5 from the Grinder: Michael Shoaf (Shoaf’s Steel Workshop)

Hello there People of the Knife, it is time for another edition of KNIFE Magazine’s 5 from the Grinder. 5ftG is our quick-format interview with custom knife makers, where we give them an opportunity to outline their design philosophy and showcase their work. We cover makers from all along the spectrum from ABS Masters to folks who just recently made the transition from hobbiest to professional.

I do not know Micahel Shoaf well, but we’ve corresponded a bit. I stumbled across him in a rather unconventional way. Regular readers of the blog know that I am a massive fan of The Ohio State University Buckeyes. Turns out that Michael is too. We are both regular watchers/listeners of the Buckeye Scoop podcast, and it turns out that Michael forged a knife for one of the show’s hosts –  former All-American Buckeye offensive lineman Kirk Barton.

Michael grew up in central Ohio, but calls Arkansas home now.  He has his own YouTube Channel, where he can be seen forging his custom creations.

If you are a maker yourself, click this link for more information about being featured in a future 5 from the Grinder.

Nice hat. O-H!

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

My name is Michael Shoaf of Shoaf’s Steel Workshop. I got my start making knives when I purchased a cheap hunting knife from a big box store… It fell to the floor and snapped off at the handle. So I decided at that moment I was going to make them myself and do better than they were.

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

I haven’t had any mentors or trainers or anything like that. My favorite knifemaker/designer is a toss up between Bob Loveless and Jay Neilson. Bob’s knives are very simple and elegant all about super clean lines, meanwhile the thing I love about Jay’s knives are they are as nasty looking as they are beautiful. Everyone of his pieces is effectively perfect in form, but they look like something you could reasonably carry onto a battlefield and not worry about them breaking.


What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?

Without a doubt the bowie knife. I make them all the time. To the point where it’s almost a force of habit if I pick up a piece of steel I want to immediately turn it into a bowie knife.

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

I have no idea… There are so many amazing things going on, like CuMai and things of that nature. I see 3d printing becoming a big deal as well because of how easy you can make a sheath using very exact levels of detail.

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 camp knives. They show exactly what I’m about. Simple, clean, stout and sharp. That’s what I shoot for with every blade I make.


What is your EDC and why?

Benchmade Bugout. It works, it just plain does work. I’ve never had issues out of the locking mechanism, they hold their edge really well, and they look good. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Find out more:

Facebook: facebook.com/shoafsteelworks
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@mikeredrugger
Phone: 870-7(two)3-0176
Email: mshoaf8989(at)yahoo.com

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