On Friday I visited Trevor Ablett one of the last of Sheffield’s pen and pocketknife makers. Trevor is on the left with Reg Cooper bowie knife maker on the right.

I have visited Trevor a few times now and bought quite a few of his knives. I tend to give them as gifts when we visit folk on behalf of the Heritage Crafts Association. He rarely pauses in his work and clearly very much enjoys what he does. His knives are not fancy collectors pieces but simple working pocketknives.

The key to his production speed as with most traditional craftspeople is small batch production. This is a batch he was working on when we visited, he will work on maybe 20 knives at a time fist making the parts, cutting and soldering the brass bolsters onto the liners, then roughly assembling the knives as a trial fit. Adjustments are made so that the blade sits properly at this stage.

Note the temporary steel pin holding the parts together.

Grinding a touch of the base of the blade here lets the blade sink a little further into the handle when closed.

When the blade sits correctly he removes the temporary steel pins and replaces them with brass ones which are cut to length and riveted over holding the whole knife, blade, spring and scales together.

Trevor has lots of different hammers for different parts of the job and this sweet little one is perfect for riveting. He has put a spare spring into the gap in the open knife to stop it closing up whilst he is riveting.

This one ended slightly too tight so a tap on either side of the blade loosens it up.

Now the knife is basically finished but still has very square rough scales and bolsters, all this is rounded off and polished, 

I visited with Nigel Townshend who is going to be doing some voluntary work for the Heritage Crafts Association and we were both able to do a bit of our Christmas shopping. From Trevor’s finished knives table.

Author Robin Wood

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