BERTI: between tradition and innovation on the Tuscan hills - II PART

We are back from our lunch and the silent and gloomy and foggy atmosphere takes us a bit back to the settings of a famous television series of the 80s (Twin Peaks!).
After using Berti knives at the restaurant, the question comes spontaneously:

A: Let's talk about maintenance and hacksaws!

B: So, today a table knife costs 5 euros to sharpen and 8 euros to maintain

A: what's the difference?

B: Sharpening only involves the blade even if, in reality, I also do maintenance on the blade, but I'll do it for free without even saying it. Maintenance instead involves repolishing the handle and the sharpening! Every now and then they ask us for special interventions: broken handle, broken tip, tube in the blade and, obviously, each case must be treated differently.

A: How often is sharpening done in a restaurant?

B: So, a restaurant that wants to keep a knife in good shape should have it sharpened once a year; however, it depends on the pressure the customer has while cutting and the friction between the blade and the plate. Restaurants usually send us their knives to be sharpened when they close.

A: What about the ones that never close? (laughs!)

B: well then in this case maybe they will send me the knives in two tranches. However, we are studying a method for self-sharpening!

A: It seems to me that you do a different sharpening than usual, more similar to the Japanese one.

B: Yes, when it comes to sharpening with the stone. The grinding, on the other hand, turns these two surfaces inclined and normally, depending on the knife, it is from 0.25 to 0.30 mm wide, therefore very thin, but not yet sharp.


The part that will make the knife usable is called sharpening, it normally consists of removing two triangles in this position to make a V shape. This type of sharpening is the most popular today because it is very quick to do by hand and can be done also with a machine.
Well, I instead prefer the refining which we do by hand with three steps which tend to give a converse geometry to the cutting edge. Therefore, no longer a V but a continuous surface.
A: What is the advantage of this sharpening?

B: This type of geometry makes the knife wear out more evenly. In this process we use the stone which can be used in two ways: American style, that is, moving forward, in direction, from one side and then from the other, to cut the stone.
Or Japanese style, bringing the blade towards you on the stone in one direction, and then in the other, with the entire length of the cutting edge and at the same time making a rotation. You can put oil or water on the stone. In general, I prefer water, but oil is more commonly used. The benefit of water is that, while it lubricates, it washes the stone and prevents the stone from becoming clogged. Oil, on the other hand, as you can easily imagine, tends to block the stone.
A: But my second question is missing, which is the cost of producing the hacksaw, how does it change if we are asked this?

B: It works like this, the cost of making the hacksaw costs one euro per knife because we do it by hand. However, we do not have the hacksaw in our catalogue because we believe that food is cut and preserved better if cut without a hacksaw.

A: What about customization?
B: There's no problem with logos, we can even make just one. The problem is having a certain type of colour for the handle but that can be done too, no problem, it just takes a colour study and various tests. Some restaurants keep knives with their customers' names so that when they go there, they use their knife. In Florence for Eataly I had made special knives for Della Valle (CEO of Tod's and Hogan), Matteo Renzi (former Major of Florence) and some famous football players.

While we imagine Della Valle opening the display case and eating a Florentine steak with his knife, let's go and see the production.

There are the machines that print the blades starting from steel plates, the machinery to create the handles of various colours and the entire horn section.
This part, the most artisanal we have ever seen, is also the most complex and longest. In practice, the animal's horn is worked an infinite number of times so that it is smooth and takes on the shape of the handle. There are various types of horn that are used to produce different handle models (which have different prices, of course).
The last sector is that of assembling the parts of the knife, sharpening and engraving the famous initials of the person who created the object. This last point, which might not seem particularly important to most people, is instead a topic that is very close to the heart of both us and Berti. The craftsmanship of an object, especially if produced in Italy, has an inestimable value nowadays. Lately, starting from fashion and getting to the table, we find similar products, almost all mass-produced in faraway countries by workers with very low salary. Here, however, we know exactly who made the product and where it came from. And that's not nothing!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published