Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Meet the Most Interesting People in This Line of Work! Nathan Taylor of Taylor Knives

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.  (
You can find Nathan and his work on the web in the following places:
Ebay: seller- taygrd

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