From raw steel to a precision instrument – the life of a cutler
René Frieden is a real craftsman. He knows his material. His stories show that only someone who invests a lot – an incredible amount – of time and attention can become a master of their craft. The smith looks back over 50 years of experience, highlights the changes in his profession, and talks about the inner peace and satisfaction that comes from knowing his craft through and through.
Learn from René’s vast experience as he shares his tremendous knowledge of steel with us.
From lump to legend
It all begins with a raw piece of steel. At first it looks cumbersome and rough. Its appearance reminds us of how it was smelted from the earth, from the ore, and the intense heat it had to endure. And then this lump comes to René. He shapes and hones and shapes and hones. He is the one who brings form to the material and shows what it can do. At the end, two perfect parts lie before him: the blade, sharp and gleaming, and the spring, which makes the blade open and close easily with the legendary Victorinox “click!” Even after 50 years as a cutler, René Frieden’s enthusiasm for his profession is still evident.He is fascinated by the transformation that takes place in his hands. But what sounds romantic is hard work and requires an enormous trove of knowledge and experience. He is familiar with a wide range of metals and is also an expert in plastics and natural materials like wood, horn, and mother-of-pearl. The knife not only has to cut well, it also needs to fit properly in your hand. In order to process both the blade and handle, René’s arsenal of tools includes emery, grinding, and polishing wheels, as well as stamping tools and presses. In the past, the anvil was also often used. René hammered his parts until they had the right shape. Today a cutler’s work starts with stamped blanks. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is the dedication you need in order to teach your hands how to think.
From apprentice to master
A trained cutler knows exactly how to hone a blade at the necessary 17 degrees to make a blade razor-sharp. It takes months, even years, before you can feel the correct angle in your fingers. René remembers how he had to hone scissors at Victorinox for almost an entire year. „“Sure. It was difficult, but that’s what it takes. And that’s the only way to get better and better,” he says. This is why it’s so important for a craftsman to have a passion to learn, but also plenty of patience.
Learn about a few of René Frieden’s special tasks
Deer antler knife
The preservation of a species
Today in Switzerland there are still between 20 and 30 federally certified cutlers, both men and women. But what was once a highly esteemed profession is now in danger of extinction. At Victorinox, it will also be important in the future for the company to have good generalists, individuals with comprehensive knowledge who have an understanding of the larger picture. „“For precisely this reason, we are going to start training a new cutler this year,” says Toni Blaser, who is responsible for apprenticeship training.
What is René Frieden’s favorite knife?
Your product has been added to your cart