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Jīnmén chef's knives: made from artillery shells (long, large photos)

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Jīnmén chef's knives: made from artillery shells (long, large photos)

Post  Fortigurn on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:06 pm

I realise this isn't Steampunk, but I thought some here would be interested in these photos all the same. I'm spent some time in Jīnmén over the last couple of days. Jīnmén is a small island next to Taiwan, and is one of Taiwan's counties. It is also territory contested by Mao Land, and was subjected to about 20 years of utterly futile artillery bombardment by the Maoists. Enterprising locals created a cottage industry making knives from the artillery shells (scroll down for photos), many of which contained propaganda leaflets, and so did not destroy themselves completely. For those uninterested in reading further, scroll down to the photos and then come back here later.

The most renowned company making these is Chin Ho Li Steel Knife Factory (金合利), a family business started by knife maker Wu Tseng Dong (吳增棟), back in 1937. Currently the business (which has taken the English name 'Maestro Wu'), is led by Wu Tsong Shan (吳宗山), a third generation descendant of the original Wu, and a master blacksmith. He's a tall and wiry guy who has been making knives for 30 years (he's 51 now), and still cranks them out by hand.

Knives by Maestro Wu are now known, owned, and recommended by chefs in Taiwan and internationally. More on the business here.

My wife and I visited the Maestro Wu family business during our trip to Jīnmén. We watched with great interest as one of the blacksmiths showed us a bit of metal cut from an artillery shell (they were absolutely littering the place, piled up all over the smithy), and then proceeded to work it into shape with the help of another blacksmith. We saw the entire process, from a crusty looking lump of dirty steel, to this.

Spoiler:

We had come to Maestro Wu specially to purchase their knives, and ended up buying several. Here they are. All photos were taken by me at home, not with any particular care, so do pardon the lack of artistic merit.

A general purpose cutter which they gave us as a free gift when we bought a set of two other knives.

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A small veggie or fruit knife. Nice little chopper.

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A well sized slicer I bought for my sister in Australia, who studied catering.

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A large and solid cutter I bought for my wife, for the big veggies.

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Finally, no Chinese kitchen would be without this, a mighty cleaver (also for my wife, purchased as a set with the previous knife).

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Re: Jīnmén chef's knives: made from artillery shells (long, large photos)

Post  Herr Döktor on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:29 pm

You might have been better to stick the knives in off topic, but doesn't really bother me, as this is FANTASTIC! Certainly fits in with the very Steampunk ethos of make and modify- what a brilliant way of reusing spent shells! Very Happy
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Re: Jīnmén chef's knives: made from artillery shells (long, large photos)

Post  OldProfessorBear on Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:38 pm

What a wonderful example of "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"!

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Re: Jīnmén chef's knives: made from artillery shells (long, large photos)

Post  The Kernel on Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:45 pm

A work colleague visited Cambodia and saw canoes made out of B52 long range drop tanks from the Vietnam war era.

A similar piece of adaptation.

(Basically they just cut then in half longitudinally and hammered out the dents, the internal dividers and struts acting as seats)
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Re: Jīnmén chef's knives: made from artillery shells (long, large photos)

Post  Angus McCarthy on Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:57 am

OldProfessorBear wrote:What a wonderful example of "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"!
And even moreso: "Hammering swords into plowshares"

...or, shells into kitchen utensils. You get the idea.
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Re: Jīnmén chef's knives: made from artillery shells (long, large photos)

Post  Fortigurn on Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:14 am

Angus, yes 'swords to ploughshares' is exactly what came to my mind. For further interest, shells from which the knives are made.

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Showpiece demonstrating the origin of the knives from the shells.

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