I first met Nathan on the World Wide Web when he purchased a powder horn strap from my Etsy shop. I absolutely love it when customers tell me how they intend to use what they buy. For many it is a costume piece or goes hand in hand with what they make themselves. For Nathan, this strap was to go with his Revolutionary War uniform. We struck up a conversation that has been going back and forth ever since. Recently I asked him if he would write about his craft, knife-making for my blog. I really enjoyed reading his response and hope you will, too.
What is it that you love to make? I make knives the same way they have been made for centuries. Period pieces are my favorite blades to make and I am fascinated by the craftsmen of old who made blades with far less equipment than I have. They were the true masters and to emulate their craft is exciting and challenging to me.
How long have you been doing this and how did you get started? I started in 1997 after my father-in-law showed me how he made knives. After that I got some training from some of the South’s top master smiths and started doing my own “thing”. There was a lot of experimenting the first few years until I realized there was no gimmick or shortcut to knife making and I practiced until I got it right.
What inspires you? Inspiration comes from quite a few things. Sometimes a piece of material has a feel or look that gives me an idea for a project and I build the knife from that. Researching older swords and blades gives me ideas for knives and I often mix and match guards, blades, and handle shapes from old pieces.
|7 1/2" Boxwood and bronze sgain dubh made for a Canadian customer|
What is the trickiest part of what you make? I guess the hardest thing to do is not to repeat a knife. Each knife needs to have a unique feature for me to feel good about making it. Coming up with different patterns or ideas is what keeps me interested.
What have you made that was most memorable? A good friend of mine who is a constable here in Texas wanted a custom knife with .45 Auto shell cases in the guard. It took a day and a half designing and building the guard out of one piece of steel. I think it was my most memorable build just because of the time it took to make that guard.
|American Riflemans Knife made with steel fittings and an Axis deer horn picked up off the ground after a brush fire. The fire gave the horn that deep brown look. 16" long|
Do you do custom work? I do some custom work but honestly prefer not to have strict guidelines in making them. Some customers have exacting guidelines ( CAD drawings, etc..) or want a knife just like another makers, those type of request I usually decline since I like to have some “artistic license” in what I do. I go more by the feel and look of the knife and how the materials work out during the process instead of specific measurements.
|Nathan at the forge.|
What would you like to make? Just recently I acquired a welder from a friend with the intention of making Scottish basket hilted swords. One I made with an antique basket that I keep in my collection, however now I plan to make the whole sword in my shop. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_broadsword#Scottish_broadsword
You can find Nathan and his work on the web in the following places:
Ebay: seller- taygrd