The Ranting Reviewer does not get paid or receive any revenue from manufacturers or retailers of products reviewed. I occasionally receive products that I am asked to use and see what I think. I take a look, try them out and tell you all about them.
Last year I was able to go to the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland and spent time walking around the vendor floor. While there were a number of booths showing off knives, when I saw the knives from Warther, I knew I had stumbled on something really interesting. I spent some time talking with Steven about the knives and learned that they were made in Dover, Ohio, which is about 90 minutes from where I live.
What attracted my attention at first was that the knives all look hand-hammered. I’ve seen no other knives like them. More on them in a bit. As I have an almost 16-year-old, I’ve spent a lot of time riding in the car while he practices driving. Here in Ohio we have a requirement that all drying permit holders must accumulate 50 hours behind the wheel before they can test for their licenses and while most of his driving was local and was purposeful (to stores, activities, school), we still find we need to take an occasional hour or two and just drive. Seeing an opportunity to get him some highway time and to go see where the Warther knives are made, we recently took a trip to Dover.
We met up with Steven and before showing us the factory, he took us through the museum. I have to tell you that a woodcarving museum would not have been something that I would have normally visited. Boy am I glad I went. Ernest “Mooney” Warther was a carver and not finding knives that met his needs, he started making them. Others, including his own mother, asked him to make knives for them and soon a business was born.
Each knife was made by hand in a little workshop on his property in Dover, Ohio. Steven showed us the original preserved workshop on the tour. When I heard about Warther’s carvings, I imagined some small pieces of wood where maybe a woodland scene was carved into it. Or maybe a small statue of a bear. What I found astounded me. (so much I forgot to bring out my camera so I am using photos that I found online).
Warther carved trains. Not little ones mind you, but big ones. Engines were often several feet long and carved from wood, ebony or ivory (keep in mind the ivory trade was not restricted back then or even thought of in a negative light). Look at the train above. The white pieces are not plastic. They are pieces of ivory that are individually carved and then assembled. There are hundreds and hundreds of individually carved parts and carved in such intricate detail that train experts find the representations that he put together are perfect.
Each rivet was carved and inserted. Each tiny piece was hand-made without molds. The strip that runs along the engine above the wheels is mother of pearl. If you love trains, carving or have any ability to appreciate the skill and beauty of a true artisan, you MUST go see these beautiful carvings. There are quite a few trains and many other items that demonstrate his skill. His carvings are so perfect that he could (and would) add power to them and the wheels would turn and drive the train. The museum information can be found here.
As a side note, Warther would walk the fields around his house after they had been plowed and picked up arrowheads. There are thousands of them that were found and also displayed in the museum.
Now on to the knives. Warther still hand makes every knife. They purchase high grade steel and have the basic forms laser cut. Here you can see what will turn into a knife. It then goes through quite a few steps of grinding and polishing to create the blade. Warther knives are made so the blade is thinnest at the edge (as you would expect), then get thicker through the center of the blade, but then thins out some near the top. This is done so if you are cutting food that tends to stick to the blade (cheese, veggies) the food separates from the blade as it reaches the thinner top of the knife, making cutting easier than with a typical knife.
The Warther knives get their distinct look through the “spotting” process that gives it the hand hammered look. Here Steven is both moving the blade and choosing each spot to get the next hammer. The blades continue through a polishing and sharpening and even the wooden handles are made in the on-site factory. The process is almost as impressive as those fabulous carvings. Now on to actually using it.
I came home with a min-chef knife. The blade is a 5″ blade but has enough heft to it that it can carry the heavy chopping and cutting load in the kitchen. Here I show it against my 8″ chef knife and 6″ santoku that I often use.
It is difficult to get a great picture of the beauty that the spotting gives to the blade. I also tried to capture the Warther logo, but alas the spotting plays a lot with my lighting.
Many people start with one Warther knife but shortly want more. They sell them both in their shop at the factory and museum and also online.
My Take: I am wholly impressed with this knife. The blade is strong and sharp and it feels great in the hand. The 5″ chef knife is absolutely perfect for those with smaller hands (ladies and pre-teens) who want a knife that fits them but can also do the heavy duty work that a kitchen knife requires. As you would expect, Warther makes a wide variety of knives from serrated steak knives to ones designed for carving wood. Take a look at their selection and try one out. I bet you’ll be back. AND….if you are anywhere near Dover, or can be, I hope you find the museum as interesting as I did.