Tim Chilcott

The Designer, Bladesmith, Knifemaker


I have, lived the life of a craftsman since I was a boy, always stealing father’s tools and wood and bits of metal making things in his shed in which he often entombed himself making things for our house.

I could also be found at that age in my grandfather’s workshop; he was a precision engineer and had me on a soap box in front of his lathe and mill making a little steam engine when I was just 10!

When I was in my teens I met a man who was a silversmith. I found this so fascinating and so different from any form of craft I had come across before that I soon decided I needed to know everything about it.!

I enrolled at Medway College of Design in the early eighties and spent four years there learning the rudiments of the craft but also developing an interest in design in general. We students were encouraged to enter national design and craft competitions and I, along with some of my fellow students there, did well in these throughout the four years of our course.

This culminated in meeting the late Princess Diana who was presenting an award I had entered upon graduating and won.!

I developed my craft skills further working at silversmithing firms in London and received the freedom of The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Later with my own workshop, TJC Silver, I worked on bespoke designs of modern silverware for clients all over the world, still entering design and craft competitions with some success.!

By the late 1990’s I was working almost exclusively for middle-eastern clients; notably on the largest piece of silverware ever made. It was a cake stand, four metres tall and weighing 900kgs, very richly decorated. It was to be almost the last silversmithing that I did!

For political reasons these clients stopped buying from the west and coincidentally the price of silver started to rise heavily. Time to look for something else to do……!

I started teaching Design and Technology at secondary school but, although a very engaging occupation, this wasn’t creative enough for me. Whilst teaching I met a young man who is a keen knife maker and he encouraged me to have a go; my first efforts were carried out using the school workshop that wasn’t really set up for this. My first knife took weeks to produce but I found then something that I wanted to concentrate on.!

I find knives fascinating being such an ancient and fundamental tool. From a design prospective form and function are able to achieve a beautiful balance in a knife. Function having to be so precise, it dictates it’s own elegant form.!

I took redundancy from teaching to become a carer for my son who was at the time nearing the end of a long battle with cancer. For the best part of the next year I spent my time partly with him, partly building belt grinders and putting together a knife makers’ workshop!

Enduring such a personal tragedy causes one to re-discover who one really is. I realised, amongst other things, just how important my creativity is to me.!

Hence I find myself here. Thrilled by the process of designing gorgeous, exquisitely crafted items for discerning clients. I balance this with taking life one day at a time; living for today and not some hoped for future event as no-one knows what fate has in store for them; by appreciating the wonderful people still in my life, fleeting as it is

Also exploring the world around me on foot in the forests, in canoes and kayaks on wild rivers or the high seas or in my old Land Rover, Lottie, crossing continents.

Tim at work
Tim Chilcott, maker of hand made knives