History of Knife Making

Ancient Knife Makers

It cannot be denied that the first knife makers were early human beings who lived millions of years ago, most likely in caves for many of the ancient knives were discovered in such places. What prompted them to create such a tool? The most obvious answer would be for survival.

Survival for these group of people mainly centered around protection, food and shelter. They needed a tool that will allow them to kill animals for their meals. They needed a tool that will help them acquire clothing. And they needed a tool that will help them to protect themselves from vicious animals and other predators that roamed the environment back then. The bladed edge, or the knife, answered all of these needs and more.

As time progressed, these knife makers needed better tools for cutting, which was what prompted them to start sharpening stones in order to achieve a sharper blade. About 5000-2000 BC, knife makers started polishing their stone knives to achieve sharper edges, and even started to fit handles into them.

The discovery of metal like bronze and iron gave knife makers a new material to work with. The first metal blades which were made of bronze or copper came into existence sometime between 3000-700 BC and were much preferred over their stone counterparts for obvious reasons. However, at around 1000 BC, iron knives started to gain popularity since they were more durable and sharper than the knives made of previous metals.

Modern Day Knife Making

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when the modern day knives first appeared, but it may help to look at the biographies of people who were deemed to be pioneers in the modern day knife making industry.

William Scagel is considered by many to be the father of modern day knife making. He is known for creating knives that had a huge impact on modern cutlery, and many of his influence on the said trade can still be observed today. Accordingly, it was in 1910 that he started to craft knives and sold them in Michigan and Canada, the former being his place of birth and the latter being the place where he grew up. To be more specific, his products revolved around general utility knives, hunting knives, machetes and axes, most of which were used in expeditions conducted by the Smithsonian Institute. However, he also made other types of knives like the Bowie knives and the pocket knives. Aside from the make and design, Scagel’s knives were known for their handles, which he fitted with a half stag and half leather stacked washer assembly. Although this was his trademark, he also made handles using different materials like ivory, bakelite, and vulcanized fiber to name a few.

Another name worth mentioning in the knife making industry is Walter Doane Randall Jr. or “Bo Randall” as he is commonly called. His knife making journey started when he first bought a Scagel knife, which impressed him enough to enter tutelage under William Scagel. It was in 1938 that he opened his first knife shop, and although he made hunting and fishing knives at first, he moved on to making all-purpose fighting knives for US troops which were bound for the Second World War.

how to make a knife

The art and science of knife making has evolved over time – from crude survival implements to state of the art fighting blades. At present, knives are used predominantly for sport or work and not for the aforementioned uses. Knife making technology is constantly evolving, and aside from the knife makers mentioned above, one can now purchase quality knives from various manufacturers worldwide.


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