In an old calving barn, on the edge of the Savernake Forest near Marlborough in Wiltshire you will find the two members of Savernake Knives, Laurie Timpson + Philip Shaw. Who are working together in their quest to make the very best chef knife possible.
They strive to combine the best of modern technology with age-old techniques. From initial sketch, to computer aided design, prototyping, grinding, tempering, sharpening and engraving and carry out all tasks themselves. Guaranteeing consistent quality that also allows them to customise knives individually.
We talked with Savernake Knives about their inspiration, the materials they like to work with and what makes their knives so special.
What started + fuelled your quest to make the best knife possible?
We started because we had both spent 10 years running large organisations in the developing world and wanted to find something that would bring us back to the UK, while avoiding commuting hell and corporate suffocation. Obviously, making knives on the edge of a forest in Wiltshire was the logical answer…
What fuels our quest is a burning desire to make knives without compromise: to offer people a knife that will look beautiful in their home or survive endless 10-hour days in a restaurant kitchen, and still perform amazingly in both. We are incredibly excited by the continual impact of technology on small-scale manufacturing, and what this allows us to do as knife makers.
Why do your knives stand out from the crowd (for those who don’t already know)?
We only use the finest materials possible, and we combine aerospace manufacturing techniques and hand-finishing to make beautifully engineered tools. All our knives are made-to-order in-house and allow for almost infinite customisation – delivered in a matter of a few weeks. We are determined to show that high-end stainless steel chef’s knives can be made in this country, and that you can have customised or bespoke designs made quickly and at a reasonable price.
What drew you to using Richlite as a material and how has that influenced your designs?
We love using Richlite for any number of reasons. We think it’s a material with a storied history, and it’s a joy to make knife handles from something that is equally at home in skateparks as it is guitar necks. It fits perfectly into our workflow and gets along fantastically with both our CAD/CAM and our hand-led processes. It has influenced the quality of our prototyping as we can get a very high quality finish very easily and quickly, and for our finished pieces it has increasingly become all about accentuating the lines and curves of the handle to both promote comfort and show off the layered Richlite that is our favourite. We have even gone so far to have a bespoke Gray’s Harbour / Black layered sheet made for us, which we combine with a bright orange handle to make one of our best-selling customisation options.
Lastly, for our professional customers, it is invaluable to offer an impermeable, food-safe handle material that still feels cool and smooth to the touch, but also offers the requisite amount of ‘grip’.
We love your recent collaboration with chef Neil Rankin, what was the inspiration behind these designs?
Mainly a love of BBQ on our part, but also just an excuse to get out and try something different. We spend a lot of time in our barn down here as just the two of us, so the opportunity to get out and explore and innovate and collaborate is one we always get excited for. Neil told us exactly what he was looking for and so we sketched, put into CAD, then prototyped, revised and produced his final set of knives in a little under a month. The manufacturing options afforded to us by Richlite were again invaluable – both in the prototyping process, but also because we wanted to put a ‘Shark’s Gill’ effect on the handles for extra grip and Richilte is almost the perfect material to do this with.
What’s your favourite knife from this collection and why?
The little cleaver. It was based on a very old design of ours that was a bespoke piece made to deal with lobster and it was fantastic fun resurrecting it and tweaking it here and there to make it meet what Neil was after. For a big set of ribs it really is the only knife you need.