Knives will always be part of our lives

Rick Afonso
Rick Afonso

He was just nine years old when his father bought him his first knife, and ever since Rick Afonso has had a love affair with knives.

Afonso, from Fish Hoek, is the chair of the Cape Knifemakers Guild, who is hosting its annual show on 22 and 23 November.

“Since I got my first knife, a Swiss army knife, I have always had a knife with me. I used my knife as a tool to cut everything. I spent some time on a farm and there was always something that needed cutting, so a knife became a constant,” says Afonso.

When he was 16 he went to a gun show in Johannesburg with his father and his passion for knives was further established.

“At the gun show there was a stand with custom knives. Comparing the knives I owned with those knives was like comparing a Toyota with a Ferrari. I then decided to teach myself the art of knifemaking. It was the beginning of the internet so I mostly used books to teach myself. I have only done one formal course,” he says.

According to him, television programmes like Forgedin Fire definitely help make knifemaking more popular.

“We have noticed an increase in people showing an interest in the art of knifemaking, so programmes like those are welcomed,” says Afonso.

“On the negative side it shows only a little bit of what knifemaking is about. There are processes that are not shown because it doesn’t make for good television. This gives viewers the idea that in order to make a good knife takes an hour. I am not saying that you cannot make a knife in an hour, but the real artworks take days, weeks or even months,” he adds.

He reckons that knifemaking will be around for a long time.

“Knives are probably the first tools men used. Even if it was a piece of rock that was sharpened, it was a knife. In ancient times knives were used for war and to cut things; and today still we are using knives for cutting, even though we don’t use it for killing. The ideals for the guild are those of perfection through work, skill through learning, and fellowship through generosity, where we are able to create a knife of the highest order of craftsmanship from a piece of blank steel,” says Afonso.

The show will take place at the Jansen Hall, Jansen Road, Milnerton.

  • For more information on the guild and the knives their members make please visit and find them on Facebook @CapeKnifemakersGuild.

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