Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you make all your own knives?
Yes! All the knives you see in our shop, on a tour of our workshop, or online are handcrafted in our workshop in Salzburg.
- Where do the knife billets come from?
We don't use billets or blanks for our blades, but cut all blades from sheets of unhardened steel which we purchase from various manufacturers and Damascus smiths. The knife blades are then sanded by hand, hardened and processed into finished knives.
- Do you forge your own steel?
No. A knife maker deals with the production of cutting tools, i.e. with the processing of steel and not with its production. We purchase the steel unhardened as plates or flat steel, from which we cut our blades and other knife parts. The properties of these excellent modern steels could not be improved by hand forging. However, the process of heat treatment, which we do ourselves, is extremely important. The best result can only be achieved with the help of modern tools, and for this purpose our workshop is equipped with digitally controlled hardening furnaces and a Rockwell hardness tester.
- How often do I have to sharpen your knives?
Knives that never need sharpening are a marketing ploy. How sharp a knife is and how "good" a steel is depends on several factors: hardness and composition of the steel, angle of the cutting edge, honing of the blade, and usage. It should be noted that not every steel tolerates just any angle on the cutting edge and that not every application necessarily requires an acute angle. For example, an obtuse angle for an axe that relies on wedging results in higher edge retention than an acute angle. Therefore, the steel is selected according to the area of application of the knife and cutting geometry chosen accordingly.
Sharpening technique and sharpening agents also influence sharpness and edge retention. You can learn all about this in our knife sharpening workshops. However, given the various factors, we cannot make a general statement as to how long a knife will remain sharp.
- What makes a knife so expensive?
It is a unique piece meticulously made by hand, with the greatest attention to the details and many years of accumulated know-how in the processing of materials. We respond to your individual wishes and optimize each knife for its respective application, all the while ensuring that the beauty of the materials is allowed to shine.
Of course, the choice of materials also plays a role. Damascus steel and mammoth ivory, for instance, are more expensive than Böhler steel and wood. If an integral knife is selected, a higher material loss must be considered, which is of particular importance for Damascus knives. In addition, the different designs — full tang, stick tang or integral — require different amounts of time and craftsmanship in their finishing. Often, cooperation with other artisans is required, such as an engraver or a goldsmith for setting gemstones.
- How long has Richard Kappeller been in business?
He has been professionally making knives since 2002. The shop in Getreidegasse 25 in Salzburg's city centre opened in 2016. Prior to that, knives could only be bought in the workshop or via the online shop.
- Do you make everything on site?
Yes. The majority of work on our knives is completed in our workshop in Gnigler Strasse, and some finishing steps such as fitting handles, polishing of the blades or application of ornaments and filing work are done in our shop in Getreidegasse.
- Does anyone buy expensive knives?
Yes of course! As with shoes, bags, or men's suits, you have the choice — there isn't only the "knife off the rack," but also the "tailor-made knife", where you can choose all the details. Above all, professionals who use a knife very frequently attach great importance to the quality, versatility, and reliability of their tool.
If you are still unsure as to the value of a knife, why not try your hand at making your own? We offer two-day workshops in which you can make a full tang knife of your own design, be it for hunting, cooking, or leisure. No crafting experience is required. On the second day, all participants take a unique, sharp knife home. By working on your own knife, you get an insight not only into knife production, but also develop a special connection with your handiwork.
We also offer workshop vouchers that are in great demand as a special gift.
- What can your knives be used for?
The possible applications are truly diverse. Not only foresters, fishermen and craftsmen need knives — you can also use it for cooking, hunting, camping, diving, archery, and the list goes on.
- Do you use real Damascus steel?
Yes! We only use the best Damascus steel for our knives. Its properties depend on the steels that are forged together.
Damascus steel is a composite of several materials. Usually two different steels are forged together, which complement each other in their properties. First, a block of sometimes hundreds of layers is made, which is then patterned by hammering various objects into it. The layers are forced to the side by the impressed objects, so that after subsequent surface grinding and etching, the pattern becomes visible like a contour map. This is how, for instance, rose, wave, pyramid or herringbone Damascus are made. Torsion Damascus is made by twisting the layer package.
In all cases, the pattern only appears after etching. In an acid bath, one steel is corroded more than the other, and depending on how long the blade is etched, there is a slight-to-strong difference in depth. By careful removal of the surface with fine sandpaper, the higher layer regains its steel color and the lower layer remains dark.
We put a lot of effort into our Damascus knives. For example, the handle must be covered with protective varnish, so that the pattern can be seen over the entire handle back, and that requires precision and patience.
- Is Damascus steel better than normal steel?
The Damascus steels we use are. They are also more beautiful. In the old days, the superiority of Damascus steel was even more pronounced. Two different steels were forged together to combine their properties, such as a hard one and a flexible one. Nowadays, even mono steels can be produced with excellent properties, but Damascus is popular not least because of its attractive patterns. Today, usually two or three steels similar in hardness are forged together. This is also an advantage with patterns such as the torsion Damascus: if the difference in hardness is too great, the blade would wear unevenly, which would lead to a wavy edge.
The Damascus steels we use are designed for the production of hunting, leisure, or cooking knives, and have excellent edge retention. Please let us advise you — we will find the best steel for your purpose. One thing is certain: a Damascus blade is as individual as a fingerprint and makes your knife absolutely unique.
- Why do you make knives from non-stainless steel?
