My Knife: Joël Grandjean

My Knife: Joël Grandjean
 

Where do knife makers get their ideas? What inspires their designs? What problems do they encounter in their craft? Our series on custom knives lifts the shroud of mystery. In this issue: the ‘Lupus’ (the Wolf) by French knife maker Joël Grandjean (59).

Text and pictures Bas Martens
 
An elegant folding knife, with unmistakeable accents of the wild: the ‘Lupus’ (Wolf) bij Joël Grandjean.

Times have changed. When Joël Grandjean was a little boy, his school gave him a list of things he would need in class. One of them was a knife; to sharpen his pencils. How many schools would ask their pupils to bring knives to school nowadays?
But Grandjean’s love for knives and knife making did not begin at school. He was born and raised in the Vosges, where he still lives today. He spent most of his professional life working in the woods. Once, one of his pastimes were wood chopping competitions. Then, at one point Joël Grandjean started hunting. That meant he needed a knife, and that is when he started making them, 20 years ago now.
As a knife maker, Grandjean is completely self-taught. He started with simple straight knives, tried others, looked at what other knife makers did, and gradually expanded his knowledge. Knife making has always been his hobby, but a serious one. At 59, he is one year from retirement and then plans to fully focus on knives.
 
Grandjean makes the ‘Lupus’ in two sizes using different materials.
 
 
Left: The hammered bolsters make a rough impression, with is belied by their fit and finish.
Right: Joël Grandjean’s signature on the side of the blade: J.G.

 
Joël Grandjean is a very versatile knife maker. He produces hunting knives and camp knives, but also folders with his own design of ball bearing. His steels range from RWL34 and M390 to Damasteel and Japanese steels. His handle materials can be anything from wood, stag and mammoth to titanium and Carbon Fibre.
For this article, Grandjean chose to showcase the ‘Lupus’ (the Wolf). He designed this linerlock folder to celebrate the return of the wolf in the Vosges several years ago. Grandjean makes the knife in two sizes, with different materials. The one pictured here has an M390 blade. Of note are the hammered bolsters and backspacer of this ‘Iron Wolf’.
 
For more information see www.joelgrandjean-couteaux.com
The backspacer of the ‘Loupe’ is hammered as well, which contrast remarkably well with the smooth liners
and wooden handle scales.