Daniel AllenIn these days of mass production, Sheffield born and bred knife maker Stuart Mitchell is a rare find. Continuing a family tradition, this highly skilled artisan handcrafts the finest knives using stainless steel. But 46-year-old Mitchell builds on more than just a family legacy.
His small workshop in the Portland Works – a historical hotbed of creativity in the city centre – is the very same place where stainless steel cutlery was first manufactured over a century ago.
Created with passion and attention to detail, Stuart Mitchell’s knives are more than just precision tools – they are works of art. Each is designed and manufactured after careful consultation; clients frequently visit Mitchell’s workshop several times to discuss their thoughts and requirements.
As Mitchell explains, his bespoke production process is all about low volume and unrivalled quality. “Each knife is as close to perfection as I can make it, but obviously being handmade, these blades are unique,” says the master craftsman. "I like to think of it as perfect imperfection."
Thanks to the power of the internet, his blades are ordered by people from all around the globe. “My customer base is incredibly wide,” says Mitchell. “Everyone from explorers and expedition guides through to chefs and airline pilots. These are people who are prepared to spend a little more in exchange for higher quality.”
A knife for life
All knives supplied by Stuart Mitchell come with a lifetime guarantee. But beyond its enduring beauty, each blade is crafted to do a job of work. “While some end up in display cases, all of my knives are fit for purpose,” says Mitchell. “Whether it’s out in the field on a hunting trip or in the kitchen, they’re designed to be used on a daily basis.”
As a material for the handcrafted knives, Stuart Mitchell uses Outokumpu's martensitic stainless steel – a far superior quality steel to that typically used in everyday cutlery. He has trusted the same grade for over 20 years.
The composition of the stainless grade provides the ideal level of hardness and guarantees that the blade will never rust. “This is a ‘real world’ stainless steel,” says Mitchell. “Knife users can still sharpen their blades easily, without specialist equipment. It also has a beautiful, finely grained aesthetic. In short, it is the perfect stainless for knife making.”