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Dave Martell Interview

Discussion in 'Life on the Edge' started by Toothpick, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

    F.jpg Who are you? Where are you located? (Tell us a little about yourself)

    172.jpg My name is Dave Martell, I’m a professional knife sharpener/knife maker/online retailer of knife sharpening products.

    I'm very handsome.....can you deny this?

    My main website is japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com

    I currently live in a small rural town in PA called Airville. What, you never heard of it?

    F.jpg How do your take your coffee?
    172.jpg I like the smell of it mostly, it does taste nice too, but I get the shakes when I drink it so I don’t.

    F.jpg Do you do much cooking? If so what is your favorite dish to make?

    172.jpg I don’t cook nearly as much as I’d like to simply because my work schedule doesn’t allow for it. At one time, 20 yrs ago, I lived to cook and was very into learning and experimenting. I was sooooo close to enrolling in a culinary school back in the early ‘90’s but came to my senses when I realized that pro cooks work too damn hard.

    F.jpg Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget? Or just something you reach for time and time again? (besides knives)

    172.jpg Even though I’ve accumulated lots of higher end home cookware in my younger days and have some nice kitchen gear to play with there’s really just two things that I always turn to which remind me of why I like to cook. The first is an old wooden spatula. It’s almost black on the blade at this point and has some wear but this thing is one of my first purchases, has been with me all in all my travels, and I’d be lost without it. The second is my first purchased (Lodge) cast iron pan. Even though it’s not the oldest pan I have it’s the one that I’ve used the most, the one I learned on, and when I use it these days I recall all of the food it’s prepared over the years. It’s funny how a person can get so attached to tools, isn’t it?

    F.jpg If you could have breakfast/lunch/dinner with anyone alive or dead who would it be and what meal would you eat?

    172.jpg I had to think long and hard about this. I have so many people coming to mind that I’d love to probe for answers but so few (if any) of them I could say that I wanted to break bread with. I also thought about my family up north who I haven’t seen in years and how it’d be nice to have a good meal with them, but seeing as I can (that is if I drive up there) I decided to go with someone I don’t still have that option with. So in the end I selected two people that are dead, five people total (sorry couldn’t do just one). The two deceased people are without question who I’d pick to have one more meal with, they are my wife’s grandparents. The third, fourth, and fifth people who will join me are my dear wife and lovely daughters (who have never met their Great Grandparents before), they certainly couldn’t be left out. My wife’s grandparents were always very nice to me and I enjoyed being invited over for dinner and listening to their stories. If he could manage I’d love to have GrandPop’s BBQ……mmmmm…mmm…mmmmm

    F.jpg Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy? or what do you enjoy when you are not working?

    172.jpg For the better part of my life I’ve been into fishing. While I’ve enjoyed all types of fishing, it’s bass fishing that’s been the thing to keep my attention the longest. Unfortunately since living in PA I’ve done very little fishing and this bothers me. Up north in MA we have zillions of places to fish and I miss that.

    Antique/flea marketing gets some of my time whenever possible. I love old tools! My whole family, even the girls, like to shop the shops.

    In the past couple of years I’ve got into shooting. Handguns are fun but I really love rifles, especially those of the wood & steel military variety. I’ve always been interested in firearms, had some exposure over the years off and on, and finally it took hold and it’s got me good. This is something that I enjoy doing with my wife as well, which makes it all that much more special.


    F.jpg Whats the best/worst thing about running an online business?

    172.jpg This is easy…it happens to be the very same thing that’s the best thing….it never shuts down.

    F.jpg How many knives do you own? How many of those have you made?

    172.jpg Are we talking about kitchen knives exclusively here? If not then I’d have a pretty long list as I’ve collected vintage knives for many years. If we’re talking about kitchen knives then it’s probably around 10, various makers and models, some newer and some very old. Unfortunately I have zero Martell knives in my block. The shoemaker’s children always go barefoot.

    F.jpg You're stranded on a desert island and you can only have one knife...what do you choose?

    172.jpg I haven’t made it yet. LOL

    Until I do make this knife I’d go with this….sure it would rust and would be a bear to sharpen but why not go with some style. At least I’ll know who to blame if the handle falls apart.


    F.jpg Do you make anything besides kitchen knives?

    172.jpg No not really, but, I have so many things I’d like to do or at least try. Making knives offers enough challenges and ways to improve that I’m constantly learning new things so this keeps my creative needs in check.

