This article’s title has little or nothing to do with age, despite the “young” reference. What it does reflect is the fact that most of these ‘sharp’ shooters are relatively new to knifemaking. Some have less than a few years’ experience making knives. Social media is home to a multitude of people forging or making knives using the stock removal method. What stands out is that most are making exceptional custom knives. The learning curve has straightened out! When I started making knives the process was slow, at least for me and my group of peers. It took years before I felt skilled and confident enough to call myself a knifemaker. A “Karate Kid” style of learning was popular back then. First step was finding a knifemaker willing to let you apprentice with them, next was getting familiar with the grinder by profiling blades. Then you got to clean the shop, make sheaths, and performing a few other tasks before actually getting the chance to grind some bevels. No complaints – I highly appreciated my time with knifemaker Steve Price, really loved the journey too.
Things have definitely changed; I see this latest generation of knifemakers producing high quality knives right out of the chute! I initially thought of borrowing the lyrics from Stevie Nicks for a different title; “No Speed Limit – This is The Fast Lane.” It really is the fast lane. My first grinder was a 3”x21” belt sander commonly used for sanding wood. Today many of these young guns build much of their own equipment, and they appear to know more about metallurgy starting out than I have learned after more than 20 years! With YouTube and other mediums, they can easily access every aspect of both forging and stock removal knifemaking methods right on their phone. Grasping technical details is instant for them, I had to be taught over and over before things sunk in.
As you can tell, I am a huge fan with loads of admiration for their tenacity and drive. It is fascinating to see how knowledgeable and articulate these new knifemakers really are. Not only is the quality of their knives first rate, but they also grasp the business end of things very well. New terms like “books are open or closed” (taking orders, or not) are modern terms that sound so foreign to me. The only books I opened or closed were knifemaking books. We did have Bob Engnath’s Blades & Stuff catalog, which was one of the best how-to knifemaking books of that time. A popular old school term has vanished much to my surprise; “Waiting lists” are now a thing of the past!
Years ago, these young guns would be thundering across the prairie in search of new adventures and exciting challenges. Today the dreams are similar, although the iron horses might be a touch faster! Hang on to your hat and enjoy the ride.
This article appears in the August 2021 issue of KNIFE Magazine. We are making the whole article free for everyone, just click the blue button below to launch the flipbook.
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