Like I have many a time before, I set out in search of something unique, something different, something known by few, yet revered by many, and something made to last. This time my journey led me far outside Buenos Aires to the Argentine countryside. With an open mind and my heart beating with excitement, I ventured out to meet my "hombre" Martín. I had been introduced to Martín through a friend of a friend of a friend sort of thing, and he agreed to show me around his area of the country.
We spent the day driving around visiting tanneries, meeting leather makers, visiting his beautiful estancia and sharing mate. The sun was setting as we slowly rolled into a quiet countryside town that looked like something out of a postcard 40 years ago. Martín parked his pickup outside of a shop and said emphatically, “You must meet this guy. He is one of the best knife makers in all of Argentina.”
It was around 8 PM as we approached the shop with only a single light flickering in the back. Martín rang the doorbell and another light came on. An older gentleman, with sun weathered skin, a hint of white scruff and purposefully dressed, answered the door. “Martín!” he said, “Como estas!” in a deep, raspy voice. Martín and he exchanged greetings before Martín introduced us to him, “I’d like you to meet Chavo."
Chavo humbly welcomed us into his shop. One could tell almost immediately that he’d been in the same shop refining his tasks for decades. I couldn’t wait to see what was inside. We asked Chavo if he would show us around, to which he graciously obliged. He showed us carving sets, steak knives, grilling utensils, and other blades of all sizes. Some made of silver, some of white gold, and some of steel, with hand-braided rawhide for handles. Each one completely unique and each one a true artisan piece. We found what we had been searching for. Chavo continues to show us the different types of blades and what distinguishes one blade from another. "The best blades," Chavo said, "the sharpest and the strongest... German."
It quickly became obvious that we’d been introduced to someone who has spent the better part of his life perfecting his craft, nestled in this quiet town. We humbly asked Chavo if he’ll show us the process to these works of art. He told us that he didn't share his workspace with many visitors, but because we’re a friend of Martín he was happy to do so. Chavo took us behind the door in the backroom and into his workshop. The workshop was full—absolutely full—of tools and machines. Old machines. Machines that were originally made without motors that Chavo had custom fit with motors somewhere along the way. They looked their age, but they were sturdy, build to last, and their most important parts well maintained and up to date. The tools looked as if they had been used every day for years and were still standing the test of time. You knew that if this shop could speak, the stories it would tell could certainly entertain.
Chavo showed us how he used heat to soften the metal and shape it as he needed and then how he shaped the handles and sharpened the blades. Then he shared with us how the rawhide handles are made, and how the strips of rawhide leather are hand-cut and braided, some of them dyed, to form different designs, each one truly unique.
Afterwards, we walked back to the front of the shop where we looked at Chavo’s complete collection of knives. Armed with a better understanding of his craft, we viewed the knives in a whole new light. The attention to detail, the time and the craftsmanship that goes into each piece is a story in and of itself. These knives aren’t just knives. They’re the ongoing story of a master craftsman in the heart of Argentina perfecting his craft over decades.
In the coming weeks we will be releasing a select number of Limited Issue knives from Chavo’s shop. We invite you to come back and look at the craftsmanship and quality of these Argentine masterpieces. If you find that we are sold out and you’d like to order, please shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Chavo. And thank you, Martín.
Until next time, "Chao amigo."