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Hugo Byrne

Hugo Byrne Knife maker
Contact
Irish, English
Hours:
By appointment only
Phone:
+353 851546377
© Doreen Kilfeather

The satisfaction of crafting knives

  • • There is a waiting list to own one of Hugo's knives
  • • To him, a knife is a perfect machine
  • • His blades change colour as they are used

Hugo Byrne studied fine art, but left art college still searching for direction. He was always drawn to making, lured by the idea of a studio full of tools and the potential of such a space. He undertook an internship in object conservation in Letterfrack on the remote west coast of Ireland, where he learned skills across multiple disciplines, working on anything from a horse-drawn carriage to a tiny key. However he came upon knife making by chance. He now makes stunning chefs’ knives using steel, wood, plastic and other found materials, a process he loves. “There is something very satisfying about going to sleep knowing I created something that wasn’t there when I woke up,” he says.

Read the full interview

Works

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Damascus Santoku

The blade of this knife was made from many layers of high carbon steel, pattern welded together and finally clad in stainless steel. When worked back, the stainless steel revealed the Damascus core beneath. The handle was made from spalted beech and turf from County Kerry, Ireland. Turf, or peat, covers huge areas of Ireland in natural bogs, and the smell of turf smoke is synonymous with old Ireland. Hugo aimed to include this idea in this knife.

Length 27 cm
Width 4 cm
Depth 2 cm

Hugo Byrne Knife maker
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Petty

Bog oak occurs when an oak tree falls in a bog, and, preserved from decay over thousands of years, begins to fossilise. The colour darkens and the material hardens. This bog oak was given to Hugo as a gift from a renowned woodturner and Benedictine monk from Glenstal Abbey. Hugo found it interesting to juxtapose this ancient sub-fossilised wood with ultra-contemporary plastic washed up on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, which could have come from anywhere.

Length 27 cm
Width 3 cm
Depth 3 cm

Hugo Byrne Knife maker
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Santoku

This piece was commissioned as a wedding gift and the handle was made from two different woods, one from the bride’s family home and the other from the groom’s. That one of them turned out to be such a stunning piece of yew was just a stroke of good luck.

Length 32 cm
Width 5 cm
Depth 3 cm

Hugo Byrne Knife maker
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Nakiri

To make a knife, the steel has to be hardened. This is done by heating it to a critical temperature and then quenching it in oil. Hugo heat treats his blades in a gas fired kiln, which results in some decarburisation and gives the blackened texture seen along the spine of this knife. Hugo likes the fact that the kiln contributes to the knife's aesthetic quality, as well as its function, and he tries to retain these textured surfaces when possible.

Length 30 cm
Width 5 cm
Depth 2 cm

Hugo Byrne Knife maker
Photo: © All rights reserved
Slicer

The style of this knife is what is known as 'full tang', which means that the blade and the handle are part of the same piece of steel, and that the tang of the knife – the unsharpened edge – is visible down the centre of the handle. Most knives in the western world follow this design. The handle of this particular knife uses wood salvaged from a cabinet from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, and African wenge wood found in an old warehouse in County Cork.

Length 38 cm
Width 5 cm
Depth 3 cm

Hugo Byrne Knife maker

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