Non-stainless steels usually have a finer structure, can often be hardened to a higher degree and sharpened to a more acute angle. They allow for a thinner blade, which may be desirable, for example, on a cooking knife, and are sharper and possess superior edge retention compared to stainless steels.
Steels of approximately 12.5% chromium content are considered stainless. Chromium forms carbides with other alloy constituents, which can be thought of as coarse chunks in the steel structure. If you sharpen the edge of such a knife too thin, these carbides will break away. Under the microscope, the cutting edge will look serrated like a saw and have limited sharpness.
- What maintenance do non-stainless steel knives need?
No matter how carefully you treat it, a non-stainless knife will develop a superficial discoloration — a patina. This is not an imperfection but an inherent feature of this steel, which is otherwise characterized by extreme sharpness, often very high hardness, and an extremely fine texture. Over time, the patina will become more uniform and form a protective layer that barely changes.
We recommend against sanding off the patina every time, as the roughened surface reacts with the material you are cutting, which may cause a slight smell, taste, or discoloration.
After you have cleaned and dried your knife, apply any cooking oil or Ballistol and store it dry. If your knife's leather sheath is wet, allow it to dry before storing the knife, as the tanning agents in the leather may react strongly with the non-stainless steel.
- Is rust bad?
You may imagine red rust blooming on your non-stainless steel knife, but if stored properly, that will not happen. Cutting acidic foods such as onions or lemons does leave "stains", but over time these become a uniform patina covering the entire blade, which forms a protective layer. Even if you may notice a slightly metallic aftertaste on a new knife, allowing the patina to coat and protect the knife is the best way to eliminate a distinct metallic taste or odour.
- What did Richard Kappeller do before making knives?
Richard Kappeller graduated from Holztechnikum in Kuchl, a college specializing in wood engineering, where he gained expertise in woodworking technology. His graduation project was the development of a stabilization method for knife handles.
- What is stabilized wood?
Wood that has been improved with resin.
Stabilizing a piece of wood involves setting it in a vacuum and infusing it with liquid resin. The wood pores absorb the resin, rendering the material highly resistant to swelling and shrinking. This means it is much less sensitive to moisture. A dye can also be added to the resin to tint the wood and accentuate the grain.
- Is that real mammoth ivory and where does it come from?
Yes, it is real. The last mammoths died out about 4,000 years ago, and the tusks are only found in fossilized form. They mainly come from the northern part of Siberia, where they are dug up during the Arctic summer, when the permafrost soil thaws and releases its treasures.
- Can I bring my own knives to get them sharpened?
Yes, you are welcome to bring your own knives, and we will sharpen them for you within a week or two. The service costs between 6 to 8 €, depending on blade length. Please note that we cannot sharpen serrated blades, scissors, lawn mower blades or scythe blades.
- Do I really need all sharpening stones of your set?
I very much recommend to use all of them. If, for example, you try with only one fine ceramic stone and have a very blunt knife, you will have to drag the knife forever over this one fine stone in order to remove material. The danger that you become unfocused and do not keep the same angle is much greater. If, on the other hand, you have only a coarse stone, you may get rid of any burrs in the edge easily, but in order to finally get the blade sharp, you will need fine stones. The combination of grit sizes in our sharpening set is the result of years and years of experience and of trying numerous different products, to ensure a perfect result in the shortest possible time.
- Do you make the leather sheaths yourself?
Yes. We make the sheaths from natural cowhide from the neck area. A sheath is included in the knife price (except for kitchen knives). On request, we can upgrade your sheath by embossing, embellishing, lining with alcantara, coating with stingray skin and whatever you wish.
- Do you also make folding knives?
Yes! Compared to fixed blade knives, the production of a folding knife is much more complex, but you will find some exquisite pieces in our range. Of course, we can design a folding knife for you according to your wishes. You have the choice of form, mechanics, materials and all details such as engravings.
- Do you also make swords?
No. The maximum length of our knives is about 30cm, as each knife blade is hardened and our tempering furnace has a maximum depth of 30cm.
- How do the workshops work?
We offer a wide range of workshops in knife making and related crafts. For more detailed information, please select the respective workshop in the "Workshops" menu. There you will also find the current dates and the available spots.
In general, the courses take place over 2 or 3 days, each day roughly until 4 or 5 pm, depending on progress. All courses are held in our spacious workshop at Gnigler Strasse 65 in Salzburg. Most of the courses are designed for 8 to 14 participants.
Prior knowledge and experience are not required. Please wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. Gloves and goggles are provided, but you can also bring your own protective gear.
A rich selection of materials for all knife and leather workshops are available on site. Material costs depend on the workshop and your choice of materials, but you may refer to the following as a rough guideline: simple fixed blade knife from 60 €, upgrade to Damascus steel from 160 €, folding knife from 120 €, leather sheath 25 €.
There are no material costs for knife sharpening workshops.
- Can I cancel my registration for a workshop?
You can cancel free of charge up until two weeks before the workshop starts. If you have already paid for the workshop, we will issue you a voucher for the amount. You can redeem the voucher for all our products and workshops at www.messermacher.at.
If you cancel less than two weeks before the workshop starts, we will refund 50% of the workshop fee.
If you cancel less than 24 hours before the workshop starts, we have to keep 100% of the workshop fee as it will be very difficult to find another participant to fill your spot.
However, name changes (transfer of the voucher to someone else) for an already registered workshop are possible at any time free of charge.