Hennie van Brakel

Hennie van Brakel

About Hennie van Brakel

Hennie van Brakel was born on 12 May 1944 in the Free State town of Reitz. He started my schooling in Reitz and finished at the Technical High School Kroonstad before joining the South African Air Force as an aircraft electrical apprentice. In 1970 he joined Hulett Aluminium in Pietermaritzburg where he remained until my retirement at the end of 2000.

One day I saw real handmade knives, and I said to my wife: “That’s what I want to do when I retire.” So, I started to build up my workshop and attended a basic knife-making course in Durban with Andre Thorburn. Lourens Prinsloo also taught me the finer points of liner-lock folders.

In 2004 I entered the non–guild knife competition. The task was to make a replica of the Harry Wolhuter Knife in the Skukuza Museum. Through the competition, I met the three Wolhuter grandsons. I discovered that Mike Wolhuter lives about 5 kilometres from me and his enthusiasm resulted in my making replica Wolhuter knives for almost his whole family.

In 2005 I was accepted as a member of the KGSA. I work in 12c27, N690, Damascus and Damasteel and make fixed blades as well as folding knives. I forge my own Damascus and do my own heat treatment. In making knives I also use technology in the form of Laser cutting, wire cutting and computer-aided design (CAD).

Hennie’s specialities include art knives and folders with occasional hunters and skinners. He does his own designs but also makes Hunters, Bowies, daggers, and folders.

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