Greetings folks! We hope you have had a wonderful Christmas season, and as we get back into the “grind” as it were, it seems like the perfect time to bring you a new 5 from the Grinder. If you are a maker who would like to be featured in your own 5 from the Grinder, check out this link. Our queue is pretty thin right now, and we’d love to add you to our growing list of featured makers.
One thing I love about the series is that it is equally applicable to someone who is still in the early stages of their career, straddling the line between hobbiest and professional, as it is to a full time master of the craft. Today’s featured maker is one of the former, though the skill exhibited in his knives shows glimpses of the latter. So without further ado, I bring you John Walker of Etowah Valley Knives.
Please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives
Hello all, my name is John Walker and I’m the man behind Etowah Valley Knives. I started my knife making journey in 2018. In 2017, I was diagnosed with a life altering neurological disorder. It took nearly a year for me to adjust to the new norm of life, and my wife suggested that I take up knife making to keep my mind and body active. Three years later, it has grown into a full time hobby.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
When I first began, YouTube was my biggest source of information. Neels Van Den Berg of Black Dragon Forge and Mike Stewart of Ekim Knives were my biggest sources of information. A couple of years ago, I joined the North Georgia Custom Knife Makers Guild. I do believe that was one of the smartest decisions I have made in regards to knife making. I have been fortunate enough to have from so many talented knife makers such as Andy Roy, Allen Surls, Dirk Loots, John Shore, and so many others.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
I would have to say bushcraft/field knives are probably my favorites. I love seeing how different makers have the own takes on this genre of knives.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
I really don’t know what the next big thing is, I just a little fish in a big ocean and that has not been a focus for me. I think the industry in going to continue on the path of more and more people learning how to make knives at home.
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?
At the time of writing this answer, I would have to say my Outlaw is the best showcase. I designed that knife to where I can take the basic shape, and modify it in different ways. Instead of trying to come up with a whole new design for a feature I want, I can have a base design and several variations of it to suit different needs/wants.
What is your EDC and why?
I carry a Mini-Com from Emerson Knives. I have had that knife for many years. It was with me every day for the 14 years I spent in law enforcement and has become a part of my wardrobe.