Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why make a knife?

My first sole authorship knife
Why in the world in this day in age when more custom knife makers and high end production knives exist than ever before would I choose to make rudimentary knives in my backyard? Unfortunately, or fortunately it comes down to friendship and valuing something that was made for you.  It all started in 1943 when my grandfather Les Hayes was drafted into US Army and a friend made him a simple yet effective K-Bar style knife from a file with a leather wrapped handle. Les and the knife survived the war (even though the knife did try to kill him once) and both became a fixture in my life. He gave me the knife and his dog tags a few years before he passed on and both reside in a place of honor in my home today. Now it is my generation’s turn to fight and many of my friends have answered the call. It started with buying each one of them a quality knife that fit their personality and tasks. Then came my friend Stew’s turn for deployment and while searching for the knife that fit his personality (a monumental task in itself) he mentioned.. “It’d be cool to have a knife made for you, not just a production blade off the shelf.” Being one for a challenge, and underestimating how hard this could be, I decided to make him a knife for war. This couldn’t be any field knife; it had to fit Stew’s profile of the gentleman warrior. He would not be out of place leading a cavalry charge on horseback instead of in his Huey.  I decided on the classic Sykes Fairbairn style fighting knife, but it had to be something more. I couldn’t make a blade at the time so I found a premade blade that had the correct pattern. As he was going to Iraq I thought it only fitting that the knife have a little Iraqi flair and used some marble brought back from Saddam’s palace to make the handle. All in all I spent about 100 hours making this knife (and even carry a scar from it) and didn’t even have to forge it. Why? Ultimately it is only an object that can be lost or destroyed. Well, somebody thought enough of Les to make him a knife, and he held onto it his whole life and god willing I will as well, and so on. What if I could do the same?

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