Meet the Makers

Brittany Davis: Modern-Day Annie Oakley

Brittany Davis

You could think that Brittany Davis is a modern-day Annie Oakley and you wouldn’t be far off. Raised with two brothers, she grew up in Mendocino County hunting with her father, later working alongside him building and renovating houses.

Her passion for hunting fostered a desire to use the whole animal, with the objective of turning the buckskins into something useful. Building houses with her father convinced her that building and sewing weren’t so different; both skills unite geometric, spatial, and aesthetic solutions to functional needs, whether designing a home or a handbag.

She started making bags by hand for herself and for friends. Fashioning unique handbags led to creating custom knife rolls for chef friends.

Necessity sparked invention when she realized that she needed something better than a towel to roll her two knives in when packing for a hunting honeymoon spent camping in Chile and Patagonia — and her two-knife traveling knife case was born.

Her own company, “Brass and Blade,” came next. Inspiration for the name came from hunting and leather tanning, “brass” referring to the empty bullet shell and “blade” to the blade used for skinning a hide.

Certainly, we would have found Brittany at some point since SHED has been fortunate in attracting talented makers. But it turns out that SHED culinary director Perry Hoffman grew up knowing Brittany through his aunt and uncle, dear friends of Brittany’s parents in Mendocino County.

Once Perry saw Brittany’s knife rolls, he knew they would be perfect for SHED.

We can only agree.

Three years after launching Brass and Blade, Brittany’s too busy to use her own buckskins. The cowhides for her two-knife travel cases are hand-selected, made in the USA. The leather for her professional chef roll is a special oil-tanned leather only found in Brazil, with the unique quality that scratches can be rubbed out of it.

All of Brittany’s knife cases are completely sewn by hand, with hand-set copper rivets.

Grow Your Own

Japanese Garden Tools

Japanese garden tools are among the most beautifully made and durable tools of the high quality line that we carry.

Here are some favorites from our online collection:

 

ACCESSORIES
1. Canvas Cap
Have fun supporting Niwaki, one of our favorite purveyors, when you wear this rugged canvas cap with a red interior. Adjustable buckle on the back.

2. Canvas Pouch
This heavy duty water-resistant 16-ounce canvas pouch holds all the essentials for gardening: pruners, gloves, string, and more.

3. Leather Holster
A leather holster with copper rivets and hand-stitched with double ply waxed thread that’s perfect for carrying your trowel with you. The leather starts off pristine and pale, but soon weathers to a nice dark rich tone.

HAND TOOLS
4. Hori Hori, Carbon Steel
The word “hori” means “to dig” in Japanese, but this all-purpose carbon steel trowel is also brilliant for weeding, trimming roots, and transplanting, and is bound to become your favorite tool. The Hori Hori comes with its own vinyl sheath.

5. Hori Hori, Stainless Steel
This Hori Hori , known as a Japanese soil knife, is a gardener’s best friend. It is lightweight so less stress on your wrist, the blade has a smooth surface that slices through even compacted clay soil with ease, and it will never rust. Comes with a vinyl sheath.

6. Nejiri Gama Hoe
This lightweight, strong garden hoe with a hardened steel blade is well-suited for weeding and slicing. Its wood handle is finished with a plastic cap and hanging loop for easy storage.

LONG-HANDLED TOOLS
7. Golden Spade
Ideal for digging, tree planting, and root-balling. With a comfortable YD handle of tubular steel, firm tread, and rigid steel pipe shaft, this light spade will not flex or break under heavy use.

PRUNING TOOLS
8. Bud Pruner
Heavy duty bud pruners are perfect for careful, detailed pruning where other jobs in the garden are too large and clumsy. Hand-forged in Hyogo from carbon steel, with a solid catch and a robust spring.

9. Drop Forged Hand Pruners
Hard chrome plating over precision-ground, drop-forged blades give these pruners long-lasting sharpness, superior cutting leverage, and rust-resistance. Ergonomic non-slip grips and a high-quality “V” spring making cutting and release motions comfortable and quick. All-metal construction, made by ARS.

