Happy Thursday People of the Knife. It seems like Thursday’s have gradually become 5 from the Grinder day, as I am in the office and the egg timer is always running out by now to freshen the above-the-fold content. 5 from the Grinder posts take a bit of time to compile, and so a pattern has unintentionally developed.
Today we bring you Shawn Moulenbelt, of 51 Bravo Custom Knives. I do not know him personally, but he answered an open solicitation for entries. He hails from “That State Up North” (*ichigan), but this Buckeye won’t hold that against him.
Please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives
I’ve been a carpenter and a builder my whole life. My brother Jason was living in Texas and connected with Stanley Buzek (who makes the most beautiful folding knives I’ve ever seen!) and started learning to make fixed blade knives.
It took awhile but he finally convinced me to try making one. Once I did, I just had to make another. And another, and another……you get the idea!
I am an Army veteran, my job was 51 Bravo: Carpenter and Mason. I decided to use that as the name of my forge and business.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
SO MANY awesome mentors! That’s what I love about our community: everyone is so supportive and helpful. Stanley Buzek (I call him my knife guru), Walter Sorrels, Andy Roy, J. Neilson, my brother Jason (who now makes awesome sheaths: his company is Diomedes Industries) to name a few. To all of those not listed here, I appreciate you all! 🙂
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
Tough call but it has to be a drop point hunter. It’s just a tried and true design and it can be adapted to suit so many purposes and styles. Full tang, hidden tang, big camp style knives down to smaller edc style blades. They can all share that basic drop point shape.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
Right now I’m seeing lots of makers experimenting with introducing other metals into their pattern welded blades. I really like the looks of a layer of nickel or copper in the pattern. I’ve tried Copper once and ALMOST got it, but ended up with a delam! 🙂 All sorts of mosaic patterns too.
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 current favorite I call a Rancher. I designed it with a local horse rancher who was looking for a nice stout edc style blade to use for popping the strings on round bales to feed the horses, and general daily chore stuff.
I recently paired it with scales I made from an old Jim Beam bourbon barrel lid. I charred the oak wood to mimic the inside of the bourbon barrels. I also like to use a hammered finish on the flats of the blade, i like the contrast between the finished bevel and the rustic hammered flats. I also really like to reuse old materials that have significance.
What is your EDC and why?
I carry one of my Rancher models in a leather pocket sheath so I’ll have some of my work to show off should the subject come up.
But I always carry the slip joint Trapper I got from Stanley Buzek when we finally got to meet in person at Blade Show Atlanta last year.
I love it not only because it’s beautiful but because it reminds me of him and gives me an excuse to show it off and tell other about him. 🙂