South African knife maker Des Horn has over 40 years experience in designing and creating high-end custom art knives. Renowned for his high-quality workmanship, use of exotic materials, creative designs and integrated mechanisms his knives have won him awards all around the world.
The Making of the Knife
The ideal behind a custom knife is the creation of something superior in its design, choice of materials, and the execution of its construction.Des’s choice of dentistry as a profession, gunsmithing as a hobby, and shooting as a sport, fine tuned his attention to detail and the quest for perfection. At a practical level Des co-designed and manufactured the Hawk pistol and as an expert marksman represented South Africa in many disciplines of shooting. A knifemaker carries the responsibility to extract the very best from the materials made available to the customer and to bring them together in a knife which is both an investment and a practical tool. Thirty years of constant development has led Des to fine tune every aspect of his hand made knives, from the precision folder mechanisms, the choice of flawless materials for handles and frames, to the selection of the finest steels for the blades and their correct heat treatment.
Each component is machined, finished and meticulously fitted by hand in a spirit of craftsmanship and aesthetics rarely seen in a mass-production world.
Des’s knives are a unique blend of rare and exotic materials, high in investment value, with mechanisms and blades that are at the forefront of the technological envelope. Testament to this is the collaborative work Des has done with Purdey in creating a knife worthy of their name. More recently another collaboration with internationally recognised designer, Professor Marc Newson, has seen all of the principles being brought together in their limited edition series.
THE BLADE – Blades are usually made from RWL34 STEEL or DAMASTEEL. Correct heat treatment is of paramount importance. Each blade undergoes a Cryogenic quench in liquid nitrogen after hardening and then a double temper. This results in the blade having a hardness of between 61 and 63 Rockwell C, with unsurpassed sharpness, optimal edge-holding ability and toughness. Des prefers using stainless materials in a working, folding knife.
THE SCALES– Handle materials used include solid gold, titanium, 4.5 billion year old Gibeon meteorite and sterling silver in combination with mammoth ivory, black and gold lip pearl and hard woods such as pink ivory, sneeze wood and zebra wood.
A knife is first and foremost a working tool, and a custom knife, whether practical, collectable or artistic in its nature should support this principle.