The ‘Hippekniep' (hippe means goat and kniep means folding) would have originally been used in goat herding (cutting hooves where necessary). Nowadays it is more likely to be used for tree grafting, peeling and coring fruit, creating an impromptu picnic and a thousand other tasks.
The Hippkniep is made using the almost-forgotten technique of ‘flat forging’. The carbon steel is carefully beaten out flat and then shaped free-hand by many blows of a semi-manual forging hammer on an anvil. A visible sign of flat forging is the typical depression in the blade, close to the handle, where the hammer first struck. The more common, drop-forged knives that are shaped in a prefabricated form have a thickening between the blade and handle. Instead, the flat-forged knife has a finely tapered, high density blade, which is ground by hand and equipped with finely textured grip plates.
Unlike stainless steel, the carbon steel blade can easily discolour. This does not affect its cutting ability at all but, to maintain it, wipe it dry and clean before closing the knife and use metal polish occasionally to remove tougher marks. To restore its lustre you can use a metal polish such as the one in the knife care kit.
The cherry wood handle and brass rivets make the Hippkniep as beautiful as it is practical. It combines a very sharp 85 mm long blade with a sprung mechanism to open and close – and to lock the knife so that it will never close accidentally. It is a versatile tool and one to keep safe. The overall knife length (opened) is 195mm.
Caring for your handmade knives
A good knife is an investment that will bring lasting pleasure as well as continuing to do its job with ease, day after day and year after year. Just take good care of it by doing the following.
Wash the knife blade immediately after use with warm soapy water and a soft sponge. The handle seldom needs washing but, when it does, just rinse and wipe it, using nothing harsh or abrasive. Dry the knife straight away and store it carefully.
Carbon steel (which is not stainless) can be attacked by food acids and it will quickly darken and become blotched. This does not affect its sharpness or effectiveness at all but it is a good idea to clean the blade occasionally with a metal cleaner.
Sharpen your knives regularly, preferably every time you use them.