For the last 8 years I have been studying metallurgy and been a fulltime knifemaker. I have been lucky enough to have apprenticed under the gentlemen at Shadow Mountain forge here in Idaho Falls, Guy Isom and Grand Leavitt as well as Nick Jenkins (who passed away unfortunately a few years ago, a great loss). Along the way I have run into too many great knifemakers to list who have allowed me to study briefly under them or ask questions about technique or design.Whether helping forge Damascus or stock removal I have come along way through my own hard work and the patience of others and their tutelage.
At this point I do my own heat treating and all my grinding and handle work. I am presently working with pattern forge welded damascus as well carbon and stainless steels. I have a Nitrogen purged modified atmosphere heat treat oven as well as numerous salt pots for heat treating the steels I work with and have the ability to heat treat any alloy up to 2300 degrees F for hardening and tempering. Being a metals nerd has definite advantages when it comes to tweaking custom pieces for maximum performance and customer requests, whether it is manipulating hardness for mission specific tasks or salt bluing a piece for aesthetics it is nice to have the flexibility to do it in house. I flat and convex grind and have just started to hollow grind on my new Hardcore Maximizer.
Heat treating has always been the most important aspect of knife performance in my opinion. A mediocre steel heat treated well is usually better than a great steel (chemically) with a crappy heat treat. I have spent more time researching heat treating methods and more money on the tools and devices to heat treat effectively than any other aspect of my business. At the end of the day your experience with any knife is going to boil down to whether it stayed in one piece and how long did it hold an edge. Heat treating has more to do with those 2 things than how it looks or whose name is on it.
My primary goal is to build tools, nice looking tools but primarily users not wall hangers. I use the following analogy a lot with potential customers: “It’s like a $500 torque wrench, when your done you don’t slide it across the floor to your buddy, you get up clean it off and put it away in its case. It’s a tool, just a very nice tool but a tool just the same.” I always use the most suitable steel, heat treat schedule and handle material that suits the customers needs and wants. Whether it is going to an active duty military customer or a collector, utility is paramount and appearance is just a bonus. Buy the knife not the hype. There is not a knife that will do everything well but there are knives that will do well in uses they were designed for and this means you may have to buy more than one knife but at least used for the correct task you will enjoy using it proficiently.