“Kessel” sharpening machine
The “Kessel” sharpening machine was developed in 1910 by Heinrich Kessel (died in 1959). It is in use in the knife factory Windmühlenmesser Robert Herder in Solingen (Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia). With it the “Solingen fine sharpened” knifes are made. Unlike other machines of the same age, the “Kessel” sharpening machine has a mechanism which relieves the operator of the burden of pressing the blade in its holder clamp against the grinding wheel.
The grinding wheel is rotated by an electric motor and whets the edge of the (knife) blade thinner and thinner, resulting in a sharper cutting edge. Since the steel could lose its hardness due to the heat generated by the sharpening process, running water constantly cools the metal.
What you hear is the “humming” of the electric motor. The friction of the blade against the grinding wheel creates the characteristic sound of the “Solingen fine sharpening”.
The “Kessel” sharpening machine is located in the knife factory Windmühlenmesser Robert Herder in Solingen (Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia) which was founded in 1872. Today the enterprise is in its 4th generation, headed by Giselheid Herder-Scholz. It has maintained techniques and methods of manual knife-making which have vanished more and more with the growth of mechanical fabrication.
In Solingen the production of blades has a long tradition. As early as the 14th century blades were made in large numbers in Solingen. Until the end of the 19th century the entire economy of Solingen was dominated by the cutlery industry.
Sound recordist: Konrad Gutkowski/Julian Blaschke
Photographer: Konrad Gutkowski/Julian Blaschke
Video recordist: Konrad Gutkowski/Julian Blaschke