Shop Dump: Tony Cetani Of Hourglass Knives

Shop Dump: Tony Cetani Of Hourglass Knives

Tony Cetani has left his mark in the kitchen knife niche grinding it out at Hourglass Knives.

When asked why he makes knives, Anthony “Tony” Cetani of Hourglass Knives grinned and states, “It’s cheaper to make them than buy them.” It was while recovering from knee surgery that he got the idea to make one. “After weeks of reading forums and watching YouTube videos I bought a single-burner forge, a 4×36-inch belt sander, a set of files, a hacksaw and a bar of 1084, and in March 2017 made my first knife,” he recalls.

Tony Cetani
Tony Cetani specializes in such kitchen knives as his Honesuki. It features a 9-inch blade of Riptide cu-mai copper damascus from Baker Forge & Tool and an amboyna burl handle with cu-mai pins and liners. (Baker Forge & Tool knife image)

“It took me a few years to figure out what my niche in the knife world was going to be,” Cetani continues. “With so many amazing makers and designs I wanted to try and set myself apart. In late 2020 I made my first kitchen knife and fell in love. I started with some traditional Japanese styles and put my own spin on them. I love a knife where everything flows together and there are no straight lines in the profile. Though I love making all types of knives, kitchen knives have become a huge part of what sets Hourglass Knives apart.”

In seven short years, Tony has made his mark in the custom knife realm.

“My grinders are my most-used machines in the shop,” he offers. “Whether I’m grinding bevels, contouring handles, getting in tight corners with my small wheels, sharpening a pencil, or chasing scratches on a finished blade that I end up ruining, I use my KMG grinders for everything. Both of these machines have been invaluable to me. Having 1.5-inch tooling-arm slots gives me a ton of different options for attachments and fixtures. Switching belts is quick and easy with no tracking issues. Beaumont makes a tough and very reliable machine.”

Tony Cetani grinding
From grinding bevels to chasing scratches on a finished blade or what have you, Tony uses his KMG grinders for most everything. This is his classic variable speed model. (In his rush to have the picture taken of him grinding for the story, Tony forgot to don his safety glasses.)

Cetani lauds his Foredom SR flexible shaft rotary tool. “There’s a few rotary tools out there I’ve tried but the Foredom has been my favorite. It has tons of different attachments, bits, accessories and the hand pieces can fit most rotary tool bits,” he explains. “The Foredom has given me the ability to do fine detail work on plunge lines, spines, tangs and the like that no other tool can. This rotary tool has helped my finish work immensely.”

For his exquisite knife grips, Tony shares his key to success. “The Palmgren Powergrind-XP 8-inch, 1-horsepower, variable-speed buffer has changed my handle game. For years I ran a 3600-rpm buffer and was really happy with my results,” he reports. “I only use buffing compound when finishing my handles, and the change I saw after using the Palmgren variable speed buffer was phenomenal. Starting at 3600 and being able to drop it down slowly to 900 rpm really helps bring the most out of the wood. Being able to adjust speeds when buffing oxides off or polishing steels has been huge as well. The variable speed buffer is the one tool I wish I would have bought early on in knifemaking.”

Palmgren Powergrind-XP 8-inch, 1-horsepower, variable-speed buffer
The Palmgren Powergrind-XP 8-inch, 1-horsepower, variable-speed buffer has changed Cetani’s handle game. “I only use buffing compound when finishing my handles,” he notes, “and the change I saw after using the Palmgren variable speed buffer was phenomenal.”

For sanding Cetani uses a Edward Braun hand-sanding fixture. “I always disliked hand sanding because of the amount of times I stabbed and/or cut myself. When I first saw Edward Braun had a few hand-sanding fixtures for sale,” he recalls, “I knew I needed one. The fixture makes it fast and easy to secure your knife and start hand sanding. Adjusting the clamp is quick and allows for multiple holds for the specific knife you are working on. Since buying one I still don’t like hand sanding but I haven’t hurt myself!”

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