5 from the Grinder: Matthew Moline (Moline Customs)

January’s print issue is off to the printer, so it is time to get back to the website. Today we have our latest 5 from the Grinder, with Matthew Moline, of Moline Customs .  I do not know Matthew personally, but I just spent an enjoyable dive down the rabbit hole of his website and Instagram. Matthew makes a full range of blades from culinary to hunting to full-sized swords.

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Without further ado, I yield the floor to Matthew Moline…

Please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives

In the winter of 2013, I embarked on my blacksmithing journey with a keen interest in forging knives. Armed with a homemade forge made from a paint can, a pair of vise grips, and a hand hammer, I set out to create my first forged knife. Over the years, my passion for this craft has led me to develop a range of carbon steel and stainless steel knives and tools, which have gained national recognition after I won the title of Forged In Fire Champion on the History Channel show (Season 3, Episode 10).

My blacksmithing style is a blend of cultural and artistic influences from my travels across Africa, North America, and Europe. I take pride in designing, forging, and finishing each piece in my workshop to create heirloom-quality items that can be used daily and passed down through generations. My goal is to provide my clients with a deep sense of satisfaction in using their custom-made piece.

What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?

While I am self-taught as a blacksmith and knife maker, I have been inspired by the work of Jason Knight, a renowned master bladesmith whom I have followed for years. His approach to knife making and blacksmithing has had a significant impact on my work, and I often draw inspiration from his designs and techniques.

Aside from Jason Knight, I have also come across other knife makers and designers whose work I admire. While their influence on my work may not be as significant as Jason’s, they have still contributed to my growth and development as a knife maker.

As for mentors, I have not had any formal training or guidance from experts in the field. However, I have received helpful tips and advice from other experienced knife makers and blacksmiths in the American Bladesmith Society , whom I consider to be my mentors in a sense. Their insights and feedback have been invaluable to my learning process and have helped me refine my craft over time.

What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?

One of my favorite knife patterns from history is the bowie knife. The bowie knife is a classic design that has been around for over 180 years and has a rich history in American knife making. I love the distinctive shape of the blade, which features a clip point and a pronounced belly, making it well-suited for a wide range of cutting tasks. The design of the bowie knife also allows for a strong and sturdy blade, which is great for heavy-duty tasks. Overall, I find the bowie knife to be a timeless classic that embodies both form and function, and it remains one of my favorite knife styles to this day.

What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?

One thing I’ve noticed from my own experience as a knife maker is that there seems to be a growing interest in hand-made, made in America knives. It’s great to see people valuing the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into a well-made knife, and I think that trend will continue as more people appreciate the beauty and functionality of hand-made knives.

At the same time, from what I’ve seen in the industry, one trend that’s emerged is an increasing demand for customizability. Many knife makers are incorporating unique features like custom designs on the blades and custom images printed on the handles, and I think that’s something that will become even more important in the future. As knife makers continue to push the boundaries of their craft and demand for knives increases, it makes sense that people will want more say in the design and features of their knives.

I’ve also noticed that there are more and more knife makers entering the market, which some might see as competition. But personally, I see this as a positive thing – I think there’s a lot of room for new makers in the industry, and we can all succeed together.

Ultimately, I believe that as long as we focus on making the best knives we can, and providing excellent customer service and support, there will always be a clientele for us out there. So I’m not too worried about the competition – in fact, I think it’s a good thing that there are more people out there making knives, because it means that more people are becoming interested in this craft that we all love.
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?
As a knife maker, I would say that the fillet knife best exhibits who I am and my style. Living on Harsens Island, where we have one of the best fisheries in Michigan, the demand for fillet knives is high, and I have honed my skills to make them to perfection. Fillet knives are difficult to make due to their thinness, strength, and flexibility, and I take pride in creating a knife that can bend without breaking and come back to its true form. My design and shape of fillet knives have become my signature, and I am known for them in my area. Although I make other types of knives, I believe that my fillet knives exhibit my dedication to craftsmanship and my ability to create a practical, functional tool that is also aesthetically pleasing.

What is your EDC and why?

When it comes to my EDC knife, I don’t always carry one around, but when I do, it’s usually my trusty 3.5″ drop point hunting knife. It’s just the right size for me, and I find it really versatile for all sorts of tasks, whether I’m out in the woods or just need to open up a package at home. Plus, it’s got a sentimental value to me, as I made it myself in my shop.


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