Hand-crafted knives cut a fine line between art and utility.
By Gibbs Milliken
Custom knife makers pride themselves on creating useful tools that are also beautiful works of art. Some makers become true masters with a loyal following of collectors willing to pay high prices for their unique designs, superior craftsmanship and high-grade materials.
Davie Boultinghouse of Bangs has been at his craft for the past 45 years. His highly polished blades are made of ATS-34 steel, hollow-ground and sharpened to a keen edge. The Boultinghouse Hunting Knife shown here has a carefully fitted handle of hard resin-impregnated palm wood with bird’s-eye maple burl bolsters. This serviceable hunting and camp knife will most certainly last a lifetime with proper care. ($169.95, Hunting Knife, 4-inch blade, D. Boultinghouse, McBride’s, 512-472-3532, www.mcbridesguns.com)
Master craftsman Shane Sloan makes the unique Sambar Machete. The unusual blade shape has a limb-clip hook and matte-finish surface that is very light and agile. This multifunctional jungle knife does a fast job of clearing a path, opening the view from a blind, or slicing juicy brisket and ribs at a barbecue. ($650, Sambar Machete, 17” Blade, Shane Sloan Knives, 940-846-3290)
The large Rothermel Bowie Knife has characteristics of older classic blades carried during the 1800s, when the Bowie knife served as a personal defender, dining utensil and all-around tool in the Wild West. Made in Canada, this fine knife has a long, flat-ground, clip-point stainless blade, brass guard and moose antler handle. ($460, Rothermel Bowie, D. Rothermel Knives, 250-376-1921, www.members.shaw.ca/mrpike)
The limited edition Hanwi Stag Wharncliffe is a beautiful one-hand folder with a side-locking mechanism that uses the thumb stud as a lock release. The stainless bolsters are engraved in a delicate scroll pattern that complements the sambar stag scales for an Old World look. The tapered handle fits nicely in the palm and its 440C Wharncliffe-style blade is ideal for whittling or making grafting cuts in the garden. ($147, Hanwi Stag Wharncliffe, #KH2089, CAS Iberia, 423-332-4700, www.casiberia.com)
The unusual Case Texas Lockhorn twin-blade folding knife is custom engraved and a highly sought collector’s item. The handle is blonde Mycarta and, with both blades open, takes on the symbolic shape of a Texas longhorn to become a very formidable fighting knife. ($490, current value, Case Cutlery, 800-523-6350, www.wrcase.com)
Commercial knives are often customized to add special features to an already excellent blade, like the Expedition Knife, a unique bolo/Bowie style originally made by United Cutlery as a combination heavy-hacker/survival knife. The weight-forward stainless blade has been reinforced with thick brass plates in front of the guard to add strength and provide a more comfortable forward grip. It comes with a sheath of extra-thick leather and may be ordered in natural grain or exotic skin finishes. This knife has been my personal companion in the Amazon for the past 16 years, and I consider it an essential tool in any tropical wilderness. ($975, Custom Expedition Knife, McBride’s, 512-472-3532, www.mcbridesguns.com)
Whether hunter, camper or collector, every outdoors enthusiast should own at least one custom knife and carry it with purpose and personal pride, honoring a long-established tradition in Texas.