Island Artisans – Cosmo Knives

This week on ADSC_1140ll Points West I introduced listeners to Seth Burton of Cosmo Knives on Salt Spring Island. 

I’ve collected a few knives over the years…my bread knife, my filleting knife, various paring knives, a cleaver, and a bunch of knives commonly known as chef’s knives, the all-purpose sort that can be used for most chores in the kitchen, slicing, cutting, chopping.  I have my favourites, but I am always on the lookout for the next great knife, one that might feel better in my hand, keep its edge longer, slices a tomato better…so when I heard about Seth Burton’s shop on Salt Spring Island, I had to go visit.

Seth’s Cosmo Knives are made pretty much from scratch.  He starts out with raw hunks of steel, heats them and presses them and rolls them and cuts them and grinds them and seasons them and so on, until he has a finished product.  His shop, not far from the Fulford Harbour ferry terminal, is jammed with grinders and presses and a forge, much of it built or designed by Seth himself.

DSC_1150 Seth just found a 6,000 pound metal roller in Quebec, bought it and had it shipped on the train to Vancouver, where a friend with a BIG truck picked it up.  This device helps him take layers of heated metal and flatten them out so he can cut the raw form of the knife out of it. It really helps him make his special line of Damascus steel knives.

DSC_1146

Damascus steel was originally created in 900 or so AD, but the Damascus steel we know today consists of many layers of steel laminated onto a central core.  The way the layers are folded and processed and etched with acid creates incredible patterns on the blade of the knife.  If you like knives, you look at this kind of knife you want one…the picture here is of some of his first efforts in making knives from the steel he can now roll out.

DSC_1124 Seth started off as a cabinet maker, thought that was what he wanted to do, then dabbled in blacksmithing and making tools, a friend of his asked him to make a knife, and then he and that same friend shared a little voyage of discovery, where he came across a famous knife maker in the U.S. Southwest.  He spent just an hour and a half with him, but by the end of that time he knew what he needed to get into the business in a serious way, and more importantly, that he could make a living at it.

As I walked around the shop with Seth, I realized just how many steps it takes to make one of his knives…forging, rolling, cutting, grinding, handle making, polishing.  He’s approaching the 1500 mark now, every knife has the name of his company, Cosmo, stamped into it, and the number of the knife.  Prices range from about 200 dollars, all the way up to say 800 depending on the complexity of the construction.  When you consider how much work goes into each piece, though, and the quality of the metal and the assembly, it’s not really that much more than a factory-made knife.  I think it would be a great Christmas gift for the foodie in your life who has everything.  Hint, hint, hint!  But order now, as these are truly made to order.  Go to his website for more info.

Cosmo This is the latest knife he's made in the new steel he's dubbed 'Damacore'.  Beautiful, isn't it?  Retails for $795.  Worth every penny…

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6 Responses to Island Artisans – Cosmo Knives

  1. Seth is a master craftsman! Most knife makers buy in the blanks of Damascus Steel, and then they just shape their creations out of that.

    A knife maker that actually creates his own Damascus Steel is something that I have never actually heard of before, and is quite the eye opener to me.

    The mans work is truly impressive, and I’d love to have a custom knife from him in my collection one day. That Damacore Chef’s knife must rate as one of the bestest presents a cook could ever want to receive.

    Until next time.

    Bernard

    • Peter L. Gordon says:

      It is good to know there is a blade smith who forges his own Damascus steel in our area. In the U.S. I have commissioned knives from Jim Crowell, MBS, who also forges his own Damascus. No doubt there are others both in Canada and the U.S who do.

  2. Excellent. This is a trade worthy unto itself. Just wish I had the talent and resources to dabble in this for my own enjoyment.

  3. Cosmos (Seth Burton) made me a beautiful Damascus Recurve “pruner” for use in the vineyard, and hard-wood whittling.

    You can see it in his website:
    It exceeds all my expectations, and I never saw such a beautiful steel pattern achieved anywhere else…

    Seth took the time to really listen to what I had in mind for functionality, and improved it, integrating it all in a beautiful design. It works marvelously well.

    The balance and finishings are fist class…

    I have placed a new order for something really special…

  4. Max Wedges says:

    Seth is a “Merlin” when it comes to getting a “sword” out of a Stone…
    I had mentioned the 9″ Damascus recurve knife he forged for me from first class stainless steels, and that a new “Commission” was in the process.

    Well… now it is finished, and in my hand…
    You ought to see it… Fabulous…
    The 11″ blade shimmers, and the high spirited metal rings, clear as a bell struck.
    & “shaves”!…

    Jade handle bejewels it, between guard and pommel…
    It earned the name “Joyeuse”, the namesakeof Charlesmagne’s Great Sword

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