I couldn’t help myself. I don’t need another kitchen knife but I felt this dried up old blade was in sorry need of rescue.
Note: I am not sentimental about places, events or necessarily even people. I might cherish people or places but to be sentimental about them is to relegate oneself to living in the past. However I am sentimental about objects/things/tools that don’t let me down. I kid thee not. Even certain electronic items have come to hold a special place in my heart simply because they have withstood the test of time.
So on my way to lunch a couple of days ago I walked by a second-handshop – that’s giving it the benefit of the doubt – which dealt mostly in worn out old tools, broken electronics and junk. And what should I see but a forlorn, rusty and neglected knife lying amidst the clutter on the dirty concrete floor? I had an instinct to take a closer look even though it was in such pitiful shape including having a broken handle.
Upon closer inspection it appeared to be an exact duplicate of the Sayula blade that I bought a month or two ago from the hardware store around the corner from my house. (And since that time I have become highly covetous of all blades Sayula.)
If you were able to zoom in you could see the Sayula stamp on the newer blade. But regardless, you can see only the slightest variation is in the handle design but other than that both knives are identical.
I would have bought that old blade the first day I saw it except for two reasons: First, the old fool who ran the shop was asking close to the purchase price on the blade I bought new at the hardware store. Second, did I really need another blade? And exactly in the same size and configuration?
No, absolutely not. But I bought the damn thing today anyway because I felt sorry for it. Nothing handmade and that beautiful deserved to be so neglected or so mistreated.
So I am going to restore it. The fundamentals are good. Under the thin sheen of dirt and rust the steel is still good. I’ll put a new handle on it. But this time I will find a small but beautiful piece of cherry, walnut, or mesquite to shape it from. A luscious piece of hardwood with an impeccable grain. And I’ll clean up that steel until it shines like new.
You might ask – why go to all that trouble – especially after I confess that 80 pesos* ($4.00 USD) was all I paid for the first blade and half that for the second blade?
It is precisely because of their historicity my friend. Look up Sayula, Jalisco and you’ll discover one family at least has been making knives there for thirteen generations. And that second blade refurbished will be worth at least 40X what I paid for it and will make a marvelous gift to some other handmade obsessed cognoscenti who delights in the joyous celebratory marriage of hand shaped steel to hand carved wood.
Here are a couple of photos of Sayula blades. You might now recognize the third blade from the left.
Here is some detail from a similar knife to the one on the farthest right:
*I live in a peso economy my friend. Yeah, 80 pesos might be just $4.00 to someone living in the US, but here a peso is like a dollar there. For example, why should I pay 20 pesos for a bottle of homemade salsa at one place when I can buy the same thing a few doors down for 10 pesos? It’s not totally about being cheap or being a bargain hunter – it’s more like thinking locally.
PS – Yes, I got that first blade for a ridiculously cheap sum. 80 pesos or 4 dollars is a crazy out of date stupid sum for a handmade blade in any currency. It’s not fancy but that was the price on the box. I can’t help it if the old guy who owned the hardware store had forgotten about it sitting on the top shelf of his decaying hardware store gathering dust for the last 15 years.