In East Hampton, Dereyk Patterson Makes Impeccable Knives

Slice a name off your Christmas list.

Dereyk Patterson started making knives “because [he] needed a hobby that wasn’t woodworking and furniture-making.”

A good example of East Hampton woodworker Dereyk Patterson’s approach to work and life is evidenced by his website’s tag line: “I work with wood, get over it…” Patterson arrived in the East End in 2006, where he met his wife and settled in for the long haul. Now an accomplished furniture- and cabinet-maker who caters to such high-end clients as Steven Spielberg, Patterson has embraced the culinary world with a new project: handmade knives.

“The reason I started making knives,” Patterson says, “is because I needed a hobby that wasn’t woodworking and furniture-making.” In the demanding world of the Hamptons elite, Patterson craved the gratification of an art project that he could own. Or, as he puts it, “I just needed something to blow off steam, so I started making knives.”

Got a handle on the#westernhandle Devin Thomas stainless @devinthomasdamascus (thank you ) simple #redwoodburl scales #silvernickel #mosaicpins

A post shared by Dereyk Patterson (@dereykp) on

Patterson’s chef’s and paring knives come in varying lengths and styles, though they are all made with a Japanese aesthetic in mind (and the German functionality in action, since blades are honed in the German style). Handles recall Japanese “Wa” handles, and stainless steel used to fashion the blade—it’s rustproof—is Damascus, which is a production method for steel. “They take different slabs of steel and—it’s called forge-welding—put 4 or 5 or 10 different layers together and put it in a forge and it gets really hot and welds together,” Patterson says. “I figured the best thing to do was to buy my Damascus from the best makers in the country.”

These days, Patterson has recruited knife maker and steel worker Devin Thomas for the Damascus work. Thomas has been making knives since the late 1970s and is considered an expert in the field.

More #carboncore #sanmai

A post shared by Dereyk Patterson (@dereykp) on

Knife handles are made by Patterson, in a process that takes a few hours. Using exotic, American woods (maple burl, for instance), Patterson creates handles with nickel spacers that are the base for his artisan knives. Exotic woods “lend themselves to knives.” Sometimes, after the first few hours’ worth of work, these handles come apart, which means back to the drawing board. “I’ve been learning the hard way,” Patterson says. The remainder of the process takes five additional hours, from the heating of the steel to the gluing to the grinding, which Patterson does himself.

Although Dereyk Patterson has not officially “gone live” with his knives—they do not yet appear for sale on his website—he has commissioned business through social media, where he has posted photographs of his finished process. People from around the world have contacted him about his gorgeous pieces. “This little knife-making hobby may turn out to be a business,” he says.

#sanmai Damascus is so cool

A post shared by Dereyk Patterson (@dereykp) on

Why have his knives initiated such a social media following? Patterson believes it’s about the commitment. “A $1,400 commitment [the high price for his knives] on a really cool piece of cutlery is a lot easier than a $15,000 commitment on a dining room table.” And he’s probably right. If custom furniture feels unattainable by most, custom cutlery—at least a piece or two here and there—may not.

“I’m doing knives that you’re going to use every day,” Patterson says, and although the prices may be a little more than everyday–$600 to $1,400 per knife—they are certainly pieces of art worth keeping around for at least as long as that dining room table. Is there a better gift for the culinary artist in your life than a very, very beautiful knife that will be a joy forever?

For a look at Dereyk Patterson’s knife collection, visit his Instagram, @dereykp. You can also reach him via email concerning for sale items and commissioned projects: [email protected].

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Hannah Selinger

Hannah Selinger is a freelance food and wine writer and sommelier living in East Hampton. Her work has appeared in the such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and RawStory.com. She is the wine columnist for the Southampton Press.