What the hell is a "full-time, part-time" knife maker?
Well it’s like this: I make knives.
Bushcraft, hunting, fishing, chefs knives; most things with a cutting edge. I was once even asked to make a Bonsai chisel.
Also, I am a full time dad; a careful balancing act that I perform while my better half goes out to do a proper job, which is something I have never really had.
So, it’s 3 days a week making knives (school hours only) then, if I have a lot of work on the go, I do leather-work in the evenings. The rest of the time, I look after the kids.
So, who am I?
I am a 40 year old chap whom has tried his hand at just about everything, without finding something I actually like.
I have, however, worn my sunscreen.
I’ve been a sailing instructor, a chef, a student – resulting in an Environmental Management degree. I’ve worked in offices, sewerage plants, outside cutting the grass for the local council. Like I said, I’ve tried just about everything.
My last full-time, normal job was as a “Postie” with the Royal Mail; a role I filled for 11 years. I enjoyed the job, less so the management – and no, for legal reasons I won’t discuss it. This culminated with me leaving through ill health.
So what to do? Not a bloody clue! We had a daughter on the way, due 2 months after I left the post office. I wasn’t in any fit state to think about much beyond trying to get out of bed and function as a human.
The Grand Plan
I’d been making knives as a personal hobby for several years.
A pal of mine, having seen a few of my knives, asked if he could test one on his next outing.
This pal of mine, Dave, a collector of all things sharp and shiny, loved the knife he had taken to test; so much that he asked if I could make one customized for him.
So, I agreed and made his knife.
Dave took this knife and gave it what I like to describe as “a real beasting,” the knife survived, and he suggested that I make a few more, advertise them, and – hopefully – sell them.
Make knives, charge a packet, and get rich! It’ll be EASY, right?
Now, at the time, this was a fairly daunting prospect.
I had avidly watched videos on YouTube, from the likes of Jacklore, LB Custom Knives, Walter Sorrels and many more; working out the ways and wherefores of knife making beyond tinkering with a little home-made and bodged-together workshop of tools.
I had spoken with many bushcrafters, hunters, fishermen, as well as shops and suppliers; researching what was considered useful, what would sell, what people wanted and – more to the point – what to charge.
I myself used to question paying £150 for a handmade knife. Now I realize that price is actually CHEAP!
And so, my full-time, part-time job had begun
I spent the next 6 months, or so, designing what I thought to be a good set of knives of varying size and weight; from a mini neck knife, to a great beast of a chopper.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that I couldn’t produce the quality I would expect for knives such as these with the tools that I already owned, and so I began shopping. A lot of shopping; and – as expected – not everything I required could be bought from within the UK.
Each of these early designs went to Dave for testing, and following his feedback, the process of refining and fettling both the designs and the production methods used to make them began.
I’m still learning.
Now, wind forward a couple of years to October 2016. I “went pro,” becoming the Overlord and Owner of Ammonite Knives, maker of most things sharp and shiny (or not, it’s up to you.)
My knives have been well-received by those that own them, as well as those that have seen them; and I’ve even had repeat business from more than a few customers.
I’m still learning. Every day I learn something new, sometimes it saves money, most of the time it costs more money, but the costly mistakes don’t happen twice.
While I am by no means a “leathersmith,” my leather work is good, getting better every day; even though, as all that know me are aware, I hate bloody sewing!
A manic depressive knife maker? What could possibly go wrong?
So, what's for the future?
More knives, more leather; more shiny things. Fame a fortune? I’ll settle for at least enough money to take a pay packet every month.
I’m working pretty hard at the moment with a full order board, which is nice, and a load of small blades to bring to the Bushcraft Show (as an independent, not an exhibitor) to showcase what I do and what I make.
I’m also working in partnership with The Gun Shop, Botley, to develop a bespoke blade for them.
Simon (the editor-in-chief of this online magazine) has asked me if I’d be willing to write an article or two on bushcraft and outdoor tools from the perspective of a toolmaker; or something like that, I may have been a little drunk when I agreed to do this.
I’m trying, and mostly succeeding in life – and knife making – with severe depression. A manic depressive knife maker? What could possibly go wrong?
Oh, and I am definitely trying in vain to keep up with the whirlwind that are my kids.