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Georgia Knifemaker's Guild

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How did all this get started?  Gosh, how did this get started?  Let’s see.  Once upon a time…

Seriously, or as serious as I usually care to get anyway, I have been in love with knives as long as I can remember.  I came by that honestly.  My Dad always liked knives.  My Mother told me one time that she had seen him spend his last dollar on a pocketknife.  Dad taught me to respect my tools.  Take care of them and use them for what they were designed and they will take care of you. 

Through the years, I occasionally picked up what I considered to be a nice factory knife.  I would have liked to have owned more but my wife always had this thing about rent, and groceries, and clothes for the kids, and all that really boring stuff.  I didn’t have any idea that there were people around doing custom work.  I don’t even remember knowing anyone else that really felt the same way about knives that I did.  I always liked the kind of things that a guy could work with.  That means sturdy, not clunky.  I have usually been troubled by the fact that almost every knife I ever picked up was in some way unkind to my hand.  As I got older, I just figured that some engineer had gotten involved with the design of knives in general and they were more concerned about ease of manufacture than function and comfort for the user.

My wife and I enjoy going to arts and crafts shows and festivals and fairs and all that kind of stuff.  I have this theory about doing that kind of thing with your wife but that’s another story.  Anyway, I always get to stop and look at any knives we might run across because I stop and look at the stuff she likes too.  A number of years ago, we were at a festival and there was an older gentleman there sharpening knives on what turned out to be a Bader grinder.  That really intrigued me.  I can sharpen my own knife on a whetstone but there are a lot of people who couldn’t sharpen a knife on a bet.  I watched this fellow for about an hour and people were steadily coming by and getting their knives sharpened and visiting and occasionally buying a knife.  I finally went over and introduced myself and struck up a conversation.  I went away thinking, “That’s really neat.  I could do that.”  As fate would have it, the "Blade Show" was in Atlanta about two weeks later.  There is no way I know of to describe the feeling a knife enthusiast gets upon walking into the Blade Show for the first time.  It’s kind of like being a mosquito at a nudist colony; you really have no idea where to start.  I just had no idea of what I had missed out on my whole life.  Something welled up inside of me and I knew with everything in me that if I could just get up next to the proper equipment, I could make a knife that a man would be proud to own and would do about anything he ever asked it to do.

I went home and within two weeks, I had put together a machine to sharpen knives on and rented a space at the local flea market.  I was going to earn enough money to buy a knife grinder.  Things went along all right but not as well as I had hoped.  Enter Trader Bill Robertson.

I first ran into Bill at a cutlery store that he managed in one of our local malls.  I later met him at Trader Bill’s Knife Shop in Macon, Georgia.  He had a pretty nice shop but I didn’t go in very often.  I hate to take up a man’s time when he’s trying to make a living and I can’t really contribute to the effort.  It’s that grocery thing I mentioned earlier.  I did decide that he seemed like a pretty nice guy, he seemed to know his stuff, and he was an honest man.  What more could you ask?

As time went on, Bill started showing up at my booth at the flea market on the weekend.  It turned out that he had closed his shop.  It seemed to be kind of eating at him but I figured he would tell me what he wanted to when he wanted to.  After a while he started talking about opening his shop back up first with this guy then with that backer.  Finally, we started talking about doing something together.  We talked and we talked and we talked some more.  We eventually decided that Niké had said it best.  “Just Do It.”  So we did. 

I had a little money and experience, Bill had a whole lot of experience and about ten years worth of customers who wanted him to reopen his shop, and we both had a boatload of “want to”.  Bill had found us a place that we hoped we could afford.  It had sat vacant for quite some time so we got busy and cleaned and painted and cussed and fussed and scratched our heads and ordered some inventory and finally opened the door and hoped the people would come.

We were the only shop around that offered new and used cutlery both from major manufacturers as well as from a few local makers in addition to knife repair.  It was our belief that if you offer people a good product at a fair and reasonable price and always try to do what is right, people will reward you with their business.  We had high hopes but you've heard that old saw about the best laid plans...

Bill had been making knives for years.  He started out by working with an old charcoal grill and hand tools.  As he was able, he added more equipment.  This equipment formed the basis of what I named "The Back Room Forge".  Bill was kind enough to share his knowledge with me so I could pursue my dream of making knives. 

For a number of reasons, I have decided to use 5160 spring steel in the knives that I forge.  It has about all the characteristics I think are needed to forge a quality using type knife.  There are any number of people around that would argue that some other steel would do a better job and I figure they can use whatever they want to when they make their own knives and I’ll stick to 5160. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Ken Averyt of Abbeyville, GA.  Ken invited me to come to his shop so he could give me some pointers.  Without his kindness and patience, the road I have traveled would have been very much longer.

It is still my belief that if you offer people a good product at a fair and reasonable price and always try to do what is right, people will reward you with their business.  With that in mind, I invite you to look around the site.  If I can be of service, contact me  and we'll do some business.

We (My partner, Bill Robertson, and I) were fortunate enough to have an article written about us by a great guy named Dan Shechtman, a freelance knife writer, in the Jan/Feb 2004 issue of The Backwoodsman Magazine.  It was really great because he looked us up and when we sent him some samples, he liked what he saw.  Thanks again Dan.

Schectman Article


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