Developing a Paring Knife

First Designs for the New Paring Knife

We began the design process for our paring knife in mid February with a couple of rounds of two-dimensional candidate designs in CAD. The shapes, sizes and styles we came up with reflected common paring knife parameters and attributes. We did not want to make a petty knife. We knew the blade should be a manageable length for close-in delicate work. The tip should be symmetrical for good balance when coring, the blade should be accessible for easy sharpening and the heel should not be prone to nicking the user’s index finger.  And we fussed a lot over curves to get a cool, pleasing look.

Of the variants that resulted, we decided to mill 10 of them to actual size from thin plywood. This would give us a better sense of proportion and hand feel than we could get from the computer screen, and wood is much cheaper to use than steel.

In the next step we chose from the 10 original designs the ones we liked best, incorporating features from the others that we didn’t want to lose. This left a short list of 4 knife outlines that we then profiled out of S35VN steel. Those 4 simple cut-outs were hand-ground into usable knives, heat treated, sharpened and fit with hand-ground G10 handles so we could evaluate approximate finished weight, balance and performance of the designs.

The 4 knives were put to use in our kitchen for several days, where we evaluated optimal blade geometry for cutting ease and edge durability. Our goal was to converge to the one design that worked the best, looked nice and was a good fit with our kitchen knife aesthetic. After those evaluations, the 4 knives underwent a variety of destructive testing steps alongside some well known paring knife brands to help us compare edge durability and blade toughness.

Click on the gallery images to open a viewer.

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The Trillium is Born

Once the winner of the shortlisted 4 was decided we again incorporated any aspects from the “losers” that we absolutely wanted in the final knife. From there we were ready to 2-D cut 2 copies of the final design from steel and 3-D design the handle scales for it, milling them from some Western Maple. One of the copies we passed to a chef friend to evaluate in daily use in his restaurant. We took the other copy home for more testing. In parallel we went ahead with the final 3-D CAD design for the knife steel and proceeded to fully mill our first prototype, which we agreed would be called the “Trillium.” We fit the blade with a single set of G10 handle scales milled from some scrap pieces.

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Moving from Prototype to Production

The final steps in readying the Trillium for sale will be to incorporate any further feedback from testing and then build the required production fixturing needed to mill the blades and the handle scales. We haven’t yet chosen the final handle colours for the Trillium but we expect that they will fit well into the existing kitchen colour series.

We plan to have the Trillium ready for sale by mid April. Update: the Trillium was released March 31, 2014.

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2 Responses

  1. Northarm

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your supportive words.

    At the moment our model is to sell online direct to our customers. We do offer a 30 day money back satisfaction guarantee: return the product (you do have to pay for tracked shipping for the return) and we will refund your credit card fully (we can only do so within 30 days though). Hope that helps.

    John

  2. Jeff Burnett

    I am very glad I stumbled upon your website. My wife and I are always trying out new knives and would be very interested in seeing and feeling this new paring knife as well as your Chef’s knife.

    Where can we go to demo your knives?

    Exciting to see a potentially great product being manufactured so close to home.

    Nice work North Arm.