Hey Everyone, and welcome to another exciting edition of KNIFE Magazine 5 from the Grinder. While we actively encourage any and all knifemakers to submit their own 5ftG entries (click here to learn more) , it is always special to share one from a maker with whom we have a personal connection. I have known Caleb White (Caleb White Knives) since my first Blade Show in 2014, when he gave me one of his Penance fixed blade knives to test. I wrote a review for The Truth About Knives, where I was Managing Editor at the time. I managed to port it over here…
So without further ado, I turn the floor over to my friend Caleb White.
Please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
I’m a full-time custom knifemaker out of NH, and my desire to make knives stems from rapt fascination with swords and weaponry from a young age. And, as an adult running into someone who actually knew how to make them and was willing to show me how to get started. No looking back after that!
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
The makers that inspire me the most are typically the men and women in the art-knife circles (AKI crew), as well as classic trailblazers like Robert Loveless, SR Johnson, and John Young. My mentors include my best friend, and the man who introduced me to knife making, Brett Bennett. He along with Van Barnett have had the most direct influence in motivating, guiding, and teaching me to flourish as a fledgling maker establishing my craft.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
Swords. Plain and simple; I find more aesthetic appeal and inspiration in the fantastical allure of a proper Japanese katana, or a medieval European style ‘Crusader’ sword than any other blades in history.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
I would hope, and can sometimes see the inklings of, a resurgence in society for the appreciation of cottage crafts like knife making. It would be great to see society and culture at-large adopt a less commercialized drive for ‘things’ and start looking locally to find the handcrafted treasures in their own neighborhoods. Realizing they’ll get way more out of heirloom quality handcrafted blades/knives/cutlery, from a local artisan, than from any big-box mas produced cheap blade, or even a case full of them. I would love to see humanity as whole start reconnecting to our roots of heritage in the seemingly benign daily tools we use, like knives and cutlery. These things weren’t historically overlooked trinkets for satiating a desire to collect, but more were essential to the daily task of living…and surviving. Typically a fine knife was used, cherished, taken care of, and then eventually passed down to the next generation.
From an industry perspective, I’d love to see the new makers (and some of the ‘established’ ones) stop chasing the latest fad in uber-steels/materials, and focus on the purity of mastering the basics in a well balanced and well thought out…knife. We don’t need 4000 new types of steel every year, for which some may abandon their whole stash of knives/steels to acquire, only to have it dry up in six months when the next big “thing” comes out. Focus on the craft, not the materials. Definitely use quality materials, but stop trying to sell your brand and your work on the magnificence of the material used and present a form and understanding of it which transcends pop-culture.
Rant over. I feel like that band-aid might have come off with a little skin on 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 Lycan fixed-blade is certainly one of the most prolific and sought-after knives I make, alongside my Kogatana framelock. Both knives adhere to my desire for simplicity of form, elegance in the lines, and functional intent above everything else. As hard as I’ve tried to be more elaborate, and strive for some fantastical vision of daggers and art-knives, I naturally keep being drawn back to create simple, functional, daily-use knives, which have purpose and usefulness at their core. I love designing new knives, and draw them endlessly. I literally have thousands of knife designs at this point. But most of them will never see the light of day as real objects, sadly. Time is limited and I’ll only be able to create so many in my life. As often as not, I continue to reach back for the simple, functional, and elegant patterns which can be used and enjoyed on a daily basis by your average collector.
What is your EDC and why?
Daily I carry my Guillotine titanium framelock with an RWL34 blade and micarta handle inlay. It’s a wonderfully functional seax/semi-Wharcliffe style blade that provides a pure pleasant cut. The framelock I prefer do to it’s ruggedness, light weight, and of course it’s a pocket knife, ergo, easy to tote around. RWL34 is my preferred steel for a variety of reasons, but primarily because there isn’t much out there that can beat in terms of sheer sharpness, toughness, and ease of maintenance. It’s just about the perfect all around steel. And it takes one heck of a polish!
If you would like to see more of Caleb’s work, you can check out his website at www.calebwhiteknives.com