written by Melissa Dalton | photo by Claire Thorington
Thirty six years ago, Michael Moses Lishinsky was living in Southern Oregon and routinely woke to the sound of his neighbor. The man was a traditional blacksmith at work in his forge. Whereas others might have considered him a nuisance, Lishinsky was intrigued. He soon apprenticed with the blacksmith to make a birthday gift for his brother.
“I just loved every second of it,” Lishinsky said. That experience led to a longer apprenticeship, and now, he uses that training to craft traditional carbon steel kitchen knives at his Ashland workshop, Wildfire Cutlery.
After World War II, stainless steel became the ubiquitous metal for mass produced knives, replacing carbon steel in kitchen drawers. Carbon steel, however, is revered among chefs for its ability to hold a sharp edge. Lishinsky makes every style blade, from a set of steak knives to a Santoku to a Mezzaluna.
He cuts the blade shape, heat-treats the metal, carves the wood handle and affixes it with brass rivets and bolsters. He also takes custom commissions via email, modifying the handle, spacers and rivets for a truly unique fit. After decades at his craft, he’s still keen on it.
“I love the process tremendously,” he said. “I’m basically hitting my stride as a knifemaker and a person right now, and I enjoy every minute of it.”