ABOUT THE MAKER
second generation knifemaker
My personal philosophy is that we live in a world with a "throw-away" mentality. Things are made cheaply and not to last. I think this is a trend caused largely by the advances of technology to manufacture cheap goods, and people are losing an appreciation for the fine handmade tools of yesteryear. Admittedly, technology has brought us the internet, where people are able to freely share ideas, and advertising opportunities abound. Video sites such as YouTube are full of information shared by craftsmen on how to make things yourself, often cheaply or without cost. I continually learn new techniques from other artisans, though I have been making knives for over 30 years! There also seems to be a current trend in popularity for the trade and/or hobby of knifemaking. I never thought I'd live to see a "reality" TV show dedicated to pitting knifemakers against each other!
There is great satisfaction in making and using things that you have made with your own hands. It also gives you a personal legacy to pass down that will hopefully endure for generations. I love to be able to take raw materials and turn them into something useful and beautiful. I have handled knives that are over 150 years old, and are still functional because they were made with skill and patience, not machines. My father started me down the road of knifemaking, which for him was mostly a hobby, because he felt that commercializing his work would take the joy out of it. I find his maxim often true, as I develop an attachment to anything I spend many hours making, so it's hard to part with a lot of the knives I sell. I come from a long line of artists, musicians and craftsmen who have taught me the value of putting your best into your work and leaving something behind to be remembered by.
I have lived in the beautiful state of Utah all my life. I try to gather materials from nature to include in my knives, and to recycle as much as I can. I try to infuse my creations with as many natural materials as I can, many gathered near my home. When I started as many knifemakers do, I made my knife blades out of old sawblades and files, since most often these things can be obtained at no cost. Now as a more experienced knifemaker, I want consistency and the highest quality possible in my knives. I use simple high carbon steels such as 1095, 5160, O1 and A2. I want my knives to be tough, hold a good edge, and be easily sharpened in the field. I sometimes leave the natural rough, dark finish on my steel after heat treatment, and also will use chemicals to darken the steel much like gun bluing to help the knives resist corrosion and give them a rugged patina. Recently I have been experimenting with a glass bead-blast matte finish on some knives. When I really want to make a "pretty" piece, I give the steel a mirror shine, but as with all carbon steels, it won't last if put to use! Regardless of the finish, my primary goal is a good heat treat and a tough blade.
To be able to keep up with demand, I mostly offer only specific patterns that I design, rather than taking requests for custom knives. Still, each knife is unique with slight variations, and I try to use a wide range of handle materials and finishing styles that give every knife personality and uniqueness. I tend to prefer brass and hardwoods rather than composites and hex bolts, but I'm trying to branch out a little!
Each of my outdoors knives comes with a leather sheath that I make and stitch by hand. I use only vegetable-tanned leather with either a dyed or natural finish.
Thanks for visiting my site, and I hope you will become a customer of Utah Knife Works. I try to offer the best quality and service possible, and rely heavily on word of mouth to get my name out there. I appreciate all of the kind comments and praise given to me from my customers over the years. It's very satisfying to know that my knives are getting used.
Mark Russon, Maker
Utah Knife Works
Woods Cross, Utah