The Point Square and the Acheulean Hand Ax

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Variations of a knife pattern we are calling The Point has the oldest heritage of almost any cutting tool. Primitive forms of the Acheulian hand ax have been found among the remains of modern man’s distant ancestors that date from 1.7 million years ago in Olduvai Gorge in East Africa and are still in use among primitive cultures today. This makes this type of cutting instrument man’s oldest complexly worked cutting tool.

For a tool to persist this long, one would think that it must have had some utility, and indeed it has. My modern version is gripped the same way, in the palm of the hand and the cutting point is guided by the index finger of the master hand to make precision cuts in food and other products. The Point Square is distinguished in that it has a square hole through which the fingers fit and also has a cutting edge as well as a pencil-sharp point.

Because others of Hovey’s Knives of China™ knives have truncated points , The Point series of knives is made to provide a separate point for use for delicate cutting used. The fact that it also has a short blade means that it can also be used for cutting and dicing small objects, or larger purposes like skinning game where delicate control is required. Its flat shape and compact size make it ideal for use as a knife for skinning animal heads in place of bulkier knives.

An introductory video showing the use of this knife to make a pasta dish with shoe-string cut meats, wholewheat pasta and horseradish sauce may be seen at: https://youtu.be/MsFBXQ89D-w. The top photo is from that video which also shows an original Acheulean hand ax from France. This example was made some 10,000 years ago and was associated with the famous cave paintings that illustrated man and extinct Pleistocene animals, such as the mammoth.

Other variants of this shape will be offered in two sizes. The one that is demonstrated is a small size, and others for working fish and sushi will have a handle and more than one cutting blade.

If you are interested in finding out about man’s early use of this tool, the best popular reference is Making Silent Stones Speak: Human evolution and the dawn of Technology by Kathy D. Schick and Nicholas Toth that was published by Simon & Schuster in 1993. I published my own take on stone knives, which included processing game and working on a bison hide, in an article titled Chips off and Old Rock in the Krause annual Knives 2010, edited by Joe Kertzman.

 

A new YouTube Channel, Hovey’s Knives of China™, has been started to contain videos about these knives, how to make them, their uses and other information designed to help modern cooks and chefs better understand the uses of these ancient, but effective, knives. The first four videos posted are also available on Hovey Hunts, another of my Channels, and Pinterest. New  videos about the knife-making process will be posted on the new Channel as well as those related to the company, promotions, job openings etc.

The new channel now has four of the previously published videos showing uses of  the Bock Choy  and Cabbage and Duck choppers. You may see one of the videos and access the channel by viewing the following video: https://youtu.be/NxmeoZKK5yw which shows both of these knives in use during my making of an  cold slaw.
A video of the first knife to be made, the Bok Choy Chopper, appears below:

 

 

The Bok Choy will be available as a custom Signature knife made by Bladesmith Paul Hjort in Central Georgia. Available options include the style of grind on the blade, handle material and type of point.  The edge may be double ground or single ground in either right-or-left-handed versions. The point may be truncated (square) or pencil pointed as is the demonstration knife. Several varieties of wood or composition grips will be offered, depending on their availability at the time of order.

While the signature knives will be made exclusively in Georgia, these are open-source designs, meaning that anyone or any company may make them. If you wish to use my name or trademark in association with these, I will license that use for 5% of the retail price, publicize them on this blog and other places and display them at my table at the Annual Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta. This year’s show will be June 3-5, and I will have Table 16 U.  I will also have steel water-jet-cut  blanks of a number of my patterns for individual or company sales. Payment may be in cash, check or Company P.O.

Hovey’s Knives of China

One of man’s first purposefully made tools were cutting blades over a million-years ago, and knives have been produced ever since made from wood, bone, stone, native metals, bronze, iron and steel. Modern cooking knives are mostly derived from European and Japanese designs, but hundreds of other practical designs were made in ages past. At Hovey’s Knives of China™, we have taken designs that were developed over millenia, modified them to modern needs and remade them of modern steels to give cooks and chefs the opportunity to use some extremely useful knives that have not been seen for thousands of years.

Chef Joe, at the Marriott Hotel in Zhengzhow, uses one of my slicing designs to carve a roast, wooden patterns of some prototype designs, a replica of a city of the period and a pottery model of a place recovered from a toom, now on exhibit at the State Museum. 

The first production patterns are derived from Chinese bronze knives produced during the Waring States Period and recovered from archeological digs in Central China. These types of knives with their distinctive inclined handles and open round knobs are also noteworthy in that they were the basis for the “knife money” of the period. In a society where bronze was a material of value and few had pockets to carry such large objects, these were carried strung together. Examples of such money are seen in museums throughout the world with noteworthy exhibits being at the state museum in Zhengzhou, China. This coinage was an example of one of the many styles of knives used to prepare elaborate meals in palace kitchens on a scale only rivaled in Imperial Rome.

Knife money and cash coin Waring States Period Henan State Museum

Chinese knife money, left, was replaced by the later, more convenient, cash coins. We derive the English name “cash” from this ancient Chinese coin. 

The money knives were choppers used to process vegetables and meat. There were also slicers and cleavers in addition to smaller utility knives made in bronze. Military bronze axes, knives, swords,  spears, arrows and crossbows were also found in these excavations. However, at Hovey’s Knives we are principally interested in adapting the cooking style of knives to modern kitchens. The first designs to be introduced are the choppers, in various sizes, with two blade grinds and are available as custom knives. These Signature Knives are all made in Central Georgia  under the direction of myself and the company’s Knifemaker, Paul Hjort.

A new marketing method, Open Source Design, will be used to make and sell these knives. Any company or individual maker may produce knives of, or based on, the patterns that I described. I do not intend to patent them. However if you use my name and licensed trademark  I will receive 5% of retail. You may price them as inexpensively, or as expensively, as your market and the workmanship allows. In return, if you send me test knives, I will test and rate them on this blog and exhibit them at the Annual International Blade Show in Atlanta, and eventually at other shows. This year I will be a booth 16U at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta from June 3-5.

At this year’s show I will have examples of the prototype knives and blade blanks cut from T-410 Stainless Steel for sale. I will also be taking orders for the blade blanks from individuals and companies. Payment may be by cash, check or Company P.O. Bulk orders from this or other steels may be arranged and drop shipped directly from my fabricator in Atlanta, Georgia,

A continuing feature of this blog will be postings as I work on and perfect new knife shapes and try them out in the field and in the kitchen. Many of these postings will incorporate videos which will also be posted as  Hovey’s Knives of China on Pinterest,  Facebook, YouTube and other locations.  Several postings are already available. For orders, questions or requests for information contact me at hovey@hoveysknivesofchina.com