About Stone Soup Custom Cutlery

A photo of me taken by my son Daniel

My Story

I started making knives almost thirty years ago while travelling the back roads of New England as an itinerant tinker and knife sharpener. The knives in most of the restaurants where I sharpened were not only dull, but poorly made and awkward to work with; homeowners' knives were even worse. Having been around food and kitchens since I was a boy- cooking at home, growing food, working in food coops and restaurants- I knew the importance of good knives.

I taught myself how to make knives with help from books and advice from other craftsmen. I began with Russell Harrington blades and still use them for some knives. When I settled in Port Townsend in 1985 I began designing and grinding my own blades. My repertoire now includes working knives for hunting, boating and other outdoor pursuits, leather sheaths, and kitchen "extras" such as knife holders, spoons and chopsticks.

My goal is to make long lasting, functional cutting tools that are comfortable to use and visually appealing. I enjoy the challenge of combining different materials and of finding a balance between form and function.

Making knives is not only a means for me to live an independent existence and an outlet for my creative self expression. It requires discipline and persistence and serves to remind me that how we do things matters just as much as what we do. By living simply and working honestly I hope to be part of creating a new way of doing things based on mutual aid, small scale production and long term sustainability.


Why Stone Soup?

The name Stone Soup comes from an old folk tale with a pointed message. The story is told in many cultures and with many variations. Here's one I particularly like.

basket of vegetablesThere was an old woman who lived in a small village. One day she told her neighbors that she would make a delicious meal for everyone who wanted to join in. The neighbors were curious, because as far as they knew the woman were as poor as they were.

The next day the woman arrived at the village green with her biggest cooking pot and some firewood. She set some water to simmer. Then she pulled out five smooth stones from her pocket, dropped them one by one in the pot, and started to stir.

The neighborhood children were the first to come around. “What are you making?” they asked. “Stone soup,” she answered. “Come back at suppertime and you’ll have the feast of your lives.”

“All you need is stones and water?” one of them asked. “They are very special stones, very tasty ones,” the woman said. “But it would be so much tastier with an onion or two.”

One little boy ran back to his house, snuck a few onions from the root drawer, and brought them back. The old woman chopped them up and stirred them into the pot.

A little later a couple of housewives came by and heard the same story. Intrigued by this new and economical recipe, they promised to come back to taste—and left some fennel and celery root they’d bought at the market.

And so it went throughout the afternoon, with one neighbor after another stopping by to see how the stone soup was coming along, and adding another ingredient or two, just for flavor.

By sundown, there was an irresistible aroma wafting in all of their windows. To the village green they came, bowls and spoons in hand. Many brought meat and cheese and bread and ale to share with the maker of the stone soup and with the rest of their neighbors. Others brought musical instruments and stories to tell.

At midnight all the villagers returned home, full, happy and a little tipsy, declaring they’d never had such a festive meal as that soup made from stones that they had shared with their neighbors.