    F.jpg Were you nervous making your first professional "for sale" knife ?

    172.jpg Uh….yeah! I was indeed nervous, and based on some early failures I had I was quite justified in feeling that way. I was lucky to have a very supportive customer as my first so he made it less painful.

    Just look at this mess (I squint here – ugh - just can’t look myself)….here's #1


    I still get somewhat nervous even today but I've come a long way since then, here's a recent knife to compare...


    F.jpg What is your favorite part of the knife making process? Why?

    172.jpg I really enjoy seeing the wood come alive when finishing a handle. Sometimes the pop is very dramatic and surprising. The other part of the process (although not really part of the process in that it’s required) that’s enjoyable to me is in studying the finished product. I really enjoy spending some time looking over in great detail a completed knife, seeing what I’ve created, and seeing what I did right and wrong – this is very rewarding.



    F.jpg What is your least favorite part of the process? Why?

    172.jpg Applying the maker’s mark/logo. I despise this part. The reason is that here I am with a finished knife, hours of hard work being represented, all ready to go, and yet success or failure all comes down to how well the mark is applied to the blade. Can you say STRESS?!?!? I’ve improved how I get my results but I’m going to find a completely different solution if it kills me. I hope to one day make this one of the more enjoyable parts of the process.

    F.jpg What is your preferred sharpening stone? or method.

    172.jpg I’ve ordered hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars’ worth of stones directly from Japan over the years to experiment with and I’ve tried almost everything on the market except for some of the newer stuff (from the last couple of years) and in every different combination(s) I could come up with. In all that time I kept coming back to a few stones, basically making what I today call my core sets.

    For standard double (small) bevels I like the Beston 500x, Bester 1200x, Suehiro Rika 5k.

    Dave Martell Core Set Stones.JPG

    For wide double bevels I like the Arato-Kun Pink brick 220x, Gesshin 400x, King 800x, Synthetic Blue Aoto.

    For single bevels I chose the same as I do for wide double bevels but then follow on with natural stones (aoto >).

    F.jpg What sharpening set up would you recommend for a newbie?

    172.jpg That’s easy! See the above answer.

    F.jpg Do you have any final words for the members of The Kitchen Knife Fora?

    172.jpg I’m honored that the Fora mods thought enough of me to conduct an interview and I thank them for this. I’d like to thank the boss man Jim, the mods, and all members alike for this community and all it affords a simple knifemaker like myself.

    And finally.....
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  2. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  3. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Great interview guys. I dont remember what it said for some reason. pretty sure ive read it five times, but everytime I get to the end its like I never read it and go back and do it all over. So it must be impressive
  4. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  5. WildBoar

    WildBoar Founding Member Contributor

    Nice interview -- who knew you liked fishin' and huntin'? Thanks for taking the time to do this.
  6. MattS

    MattS Founding Member

    Dang, tell a bit about the rifle, redwood? Did you make the stock?
  7. Dave Martell

    Dave Martell Professional Craftsman Founding Member

  8. Dave Martell

    Dave Martell Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    It's a Springfield M1A Scout wearing a Winchester 1960's vintage M14 USGI birch stock. You can see the selector switch (for full auto) cut out below the rear sight, unfortunately I don't have the equipment to fill that hole. :) The stock was used and lightly beat up & very grungy, I refinished it. This rifle is beyond awesome - ultimate awesomeness might be the best way for me to describe it.
  9. apicius9

    apicius9 Founding Member

    Nice interview, I did't know you were into shooting - or handsome ;)

  10. Very well done!
  11. Nice! BTW what's the bullnose knife pictured in a lonely island reply?
  12. One of my favorites myself. I need to upgrade so I can continue my shooting competition... now if I can only afford the upgrade.... :p
  13. Dave Martell

    Dave Martell Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    Hi Anton,
    It's a Watanabe custom made "Nessmuk" knife designed by Gator of Zknives. He did a write up about it HERE
  14. Dave Martell

    Dave Martell Professional Craftsman Founding Member

    No hunting here, just paper targets. I'm not at all against hunting but it's just not something that I get into.
  15. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    recycled paper ?
  16. What a great interview! I always think it's cool to see a bit deeper into the lives of other makers...it turns them back into 'people', rather than just guys I'm jealous of for their skills :p.

    Btw...I'm sending a PM here shortly about the maker's mark thing :D.

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