The PYRASTER brand became 25 years old in 2014. Apart from Hungary, this name has become well-known in Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands as well as outside Europe.
The experiences of the years have urged and inspired me to turn back to traditional methods, hand tools have got greater role than they had 10-20 years ago. Certain works can and should be done by machines – knife-grinder, belt sander etc. – however e.g. the fine and final grinding are done by hand, using wet grindstones. The sharp lines and plane surfaces are more effective on the blades.
The time spent on a knife has increased – opposing the current trend – but the quality and the sight, the appearance have improved. Though the use-value of swords have practically come to an end and soon it will also happen to knives, this workshop is not willing to give up quality and unique handwork. Its existence proves that there’s still a demand for it and hopefully there’ll always be.
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A Pyraster knife has to meet the following simple requirements: usable blade made of good steel, handy but decorative hilt, and the aesthetic harmony of the blade and the hilt.
There is neither mass-production nor even small series. There are no two same knives or swords, each of them is unique. Knives are continuously made thus a stock of 10-30 pieces is available all the time. Most of the knives shown on the homepage have already been sold out but I am ready to make similar ones on request. There is a possibility to change, modify every knife. If you like a knife shape it can be made of different steel and hilt material. I take on the preparation of own design knives but only within certain conditions and terms. It requires a personal meeting or at least a thorough discussion just like in case of swords which are custom-made.
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The main specialty of the Pyraster workshop is the so-called Damascus steel. This legendary steel and its fabrication are thousands of years old since Roman and Viking swords were all found with such a blade. It was known and made in several parts of the world and has its renaissance these days. Its making requires great expertise and routine. Its essence is the unification of the two types of steel which is blacksmith welding. It means that the steel sheets have to be forged together near their melting points. This temperature cannot be measured in the forge fire, the blacksmith can only rely on his/her senses. It can be said that even the best ones can work with 80% success. The forged sheets have to be cut in, then folded and forged again (it’s enough to make one small mistake at the last folding and the whole work gets wasted).
Starting from nine layers, after the first cutting-folding we get 18, after the second we get 36…at the seventh we get 576 and so on.
I use two types of steel. One of them is WNr.1.2842 which contains high manganese, it gives the darker, black colour of the blade. The other is 75Ni8 with higher nickel content, it gives the white, silver colour. The contrast of these two steels is the most spectacular. Why is Damascus steel good apart from its outlook? By mixing the two materials we get a new one with new characteristics. Owing to the several blacksmith weldings and stretching, a fine crystal sctructured steel comes into being which is flexible and will hold its edge after hardening. In case of such a blade, during its usage the softer layers at the edge will get thinner thus the harder ones will overtop and we get a „micro saw”. That’s why we say that the Damascus steel „bites better”.
In the past there used to be two reasons for using Damascus style. On the one hand, there was no good quality steel and by folding, coinage the quality could be improved, it became more homogenous. On the other hand, the smallest cog could be „recycled” by using this method since little iron was available, therefore it was expensive. Nowadays the materials available for the Damascus method are much better quality therefore there is no use of going over a certain layer number.
The number of layers of my blades is usually 120-300 layers, but its multiple can also be asked. The Damascus steel can be patterned, there is a wide range of them: wave, small rose, big rose, sun-ray, torsion, Turkish and mosaic Damascus.
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The blades can be made of:
- Damascus steel
- Hand forged wolfram steels (WNr1.2516, WNr.1.2550, WNr.1.2419 and WNr.1.2562
- Hand forged carbon steels (S70, S80, S90, S110, S132)
- Hundreds years old wootz steel
- Stainless steels: ATS34, 440C
Holding edge is the most important requirement for a knife. It is affected by three factors: temper, toughness and wear resistance. Temper and wear resistance can be increased only at the expense of its toughness, a very hard knife (with high Rockwell number) can break, its edge can break off, chip. It cannot happen to a badly hardened knife though it won’t have edge for a long time. The solution is a compromise between the two, there is no magic-knife which can slice, cut meat, dry wood and marble nicely.
A knife is a tool for using it therefore it wears away. It has to be sharpened sooner or later, which can be learnt. I recommend wet or oily stones, 400, and for fine sharpening 1000-4000 finesse. I sharpen knives (made by me) again with thickened edge thus they will be easy to sharpen them for years. I do not sharpen knives made by others.
The modern stainless steels fold their edge but sharpening them is very difficult. Those who are not experienced, will suffer with them. The Damascus and carbon steels can be sharpened much more easily and their hold of edge will last as long as of the stainless steel ones. Though they have to be treated, oiled, not to get rusty.
A knife is made for cutting. A knife is not a chisel, an axe, a hammer, a crowbar nor a screwdriver. The regular enemies of a knife are soil, (one of the finest abradants), paper, gum, hair, porcelain (plate), rail …
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I only use natural materials, I never use any plastic. Plastic has intruded our lives in too many fields…
Bones: stag antler, reindeer antler, camel, mammoth tusk, giraffe, walrus tusk, mammoth teef, african warthog tusk, stabilizered fossilized bones.
Woods: Desert ironwood, amboina, wenge, grenadill, sheoak, bruyere, bokote, cocobolo, zirikote, palisander, ebony, padouk, bubinga, gold maley, sneakwood, banksia, etc.
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The blades of the swords are made of S80, S90 or Damascus steels, I do not use stainless steel for them. I only make authentic swords and only on request. The blade is always hand-forged and hardened, just like in the past. I make neither practice swords nor exercise swords. The final grinding is always made with wet hand, wet stones which usually takes for 3-5 days but in case of Japanese swords it might be more than a week. The body of the scabbards is lime tree, covered with leather. The iron mountings are made by a goldsmith from copper, bronze or silver. Mounting semi-precious stones is also feasible.
My speciality is the production of Japanese swords in a traditional way. The blade can be made of S80, S90 and Damascus-steel (in this case the minimum layer number is 15 000) and also from Japanese tamahagene. The hardening is made with clay tempering method, and a sword with a hamon is the result of many years of experimentation and practising. I make katana, wakizashi and tanto from mono (S80, S90) steel with the same method as well.
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Japan sword prices
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