Article and photography by Fitz
Lead photo of Lee Houser making cutlery in Suffolk
Lee Houser is a one man cutlery show in Suffolk, Virginia who makes knives that some of the best chefs in Hampton Roads choose to use. From James Beard nominated Chef, Syd Meers in Port Norfolk, to Chef Tony Caruana at Luce in Downtown Norfolk, to Chef Kevin Osfolk at The Bier Garden in Oldetowne Portsmouth, they all own Houser’s handmade knives. It’s the customization of his knives that separates his cutlery from the pack.
A self admitted perfectionist, Houser revels in creating the perfect wooden handle grip, customized exactly to match the buyer’s hand size. The wood in his custom handles, which are bolted together for extra support, are often scavenged from his back yard behind the garage where he forges for his one of a kind cutlery.
Houser uses only the finest steel for his knives. Primarily he works with either high carbon steel, 52100, or aeb-l stainless steel which is the same steel used for razor blades. Working with both metal and wood, Houser will tell you, “Turns [him] on.”
Houser started making knives 5 years ago. A long time Navy guy, he recalled always having an affinity for hunting knives. Houser credits Johnboy Richter, a former Navy SEAL and member of the blacksmith guild of Hampton Roads as an early influence. In the five years Marlin Cutlery has been around, Houser says he “continues with every passing night getting better and better.” Considering the quality of his knives now, one can only imagine the cutlery he will be producing in the years to come. However, the fact that his work will be in the hands of more and more of the best chefs locally doesn’t require speculation.
For more on Lee Houser and Marlin Cutlery visit marlincutlery.com