Knives are one of the most basic and useful tools available. Besides their many constructive uses, they also have the ability to cut someone or something unintentionally. Also, they can go dull if not properly taken care of. There are many good solutions for safely covering a knife, but professional cook Alex Dettwyler made his good-looking and useful wooden knife holders, known as “sayas.” It took him about an hour on his first try, but after some practice, it now takes him less then 30 minutes to make these, not including drying time.
His basic process for making these excellent holders is to cut three layers of balsa wood in a shape slightly larger than the blade. Space is added on the bottom, which is drilled for a pin or leather strap to secure the knife in place. One of the layers is hollowed out inside to fit the blade, and they are glued together to form a cavity for the knife. After some sanding and finishing with “mod podge,” Dettwyler had something very useful to protect his knives with.
As a professional cook that works primarily with vegetables in a French fine dining restaurant, he’s understandably “a bit obsessive about [his] knives.”
As for why Dettwyler was insistent on having his knives well-protected, he states that “Having your own tools and treating them with respect is one of the hallmarks of a professional cook. Someone who can’t take care of their own knives and remember to bring them to work everyday probably won’t excel at cooking either. That’s why we take our knives so seriously.”
This perspective could probably apply equally well to many hands-on trades, where having your own well-maintained tools is critical to doing a good job. “Toolmaker” is the first thing that comes into my mind, but there are certainly other professions for which this would apply.
Check out more images and step-by-step instructions on Imgur.