Like many people I have always been fascinated by knives. So I thought I should make one, you know not just grind a piece of metal but forge it! Always looked cool when I would see a blacksmith forming a piece of metal into a usable tool. Well those of you who know me were not surprised that this would happen! As a matter of fact one of my friends, when I told him I was making knives, said “OK, let me see if I’ve got this right…you bought a book, read how to and started making knives? Right?” well, that’s exactly how it happened! I bought ‘The Wonders of Knife Making’ by Wayne Goddard. It’s not a very thick book, more like a magazine! Anyway, now I am truly pumped up about my new found interest! I will make myself a cool knife…just one…OK maybe a few!
Well like everything else I do, going out and buying all the tools is not an option…you gotta make them! So I set out making a forge…first one…Oh yes one won’t be enough! First one, charcoal burning forge (still in use) then a forced air propane one! Well that’s out of the way, they both work pretty well! Now an anvil, had to find a good one, couldn’t make that! Hammers (more than one) Now I need a belt sander for 2 inch belts, made that! Well we are in pretty good shape here, let’s get to work!
Well I found some old leaf springs that are a good source of steel and got to it, made about a half dozen knives and each one was getting better! Now we need sheaths for these knives so I had to teach myself how to do the leather work to make the sheaths! So I am running around showing off my handy work. “I’ll take that one” one guy said! “I really like that one” someone else said, how much? Next thing you know all my knives are gone! “You gonna make Damascus?” somebody asked me. No I don’t think so…well it wasn’t long and I was forge welding steel to make Damascus blades!
Well one thing led to another and I was asked to make a knife for Todd Helton (1st baseman for the Rockies!) then Todd called me and asked me to make a knife for one of his team mates (Jason Giambi) and so goes the story…thing is I really need to get my bamboo fly rods done and these knives take up a bunch of the very limited time I have! What a problem to have, huh?
Well the moral of the story is…I need to retire and start working on the stuff I like to do! Period
Now who in the world would come up with a retirement plan like that? I need to retire so I can get to work…sheeeeeesh!
You don’t have to be crazy to be a bamboo rod maker…but it does help!
Joe E. Arguello
Photos and engraving by Jeff Graham