I was in paradise.. oh yeah I can easily say that after my visit in ''Japanese Natural Stones'' store in Denmark.
Maxim organised small meeting or gathering in his store. At the beginning I wasn't sure that I should go or not but after thinking about it really intensively I made up my mind and decided to go . I bought tickets and I flought to Denmark.
I was in few countries and spent some time on airports this year but this journey was harder than anything else in my life. On thursday I came back from work on 22:30 as usual, spent some time with my girlfriend and on midnight I called for taxi. After a while I was on St. Margareth station in my city. I took my coach on 1 o'clock and I was on Stansted airport at about 4 AM. I had lot of time because my flight was on 7:30.
It was hard but I last it out and I flought to Billund. I took quick snooze in airplane and on 9:40 AM I was in Billund. I spent whole day on airport. It was a very long day. I was sitting there on airport, tried to sleep and between that I was starring at people and smoking fags... What a nice day... hehe.
At about 5 pm Bieniek (Michal Bienkunski) called me and asked me where I am. I was very happy because I know this guy virtually and he help me a lot with knives but I've never ever meet him. He came with Bjornar Rendalsvik. After them Maxim arrived with his girlfriend. We had to wait till 6 PM for Dan which was coming from Sweden.
Once everybody were on place we packed everything to cars and went to Maxim's place. An hour and half later we have been in Maxim's house. He said that we can take any stones that we want try, and some knives as well. We packed everything and we went to summer house which Maxim borrowed for us from Klaus, his parents friend.
I thought that it will be small house in the forrest but actually it was big house in the forrest. hehe. It was dark so I couldn't see anything.
I felt weird when we were driving there because I had knives without covers in my hands and some other knives were laying around together with stones:D
In the meantime we stopped in the shop to get some food and something to drink. Maxim said that we don't have to take beers because he have some but Bjorn said that he like beer very much and he took whole crate. I couldn't be worse and I took another one:D hehehe. I thought that we are going to split cost of food etc between all of us but Maxim paid for everything. It was very kind of him.
When we were in the summer house Mike (Bieniek) started cooking. On this evening we had to eat fresh baked bread, vegetables from oven, mushroom sauce on roast pork base, roast pork and few other things. Everybody were tearing bread by hands and dipping it in roast pork natural sauce. Ohh I have to say that that was a great dinner. Real heaven in my mouth.
While he was cooking the rest of people started showing off their gear and in addition we were drinking a lot of beer:D
Takeda huge cleaver (I have never seen such a huge cleaver)
On this evening we were really tipsy and obviously we were talking about knives and stones all the time. I was very happy because I showed guys my first ever made by me knife (neck knife) and they said that as for the first knife this one is very cool:D
One of the main subjects was new knife from Devin Thomas but I will write about it later.
What were we doing?
On next day Maxim came to summer house to pick us up and he showed us few burl growing behind house:
Then we gone to his house. For very good morning each of us got a nice gift from Maxim. His new coarse stone prototype - JNS 300 which is splash 'n' go and this is very good attribute. That was another nice Maxim's gesture. After that he said that we can do whatever we want to, we can try all stones and some knives.
Small samples of natural stones:
Some naturals from Japan:
Each of us found his place and we got on the stick if you know what I mean.
Dan which is doing western handles for Maxim has started doing custom cutting boards worth 120 or 150 Euros each. These were made out of very nice Maple wood. You can see him doing that on that movie and on the second part I am going in to JNS store:
Mike was thinning some knives including my Yoshiaki Fujiwara Kato 240mm gyuto on the belt grinder. Funny fact is that the belt was very coarse like 80 or something and it was destined for wood working.
My Kato before thinning:
And after thinning:
And here's the movie:
I will have to finish it with sanding paper and stones.
Maxim was fixing Mike's Shigefusa yanagiba which Mike tried to etch with bad results. This knife looks after etching like knife which laid in the water for some time and was treated very badly. Max have very nice place in his workshop to polish the blades. He have a board over the basin where he's attaching the blade and he is polishing with stone glued to piece of wood hold by another piece of wood. It is really hard to explain with my humble English so I will show that on pictures and movie.
Me polishing my Kato:
Maxim while fixing Mike's Shigefusa yanagiba:
Few pictures of Mike's yanagiba:
After initial polishing:
Later on Peter Olsen and Kim Bronnum joined us. I was sharpening and talking with people.
We spent there whole day and when everybody were tipsy we came back to summer house for the real feast:D
Day before Mike prepared corn chicken in sous vide techniqe. He kept that chicken in bag without air in temperature of 60C for whole night and morning. Ahhh what a nice chicken that was? I don't remember when I've seen chicken like this. In England we have only (or maybe I am seeing them) white chickens without taste and our chicken was yellow as it should be. Then this chicken was fried in the oven with potatoes, carrot, squash and parsley root. In addition to that we had very nice bloody beef and cabbage.
