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Home Designers William Henry William Henry: Materials & Techniques


William Henry Knives and Jewelry

Materials & Techniques

The materials and techniques employed by William Henry in their stylish folding knives are unparalleled. Every knife pushes the envelope in terms of creativity with each and every new product, seamlessly blending rugged and exotically unique materials that will delight users from casual to connoisseur.

William Henry is the place where tradition meets technology in the crafting of pocket knives, with state-of-the-art machining and precision cutting used in conjunction with centuries-old conventional artisan practices.

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Blades: ZDP-189

Hitachi Metals of Japan developed the power metal die steel ZDP-189. An unprecedented hardness of HRC 67 is achieved in this stainless alloy, resulting in superlative sharpness, edge holding and wear resistance.

Knife Blade Made from ZDP-189

The blades of William Henry are an outcome of William Henry’s close work with Japanese partners to develop a laminate that captures a “core” center layer of ZDP-189 within softer layers of 420J2 stainless steel. The layers revealed through heat treating and polishing show an elegant seam in the blade that mimics the “temper lines” shown on traditional Samurai swords.
Knife Blade Made from Black Coated ZDP-189

Black-Coated ZDP-189 is a surface coating with a molecular bond to the ZDP blade. The coating wears beautifully over time and use, thanks to its hardness of about 88 HRC; tougher than William Henry blade steel!
Knife Blade Made from ZDP-189 with Wave Pattern

Williams Henry’s patent-pending ZDP-189 Wave Pattern features a core clad with alternating layers of stainless steel and nickel silver. A 45-layer billet is patterned with a custom die crating undulating waves that merge across the bevels of the blade. More subtle patterns can be achieved in the material by dark etching and re-polishing.
Knife Blade Made from Copper Wave w/VG 5 core

Copper Wave w/VG 5 core is an exclusive patent-pending William Henry blade steel that incorporates copper and stainless steel into a 45-layer Wave Damascus, featuring a core of VG-5 stainless steel with a hardness of HRC 59.

Hand Forged Damascus:

A wide range of custom-forged Damascus billets are used for William Henry blades. Principal supplier Mike Norris uses Sandvik 19C27, D2 and 302 SS with typical hardness when finished into blades of HRC 58-60. The forge of Mike Norris features patterns offered by William Henry include Hornet’s Nest, Raindrop, and Ribbon Lace.

Hand-forged steel from stainless alloys to the highest standards from Devin Thomas – Sandvik 19C27 and 302 SS – is also used. They are forged into fine 120 layer (minimum) billets for William Henry blades. Thomas’ patterns include Dot Matrix, Herringbone, Twist, and Typhoon.

Hand Forged Knife Blade Made from Damascus Steal with a Dot Matrix Pattern

Dot Matrix - Devin Thomas

Hand Forged Knife Blade Made from Damascus Steal with a Hornet's Nest Pattern

Hornet's Nest - Mike Norris

Hand Forged Knife Blade Made from Damascus Steal with a Raindrop Pattern

Raindrop - Mike Norris

Hand Forged Knife Blade Made from Damascus Steal with a Ribbon & Lace Pattern

Ribbon Lace - Mike Norris

Hand Forged Knife Blade Made from Damascus Steal with a Typhoon Pattern

Typhoon - Devin Thomas

Hand Forged Knife Blade Made from Damascus Steal with a Herringbone Pattern

Herringbone - Devin Thomas

Scales: Wood

Knife Scale made from Desert Ironwood

Desert Ironwood
Comes from Arizona and Northern Mexico features some of the highest contrast and striking patterns of any wood anywhere in the world. The hard, very dense wood from the lower reaches of the Sonoran Desert sinks in water.

Knife Scale made from Snakewood

is so named for the snakeskin-like markings of this decorative exotic wood. The extremely hard and heavy wood is one of the most expensive in the world, chosen by William for its outstanding color and pattern. All snakewood used by William Henry is resin-stabilized for durability.

Knife Scale made from Cocobolo

is a tropical rosewood. The wood color can range from dark, rich brick red to reddish or dark brown, with darker irregular traces woven throughout the grain. Fine-texture and oily in look and feel, William Henry gets its premium cocobolo from Mexico and Central America.

