All you need in life is a good knife and a good plan.
The Following is my journey to obtain a one-of-a-kind knife.
I commissioned professional knife maker Jerry Hobbs of J.Hobbs Blacksmithing to forge my blade design into reality.
Why a custom blade?
A knife is the most taken for granted tool on the planet. Everyone eventually uses a knife to cut something.
It’s the tool that allowed humans to climb up a couple of links on the food chain. It gave us tooth and claw.
It allowed us to create other tools.
Along with fire, it allowed us to not fear the beasts that lurked in the dark.
“Knives are everywhere but not all are equal.”
I’m a full time metal artist who uses traditional blacksmith tools and techniques to create metal sculptures and jewelry. This allows me to interact with other metal-workers, artists and knife makers.
It wasn’t until I had experience with these blade-smiths, examined their fine hand made knives that I truly understood the difference between a factory knife and hand crafted blade.
I’ve hammered out a few blades of my own and I can tell you from experience, that making a knife by hand is a hell of a lot harder than it looks.
Now, I fully recognize that most people who use knives do so only occasionally, so a factory knife works just fine for them. But for someone who’s livelihood or life depends on the performance of a simple knife, the longevity, durability, usefulness, and value of a knife is paramount.
“A factory knife is a clone. It has no soul.”
Factory knives are manufactured for mass production on an assembly line.
Manufactures who deal in volume are in the business of making the most money for the lowest cost of product and labor they can. Pure and simple, the less they spend on making the knife, the more money they make.
This fact limits any knife you buy that’s produced in just about any factory, large or small.
I wanted a knife that was created for me by an Artist/Craftsman who is in love with the process. And I found that very passion for hand forging knives in Jerry Hobbs.
Here’s my story:
I wanted a knife to fit my lifestyle. I’m an outdoorsman and needed an Every Day Carry (EDC) tool to meet the demands of that environment.
I live in the harsh climate of Northern Minnesota. I hunt, fish, hike and venture on foot to remote lakes summer and winter.
My former life as a military man and later chapter as a security contractor in the Middle East had me carrying a “tactical” style of blade.
However, now that I’ve left that warmongering life behind me, I found I needed a more practical knife that’s built for field dressing game, skinning and still of use in the camp or kitchen.
“The Longer you’re in Special Forces, the shorter your knife gets.”
– Anonymous Old SF Dude.
I started with a sketch. Then a cardboard cut out to get the feel of the design. Sometimes it may look good on paper but feel all wrong in the hand.
Refinements were made until it felt like a lost part of my soul.
Once that was done, I cut out a mild steel blank and refined that until it felt just right.
Then I sought out blade-smith Jerry Hobbs, told him what I was looking for in a knife and gave him some creative freedom.
Jerry kept in touch with me all through the process of the knife.
Jerry even sent pictures of the journey.
I forgot to tell you that I wanted a Damascus blade. One of the reasons I chose Jerry Hobbs to forge my blade is that he makes his own Damascus.
He used 1095 steel .156 thick by 4 inch wide by 48 inch long and 15n20 .095 thick by 4 inch wide by 48 inch long.
The 1095 and the 15n20 are then cut 1.5 inches wide by 4 inches long.
They are then forge welded and hammered into a billet.
The billet is then drawn out by hammer. It takes a lot of TLC by the smith to get the “sex-appeal” to pop out of a Damascus billet of steel.
What I appreciate about Jerry Hobbs is how he kept me in the loop on the progress of the blade.
He sent more pictures than what are shown here. I was also surprised how he took the time and explained what he was doing with the steel as it progressed on its journey.
He even sent me pictures of the knife being sharpened!
Here is the final product. I couldn’t be happier with the craftsmanship of Jerry Hobbs.
I highly recommend a man commission a knife maker to hand forge him a custom knife at least once during his life time.
Jerry Hobbs can be reached at J. Hobbs Blacksmithing.