I still remember my first JNS gathering in November 2013 and now I came back from my 3rd trip to Denmark. Before I describe last gathering in November, I must write few words about gathering in May.
Gathering last from Thursday till Monday, but we shouldn't count Thursday because all participants had to travel to Ulfborg, Denmark. Dan Pahlberg Öhlund and me were last guys arriving to Billund airport. I was very happy to meet Dan, because he is a very funny guy and I am chatting with him quite often. Also Dan is a wood specialist. After some time Maksim came to pick us up and then we've gone to rented house.
It was a big house with huge conference room, many bedrooms etc.
We sat like this till 3AM while talking, drinking beers and eating cheese. I am not big fan of cheese, but these were very good. They were stinky but taste was very interesting.
On the next day I woke up very early. It was between 5 and 6am. I coldn't sleep so I woke up of the bed at about 7am and I went to shop to buy some coffee. The weather was beautiful. It was great beginning of the day. When I came back and had my coffee, Andrey and Stuart had joined me. We talked for a while and then Maksim came to pick us up.
Same as on previous gathering Maksim had welcomed us with gifts. We got his company polo shirts and aprons. I love that apron and my I wear my JNS polo proudly in Germany, Majorka and other few places this year.
After next coffee everybody have started doing something. After last gathering I knew what I can or I cannot do there. Actually we could do whatever we want. Knives sharpening, repairing, testing, drinking beers, doing something in the workshop and more... I thought what I want to do before and this is why I brought some ''project knives'' with me. First was my Wusthoff chef knife in which full heel bolster was annoying me very badly, because of which sharpening and maintaining was very difficult. I decided to remove it. It seems to be very easy to do, but it wasn't and it needed a time.
First Maksim took it to the huge beltgrinder to remove most of unwanted metal. Afterwards I used dremel to even everything out. Later on Maksim showed me his Japanese water wheels. I still had remove scratches and refinish it, but I could do that in home. My Wusthoff doesn't have ugly heel bolster anymore, it was thinned and sharpened. I must admit that it cuts pretty well and if I find some time to refinish it then it will be perfect.
My next project was a knife which I made in November 2013 before last gathering. You can see full ''Work in Progress'' thread here on my blog:
My plan was to refinish it, change geometry, polish, make a saya and then give it to my girlfriend's uncle as a gift. We have visited him in May. My fiancee family live in Remsheid, Germany which is few km away from Solingen - European capital of knives. First I have changed profile and then I thinned it properly. Later on I used special tool to prepolish the blade and refinished it on Japanese natural stones as well as Uchigumori fingerstones. It got new handle and saya but I will talk about it later.
The weather was beautiful so we've done a barbeque.
Dan and me:
In the meantime Maksim had showed us how to sharpen the straight razors. At that time I had to admit that straight razors are fun, but definitely not for me. It changed after next gathering in November when I bought my first razor.
In the dinner time new guests arrived. Peter Olsen, Andon Iliev Minev, Kim Kjærgaard Brønnum and Evangelos Kapris.
Evangelos Kapris przywiozl ze soba kilka interesujacych nozy, a w tym Shigefuse Kitaeji gyuto z rekojescia i saya robiona na zamowienie. Musze przyznac, ze to najlepsze zestawienie jakie widzialem. Wartosc noza w przecenie to 1000$.
Evangelos Kapris brought a few very interesting knives with him including Shigefusa Kitaeji gyuto with custom made handle and saya. It was one of the best custom made jobs I have ever seen. The knife after modifications is worth 1000$.
He also brought 3l of olive oil from his family 200 years old olive oil farm/factory.
After dinner all of us started to do something. Some of us were sharpening knives, some others were doing magnetic rags and sayas.
I, obviously, was still working on my ''gift knife'' project.
In the meantime, everybody were looking for new thing to buy. I had my own plan which I will explain later on, but I now I can say that I bought a Japanese hand plane. I didn't plan it at all. I knew that Bo Riisgaard Pedersen, which I met last time in November, will come to the gathering. He is very interesting person. He is building and repairing boats with use of Japanese traditional methods and tools. Obviously not in 100%, but he loves it. He is also passionate about Japanese hand tools and sharpening chisels and Japanese ''Kanna'' blades (Japanese hand planes). I talked to him earlier and I ask him to show me how to set up my European hand plane. Before he came to JNS, I bought new Japanese ''kanna'' and I felt in love. Then Bo has shown me his hand planes and I felt in love even more. This is what I really needed in my workshop. I asked Bo to show me how to set up my new plane and how to sharpen it. I have recorded all of it, but I had a problem with memory in my phone, so movies are in few parts.
Same as last time, Bo has brought some gifts for us. Last year we got some nice cedar wood for sayas, and this time he brought cedar stone bases. They just need finishing up.
In the meantime Maksim has shown us difference between steels. The less carbon is in steel, the less sparks and explosions are visible.
Over 200 years old Tamahagane used by Kiyoshi Kato.
We also talked about preparing of Japanese natural stones and knife polishing.
