Of wood and steel: The Dexter-Russell Christmas knife

This is the story of how Keith Banks happened to find a wooden knife under the Christmas tree in 2012, a cedar creation that was soon replaced by a quality Dexter-Russell blade likely to last as long as the story of Keith’s wooden knife.

Keith isn’t the one who tells this tale, neither are we. Instead, it’s Arthur MacAuslan, father of Keith’s wife Kris, who gets that pleasure. In a note to KaTom, he writes that he’s owned a Dexter-Russell knife for more than 13 years. His is a 14-inch beauty made of the high carbon steel Dexter-Russell has used for decades, though the company no longer makes a blade longer than 12 inches.

Arthur has loved that knife, treasuring it for the very sharpness and durability that have made Dexter-Russell a leader in knives for home chefs.

”It is the original high-carbon steel that took on the color of gun metal over the decades,” Arthur writes. “In the past year, I discovered the stain-free high-carbon steel Connoisseur series of forged knives by Dexter-Russell. The largest forged chef’s knife made was the 12-inch model that I bought for myself six months ago.”

Dexter Russel Chef's Knife

Dexter-Russell Connoisseur knives are built with the same high-carbon steel as Arthur’s original knife, but now in a stainless version affixed to a premium rosewood handle that is infused with polymers and resins perfectly engineered to make it sanitary and strong. Each piece is made in the United States and is individually sharpened to ensure an unparalleled edge, designed for executive chefs but great for the home chef, too.

Arthur quickly put his new knife to work at family meals. At one of those, Arthur was serving venison to Kris and Keith, cutting the meat on the bias.

”Keith was amazed at the ease of cutting and then again when I used the broad blade to pick up stacks of slices and arrange them on a platter,” Arthur wrote to us, adding that Keith is an information technology professional with little experience with kitchen tools.

That meal, combined with Arthur’s knowledge there wasn’t a truly sharp knife in Keith’s kitchen arsenal prompted the father-in-law to consider quite a generous Christmas gift for his son-in-law: A Dexter-Russell Connoisseur knife of his own. Arthur put in his order in mid-December, but he wasn’t the only one with the idea of putting a blade under the tree. As an e-mail from KaTom informed him, the Cook’s Knife he wanted was on backorder with Dexter-Russell; it wouldn’t arrive until after the holiday.

Crafting Dexter-Russell steel in wood

That was no problem for Arthur, a hobbyist wood worker and carver. He headed to his shop and grabbed a cedar shingle, then set to work. He carved an exact replica of his own 12-inch Dexter-Russell Connoisseur knife, putting his craft into the package his blade came in and wrapping it for Keith.

Wooden and Steel knives

”As Keith began to unwrap his gift on Christmas day he got cocky and said, ‘I know what this is!’” Arthur recalls. “He looked at it through the clear package and asked, ‘What’s on it?’ I replied, ‘Rust proofing. Take it out.’ When he did, I told him the real one is backordered. It was then that he realized it was wood. He danced around the room showing everyone his wooden knife, making verbal notes about the craftsmanship.”

The real knife arrived a few days later and was presented to Keith on New Year’s Eve.

”He is delighted to own a fine knife,” Arthur reports.

Being a father-in-law, Arthur couldn’t help but slip a little joke at Keith’s expense into his message detailing the gift.


He should know. He signed the note, “Arthur MacAuslan (retired software developer).”

Derek Hodges
Derek Hodges

Derek Hodges is a proud North Carolinian who moved to Tennessee in 2006 to preach the gospel of Cheerwine and mix some Tar Heel blue in with all the orange. He has made wonderful friends who tolerate occasional remarks like those above. He and his wife Amanda enjoy spending weekends at Dollywood and trying to convince their dog Shiloh to get over his fear of swimming.

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