I made my first knife in 1971, from a file and a few pointers from the late Pete Hamilton, who at that time was the shop manager of Randall Knives in Orlando, FL. Pete was very helpful in getting me started and I have never forgotten his contributions to my beginnings as a knifemaker.
As with many other beginners of that era, my first knives were, more or less, copies of Randall's knives but I soon moved on experimenting with different styles and other various aspects of the knifemaking craft, making knives on a part time basis and being a career firefighter in my home town of Sanford, in order to pay the bills. Sometime about 1970, I bought my first muzzleloader. It was a cheap-o flintlock pistol that Dixie Gun Works offered for around $35.00. The gun required a bit of tweaking to get it to fire halfway reliably but I was hooked. Before long, I had acquired a T-C Hawken and had become a member of the American Mountain Men. Shortly after, I found a good shooting Italian 1803 Harpers Ferry rifle and was back into flintlocks, which I enjoyed much more than cap guns. During this time, the mid seventies, I also made a few muzzleloading rifles and typical accoutrements for them, including horns and bags and an occasional presentation tomahawk. All came out well for a beginner. Then, in 1977, I made a copy of an English Bowie knife that D.E. Henry had done. At that time, there was no better maker of fine hand finished Bowies, than D. Henry. I showed the copy to Bo and Gary Randall and they were so taken with it, that they bought it on the spot for Bo's collection that he kept in the lobby area of his knife shop. For years to come, Bo enjoyed showing my knife along side of a D. Henry Bowie he owned, with the makers names turned under and would ask any guests he might have at the time, which was the real Henry. According to Bo, they usually chose mine as the real Henry. In 1980, I moved my family, my wife Carol, our two sons and one daughter, to the home that I had inherited from my parents. It is in a beautiful, picturesque location of 8 1/2 wooded acres, with the old house right on the historical St. Johns river, about three miles north of Lake Harney. By 1982 I had built a suitable workshop and was back making knives as a side line. In early 1992 I retired from the fire service after twenty-five years and three months and began making knives full time. With my interest in muzzleloaders and the 18th century, I began to concentrate my knife styles to that period. Sometime in the 1990's my knifemaking endeavors were given a great boost by Jim Jacobs, of Blue Heron Mercantile. At the time, my daughter was married to one of Jim's cousins and Jim was here in Florida visiting some of his relatives and decided to pay a visit to my home and meet me. After seeing some of my work, Jim suggested that I take on the making of some early pattern trade type knives that he had been selling but was being forced to discontinue. I gave them a try and they worked out very well for me and still do very well. Thank you Jim! Sometime a few years later, I was camped at the Alafia River Rendezvous, here in Florida, and met Jason Gatliff of On The Trail magazine. We seemed to hit it off pretty well. Jason admired my work and purchased one of my trade knives. Shortly after, he put a review of it in his fine magazine. He has done a great deal more for me over the years and I would like to thank Jason for his encouragement, advice, promotion and unwavering friendship. To him I owe a debt of gratitude that I can never repay. Thank you Jason!
Over my many years of making knives, I have used a number of different steels, from old files, to high tech stainless. For the early type knives I make now, I have settled on 01 tool steel for it's superior quality and edge holding abilities. There are a few different versions of the 01 and I have chosen the top grade which among other alloys, contains vanadium and tungsten. Along with a carbon content of about 1%, this makes for a very tough, fine grained and abrasion resistant steel, which equates to a very high degree of edge holding ability, when compared to the more common and much less expensive steels available. However, I make no claims as to producing the greatest handmade knives in the modern world, or that they will cut apart Mack trucks and perform the magical feats of "Excaliber". I only claim that they are made from the best of available materials, and to the best of my ability. I do the heat treating of my blades in a high tech computer controlled oven, using sound and metallurgically proven methods to obtain the best results for the finished blade. Each blade is tested to be sure it meets my standards of hardness and flexibility. NO, they will NOT bend 90-degrees before they break. They are knife blades! I am not in the prybar business. All of my knives and other products, are guaranteed to perform to and meet your satisfaction, so long as they are used for their intended purpose. I cannot guarantee the natural materials used in any of these products but will do my best to correct any problems you may encounter. The natural behavior, of natural materials, are for the most part, naturally, out of my control. Bone, ivory, ebony, other woods and sometimes even antler, can develop cracks. In the case of the first three materials mentioned, you can expect it. It is just their nature. Due to my methods of attachment, cracks are most often harmless but in an extreme case, you may return the item for an assessment of what I can do to repair it. Most often at no other charge than shipping, or cost of material. My blades are tested for hardness and flexibility before they leave my shop. If you break one, chances are, you are out of luck but I will be willing to look at it for defects. I can honestly tell you that only one, that I know of, has ever been broken by a customer and he volunteered that it took four winters of being beat on as a kindling splitter before it gave up. I don't make kindling splitters. I make knives. Use them as they are meant to be used and they will last for you to hand down to your children when you leave this world.