I would also like to say few words about Andrey Vasilyuk. I don't remember when somebody impressed me as much as Andrey. In his presence I felt like his younger brother and he told me that I remind him one.
Me (on left) and Andrey Vasilyuk.
Andrey comes from Russia. We talked a little bit on Facebook before the gathering, and then I thought that he is a professional chef. I was wrong. He is a big passionate and a person who surpsised me with his culinary knowledge. He can talk in many languages. Russian is his first language so he talked with Maksim and his parents in this language. He talked with us in English. When I used my language (Polish) he understood some. When we talked about food he used French and Italinan, and he was sending emails in French. His knowledge about J-nats really surprised me.Andrey could tell which natural stone will fit different kind of steels. He is owner of biggest collection on only ''the best'' Japanese natural stones I have ever seen. He also shown me very interesting technique of sharpening knives. It's about reaching each knife maximum limit. When I was limiting myself to not overpolish the knife, because it could be ''too much'' for the specific knife. he was jumping from stone to stone. Full progression. And not 2 or 3 stones, but more. And when Oohira Range Suita, for example, is too much for me, it's not enough for him. He is going further and he is using even finer stones. Best Nakayamas etc.The whole secret lays in convex edge. Most people is trying to keep constant angle between knife and stone, but not Andrey. He is still convexing his edge, obviously in controlled way. Now, in moment I am writing it (over half year ago), I still don't know how is he doing it. I had occasion to try his edges and they're amazing. This is super advanced way of sharpening knives.
I should also write few words about food we ate there. Straight after our arrival we had very tasty dinner (at 00.30 AM)
Roasted/grilled chicken in thick barbeque sauce. Asparagus boiled in butter with lime. Roasted veggies (carrots, potatos, onion with Catalonian paprika and rapeseed oil). Quick roasted veggies (carrots, zucchini, leek) in mustard dressing.
On the next day morning we had omlette with tomatos and rich fritatta baked in the oven. In addition home made Latte.
On the evening we had very slowly roasted deer, which was later grilled. Fresh salad and potatos. Also bulgur wheat salad boiled in fresh stock with chilli, parmesan, lime, fresh herbs from the garden and tomatos. A beautiful sauce (for deer) made from deer juices, chicken stock, blueberry, mustard, just a little bit of cream, starch, salt and pepper.
Ones we wanted to eat some kind of fastfood, so Dan and Maksim has gone to the shop and bought a lot of mince. They made the biggest burgers I have ever seen.
We had them with Ciabatta, pasta and parmesan salad and beans with rich dressing (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, blueberries and lime). We dip Ciabattain salad sauce from fresh tomato with pesto salad.
I've baked some breads.
There was more, but I don't really remember.
It is time to finish my story, so now I'll tell you what I brought back from JNS. At the beginning I planed to buy small Shigefusa gyuto 180mm, which I saw on November's gathering. Also I planed to get scissors and new stone. I have realized my plan only partially, but it's good because stuff I brought back is making me more happy than another knife which I will buy anyway.
My first buy was JNS 800. I had a chance to use that stone last year and I must admit that it is great. It's perfect to refinish blade after thinning. It's quite soft and most important it's huge:D
Also I got myself a scissors.
Of course my beloved Zensho hand plane. I am really wondering how could I live without it.
Maksim had a lot of Japanese hammers. I even wanted to buy one. I couldn't be more lucky. Maksim gave me over a 100 years old Japanese hammer head. It will be my new project. I plan to repolish it. Also I got myself a nice oak handle.
I also dug in to the box with wood leftovers and founded few nice pieces.
Cedar for saya:
I couldn't resist and bought two pocket size J-nats. Hakka and very rare Ebisu. I paid really funny (small) amount of money for them. They cost me 150DKK per piece so the same amount of money which I had to pay for small sandwich and cola on Billund's airport.
At the end I had 900DKK left and I was thinking what should I buy myself. I really wanted Shigefusa. I could choose between nakiri from Shige or Kato. I thought that I recently sold one nakiri, so there was no point of buying another one. Instead I boight myself ''Saya Nomi'' - Saya chisel. Blacksmith who made this chisel is very old so this item is a collection piece for me.
When I came back home I've used my new hand plane and chisel to make saya for a knife which I will give my girlfriend's uncle as a gift.
My first hand made knife:
That's it folks. I still remember May's gathering very well. I am really looking forward for the next year gathering in May. It is a great opportunity to meet great people, share your passion, taste good food and of course drink few (or more) beers.
I would really thank Maksim for organizing that event and for his hospitality. Also I would like to thank Andrey Vasilyuk for his time, sharing his knowledge and friendship and Bo Riisgaard Pedersen for sharing his woodworking skills with me. Obviously I am saying big ''Thank you'' to rest of the guys who were there.
Some extra photos:
Okudo Renge Suita:
Andrey gave me 10 different kinds of pepper (he's got 25 types in his collection).
Very expensive hand plane:
Dan gave me his slicer: