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Historical Inspiration This forum is dedicated to the discussion of historical knife design and its influence on modern custom knife work.

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Old 03-26-2017, 08:55 AM
Andrew Garrett's Avatar
Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Nampa, Idaho
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Turning a Corner

Hey Gang,

This is one of those posts which is written in an effort to help me understand and process my own thoughts--like a journal perhaps. But, maybe it'll strike a chord with someone going through a similar metamorphosis.

As most of you hobbyists who have been at this for a while know by now, the fire for knifemaking can cool every now and then. I made my first knife 12 years ago and I've had multiple periods where my interest was hot and cold--for a variety of legitimate reasons. Hey, life happens. But lately..., holy crap! I am possessed!

The last few months has been a real renaissance in my knifemaking journey. Having retired from tattooing, my creative energy is now solely focused on knives. Moreover, my interest in the history of knives and notable cutlers has also increased exponentially. I've been studying with a ravenous appetite, having read what I could find on James Black, William Scagel, Bo Randall, Bob Loveless, Wayne Goddard, and most recently, Ed Fowler. In addition to reading, I've studied photos of their work and analyzed it--trying to understand their designs.

I just finished a large Bowie with at least a half dozen features that represent 'firsts' for me. A couple of those firsts are a nod to Scagel with a crown antler and stacked spacers.

On the bench right now is 52100 blade which will in many ways will be homage to Fowler and his unique method of heat treating that steel (I'm excited about that knife). I've also been working on a series of bowies, including my take on an 1830s type. I am covering that project in another thread on the Custom Projects forum. I just finished my design for a frame handled dog-bone bowie last night and dove right into research on Gaucho style knives (which I've never had an interest in before now). That will likely occupy my thoughts for most of the week.

The point is: until 2016, I had never even made a hidden tang knife, and I'd made guards and bolsters very rarely. I told myself that I was staying in that narrow vein because I believed that working knives should be simple tools, and what better than a three piece full tang for the simplest of all knives? While I still believe that there is some truth to this, I have come to think that maybe in part, I was just intimidated by processes that I became prejudiced against early on, for reasons I cant quite explain. Maybe it was the authors I first read--David Boye and Bob Loveless; both were very committed to full tangs when they wrote their influential books. Maybe I'm just hard-headed. In any case, I've turned a corner.

My 'style' (if I have such a thing) has to this point been identified with full tangs and a particular push dagger. This may take some redefining as I embrace all of the many techniques and design philosophies which I have avoided in the first period of my knife making career. I'll work on that.

I'm excited about what lies ahead. My wife and I will be moving to Idaho in the coming months, and I'll be setting up a whole new shop. Expect to see more forged knives, more knives which honor a particular style or influential maker, more cultural and historical influence in my work, more fine embellishment of various types, and better more creative work in general (hopefully).

I hope this creative explosion continues! Thanks for indulging me.


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"Drawing your knife from its sheath and using it in the presence of others should be an event complete with oos, ahhs, and questions."
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52100, antler, blade, bolsters, bowie, cold, custom, fire, fixed blade, forged, full tang, guards, hidden, knife, knife making, knifemaking, knives, made, project, randall, simple, spacers, steel, tang, tools


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