10. Garden Scissors
These general purpose garden scissors with stainless steel blades are great for cut flowers, dead-heading, and light pruning. Strong, yet delicate for careful cuts.

11. Pruners
Hand-forged in Hyogo from carbon steel, these hard-wearing pruners combine Japanese craftsmanship with tough steel and a comfortable grip for prolonged use.

12. Pruning Saw
A traditional pruning saw for general purpose garden pruning of small trees and shrubs.

13. Pruning Sheet
Lightweight, green nylon mesh with aluminum eyelets to catch leaves and clippings. Well-suited for topiary, hedge cutting, and weeding.

14. Large Garden Shears
With carbon steel blades and Japanese White Oak handles, the Nishigaki hedge shears are a high-quality and balanced garden tool that can last a lifetime.

SUPPLIES
15. Camellia Oil and Oil Dispenser
A simple dispenser for camellia oil used for regular cleaning of shears, pruners, clippers, and knives.

16. Sharpening Stones, Set of 3
Designed for pruners, but also great for shears and topiary clippers. Soak these sharpening stones thoroughly each time before use.

17. Shuronawa Twine
This twine, made from sheath fiber from Japanese palm tree, is used for all garden jobs in Japan – tree training, fence making, and binding.

Eat Good Food

Knife Basics: Purchase + Care

knife basics

From French to Japanese, from fish knives to bread knives, we offer a wide variety of blades in our Healdsburg store. The good news is that you really only need three kitchen knives to get started. Here is a basic guide to buying and maintaining your blades. 

A 6- to 10-inch chef’s knife has the length and heft needed for most utile tasks. Perfect for slicing onions, dicing carrots, or removing a chicken’s thigh from its body.

A small paring knife allows you to peel and mince, cut through delicate areas, debone a bird, deftly remove skin, or quickly quarter an apple for your child’s lunch.

A serrated knife is a basic for cutting bread without tearing or compressing the loaf, as well as for any other tasks in which you want to cut through to the interior without compromising the outside (think: ripe tomatoes).

Holding the knife before purchasing is essential, particularly with a chef’s knife. As you heft it, ask yourself: Is it too heavy or too light? The chef’s knife that will work for you is one that you feel comfortable holding. While a sharp knife is a safe knife, none of them are safe if you can’t wield it well.

Carefully examine its shape, considering what feels safest for you. Some home cooks prefer a chef’s knife that has a bolster (also known as a “collar” or “shank”). This is the thick area where knife and handle align. In most Western knives, like German brands, the bolster acts as a safe guard for your fingers. Japanese and other Eastern implements normally don’t have a well-defined bolster. Choose a knife with a bolster that works for you, whether stout or negligible.

If possible, test the knife in the store before you buy it. Some outlets will allow you to try dicing an onion or at least cutting through a piece of paper. Is the heel — the thick end of the blade — made for your hand and stature and strength? Does it “thunk” down or rebound?

You use the heel when applying extra force, as when cutting through a strong winter squash or a ripe summer melon, and you don’t want a knife that bounces back up unexpectedly or stops the rocking motion (that’s the “thunk”) when you’re pressing down.

Hone your knives often, whether paring or chef’s. The honing steel (often called a “sharpening” steel, an unfortunate misnomer) is a long circular or ovoid stick with a handle. Its job is to fold the microscopic “teeth” in the knife’s blade back to center, which is why it’s important that you use it on both sides of the knife’s edge.

To hone your blade, make sure that the tip of the honing steel pointed down onto your cutting board (wood or another soft material only), hold the knife at a 20-degree angle near the steel’s handle and work slowly down the blade’s edge, pulling your elbow back to your torso as you work. Do it slowly at first until you get the feel for the process.

Sharpening your knives is entirely different than honing them. It needs to be done far less often, perhaps only twice a year, depending on the use they experience. Perfect Edge provides sharpening and repair services for kitchen cutlery and garden tools for SHED.