Factory Visit: Arthur Wright and Son August 10 2014
We recently made a factory visit to Arthur Wright and Son, a traditional pen and pocket knife manufacturer based in the famous steel city of Sheffield, England.
Started in 1947, but now owned and managed by John Maleham since the early 90's, they still operate according to the principles of its founder, with all knives being individually hand crafted by apprentice trained Sheffield Cutlers using methods passed down from generation to generation.
Employing just six members of staff, every part of the knife making process is done in-house. This includes blanking out the blades and springs (cut out of sheet steel, using blanking tools and a 50 ton press), hardening and tempering, assembly, grinding, glazing and final polishing. Working this way gives them a guaranteed quality control through every step of the process, the result of which is clear to see in the end product.
All Arthur Wright knives are manufactured using high-grade carbon steel as opposed to stainless steel. Although stainless steel doesn't rust, it blunts quickly and doesn't give a good edge compared to carbon steel, which can be ground much sharper and is therefore much more useful.
Here one of the new young apprentices is soldering the solid nickel bolsters onto the brass linings before attaching the rosewood scales using brass wire that rivet the knife together.
The handles are all made from natural materials that have been hand picked for the highest quality. Many of them are either made from kiln-dried wood such as Indonesian rosewood, responsibly sourced bi-product of buffalo horn or naturally shed antlers from UK farmed deer.
The nice thing is that each handle, whether made from wood, horn or antler, will be different in texture and colour giving each knife a unique feel and look.
Once the pocket knife has been assembled, ground and grazed, one of the senior Cutlers uses a Linisher to grind and shape the knife to the required finish.
The last part of the process is to give the knife its final polish and sharpen the blade on a whet stone.
A tray of polished to perfection buffalo handled Lambsfoot pocket knives ready for stock.
In a single year A.Wright and Son will produce tens of thousands of knives as well as custom commissions for private clients who range from the military to collectors.
The stockroom shows a wide range of different knives and handle types available from A.Wright and Son.
A beautifully finished Lambsfoot pocket knife with stag handle.
John Maleham standing outside the entrance of the factory building.
Big thanks to John for giving us such an insightful tour and sharing his deep knowledge about the craft of knife making. The visit reminded us just how important it is to support this traditional British craft and ensure it is not lost for generations to come.
Head over to the shop to view our available range of A.Wright and Son pocket knives.