JT Hats
James grew up on an Ozarks farm where tools like axes and picks were still used in the daily routine and the blades of stockman's pocketknives served their original functions. Receiving his first pocketknife at age four he got it open by himself nearly a year later and spent his formative years wandering the woods with a succession of ever larger knives, a book of matches and a rifle.

A veteran of Vietnam, James also served in Alaska during a stint in the Army, receiving his first intensive culinary training by setting a record for extra KP at Ft. Richardson.

Settling in the Pacific Northwest after his discharge, James crewed on sailing yachts in local races, backpacked hundreds of miles of mountain trails in search of good trout fishing, and occasionally attended college.

His first serious job as a civilian resulted from answering a Seattle Post Intelligencer want ad requesting someone who could lift 120 pounds repeatedly and wasn't afraid of fire. James apprenticed to John Frazier -- the most knowledgeable traditional foundryman in North America at that time -- for the next six years.

Returning to the Ozarks James made his living by growing ginseng on a hand-terraced wooded hillside and selling handmade wood turnery, furniture, sculpture and architectural carvings. James harvested trees from his own land, processing logs into posts and beams and turnery billets with saws, axes, froes and planes. Since many tools he needed were no longer available, James built his own forge from a barbeque grill, a vacuum cleaner and a 55 gallon steel drum, found a chunk of railroad track for his first anvil, and taught himself blacksmithing -- creating his own knives and tools from scrap steel and sweat.

Changing economic pressures eventually forced James back to the restaurant industry in Branson, Missouri, and later to even more success as a maintenance engineer for one of Branson's largest condominium resorts. Finally escaping to Indiana, James now makes his living telling true stories as a freelance writer.



Chicago Cutlery Steak Knife Block Set | Full Tang Black Walnut Signature Set of 7

1 min read

Chicago Cutlery Steak Knife Block Set The Chicago Cutlery Signature series uses full tang construction with blades ground from the same blank of stamped high carbon stainless steel. The handle shape and grip is completely formed from the slabs of American black walnut hardwood fixed to the tang with three solid brass rivets. Blades are taper ground with plain edges and cut smoothly through tough steak and any other cut of meat you’d care to tackle.

The plain edges are easily sharpened at home, and since steak knives spend a lot of time cutting on plates and bone as well as meat, a regular touch-up with a honing steel ought to be standard procedure. That’s a real advantage over serrated edges, which claim to last forever but quickly turn into saws instead of knives. You’ll notice more flexibility in these blades if you’re used to forged knives, but there’s plenty of blade strength here to handle a dining service. Save them for the table, and use stouter knives for prep work.

Keeping the black walnut handles in good shape is the only trick, and the problem is simple to solve. Walnut will absorb water if left to soak, and the finish on these handles will eventually fade and lose its protective ability. Dishwashers do the worst damage, so make sure you clean these knives by hand and don’t leave them sitting in dishwater. A quick rub with a little cooking oil when the handles dry and lose color will prevent most trouble.

If you’re looking for something a little more modern, try the 4 Steak Knife Set from Zwilling/Henckels, a forged pattern with a light build.

Find this Chicago Cutlery Steak Knife Block Set:

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JT Hats
James grew up on an Ozarks farm where tools like axes and picks were still used in the daily routine and the blades of stockman's pocketknives served their original functions. Receiving his first pocketknife at age four he got it open by himself nearly a year later and spent his formative years wandering the woods with a succession of ever larger knives, a book of matches and a rifle.

A veteran of Vietnam, James also served in Alaska during a stint in the Army, receiving his first intensive culinary training by setting a record for extra KP at Ft. Richardson.

Settling in the Pacific Northwest after his discharge, James crewed on sailing yachts in local races, backpacked hundreds of miles of mountain trails in search of good trout fishing, and occasionally attended college.

His first serious job as a civilian resulted from answering a Seattle Post Intelligencer want ad requesting someone who could lift 120 pounds repeatedly and wasn't afraid of fire. James apprenticed to John Frazier -- the most knowledgeable traditional foundryman in North America at that time -- for the next six years.

Returning to the Ozarks James made his living by growing ginseng on a hand-terraced wooded hillside and selling handmade wood turnery, furniture, sculpture and architectural carvings. James harvested trees from his own land, processing logs into posts and beams and turnery billets with saws, axes, froes and planes. Since many tools he needed were no longer available, James built his own forge from a barbeque grill, a vacuum cleaner and a 55 gallon steel drum, found a chunk of railroad track for his first anvil, and taught himself blacksmithing -- creating his own knives and tools from scrap steel and sweat.

Changing economic pressures eventually forced James back to the restaurant industry in Branson, Missouri, and later to even more success as a maintenance engineer for one of Branson's largest condominium resorts. Finally escaping to Indiana, James now makes his living telling true stories as a freelance writer.



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