Published May 1, 2018
Páll Kristjánsson’s knifemaker’s shop, tucked away on a picturesque side street in Mosfellsbær, appears fairly non-descript from the outside. However, taking a step inside, and it’s one part cluttered woodshop, one part museum: workbenches, stacks of wood, and boxes and hooves and antlers crowd the front half of the place. In the back you’ll find his trademark crafts on display: handmade knives.
There is a knife for just about everybody in Pall’s shop (and yes, he does sell left-handed knives). From basic kitchen knives to more intricately decorated longblades, this is a shop that runs the gamut of all things sharp.
The handles of the knives can be made from just about anything: many types of wood, of course, but also horse hooves, the bones of different animals, antlers, and even whale ivory. Don’t worry though; this ivory wasn’t hunted. Rather, they come from beached whales, usually sperm whales.
“The whale dies in the sea, and then drifts onto the beach,” he explains. “Then the owner of the land where the whale beaches, they’ve been selling the teeth to people who are using this ivory.”
The most common tool Páll uses in his craft is an old dentist drill, and his workspace is literally behind the counter. A person could spend a long time just browsing, not least of all for the curiosities festooned all over the place. (He’s a big fan of skulls, for example, and even owns a human skull that a dentist traded to him for a knife.)
Happily, you don’t have to drive all the way out to Mosfellsbær to buy one of his knives. His wares are also for sale at the hardware store Brynja, on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík, or you can buy his knives online. As an added bonus, he even offers a course on knifemaking—be sure to ask him for more details.