User:RobVandeB/Murray Carter

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Murray M. Carter
PortrateMurray small.jpg
Occupation17th Generation Yoshimoto Bladesmith and Certified Master Bladesmith, Knifemaker, owner of Carter Cutlery

Murray Carter is a seventeenth generation Yoshimoto bladesmith[1][2][3][4][5] and Certified Master Bladesmith. He is the first Caucasian to earn the title of a Yoshimoto Bladesmith[1][2][3][4][5][6] He is the owner and founder of Carter Cutlery, based in Vernonia, Oregon, United States.

Carter grew up in eastern Canada and through outdoor activities he used a variety of blades, which led him to be disappointed in the overall quality of the knives to which he was exposed. From these experiences he derived a desire to make something better.[1][2]


Murray Carter’s first forged knife (1990)

After graduating from high school, Murray Carter traveled to the rural village of Kumamoto in Japan, where, after an apprenticeship under the tutelage of the owner of a Japanese bladesmith's shop, a sixteenth generation Yoshimoto bladesmith, he became the only Caucasian to take the position of number seventeen in the Sakemoto family tradition of Yoshimoto Bladesmithing. Likewise, he was the first foreigner on the Japanese island of Kyūshū to obtain a shotgun and hunting license.[1][2] [5][4]

American citizenship[edit]

Carter Whitecrane

After eighteen years of studying and working as a bladesmith in a small blade shop in the village of Kumamoto, Japan, Carter decided to pursue his version of the American Dream[2][4]. Although he made a decent living selling enough knives domestically in Japan, the increasing high level of interest from his Western customers, led him to move to the U.S.A.[2][4].

This decision meant Carter had to apply for an immigrant visa, a process that took him five years of endless writing and filling numerous application forms. The end result of Carter’s hard work and determination was that he was the first Caucasian in history to be designated an “Alien Of Extra-Ordinary Ability”[7] by the US Immigration and Naturalization Services (now the Department of Homeland Security) based on his accomplishments as a traditional Japanese bladesmith.[2][4]

Carter Cutlery
HeadquartersVernonia, Oregon
Key people
Murray M. Carter, Founder & Owner
ProductsHandmade Knives and kitchen Cutlery

Carter and his wife decided to relocate their family to Vernonia, Oregon, where he expanded his bladesmithing business[8].

Career and Achievements[edit]

Because of his ambition to establish a business in the U.S., Carter wanted recognition for his competence as a bladesmith in the Western world. He decided to certify his level of skill and in June 2001, Murray Carter was awarded the rating of Mastersmith by the American Bladesmith Society[9]>[3] thus proving a degree of competency by Western standards.

He did this cutting performance test[10] under the supervision of one of the founders of the American Bladesmith Society and legendary bladesmith, W.F Moran.[11] This demanding test is developed and intended to put a knife repeatedly under severe stress and has to be tested by its maker. Any knife that survives this test is a testament of the high level of skill of the bladesmith. The blade Carter tested was one with a 200 layer Damascus steel core[2].

At the end of the test, W.F Moran[11] inspected the knife to see how it held up, and noticed the knife's edge was still in perfect shape, whilst shaving the hairs of his arm[2].

Damascus Gyuto

Carter’s products vary extensively from traditional Japanese high quality kitchen cutlery [12] used by professional top chefs (such as Yanagi ba, Wabocho, Nakiri bocho, Funayuki bocho, Deba bocho), outdoor knives, custom orders, to every day working knives, all handmade utilizing his acquired ancient Japanese bladesmithing skills.

Kuro-Uchi, traditional Japanese kitchen blade

Carter is currently the only Master Bladesmith in the U.S. making custom kitchen knives.[13]

As a custom knife builder, Carter uses different types ofexotic handle materials; ranging from Cocobolo, Macassar Ebony, Rosewood, Micarta, Dymondwood, Bocote, Desert Ironwood, Stag and others.

Carter uses two basic steels,Hitachi White steel and Hitachi Blue Super steel; the properties of each are believed to be unchanged for over 1200 years. He is also known for using Damascus steel for its appealing look on custom knives, which he forges himself, rather than cutting it out of a factory delivered work piece.

Carter is a known innovator in the cutlery industry for his use of laminated steel in high performance blades. His original combinations of SUS410 stainless steel laminated over Yasuki Hagane White Steel #1 or Blue Super Steel have set new standards in blade design. When Carter brought his blades to the world’s premier cutlery event in Atlanta, Georgia "The Blade Show" in 1998, the industry took notice.

A Carter Cutlery damascus Bowie style knife

Now, as a result, several major manufacturers of cutlery offer similar laminated blades on their knives.

