Damascus Cuchillo Gaucho with Maple Burl and Bronze
Mastersmith Test Knife

Product Description for Damascus Cuchillo Gaucho with Maple Burl and Bronze
Mastersmith Test Knife

Maker: Neels van den Berg, M.S. (click to see more by this maker)
Item num: 106678
*** This is handmade and one-of-a-kind ***
Blade length: 8.90 in.
Cutting edge length: 8.80 in.
Total length: 14.50 in.
Blade height (at heel): 1.46 in.
Blade thickness (near bolster): 0.16 in.
Blade thickness (at midpoint): 0.14 in.
Blade thickness (near tip): 0.08 in.
Item weight: 9.80 oz.
Blade: Heat colored twisted Ws damascus forged from 1075 and 75Ni8 carbon steels
Bolster: Integral heat colored damascus
Handle: Dyed and stabilized maple burl with bronze and damascus fittings
Description: Neels van den Berg was honored to become Africa's third mastersmith in June 2022. Van den Berg is a powerhouse and creates some of the most dramatic forged knives coming out of South Africa. Visiting Neels' workshop on visits to South Africa is a real treat. His forge is pretty much in the middle of nowhere -- or at least if you kept driving down the road, that is clearly where it would end. The twisting road travels through beautiful veldt populated by zebra and other wild animals. Neels is well known for his war hammers, spike hawks, and highly refined art knives. This exceptional Cuchillo Gaucho was made as part of Neels' Mastersmith set.
Coming back from Blade Show with mastersmith test knives is one of the great highlights of each year. When a bladesmith tests to become a mastersmith, five knives are made by the applicant that are the height of his work. These knives are judged by ABS mastersmiths on fit and finish, as well as general artistry. The standards are exacting. Becoming a mastersmith is often considered the height of a career in knifemaking.
Cuchillo gaucho is a generic term for a style of knife characteristic of the gauchos, horsemen of the plains of South America -- principally Argentina, of mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian) heritage. Analogous to the cowboy of the American West and the Mexican vaquero, the gauchos were mounted cattlemen initially living and working in vast undeveloped areas at the fringes of "civilization". Aside from its obvious potential as a weapon in duels, which were to mark rather than kill an adversary the cuchillo gaucho has a reputation as a truly multi-purpose tool and was used for tasks as diverse as slaughtering and skinning cattle, working leather, cutting wood, and making adobe bricks. In the wilderness, the gaucho could listen for distant approaches by sticking his knife into the ground and pressing an ear against its hilt. The knife was the gaucho's primary eating utensil: a large chunk of meat would be placed in the mouth and the excess cut off with an upward stroke of the knife, stopping short of amputation of the nose. Afterwards, it would serve as a toothpick. And, of course, in the gaucho's twilight in the 20th century, its use as a can opener was inevitable.
This elegant Cuchillo Gaucho shows van den Berg's work at its best. The blade and integral bolster were forged from his own twisted Ws damascus, beginning with 1075 and 75Ni8 carbon steels. Creating an integral bolster shows tremendous skill at the forge. The heat colored blade shows tremendous color moving throughout the steel. Neel's mark is on the left side of the blade.
The central column of the handle is dyed and stabilized maple burl. The swirling figure beautifully matches the damascus with light toned burl eyes that complement the bronze fittings. A heat colored damascus end cap and bronze finial finish the handle.
Exceptional work throughout!

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