For over 25 Years, This Knife Company Has Been on the Cutting Edge

Beautiful high-performance kitchen knives by New West Knifeworks
Maker Red Open

What makes a good knife? New West Knifeworks founder Corey Milligan says that a knife Olympics would have four events: sharpness, hardness, assembly, and stain resistance. Milligan’s knives not only score top marks in every category, they’re beautiful too. | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks 

Corey Milligan, founder of New West Knifeworks, has a mission: Make the finest knives in the world. It’s a straightforward idea, but achieving it isn’t so simple. Master knife makers throughout history have devoted their lives to the pursuit of the perfect knife. For Milligan, it’s a process of constant experimentation, research and design, combining state-of-the-art technology with ancient traditions to create the best kitchen tools the world has ever seen.

Maker Portrait

A heavy knife with a thick blade, New West Knifeworks’ 8’’ Western Chef knife is designed for both durability and beauty. | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks

Maker Wall

New West Knifeworks produces a wide range of premium cooking tools, from its G-Fusion knife series (on the wall racks), to its Arete magnetic wood blocks. | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks

In 1997 Milligan was working as a cook in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and looking for his next project. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I like to make things,” he recalls. “At first it [making knives] was just to see if I could get it done.” Frustrated that the only kitchen knives then available in America were black-handled cooking knives, usually German-made, Milligan got to work making knives that were both effective and colorful. He brought them to fine arts and craft shows like the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Colorado, and Jackson Hole Art Fair. From the start, he sold every one of his knives. “There was always more demand than I could make,” says Milligan. New West Knifeworks was born.

Maker Orange

This Teton Edge Santoku is a Japanese-style kitchen knife designed for slicing, complete with a signature Teton Mountain Range engraving. | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks

Milligan scaled up his business over 25 years as he refined his art. His search for the best materials and designs took him around the world. He built relationships with knife makers from Japan to Italy, learning from traditions with thousands of years of blade-forging history. New West Knifeworks marries these traditions with modern technology. The factory uses U.S.-made CPM S35VN steel, whose molecular structure gives knives the sharpest edge without compromising hardness. The signature knife handles and their layers of color are not only beautiful, they’re made from an epoxy fiberglass laminate that’s stable, waterproof and heat resistant.

Maker Make

Each New West Knifeworks store sharpens knives for free with its custom-designed knife-sharpening machines. It also offers laser-engraving and tomahawk throwing. | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks

New West Knifeworks now employs 60 people, including 25 knife makers. In 2015 Milligan moved his operations into a 10,000-square-foot factory in Victor, Idaho, where every part of each knife is produced in-house once the steel arrives. A machine cuts the blades and grinds their bevels with extreme precision, and a CNC router cuts the handles. A maker polishes the blade, assembles it with the handle using rivets and an aerospace-grade adhesive, and hand-finishes the knife using belt sanders and buffers. After it’s sharpened and laser-marked, a process that involves talented engineers and artisans, the knife is ready to go. The result? A knife that will stand the test of time, add beauty to your kitchen, and might be the highest- performing culinary tool ever designed.

Maker Chop

Milligan’s knife blades are made of chemically engineered CPM S35VN, the highest-performance steel available. “The number of knives that we get back chipped or broken is unbelievably small,” says Milligan. “Like a handful a year. Truly remarkable.” | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks

Maker Set

The handles of New West Knifeworks’ G-Fusion series are made from G10, an epoxy fiber- glass laminate originally developed for computer motherboards. It’s stable, waterproof and heat resistant—“bomb-proof,” says Milligan. It wasn’t designed to be beautiful, though. That’s thanks to his artistry. | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks

The perfect knife may not exist, but Milligan is intent on getting as close as possible. He’s continually revisiting his process to find new ways to enhance his knives. In May, New West Knifeworks introduced a series of limited edition monthly designs, and the company has plans to collaborate with famous chefs and designers. Milligan is always looking to the future. He’s not sure what the next innovation will be, but he’s excited to find out. “The light saber of kitchen knives, maybe,” he says, laughing. Knowing Milligan, that might not be as far fetched as it sounds.

New West Knifeworks has retail locations in Napa, California; Park City, Utah; Cherry Creek, Colorado; and in June, opened its newest store in Aspen.

Maker Roll

New West Knifeworks has retail locations in Napa, California; Park City, Utah; Cherry Creek, Colorado; and in June, opened its newest store in Aspen. | Photo courtesy of New West Knifeworks

Categories: Artists & Artisans