Knife Scale made from Black Palm

Black Palm
primarily from Southeast Asia, is beautiful and distinctive. Its brown/black color has a toothpick-like series of black, brown and white streaks running along the grain. William Henry black palm is resin-stabilized for durability over time.
Knife Scale made from Amboyna Burl

Amboyna Burl
is a very rare, desirable and expensive burl from Southeast Asia. Marvelously luxurious, the wood varies in color from yellow to brown to red, with tight wavy figure and “eyes.” The material will occasionally have black highlights. Prior to using Amboyna Burl in their work, William Henry resin-stabilizes the material.
Knife Scale made from Koa

is from a fabled tree on the Hawaiian Islands. Reddish-brown in color, it takes a beautiful color and can sometimes offer very fine figuring/curl and chattoyance. Only the highest grade of figured Koa that has been resin-stabilized for durability is used for William Henry work.

Scales: Seashell

Knife Scale made from Mother of Pearl

Mother of Pearl
is a blend of minerals that are secreted by oysters and other mollusks, and then deposited inside their shells. William uses select premium Mother-of-Pearl with maximum color and figure for their products, sourced directly from suppliers in Australia.

Knife Scale made from Goldlip Mother of Pearl

Goldlip Mother of Pearl
is taken from the reverse side of the shell as White Mother-of-Pearl. The gold section is a thin lip (think veneer) of natural color that is carefully selected and worked to produce the deepest possible gold tones. Good-quality dark gold shells come from the waters surrounding the Philippines and parts of Indonesia.
Knife Scale made from Abalone

is a rare shell found along North America’s Pacific Coast. Only large shells exceeding 7.5” in diameter are used to create the scales occasionally used in William Henry knives, cut from “old stock” of harvested shells.

Scales: Fossil Material

Knife Scale made from Mammoth Ivory

Mammoth Ivory
defines the tusk of wooly mammoth (and/or mastodon) that William Henry uses to make knife handles and grips. While the outer layer of bark ivory often has mineral deposits that create a range of colors, the interior is generally beige to cream color with fine grain patterns. William Henry stabilizes the mammoth ivory they use with acrylic resin to ensure it can be handed down from generation to generation.
Knife Scale made from Fossilized Walrus Ivory

Walrus Ivory
can be anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 years old. Harvested from underground and underwater in Alaska and Siberia, Native Americans in Alaska search for this exotic material during the warmest two or three months of the year for William Henry. After harvesting, William Henry air-dries its walrus ivory materials for at least a year and then resin-stabilizes it. Colors range from cream through the spectrum to blue/black in the outer layers, thanks to the minerals that seep into the material over time.
Knife Scale made from Wooly Mammoth Bone

Mammoth Bone
is a fabled tree, and wood, from the Hawaiian islands. It is reddish brown in color, takes a beautiful polish, and can occasionally offer very fine figuring/curl and chattoyance. We use ONLY the highest grade of figured Koa (as available) for our work, resin-stabilized for durability.
Knife Scale made from Mammoth Tooth

Mammoth Tooth
the cross-section cut from the molar tooth of a wooly mammoth, is the most exotic fossil material offered by William Henry. Found beneath the North Sea, It must be air dried for at least a year before processing. Each William Henry piece made with the challenging-to-work-with substance is resin-stabilized and has an impact-resistant backing to protect it during processing and on the knife.

Frames / Handles / Bolsters: Titanium & Damascus

Knife Frames, Handles & Bolsters made from Titanium

used in William Henry frames, clips and micro-fasteners is aerospace-grade titanium called 6AI/4V. This is titanium with a bit of aluminum and vanadium added in for added toughness and tensile strength.

Knife Frames, Handles & Bolsters made from Damascus

Twisted Damascus
is a centuries-old rarely-practiced art form that produces gorgeous pieces. It forges a mix of alloys together to create strong durable metal for blades and other tools. A number of highly skilled forgers work at William Henry, creating limited runs of patterned Damascus for various handle components.

