5 from the Grinder time Boys and Girls. Today we bring you Brian “Rocco” Nawrocki, founder and proprietor of Rocco Handmade. I don’t know Rocco personally, but have followed him for some time on instagram. He answered our latest call for knifemaker participants in our 5 from the Grinder interview series, and today is his turn in the barrel.
Please join me in welcoming Rocco Nawrocki to 5ftG.
Please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives
Greetings! My name is Brian Nawrocki – better known as “Rocco” owner and operator of Rocco Handmade – Handmade Cutlery, Tools, and Leather goods. Carefully Crafted in Michigan.
My story starts young with a fascination and romantic idea of blacksmithing, anvils and fire. However what leads me to where I am now is taking an opportunity to work with my mentor Jim Behring at Treeman Knives. What began as being hired to be a shop hand and handle time consuming tasks, like cutting pieces and parts, cleaning, handling emails and phone calls quickly offered an idea of opening our own in house leather shop – Treeman Leather Shop. Working in house as the sole leather maker is what opened the doors to me making my own knives.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
Hands down Jim Behring and William Scagel over all, however I draw inspiration from every where, from vintage flea market finds to the most exquisite art knives, there are lessons to be learned and inspiration to be found.
Jim Behring has been my mentor since day one, paving the way for me and countless others. I’ve been extremely blessed to be able to work side by side with Jim from the start. While I still work with Jim daily, I have started branching out and spending time at hammer in’s and with other makers locally to expand my skills, knowledge to not get myself stuck in one lane.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
Anything Scagel. The looks of Scagels work draw me in, the lines and flow of the blades into the handles and the colors and combinations of materials ate exciting to look at. The feel of a Scagel style handle in the hand is unlike anything else of its time. Undoubtedly my all time favorite style.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
I think the the upward momentum of the culinary cutlery will keep on the rise, along with the forged blade with the exposure it has gained from the tv shows and with the easier access to classes and schooling for knife making and forging/blacksmithing. Like everything, trends come and they go, but always seem to circle back at some point, i eagerly await the next trends and big things and everything and everyone that comes along with it.
Is there a knife from your lineup that you feel best exhibits who you are as a knifemaker/designer in terms of design elements, aesthetic or techniques used?
My Scagel style Deer & Trout model or my Stag Handle trout/ pocket edc fixed blades.
What is your EDC and why?
I currently carry one of my own Rocco Handmade Trout/Pocket EDC’s. A hand forged 1095 convex ground 3.5” long blade, with a nickel silver/brass two piece stacked guard, black and dark blue vulcanized fiber, brass and aluminum, and OD green canvas micarta spacers and a vintage German Roe deer crotch stag handle. I like having a non mechanical fixed blade that functions as my deer hunting knife, my box cutter, my steak knife anytime i need it. It is also helpful to always have a piece on hand to show and let potential new customers see and feel my work for themselves face to face.