After dinner we were drinking, talking loud and chilling out. In summer house we had sharpening station where we had a lot of stones to try:
In the meantime Bjornar Rendalsvik which is a moderator on the straight razor forum and big fan of folding knives showed us his slipcover for straight razors and he started talking about them. Also he showed us proper shaving techniqe with straight razor. Funny fact is that he done that without mirror and after few (or even more) beers:D
On the next day morning I went downstairs and I've met Mike who was preparing fresh bread for breakfast. After a while everybody woke up and came down on hangover:d Ererything started again so we were talking about knives and stones and few other things.
In the meantime Kim broght his Masakage gyuto 240mm and asked Mike what does he think about this knife? I will not tell you our reflection about it, just watch short movie. Devin Thomas vs Masakage gyuto vs Itinomonn 20cm gyuto. Mike was using his Itinomonn for a last few days so it edge wasn't fresh. DT and Masakage were sharpened day before.
I don't have to tell you what does it mean, right?
Devin Thomas gyuto:
After breakfast we went to Maxim's place again. Everybody started doing their job straight away. On that day Bo Riisgaard Pedersen joined us. He is a boatbuilder From Denmark. He brought with him some chisels, Japanese hand planes and some wood. For a very good morning he gave me some Cedaar wood for saya. In the same time I bought Yoshiaki Fujiwara Kato petty from Maxim and Iron wood to make some handles. That Cedar wood had very nice scent. It was amazing. I told Bo that this scent remind me of Thuya burl and he said that actually it is Thuya. After a while my saya was ready. Maxim carved the cavity in my saya and I have refninished it. I was happy because saya for my Kato was done with Shigefusa tools and chisels made by 98 years old blacksmith.
On early afternoon Mike and Bjorn has to come back to Norway. Later on Kim and Peter has to go aswell. Day before Mike has thinned out my Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan petty and etched it in acid. I've thinned out my nakiri as well and then I asked Maxim to etch it. The result was more than satisfying.
When we came back to summer house Maxim told us that Klaus hunted for us two goose. We ate them for dinner. Also we had smoked moose heart. When Dan and me were alone we played with some stones. Later that night I was cleaning summer house and I was packing myself. On next morning we took our stuff and we drove to Maxim's place. We hadn't got a lot of time because we had to go to airport. I was polishing my Kato gyuto and then sharpening it. I was using JNS 6000 and Maxim asked me that do I have this stones. I said no and he told me that I can take it home. One should never look a gift horse in the mouth so I took it:D Later on Maxim lift us to airport in Billund.
Shopping and my new gear:
I have to say that I brought a lot of stuff from Denmark. . We got a lot of stuff for free. I bought Yoshiaki Fujiwara Kato Petty 150mm. We made new Cedar wood saya for this one straight away which I got from Bo. Also Maxim gave me two very nice pieces of Ironwood and black ebony to make handles for my Kato's.
Also I bought Itinomonn Wa bucher which I don't really need but it was so cool that I had to buy it. Also it was much cheaper than it should be. I paid 500DKK for this one which is about 56GBP.
Maxim gave me his synthetic stones prototypes JNS 300 and JNS 6000.
Also he gave me paper rice to glue on fingerstones. I bought some wood for handles from him for 50DKK per piece.
I was in paradise... yes it is good ascertainment. We said that JNS store is ''ultimate playground for adult kids with knives''. The atmosphere which was there was superb. No problems at all. There were moments when I was sharpening my Suisin Densyo yanagiba and Maxim came to me and he gave me tips on sharpening which helped me a lot and a while later somebody was asking me about something and I could help them. It was very nice feeling. I was learning new stuff in every moment. Not only about knives and stones but also about wood, food and other stuff as well.
Maxim is a guy with unbelievable knowledge about knives and Japanese natural stones and he was keen to share his knowledge. He took us to his home and he made us feel as we were in our own home. He and his girlfriend Justina are kind and hospitable. Mike (Bieniek) turned out to be guy with best technique if we talking about sharpening and repairing knives. And food? Hmmmm. I don't remember when I was eating food that good recently. Everything was accompanied by loads of good humour, many beers and friendly atmosphere. I've met many nice guys which in the future may be good acquaintances in real life or in business.
I brought a lot from JNS gathering and I don't mean goods but knowledge and experience and I will definitely go there next year with my mind open to learn new stuff and with a lot of money because it is worth to go there and buy something.
If somebody can't afford trip to Japan to realize ''the knife dreams'' he can easily go to Ulfborg in Denmark to JNS store and spend few beautiful moments.
Random pictures from gathering:
My gear on gathering:
Shigefusa Kitaeji 300mm yanagiba:
Shigefusa's first Wa handle cleaver:
''You can see the full gallery here''