KINMEN ISLANDS, TAIWAN - 2011/08/22: Maestro Wu at work in his workshop. Maestro Wu has been crafting knife blades from old unexploded shells that fell over the island on several occasion when China was trying to capture Kinmen Island from Taiwan. The blade forged in his small workshop are renown for their quality and durability throughout Taiwan. Maestro Wu comes from a forger family. His late father Mr. Wu Tsong Shan had started the knife business during the last period of the late Chin Dynasty. (Photo by Alberto Buzzola/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
This Taiwanese Family Business Is Turning Artillery Shells Into Knives
Quirky kitchen gadgets are everywhere these days, but any chef will tell you that there is nothing as valuable as a sharp kitchen knife. The best knives are made of titanium or high-carbon stainless steel, which don’t come cheap, and at Maestro Wu’s foundry, the Wu family recycles an unlikely material to obtain these precious metals.
Starting in 1953, thousands of artillery shells washed up on Taiwan's offshore island of Kinmen. At Maestro Wu's foundry, founded in 1937, patriarch Wu Tseng-dong recycles the shells' military-grade scrap metal to make kitchen knives and farming tools, and today, he can create 60 steel blades on average from one artillery shell.
Wu's knives, including Chinese cleavers, fish knives, and more, have become so popular that he has found importers to bring his products to America. He remarks that his work is far from over: "Not all the shells have been collected [...] So many are still buried underground, and shells can still be dug up by construction workers."