“Food is at the center of everything I do.”

Meet The Makers

Andy Billipp - Connecticut

“There's nowhere to hide with a kitchen knife, it either cuts or it doesn't, and the customer is going to know right away,” says Andy Billipp, Connecticut-based bladesmith and maker of stunning, one-of-a-kind culinary blades. As evidenced by his own words, Andy holds himself to a high standard, and it shows in each knife he forges. 

The son of artists, his father a photographer and his mother a painter and sculptor, Andy found himself tinkering, making, and creating from the earliest days. Drawing comic books and molding clay in his free time were complemented by the music, painting, woodwork, and sewing he learned as a Waldorf School student. During high school, Andy crafted a wooden prop sword with ornate, coat-hanger handle guard for a class performance that was realistic enough to catch the attention of the local police force during his afternoon commute home. After university where Andy studied outdoor writing and spent his summers as a wrangler and leading horseback tours in Wyoming and Montana, he moved to Boulder, Colorado where two important milestones were realized: he met the woman he would marry, Haley, and discovered the world of knifemaking.

The first knifemaking workshop consisted of a few tools and a bench on the apartment patio where he fashioned reclaimed circular saw and lawnmower blades into knives. From there, a small forge took shape in the driveway where Andy hammered files and old car suspension springs into “vaguely knife-shaped objects.” Then in 2011, Haley’s family asked the young couple if they would take the reins of the family farm, and the two accepted, moving to Newington, CT where they still live, work, and raise their children. Tending to 60 acres, the pair has raised pastured pork and poultry, grown vegetables and flowers, run a yearly farm stand, and deepened their connection to food and the land from which it comes.

Haley had spent a year in Sweden studying traditional woodworking techniques, and her knowledge and collection of edged tools were a big inspiration to Andy as his knifemaking progressed. These simple, utilitarian instruments with as-forged iron blades and carved wood handles comprised a wide variety of shapes and uses, each handmade in small shops in Sweden, and seemed to Andy to speak to the connection between humans and the land on which they live, a connection that has waned almost entirely in our modern lives.

It was 2014, the year the couple’s daughter was born, that Andy officially launched Billipp Knives. Andy’s focus on culinary knives comes from the knowledge that they are the knives used the most, by more people around the world, on a daily basis; culinary knives present an opportunity to improve the day-to-day experiences of countless people whose only time spent ‘making’ is spent in the kitchen.

As the opening quote above suggests, making a chef’s knife that performs is both science and art, and this challenge has fascinated Andy from the beginning. He forges each blade by hand, believing that any hand-forged object should look as such in its finished from. The trick, as Andy aptly states, is making that functional object appear at once both rustic and refined. To do this, Andy employs various techniques, combining, among other attributes, brute-de-forge, semi-integral bolsters with beautifully satin-finished, convex bevels that are thoughtfully tested in his own kitchen and then further refined for optimal performance. His handles as well mix different approaches to produce a unique and recognizable style that marries Japanese and Western forms in a shape that provides the requisite comfort and control needed to wield his typically large blades. From house-made damascus and layered steels to simple, clean high-carbon alloys, Andy relies on the finest materials available to him.

We’ll end as we began, with a quote from this talented artisan: “Having a good knife in the kitchen makes cooking more fun. More satisfying. Considering that most families' time spent together is centered around meals, it's worth making it as enjoyable as possible.”