Mike Jones is a part-time knife maker and occasional restorer of rusty old junk. He splits the rest of his time between his day job as a timber frame carpenter, fly fishing, exploring the mountains of central British Columbia in a 4x4 or on a snowmobile, developing an off-grid commune property, and should the need arise, raising his newborn son.
The knife making interest grew quickly, bypassing past-time and hobby, straight into obsession. The quest for improvement is gruelling and endless, but often punctuated by brief moments of quiet pride. It is for these moments that this journey endures.
Blades are made of either high-carbon or stainless steels, from 1/16" to 1/4" in thickness, and heat treated to Rc58-60 with a flat grind and micro bevel for durability and ease of maintenance (other grinds available). A maker's mark is electrolytically etched into each blade upon completion.
Wooden handles are hand-shaped and sanded for optimum comfort and control, and secured with stainless steel pins. Wood is treated with several coats of Tung Oil to protect from drying out. The oil is absorbed into the wood, it can last for years depending on use, and can be reapplied any time. Tung Oil does not leave a shiny coating on top of the handle like a varnish, which ruins the natural feel and grip of wood, and can cause blisters. Some handles are flame-scorched to accentuate the natural grain of the wood, and then sanded and finished. Other handle materials, like antler and cork are also available.
All sheaths are made of veg-tanned leather, hand-cut and -stitched custom for each knife. Sheathes are dyed with eco-friendly pigments, and treated with an absorbable wax to keep the good moisture in and the bad out.
Every step of production is done in-house, by hand, by me. From design, shaping, grinding, heat treating, handle making and shaping, etching, sharpening, and sheath construction. Each piece is 100% unique and one-of-a-kind.
A Word On Steels
High-Carbon steel is easier to sharpen and hone, especially in the field, and will throw sparks when struck with a flint. However, it will discolour and rust over time, so the blades are treated with olive oil upon completion. Olive oil is food-safe and readily available. Think of it as caring for a cast iron pan. Extended discolouration is often favoured for aesthetics as "patina" and also carries an element of rust inhibition (a forced patina is also available). In some cases, superficial scale and tooling marks from the smithing process are left on the steel for a unique effect.
Stainless steels are lower maintenance in that they won't discolour or rust, and hold their shine forever. This makes them more popular for display pieces and especially kitchen tools. Due to metallurgical make-up, stainless is more labour-intensive to manipulate, and the process of heat treating involves extremely precise equipment to both heat and cool the steel in a very controlled manner. For this reason, heat treating of stainless steel is the only step I have to outsource.