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Weige Knives: The Beauty is in the Details

WFFT member and donor, Travis Weige, found beauty in the details when he made the switch from online media sales to knife making...and he's in high demand by your favorite chefs!

Weige Knives have been used by your favorite chefs - from Bryce and Jack Gilmore to Todd Duplechan – to prepare some of your most memorable meals. You have likely used one yourself to cut your steak at Barley Swine. Perhaps your friends have one of these customized pieces in their own home. Travis Weige, one of the newest members of The Wine and Food Foundation, spends his days crafting handmade kitchen knives for chefs and those who are the masters of their own home kitchens. He takes his craft seriously – and this passion comes across in the beautiful artistry of each one-of-a-kind knife.

The journey of a Weige knife begins with a waiting list of 14-16 months. Once your name is called, you meet with Weige in his workshop, located in his garage in Sunset Valley, to discuss the design of your one-of-a-kind piece. The first thing you notice is the special equipment that is laid out and kept in prime condition. The specialty grinders each create a different outcome – one quickly removes steel, one provides a smooth finish, and yet another creates the knives’ edges. There is a drill press station, a kiln, and a hardness tester. Each station serves a specific purpose in creating every Weige knife.

The first step is to measure and create a clay mold of your hand to ensure that the custom knife fits your grip exactly. The knife is then drawn onto a piece of steel and cut down to size. There are many questions to answer to find your perfect style: German of French style? Blade size? Type of handmade pin – stainless, copper, or brass? If you don’t know, Weige will show you some examples to get your creative juices flowing. He can also produce a “general build” based on what’s in inventory or based on a determination of typical hand sizes and grips for those outside of Texas.

The beauty is in the details. The wood that is collected, cut down, and used in the knife handles is all locally-sourced and is kept organized for customers to peruse before choosing the right one for their personally crafted knife. Other customers bring their own materials to be used, such as oryx horns, wood from the family farm, or other items that hold personal meaning. Weige’s signature look is a curl at the tip of the handle – “Oh, that’s a Weige knife.” No two knives are the same.

Weige does all of this with only one full-time employee, Dirk Michener, who is regarded as one of the best knife makers in Central Texas. Weige needed assistance when the workload became too big for one person, but doesn’t have any plans to add to the team. For one thing, it takes about 1-2 ½ years to learn how to make a Weige knife and, for another, there is only so much space.

Weige started out as a media executive in online media sales, spending up to 11 hours per day on a computer and needed an outlet. When he and his wife purchased a new home that included a 1000 sf garage, he saw the potential to turn the space into something great. He decided to make a knife. After watching a few instructional videos, he tried his hand at his first knife. Weige posted his first piece on Facebook and then the 30 or 40 that came after that. Eventually, someone asked if he could make a knife for them. He charged $75 for that first knife. Other orders followed, a new one every 4 months or so. Weige was still working and traveling often to the West Coast, balancing his job with knife-making.

He slowly raised the price for his knives to $175 and it became a hobby that paid for itself. The prices went up from there as the orders kept pouring in. Weige started customizing and adding his signature to each piece. A personal chef purchased a knife and passed his name along to the media. A cover feature in the Austin Chronicle changed everything. Over one weekend, Weige received $40,000 in orders. If he started making knives full-time, he could fill the orders in a year and a half. He gave 6 months’ notice to his employer and reached out to Michener and convinced him to come aboard. Weige attended an 80 hour bladesmithing course at Texarkana College and has been making knives fulltime ever since.

While most of the handcrafted knives on the market are hunting knives, Weige chose to focus on kitchen knives so that his pieces would be used in everyday life, not simply as trophy items. “I want my knives to be something you use,” Weige said. He also takes pride in the fact that his knives are heirloom quality pieces that can passed down to the next generation.

In addition to creating new knives, Weige Knives also does heirloom quality repair and offers knife-making classes one weekend a month.

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The beauty is in the details. The wood that is collected, cut down, and used in the knife handles is all locally-sourced and is kept organized for customers to peruse before choosing the right one for their personally crafted knife. Other customers bring their own materials to be used, such as oryx horns, wood from the family farm, or other items that hold personal meaning. Weige’s signature look is a curl at the tip of the handle – “Oh, that’s a Weige knife.” No two knives are the same.

Weige does all of this with only one full-time employee, Dirk Michener, who is regarded as one of the best knife makers in Central Texas. Weige needed assistance when the workload became too big for one person, but doesn’t have any plans to add to the team. For one thing, it takes about 1-2 ½ years to learn how to make a Weige knife and, for another, there is only so much space.

Weige started out as a media executive in online media sales, spending up to 11 hours per day on a computer and needed an outlet. When he and his wife purchased a new home that included a 1000 sf garage, he saw the potential to turn the space into something great. He decided to make a knife. After watching a few instructional videos, he tried his hand at his first knife. Weige posted his first piece on Facebook and then the 30 or 40 that came after that. Eventually, someone asked if he could make a knife for them. He charged $75 for that first knife. Other orders followed, a new one every 4 months or so. Weige was still working and traveling often to the West Coast, balancing his job with knife-making.

He slowly raised the price for his knives to $175 and it became a hobby that paid for itself. The prices went up from there as the orders kept pouring in. Weige started customizing and adding his signature to each piece. A personal chef purchased a knife and passed his name along to the media. A cover feature in the Austin Chronicle changed everything. Over one weekend, Weige received $40,000 in orders. If he started making knives full-time, he could fill the orders in a year and a half. He gave 6 months’ notice to his employer and reached out to Michener and convinced him to come aboard. Weige attended an 80 hour bladesmithing course at Texarkana College and has been making knives fulltime ever since.

While most of the handcrafted knives on the market are hunting knives, Weige chose to focus on kitchen knives so that his pieces would be used in everyday life, not simply as trophy items. “I want my knives to be something you use,” Weige said. He also takes pride in the fact that his knives are heirloom quality pieces that can passed down to the next generation.

In addition to creating new knives, Weige Knives also does heirloom quality repair and offers knife-making classes one weekend a month.

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