The annual source for photos, addresses, and information on your favorite custom and factory knives, as well as a selection of articles from the best writers in the business. includes over 1000 photographs and a complete directory of custom knifemakers, supply houses, knife manufacturers and importers, and other knife related businesses such as photographers and engravers.
New this year: FULL COLOR photos – a great addition to the book, since many people buy this book primarily for the pictures.
A Forge Where Magic Knives Are Made Ayres, James
Always Heat Your Leftovers Hollis, Durwood
Land the Finest in Fish Knives White, Richard
Bear Hunting With a Virtual Ed Fowler Nappen, Evan
Family Forges Smith, Linda Moll
A Bloke Who Builds More Than Blades Spencer, Keith
A Meeting of the Mosaic Damascus Minds Szilaski, Joe
Pop Open a Serious Auto Knife Ewing, Dexter
The Knifemaker Who Never Works Bean, Greg
The Search for the Perfect Pocketknife Overton, Mac
Reviewed by Mac Overton
One of the nicest things about fall for the last 25 years has been the arrival of the latest annual edition of the Knives series. My advance copy of the 2005 edition arrived on Oct. 27, and not only lives up to expectations generated by previous editions, but drastically exceeds them! Of the 310 pages in the massive book, 186 pages of articles are in full color, in addition to the covers, which were, of course, the only color part in past editions.
The color does much to bring new life and new excitement to this edition. The Features, Trends, State of the Art, and Factory Trends sections all benefit from color photos on high-quality, glossy stock. True, such quality costs a little more and, at $24.99, this year’s edition is $2 more expensive than last year’s.
“A Forge Where Magic Knives Are Made” by James Ayres, about his 40-year-plus search for great handmade navajas in Barcelona, Spain. Embedded in it is a “magic story” of a knife that a 15-year-old boy used to save the life of his mother and other women from execution by Spanish Communists during that country’s civil war in the 1930s.
Durwood Hollis contributes an article on “Always Heat Your Leftovers,” about how knifemaker Loyd Thomsen forges beautiful and unique damascus blades from scraps left over from his other knife-making endeavors. The finished example shown with the article is really striking.
“Land the Finest in Fish Knives” by Richard D. White explains the lore and legend (and usage) of this often-neglected area for collectors.
Evan F. Nappen, esq., takes us “Bear Hunting With a Virtual Ed Fowler.” He explains how he was able to test Fowler’s “high-performance mindset,” which Fowler forges into every knife he makes, on a bear he took down in the Canadian Wilderness. “Ed’s voice speaks to you through his knives, ‘Hunt the way of the high performance knife.’…It means not failing. It means meeting the challenge. It means being tough and ready for whatever comes your way.” As one who has had the pleasure to use an Ed Fowler hunter, I can definitely agree.
Linda Moll Smith takes us on a tour of “Family Forges: Find out how and why knife making runs in the blood.” She takes us on a visit to several husband-wife, father-son, and grandfather-grandson knifemaking teams, in Linda’s unique style.
Keith Spencer takes us to Australia to meet “A Bloke Who Builds More Than Blades,” about David Brodziak and his truly unique creations, including a showpiece dagger that quickly sold for $6,500.
Joe Szilaski takes us to “A Meeting of the Mosaic Damascus Minds,” telling how smiths sharing information led to great advances in the damascus world.
“Pop Open a Serious Auto Knife,” by veteran writer Dexter Ewing, explains the joy of push-button knives.
Some of the finest traditional-style Scottish dirks and daggers, as crafted by Michael McRae, are the subject of Greg Bean’s “The Knifemaker Who Never Works.”
I contributed an article on “The Search for the Perfect Pocket Knife,” in which I discussed some of the knives I’ve known and loved through the years, and why the search for the perfect knife is a never-ending process for this ol’ country boy.
There are more subcategories than ever under the Trends, State of the Art, and Factory Trends sections, all made even more impressive through the brilliant, sharp color photos that literally seem to jump of the page at you.
Subcategories under Trends, with interesting commentary by editor Kertzman, include Blue Blades, Cowboy and Indian Knives (worth a look by anyone with any interest in the West), Mammoth Handles, Whiz-Bang Blades, Hunt and Peck, Lords of Swords, Take Hold’a Some Timber, Dagger Management, Culture Clashers, Mighty Mites, Cut from the Same Cloth, Pearls in the Rough, Them’s Fightin’ Knives, Proven Pocketknife Patterns, Dangerous Curves, Shatterproof Synthetics, Fierce and Fantastic and Big Bad Bowies.
Under State of the Art, subcategories this time around are Bling-Bling Blades, Checkers Anyone?, Steels of Swirl, Carving Out a Niche, Filed & Styled, Enslaving Engraving, Scene-Stealing Scrimshaw, Mokumé and Mosaic Magic, and Potentates of Totin’ Blades.
Factory Trends includes a feature, “America Grows Gorgeous Hunting Knives,” by William Hovey Smith, Soldier Steel, Beacon Blades, Unusual Tactics, Game Getters, Gems of the Gentry, Exchange-A-Blades, and Field and Food Knives.
Lastly, don’t overlook the value of the knifemaker directories – I’ve only had the volume for a few weeks as I type this, and already the directories have saved me hours of time on research for other knife articles I’m doing.
It’s a great read, and sure to become a book knife lovers will refer to again and again.
Softcover, 304 pp.