Knife Frames, Handles & Bolsters made from Mosaic Damascus

Mosaic Damascus
is a complex art form that uses exotic alloys that color when heated or sale-blued. It is steel made from intricate tiles of multiple metals forged together into a pattern of color, texture and pattern.

Mokume & Superconducter

Frames, Handles & Bolsters made from Mokume Gane

Mokume Gane
which translates to “wood-grain metal,” is generally made with copper, brass and nickel silver, in either a 45 or 89-layer billet, forged and patterned by hand. It was developed for decorative fittings on fine tools in Japan. William Henry offers a range of this material on knives and pens, with material provided by Mike Sakmar, aided by Tim Zowada. Elegant patterns include those seen in the Raindrop, Reverse Twist and Twist patterns.

Knife Scale made from Wave Mokume

Wave Mokume
is an exclusive patent-pending material used by William Henry that blends traditional metal forging with modern fabricating technology. It features copper, stainless steel and pure iron in a 55-layer billet patterned with an undulating wave that takes on deep brown, purple or blue colors when high polished and heat-colored, based on the temperature reached and quenching technique used.
Knife Scale made from Superconductor

is made from a mix of niobium wires pulled through a copper core. William Henry was able to buy some of the remnant conductive wire from the U.S. government’s abandoned super-collider project of the 1990s, and use EDM machining to bias-cut across the pattern, revealing the fine grain of niobium against copper.

Embellishments & Adornments:

Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Carved Silver

Carved Silver
is used in the creation of elaborate, durable carvings in sterling silver soldered to a nickel silver base frame at William Henry. The work is done by hand with chisels and rotary tools by the finest silversmiths. Often, colored sapphires and other precious stones set in 18K gold bezels are used as additional decorative elements.
Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Koftgari

Twisted Damascus
is a rarely practiced art form that dates back centuries to a time when alloys were mixed and forged together to create strong, durable metal blades and tools. William Henry works with highly skilled forgers to create limited runs of patterned Damascus for use in a variety of handle components.
Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Engraving

are a recognized and exacting adornment found on metal. In the case of William Henry engraving work, most is done on titanium, adding layers of difficulty to the process. A select group of master engravers work with the brand to create very limited-edition pieces on an ongoing basis. Every finished piece is hand-signed by the artist.

Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Gold-inlaid Engraving

Gold-inlaid Engraving
is a complex rendition of a classic art form that involves creating a fine engraving with deep relief, followed by an inlay of 24K into select portions. Heat-coloring of the frame of pieces done in Damascus result in a darker background to highlight the set-in precious metal.
Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Carved Scales

Carved Scales
feature hand-carved, polished handle scales in a range of high-grade shells and fossil materials.
Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Guilloche or Engine Turning

Guilloche or Engine Turning
is a very vine geometric engraving on metal. At William Henry this is done with a Guilloche machine, built in Switzerland in the 1920s and rebuilt for today’s work creating very small editions of beautifully decorated metal components in knives and writing instruments.
Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Heat Coloring

Heat Coloring
creates surface oxidation showing a variety of colors on the surface of steel and other alloys. William Henry uses a precision digital kiln with its exotic Damascus, with the multiple different alloys in each billet reacting differentially to the heat, creating a range of as many as four separate colors in each piece of steel woven through.
Knife Embellishments & Adornments with Acid Etching

Acid Etching
highlights the patterns forged into Damascus steel in a traditional way. William Henry uses a heated acid bath to etch each blade, many frames and other components to a visually interesting depth and color.

Gems & Fittings

Only custom-made fittings are used at William Henry, right down to the micro-screws. Titanium and stainless steel are both used for buttons, pivots, screws, spacers/standoffs and thumb studs. As required, the stainless steel fittings are heat-treated to ensure a lifetime of unprecedented performance in mechanisms.

Precious and semi-precious gem inlay are often part of lock buttons and thumb studs. Natural gems, ranging from opals to diamonds, are selected for quality and securely fit or adhered into matching cavities in fittings. This elegant William Henry touch in no way hampers the utility of the piece. Consider it a hallmark of the William Henry brand that creates functional works of art!

Knife Gems & Fittings
Knife Gems & Fittings
Knife Gems & Fittings

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