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Partner Profile: Helle

by Nathan Harley Gareau Last updated: May 21, 2019 0 Comments

Partner Profile: Helle

Helle is a company that runs like a mighty river, working with their obstacles and history rather than against them. An example of extreme longevity, Helle has been around for over a century. This success can be attributed to their willingness to change the business to suit the times, and their undying principles of honesty, hard work, and quality that they’ve managed to keep constant.

In the 1920s, Steinar and Sigmund Helle worked in America to learn knife-crafting, but returned to Norway when the great depression struck. Where others saw adversity, they saw opportunity. The forests and mountains of their home country would be as much a part of their product as they are. Frequent rain created power to grind the knives. Treacherous mountains could be navigated by bicycle by Steinar to reach Oslo. The deep Fjords provided trade routes, allowing the brothers to reach an international market. Rather than be held back by nature, they were fuelled by it and this ideal runs deep in the company to this day.

This third-generation company is still tightly knit to this day. Most Helle managers and factory workers are the third generation of their families to work in the factory, and they all know each other well. This doesn’t mean that they are hermited away from the world at large, in fact they are an inclusionary and open group.

In the small factory in Holmedal, Helle does each step of the production from raw material to finished product. This allows them to produce high-end products en masse, for a very reasonable price. Each blade is finished individually, and by human hands.

Most modern Helle knives are constructed from a high-carbon Swedish stainless steel called 12C27. This steel has great edge retention, but won’t rust or chip when used properly. Some blades such as the Viking are made from a Swedish carbon steel of similar hardness. While carbon steel can rust, it is said to take a slightly better edge. Most Helle knives are triple-laminated, meaning that the hard core steel is protected by a blanket of softer steel which will absorb hard impacts. Handles are primarily made using the a European wood called Masur Birch, which is typical of this style of Scandinavian knife. Other materials used for the handles include other woods, layers of leather and even Reindeer Antler. Each Helle knife comes with a custom-fit leather sheath that can be attached to the belt.

These are a few Helle Knives loved by our staff:

Nathan’s Pick - Helle Eggen & Steinbit

If you work in Calgary, you’ll know I don’t shut up about my Helle knives. I picked up the Eggen years ago, and it has frequently been at my side since. While I don’t camp much, any time I need to make kindling or feather wood to start a fire, it’s the knife I grab. Where it really shines is butchering poultry and rabbits in my home kitchen. I recently picked up the Steinbit for butchering larger . The handle allows for the pistol-grip required when getting into a side of pig, and the length is perfect for an animal of that size.

Adam’s Pick - The Viking

Why do I love my Viking? It has a trait few belt knives out there in market offer; Elegance. My Helle Viking is simple in look and function, meaning I can wear it anywhere without looking like I'm packing a Rambo knife.  And know this, I've worn that knife everywhere, from backpack camping in Grizzly country to dinner with my in-laws. I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!

Something I’ve noticed, and discussed with our customers is the way a Helle knife can make you feel confident in your work. The weight of one on your belt, the grip in your hand - it imparts an air of pride, a sense that your work will be done safely and effectively. This is why Helle knives are loved the world over. Check out the full selection here.

Nathan Harley Gareau
Nathan Harley Gareau

A famed cocktologist and axe man, Nathan opened the first Kent of Inglewood store in Calgary, and now spends his days writing most of what you are reading here and teaching straight razor shaving classes. Ask him about his world-famous Three Cherry Manhattan. In his spare time Nathan can be found sharpening his axe, making fermented foods, or practicing his amateur butchering hobby. He doesn't slur his words, he speaks in cursive.



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