Formerly an architectural metalworker and blacksmith, Hereford-based William Catcheside was caught up in the recession and decided to put his skills – and his tools – to work, creating high-end knives in the Japanese style instead. "I use a power hammer and a hydraulic press," he says, "and I work with a patterned steel called mosaic damascus. You take slices off it, and each slice becomes a knife with a pattern on top with the blade. You sort of have to think in 3D."
Catcheside generally works to commission, so prices depend on clients’ specifications. Though he does put the occasional knife up for sale online: "I get that buzz, I always panic that they won’t sell, but the last two were worth £700 each, and went within 15 minutes."
Catcheside says he’s the only person producing knives at this level in the UK. "They’re so thin at the edge that by the time I’ve finished grinding and polishing, they’re less than 0.1mm." With an eight-month waiting list for his blades, his career change appears a very sharp move.