Also of significant importance, Carter was the inventor of two major cutting tests that are used extensively within the American Bladesmith Society and also in other cutlery circles to assess the cutting performance of outdoor style knives.

These tests consists of cutting soda cans or plastic jugs full of water (or empty)

Knife featured in the epic “The last Kajiya”

with a single motion to determine the sharpeness of a blade, with the intention to inflict minimal movement to the objects.

The Craft Of Sharpening[edit]

In Carter's quest for understanding everything involved in creating high quality cutlery, Carter became fascinated about the art of sharpening knives and what exactly makes a knife sharp. In order to fully understand the concept of sharpening, he committed himself to shave with a straight razor for more then two years[14].

From this experience he developed his mastery in sharpening and invented a test[15][14][16] to determine if a blade is at its sharpest, which he named "the three finger test of sharpness”. This test (which he popularized and also demonstrates in his sharpening DVD's), in combination with a shaving test, is a way to test the true sharpness of a blade.

When using conventional testing methods, one might consider a knife sharp. But in most cases a possible burr on the blade's edge may give this sharp result. Using the three finger test of sharpness remedies this, while in addition one would notice that a blade can reach a much higher level of sharpness.

Another aspect that the “three finger test of sharpness” also reveals, is that many knives can be much sharper then when they appear to be at their sharpest, using the conventional methods of testing[15][14].

Carter is also known for demonstrating[17] his knife sharpening techniques at international knife shows, followed by shaving his beard with a freshly sharpened every day working knife, and since 2009 with the use of a machete[18]


In July 2007, Carter established North America’s only Traditional Japanese Bladesmithing school,[19] with courses ranging from a one day introductory class to a six day intensive class in which the students design, forge and complete three knives

A set of Carter Cutlery damascus Bowie style knives

during the class themselves. Since its commencement, the school remains the most exclusive instruction of its kind in the world.[4][8]


Carter released two DVD’s on sharpening knives[20][21][15][14]. In these instructional DVD’s he discusses a range of topics concerning the maintenance of knives, techniques on how to make a knife what he calls "Scary Sharp", advocates the use of Japanese waterstones, but also shows his sharpening skills on a concrete cinder block and piece of cardboard to produce a razor sharp edge.

  • Introduction to Knife Sharpening (2004)
  • Advanced Blade Sharpening (2007)

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Background:"Carter Cutlery Newsletter". 2009-01-05. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Meet Murray". 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-16. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b c "Master Smith Bio". Retrieved 2010-04-03. External link in |work= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Hovey Smith, William Knife World, Vol. 34 No. 10 (October 2008) “Japanese vs. Western Blademaking” pp. 22-27
  5. ^ a b c Hawks, Chuck (2007). "The 2007 American Bladesmith Society Show". Knives and Multi-tools. Retrieved 2008-09-22. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Black, Michael S. (2006). "The Muteki Knives Of Murray Carter". pp. 26 to 29. Retrieved 2009-02-16. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Terms of achieving the gradation "Alien Of ExtraOrdinary Ability"[1], Retrieved on 2008-09-20
  8. ^ a b Hovey Smith, William 29th Annual Knives 2009 “Schooled in the Ways of the Samurai” (2009)pp. 36-40
  9. ^ Notation in the American Bladesmith Society Mastersmith list[2], Retrieved on 2008-09-20.
  10. ^ Explanation of the very demanding "Master Smith test of the American Bladesmith Society"[3], Retrieved on 2008-09-20
  11. ^ a b W.F Moran
  12. ^ Japanese high quality kitchen cutlery:
  13. ^ Ward, Chad "An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives"(2008) p.81 and p.147 ISBN 9780061188480
  14. ^ a b c d Carter, Murray M.(2007) "Advanced Blade Sharpening" Instructional DVD
  15. ^ a b c Carter, Murray M.(2004) "Introduction to Knife Sharpening" Instructional DVD
  16. ^ “The three finger test of sharpness” :
  17. ^ Sharpening demo's:
  18. ^ Blade Magazine: 2009 Blade Show Program "BLADE Show: Who, What and Where"[4].
  19. ^ Traditional Japanese Bladesmithing school
  20. ^ Review of Murray Carter DVDs onknife sharpening,Retrieved on 2008-09-20
  21. ^ Blade Magazine, August 2008 issue, p. 96, Review of Murray Carter's “Advanced Blade Sharpening Techniques” DVD

External links[edit]

{{DEFAULTSORT:Carter, Murray M.}} [[Category:Bladesmiths]] [[Category:Swordsmiths]] [[Category:Weapon designers]] [[Category:Knife makers]] [[Category:Artisans]] [[Category:American businesspeople]] [[Category:American inventors]] [[Category:Canadian businesspeople]] [[Category:Living people]]