I think my love of knives came from the deep desire to run. Not the kind of running where you put on short pants and burn a lot of calories. I'm talking about the sitting in school and staring out the window kind of desire; that yearning to be out in the world surrounded by all the beauty and all the danger. Indoors I was safe. Protected. But I longed to know whether I needed to be protected, or whether I could I survive.
Most of my fondest memories were at my grandparents mountain cabin, or the countless trips to the mountains and deserts of the western U.S. There were no walls or fences, only foot paths without signs; any one of which could lead anywhere a boy could imagine. And in those boyhood dreams of adventure, seeing where those trails actually led, a good knife removed the last traces of the city kid I actually was, and transformed me into the explorer I was longing to be.
And as I get dressed each morning and lace my knife onto my belt, I have not lost the notion that the knife still represents the adventure. For most people, life as an adventure has become a bad cliche. But I believe that men live to honor and serve the people put in our path. I want to be prepared to render the best service I can as I go about my life, and I can't tell you how many times having that knife on me has allowed me to do just that. I think that experience has kept my knives very practical. From the least to the most expensive, they are all tools to me. How they feel, how they cut, how they balance, how they carry in the sheath...those are my primary concerns as they progress from raw material to finished knife. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a dreamer. But I live in the real world where real men with real tools still matter.
After I started making knives as a hobby at nineteen, I had an opportunity in my late twenties to leave the indoor safety of a regular job, and see if once again, I could step further into the unknown and make a living from the hobby I loved. A few years later, I took my pregnant wife and my two kids and left California for the southwest Virginia mountains. Every day I leave my house, walk about 300 feet to my shop and continue the adventure. I work alone because I do my best work that way, and as I work on today's knife, I work out the idea for tomorrow's. The knife has moved from the metaphor of the adventure to a very part of it.
Now, I'm not an adventure junkie. I like good coffee, scratch-made food, and good cigars. (All good things alone, but all better in good company.) But I see the fallen tree and the flat tire as an opportunity to see if I am the man that the little kid staring out the classroom window wished he could be. I owe my God nothing less. Whether the path turns toward failure or success, I do my best to thank him for every breath I've been given. As the writer of Hebrews put it, "...Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
Whether you came here to buy a knife or just to look around, I hope something rubs off and that you leave here encouraged to run the race set before you today. If a knife from me makes that easier, I thank you and wish you Godspeed on your adventure.