A Knife for Life
Located in western Massachusetts, John Manikowski is a painter-artist turned knife-maker who crafts fishing, hunting, chef’s, and fillet knives, as well as letter openers and, yes, cheese knives. In the creation of his handmade, embellished tools, Manikowski uses high-quality stainless steel from Illinois and a wide array of handle materials including walrus jawbone, warthog ivory, giraffe and sea cow bone, moose antler, and woolly mammoth ivory. Many of his bronze and pewter pieces are made with lost wax carvings—designs cut into hard wax, which is then dipped in plaster and cast in metal, allowing the wax to melt away. He favors bird’s-eye maple, box elder burls, and Scottish briar for handles; Manikowski also grinds and sands the steel blades himself.