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Photo Essay: How Cheese Knives Are Made


More than 50 working steps are required to transform raw materials—steel, plus resin, horn, or wood for the handle—into a celebrated Coltellerie Berti knife. A single artisan ushers one blade through the process—that’s a lot of hewing, forging, and polishing, as the family-owned Tuscan workshop turns out some 20,000 knives each year. The company’s collection includes paring, carving, and chef’s styles, as well as seven cheese knives, each designed to tackle a different texture. (The bow, for one, slices super-soft wedges with ease.)

“To be tasted at its best, cheese must be cut according to precise geometry, which requires specific tools,” says CEO Andrea Berti, a big fan of Parmigiano Reggiano, ripe Castelmagno, and Fiore Sardo. Ahead, a peek behind the scenes at this sharp outfit—on the cutting edge since 1895.

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Coltellerie Berti CEO Andrea Berti in the workshop.

A finished hard-cheese knife with a boxwood handle, top, and a finished hard-cheese knife with a horn handle, bottom. A finished hard-cheese knife with a boxwood handle, top, and a finished hard-cheese knife with a horn handle, bottom.

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The light-filled Coltellerie Berti store in Florence, Italy.

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Ox horns are slowly dried for two years before they’re ready to be turned into knife handles. They are painted to prevent them from drying out too quickly.

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Hard-cheese knife blades ready for the grinder

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Tracing the shape of the handle on a piece of ox horn. To create the handle, two pieces of horn (called “scales”) are joined together around the blade.

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Using a saw to cut the handle from the horn.

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Blades wait to become soft-cheese knives.

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The initial handle sanding is done by machine.

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Countersinking holes for the handle rivets.

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Additional sanding is done by hand.

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Longtime Coltellerie Berti craftsman Danielie Rogai—he’s worked at the company for 18 years—polishes the bolster of a forged blade.

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Drawers in the workshop contain different knife components.

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The back part of the knife blade—where it connects to the handle—is called the “tang.” Here, an artisan cleans the tangs in advance of attaching them to handles.

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Attaching a handle to the blade of an almost-finished knife.

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Coltellerie Berti employee Veronica Romei polishes a knife before packaging it.

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Cheese knives on display at the shop.

To learn more or purchase Coltellerie Berti Knives, visit match1995.com

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