By Suzanne Vanderhoef
Nathaniel Bonner says he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t passionate about knives. He’s turned that passion into a profession, forging and crafting professional-grade knives for chefs throughout the St. Louis region.
He says some of that interest stems from the fact that knives have such a vast history, as weapons, as tools, for good and for bad, but also as works of art.
“I appreciate the craft of it,” Bonner explains. “And when you say craft, it’s kind of split up, because there are some rules that you have to follow. There’s math and science that you can’t ignore to get a performance that you should be getting out of these knives. And then, the other side is just pure art. As far as the knives I make and the knives that influence me, they are definitely, without a doubt, works of art.”
Bonner starts with a chunk of steel and forges it together with other pieces of metal –essentially sandwiching them together and heating them at very, very high temperatures until they merge into a single, layered bar. He then goes through a series of steps hammering, cutting, grinding and polishing the blade before attaching a handle and turning it into a precision knife. Something he says is otherworldly.
“To me there’s this magical sort of thing that comes with someone making it with their own two hands. Which I think when you can make something that looks machined that you did with these (hands), that’s where the magic is.”