassettes as I worked away in the forge. When I found out there was an international cutlery show in Paris, I decided to go. I was very excited and learned conversational French before making the trip. I also found out that my old friend Gerard had bought a hotel/restaurant in Normandy, France. I called him up and we agreed that I would come up to Normandy for a visit after the Paris show.

The knife show was a great success, having sold lots of knives, practiced my French, and was awarded the "Coup de Coeur" prize. I ventured to Normandy after the show to meet my friend.  Normandy was beautiful, and his hotel, La Chaine d'Or in Les Andelys, had a terrace that overlooks the banks of the Seine river. It was built in 1751 within sight of Château Gaillard. We reacquainted over a seven course meal, prepared by Gerard's head chef, Chef Christophe Bouche  who is Michelin rated. After the delicious meal, I broke all etiquette when I stumbled (back in my drinking days) into the kitchen to compliment the chef on his wonderful cooking. Proud of my newfound linguistic abilities I blurted "Mes compliments Monsieur. Nous avons bien mange'", only to realize that I was talking to myself as the chef had finished for the night and gone home. However, a young apprentice approached me and asked me in American English "Can I help you?"  What... ?!

La Chaine d'Or, Normandy

So this fine young man introduces himself. He says his name is Kevin and that he is from Oregon. (Fancy that! I was thinking that I might like to live in Oregon some day.) Kevin was studying at Gerard's restaurant under the tutelage of the famous Chef Bouche in order to earn his diploma from  Le Cordon Bleu. Kevin and I interacted for a few days before I headed back to Japan. On my last day in Normandy, Kevin asked me if I might write a report addressed to the staff at Le Cordon Bleu, describing Kevin's activities and performance while at the hotel. I was honored and wrote an honest and complimentary report. I was impressed with his dedication for such a young man.

I returned to Japan, several years went by and several thousand more knives were made.  I eventually was awarded the immigrant visa "Alien of Extraordinary Ability" and I moved my family to Oregon. I was excited to be in Oregon, and wasted no time before pursuing an interest that I had had all my life:  handguns!

I enrolled in a handgun safety class. During the class, the teacher had us all introduce ourselves. When it was my turn I said that I was Murray, and that I was a bladesmith.  During a break in the class, a lady with long blond curly hair approached me and asked "Did you ever live in Japan?" I was surprised but said "Yes, I did". She said that her son, who was a chef, met a bladesmith named Murray, while he was in Normandy, France studying be become a chef! We were practically speechless with disbelief. Talk about a small world! So Kevin's mother proceeds to update me as to all that has happened to Kevin in the few years since I had last seen him. He had been working at the Blue Hour Restaurant in the Pearl, Portland, and at The Heathman under certified Master Chef Sir Philippe Boulot. The class came to an end, and we said our good-byes.

A few months passed. I was at another class, this one with a world renown firearm instructor, Masaad Ayoob. Hey, there in the third row was the same long blond curly hair lady! Kevin's mom!  Her husband was with her, but not Kevin.  I heard good things about Kevin, the successes that he has had since we last met. It turns out that Kevin is an active member of the East Portland Rotary Club, and is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow. The class ended and we said our good-byes again.

A few more months, another class, and guess what!?  In walks Kevin. After all those years, we meet again at last. And what wonderful news he has to tell. I find out that he has been hired as the Executive Chef at the Historic Multnomah Embassy Suites Downtown (A Hilton Hotel).  Kevin is the youngest ever Executive Chef for Embassy or Hilton.  He interviewed for the job along with lots of others. They got it down to 4 people and then they each had to write a menu, recipes,  cost a meal, then cook a meal for 8 people and serve it. Now, he is responsible for 35-40 staff members.

From our first meeting, Kevin took a strong interest in my cutlery, but being so busy with his work, we never discussed an order. After our amazing reunion his folks secretly contacted me to commission a custom neck knife for his birthday; an original model in white steel, ironwood and my signature hammer forged surface finish. When the knife was done they visited my shop without Kevin for a quick tour and to pick up the knife. I gave them a copy of my sharpening DVD as a bonus.

I found out later that at his party, in front of his friends, he opened the box containing the DVD. He told the long story of who I am and how we met, and met again, and his friends were amazed. He sighed and finished the story with "One day I hope to be lucky enough to own one of Murray's neck knives". Well, you can imagine his surprise when the next present he opened contained the custom made neck knife. His folks told me he was speechless (a rare situation), and they were grinning from ear to ear.

As a "congratulations" gift acknowledging a significant promotion, his parents presented Kevin with one of my fine paring knives. Then for Christmas 2007, Kevin got a High Grade Funayuki, and has been using it daily at work, and at the many private catering jobs he does.

Says Kevin, "My earliest memories are being in the kitchen wanting to cook. Sneaking into Mike and Maggie Vali's kitchen to watch as the busiest time of night came and went in a seamless dance, doing the dishes for them at the age of 10, watching as Chef Vali prepared his famous Hungarian food at Vali's  Alpine Delicatessen at Wallowa Lake Oregon (North Eastern Oregon). My real career began at the age of 13  with an after school and weekend job in a local restaurants, I had been waiting tables, dish washing, etc, and one night the Chef didn't show up. I fixed dinner for the guests, and the next morning breakfast. I knew I had found my calling. I will never deny that it is very hard work to become a Chef, however, the clatter of the kitchen, the aromas, the mix of languages, the precise teamwork of my kitchen team when it's the busiest night we have ever had, all of these things make me feel alive and charged in a way that nothing else can. I just  want the diner to remember their meal months later."

Kevin’s mom tells me “When Kevin was about 2 years old, I woke up in the middle of the night to noise in the kitchen. He was getting pots, pans, spoons and flour out. I guess he wanted to make something. Anyway there was flour everywhere. It was very funny. He was doing this all the time. Once he figured he could crawl out of his crib he was always in the kitchen. I finally started putting things in a low cupboard. After that he wanted his own cook book. He couldn’t read so it was all pictures. He has been cooking ever since. .. Someplace I have his first cookbook with all hand drawn pictures.”

A gourmet critic from Florida had this to say, "Chef Graham has a true professional presence and he exhibits a mastery of flavors.  The personality of his cuisine is a special journey filled with new delectable experiences." As an individual that strives for excellence I admire Chef Kevin's long term goal to become a Master Chef, the best of his profession. I'm sure he will accomplish his goal quicker than he thinks!

I continue to be amazed at the wondrous gifts of God's blessing for us all. Born in Canada, I learned a trade in Japan. I traveled from Japan to France and met a fine young man because I wanted to thank someone for a job well done. Then years later moved to Oregon, and because of shared interests met the parents of the same young man.  I then enjoyed the gift of meeting Kevin again in person. Now he has become a protégé and a fine customer pursuing his profession with the product of my profession. Truly amazing. What a delightful international mix of circumstance.

By the way, I don't believe in coincidences.

Well, that's all for this month. Next month will be really exciting, with the offering of John Patrick's Business Seminar CD set, and a report on the Japanese Bladesmithing course 101, which will be held Feb. 23rd and 24th.

Stay Sharp Folks, and may God richly bless you,

Murray Carter
ABS Master Bladesmith
P.O.Box 307
Vernonia, OR   97064
phone 503-429-0447
cell   503-816-6556

© 2008 Carter Cutlery








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Carter Cutlery, PO Box 307, Vernonia, OR 97064
503-429-0447 -
©Copyright: 2007 Carter Cutlery

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