This maker profile is part of our Maker Spotlight series.
Tell us a bit about you: what do you offer or make?
My name is Jeroen Knippenberg. I’m a process engineer at a high-tech heat treatment facility in The Netherlands and in my spare time I make my knives under my brand KnippenbergKnives.
I do all my work from a small shop outside of our house near Weert in The Netherlands. Due to my love of food and cooking, I specialize in making kitchen knives with a Japanese influence. I started with doing stock removal and slowly transitioning into forging as well.
As I’m very interested in the Japanese bladesmithing traditions I made my first tanto recently, and I could see myself doing more of those in the future.
Occasionally I like to make some mokume gane as well to use as decorative parts on my knives.
How’d you get into knife making?
As a counterpart to my theoretical work and studies I’ve always enjoyed making things with my own hands. That started with some small woodworking (jewelry, rings, etc) while in the meantime I was always watching youtube videos from all kinds of craftsmen.
While studying in engineering and material science, liking to work with my hands, and having a passion for food and cooking, knifemaking was a natural combination of all my interests. About three years ago my girlfriend (wife in the meantime 🙂 ) and I moved to a new house where I finally had the space to set up my own workshop.
Videos by Gough Customs on youtube made me believe I could make knives myself and once I made my first knife and cooked a meal with it, I was hooked and still am ever since.
What steps do you do yourself?
My main motivation for knifemaking is the gratification I get from making things myself, with my own hands. Therefore I like doing every step of the knifemaking process myself.
So starting from the practical design and requirements (which is often overlooked for kitchen knives) to shaping and grinding the metal, heat treatment, woodwork for the handle, and fit and finish.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of making knives (and why)?
The heat treat is my favorite part of the knife making process. I am continuously studying the theoretical metallurgy background and I love experiencing the microstructural changes in the steel first hand. I love using these skills to make the best hamons I can on Japanese style blades.
Mostly all parts of knifemaking have their own interesting and less interesting parts. What I like least though, is making the same knife over and over again. That tends to get boring very fast, so I like to keep challenging myself with every build and try something new.
Your favorite knife and why?
I always like to challenge myself and make sure every knife has some features I’ve never done before. Therefore, generally, my latest knife is always my favorite. As I mentioned, I recently finished my first tanto, which was a hell of a project, but I’m really proud of the result.
Any knife maker you admire or who inspired you?
There are so many incredible knifemakers out there. Some of the knifemakers I admire and take inspiration from:
and many many more!
Want to give someone a shoutout?
I’d like to give my buddy Time at @tsak.basementmade a shoutout. He is a relatively new maker, who makes beautiful kitchen knives and a great dude.