HERMAN WILLIAMS 3/21/37 – 3/13/21 by Jason Rosinsky.
Herman’s introduction to knife repair came when he was a young man and his father-in-law handed him a few broken pocketknives and asked him if he could figure out how to fix them. As his interest in knives grew, he would find himself going to gun & knife shows where he coveted the custom knives but found their high prices prohibitive. He figured if they could make custom knives so could he. With some basic tools he taught himself to haft, grind, and file the knives he wanted without the big price tag. He was a natural and started customizing knives to sell at gun & knife shows.
In 1978 Uncle Henry Baer of Schrade happened upon Herman’s table at a show and hired him on the spot. He bought him a ticket to New York for the following weekend and from there Herman became Schrade’s go to customizer. Herman would also attend many knife shows around the country each year where he represented the brand. He would create a full blown customized Schrade knife for each show and award it to the vendor who had the best display of Schrades. After accepting that Herman would not move to Ellenville, Uncle Henry sent engineers to buildout a full machine shop in Herman’s backyard and that’s where every SFO and special edition credited to him came from.
Herman never left his day job at the American Thread textile company. He had a long career with them and for a time also ran a knife store (Cardinal Cutlery) in his hometown of Marion, NC. After Schrade closed in 2004 Herman’s fanbase would keep him going, making custom knives in his backyard all the way until the very end. His reputation as one of the industry greats was only rivaled by his reputation as one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet. Herman passed away at home on March 13th, leaving behind his wife Norma of more than 50 years, his daughter Holly, and two grandchildren.
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