Oysters are special: They live under the sea and endure years of storms, currents and waves to become a delicacy. These years have made the oyster tough, and you will need a good tool to open it. So why not have an oyster knife that is just as special as the oyster? With an Emergo Designs handmade oyster knife, every oyster you open feels like it has a pearl inside.
This page is all about my oyster knives: the history, the design and how I make them. Emergo Designs makes all the oyster shuckers in the Netherlands, in a workshop that’s located 10 meters from the water. As a one man shop, I’m not always able to ship the knives directly, but that’s because the shuckers are made by hand.
My knives are a combination of craftsmanship and modern manufacturing. I’m very open about how I make my knives and I make short films to share my methods. I’ve always documented my making journey on social media. I have made a lot of video’s about how I make my oyster knives and why mine are special. I love to make and I love to share what I do.
My name is Alexander Bol from the province of Zeeland in The Netherlands, and I would love to make an oyster knife for you.
As a child, I spent my summers working on our family’s oyster fishing ship. Our family has been growing and fishing oysters for more then a 100 years in the Eastern Scheldt region in the Netherlands. It’s really special to be out on the water and I look back with great memories.
I was also interested in designing and making products. I became an engineer and combined my passion for knife making with my family heritage. In 2014 I developed my first oyster knife.
It all started on a sunday afternoon when my dad broke his cheap oyster shucker. Luckily he didn’t hurt himself, but there are many stories of people who were not so fortunate. At the time I was already making knives and I decided on the spot to develop a safer and more durable shucker, Now my company Emergo Designs makes and sells exclusive oyster opening tools that ship all over the world. The models I make can be seen on the link below, or scroll further down.
The first knife design came forth out a design process with 6 months of development. From sketches, multiple designs were engineered into CAD (computer aided modelling). Then 6 versions were 3Dprinted to feel how the shape lays in the hand. The next step was to make 3 different shaped knife models and test them. I visited local fisherman, resturauteurs and even an old Dutch champion in oyster opening. This is a competition to see who can open oysters the fasted and most precise.
With their feedback I chose a model and further optimized the design. This became the ”original” oyster shucker. But the design and processes have been continuously improved ever since this first version. Changes in methods and new machinery have greatly enabled me to improve the fit and finish of each piece. One of the latest additions is the option to put the Emergo Designs logo and serie number of the knife.
Oyster knives are absolutely different than other kitchen knives. A chefs knife that is designed for cutting vegetables has a vertical orientation. You hold the knife in such a way that the cutting edge is oriented downward and the blade is vertical. However, for opening an oyster your blade needs to be horizontal. This is the secret of the Emergo Designs oyster knives: they lay comfortably in your hand because they are designed for horizontal orientation and this gives great control when opening an oyster.
My knives are also very pointy for easy entry into the hard shell. This is only possible because of the high quality steels that are used. Regular knife steel would break the knife tip. These handmade oyster knives are a combination of elegant aesthetics with a seamless integration of material choice and functional shape.
How an oyster knife is made
Every knife that I ship is made by me and I’m proud of that. As a one man shop I know the quality of each knife that is shipped. An oyster knife starts as a piece of RWL34 or Damasteel. These are very modern steels that are made with powder metallurgy technology. The benefit is that te blades will be extremely rust resistant. The beautiful Damasteel is forged and folded to show an amazing pattern. More about this process kan be read on their website:
The steel is (waterjet) cut and hardened to a hard and springy state where it is perfect for opening oysters. I then ground the bevels and glue the handles. The material I use is different per model, but it is mostly a beautiful hardwood that gives an oyster knife character. Wood is thoroughly selected for aesthetics and durability. All these steps can be seen in the video below.
The handle is carefully sanded, polished and oiled. With years of experimenting I now have found an oiling process that makes wooden handles absolutely gorgeous. The final steps are making a case, etching the makers mark and quality control. It takes 8 to 20 hours to make an oyster knife from scratch.
Quite new to my workshop is the addition of a CNC router. This computer controlled milling machine is used for making the cases where I ship the oyster knives in. This new case transforms the knife into a beautiful gift to give or receive. It comes with certificates, maintenance oil, a micro fiber cloth and a meranti wood housing. How I use the CNC machine can be seen here: