I am happy to report that we have a healthy queue of 5 from the Grinder entries, and today we bring you Arkansas maker Jaymes Stevens of J.M. Stevens Knives. I don’t know him personally, but his website says that in addition to knifemaking, he is an RV and Homeschool enthusiast. Sounds like my kind of fellow. And his knives look pretty great too. I believe that he met Mark at the James Black Festival a couple of months ago.
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Without further ado, here is Jaymes in his own words…
Please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives
I’m Jaymes Stevens with J. M. Stevens Knives. As a child, I loved looking at the old gunsmithing catalogs that my dad had around the house. I was always seeing the knife kits in those catalogs and wanted to build one. My father was a tool and die maker most of his life, so he taught me how to make my first knife in his personal shop. He also worked alongside a knifemaker who is now a mastersmith, so I attended my first knife show around age 10. From that day on, I was hooked. I followed in my father’s footsteps and also became a tool and die maker for over 16 years, but knifemaking was always a hobby I pursued in my spare time. In a recent turn of events, I was afforded the opportunity to chase my lifelong passion and become a full-time bladesmith. I can honestly say now I love going to work every single day.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
In my early days, I was heavily influenced by John Perry and appreciated his precision as a machinist. These days I enjoy learning from master bladesmiths Lin Rhea, J. R. Cook, Jerry Fisk, and Ricardo Vilar on a regular basis. Their passion for passing on their knowledge of knifemaking is inspiring.
Shane Siebert and Tad Lynch have also influenced my design choices, and I’ve always admired their work.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
Being from Arkansas, the bowie knife has had a large influence on me. I was recently able to participate in the first annual Bowie Heritage Festival at the James Black School in Washington, AR. The sheer amount of knife history there was astonishing.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
The knife industry has such a myriad of trends, but I think there’s always a place for the classic, but excellently executed blades. Fit and finish are paramount, and I think simple but elegant designs will stick around long after the more extreme styles fade.
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?
The fighter style probably best exhibits me as a knifemaker. My fighters can be simple or dressy, but they are always functional and made for a specific purpose. They serve as a tool for their owner; a blade that’s always there when you need it.
What is your EDC and why?
A knifemaker friend of mine made me a spring-assist folder that I usually have in my pocket. I always carry that or one of the many Case folders I’ve collected throughout the years.
If you would like to see more of Jaymes’ work, check out his website: J.M. Stevens Knives. Instagram: @jmstevensknives or Facebook: JMStevensknives
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