Meike Peters: Please introduce yourself.
Martin Löhndorf: My name is Martin Löhndorf and I’m a knife maker at ZWILLING J.A. Henckels GmbH. I was born and bred in Solingen.
Meike Peters: What inspired you to become a knife maker?
Martin Löhndorf: It happened when I was young. We took a school trip to an old grindstone workshop and I was fascinated by how they used water wheels to power the grindstones and how they grinded the blades. It awoke my curiosity.
Meike Peters: Why is Solingen an important region for knives?
Martin Löhndorf: Solingen has a long tradition in knives. It began with the natural local ore and iron reserves. The river Wupper ran through the town and the grindstone workshops settled along it to use the water to power their grindstones.
Meike Peters: How long have you been working at ZWILLING? Did you do your apprenticeship there?
Martin Löhndorf: I did my apprenticeship at a small cutlery factory in Solingen. I only went to ZWILLING afterwards. I’ve been there 24 years now.
Meike Peters: What fascinates you most about craftsmanship?
Martin Löhndorf: Craftsmanship is special because it’s about making things. You produce something and have a finished product at the end. It’s always a wonderful feeling.
Meike Peters: Do you have a favourite knife?
Martin Löhndorf: My favourite knife is the TWIN 1731 Santoku knife. I like working with that the most.
Meike Peters: What is it about the knife that you like so much?
Martin Löhndorf: It sits excellently in the hand. It has a slender blade and the special wood used for the handle feels very good. It’s a real joy to cut with the knife.
Meike Peters: Do you have any tips on how to keep knives sharp for a long time?
Martin Löhndorf: Never clean knives in a dishwasher. After I use a knife I clean it with a soft sponge and wipe it down. If it has a wooden handle, I occasionally apply a little olive oil to help maintain the wood.
Meike Peters: Which part of the manufacturing process do you like the most?
Martin Löhndorf: My favourite part is sharpening the knife. The so-called "stropping". This lets me see the end result. When it cuts well and feels good, then I’m satisfied.
Meike Peters: What shows you that the knife meets your expectations?
Martin Löhndorf: I get a feeling for it during the different stages. Even a beautiful knife is no good if it doesn’t cut. The final polish is decisive.
Meike Peters: How often do you sharpen your knives?
Martin Löhndorf: I don’t sharpen them very often. Every two months maximum.
Meike Peters: Do you have any tips on the best way to sharpen knives at home?
Martin Löhndorf: I would definitely recommend a sharpening steel for the home. You can only achieve real sharpness by having a knife professionally sharpened.
Meike Peters: What are some things to bear in mind in the home?
Martin Löhndorf: You should pay special attention to maintaining the angle. The angle of knife shouldn’t be too steep or too flat because it can damage the blade.
Meike Peters: How often do you pull the knife in each direction over the sharpening steel?
Martin Löhndorf: I first sharpen a knife ten to fifteen times in one direction. I then do the same in the other direction. I pay very close attention to the angle.
Meike Peters: Have you always had a fascination for craftsmanship?
Martin Löhndorf: I grew up with it in Solingen. I started an apprenticeship at an old cutlery factory that still used traditional production methods. It was really interesting to see the craftsmanship at work.