“Tip of the Blade” Knife Show in Raleigh, North Carolina gives customers one-on-one time with knife makers of all kinds."
One may have noticed my fondness for North Carolina in the past article about the Schiele Musuem’s aboriginal program. The very next day after the primitive illumination class, I high tailed it back up to Raleigh, for what proved to be a fun filled day at a knife "expo". Davi’s "Tip of The Blade" Knife Show is a chance for blade enthusiasts to hang out, one-on-one with knife makers from all over the US. Davi’s Gun Shop is well known to anyone interested into hunting and shooting in the central North Carolina area. The shop used to have an indoor range, where I enjoyed shooting a while back. The shooting range has since closed, however, the number of knives for sale have grown. The selection of knives rival some of the large vendors at the giant Atlanta Blade Show, and Davi’s is not even ten minutes from where I live. This fact makes my wallet weep for the future.
Equally, the employees there are as enthusiastic about knives as the people who buy them. If you go to some of the more "prestigious" shooting and sporting goods stores, you get a complete blank stare from the sales associate when you ask about such things as heat treatment or the ease of sharpening between different steels on an eze-lap. Richard Snelling, the chief knife guy at Davi’s, could probably answer most any question you had cutlery related. Ask any of these guys about the more popular steels out there, and they can answer most questions due to experience and knowledge.
Davi’s gun shop contacted custom knife makers to put together an event. The gun shop’s aim was to have a show with a small number of makers in order to maintain an intimate feel. In this manner, the gun shop gave exposure to the knife makers, but in a way that did not overwhelm the public or the blade smiths themselves. For the first time I was able to sit down and talk with each of the makers about a myriad of subjects including the new wonder steels to primitive Damascus forging. It was quite an opportunity to learn, as I went about checking out each of the makers tables and talked with each one.
The first maker I encountered at the show was easy to recognize, as Sean Kendrick looked just like his ominous picture in Tactical Knives Magazine. I had previously seen some of Sean’s work from Tim Stetzer, a fellow colleague of mine, who had more than nice things to say about Sean’s knives and also did a blade master profile on him in the September issue of TK. Talking with Sean was a joy, I got to see some of his knives on the table, as I inquired about them, he informed me that he had sold out of everything. Sean had an interesting Micarta handled knife with a top exposed layer on the outside of the grip, giving the knife some texture in slick situations.
Next to Sean was a man who needs no introduction, Mike Franklin of Hawg knives.Mike’s designs attracted my attention when I checked out the CRKT Side Hawg; a very compact way to keep a handy blade, as I thought it would work well on a sheath of a larger chopper. His designs are captivating, as his revolver knife impressed me with the unique way it opened. Mike reported that his tanto neck knives had been selling very well at the show.
Speaking of CRKT and designers, I also met one of the instructors of mercop.com,, defense expert George Matheis. He created the Merc Harness in the CRKT line, and would be willing and able to demonstrate it for (or on) you should if asked. I had the pleasure of talking with him and two o f his kids at the show, and we even got to throw knives in the back for a little bit. George demonstrated some very interesting and devastating moves with the knives he carried. Among the different defense maneuvers, he showed me the inverted edge tactic system (I.E.T.), where the movements and counters of the knife easily fall into large artery junctions. The knife blade is flipped over, facing the person holding it, and the cuts and slashes are administered as the knife is drawn back.
North Carolina natives were there, like knife maker prodigy and fellow wolfpacker Gerry McGinnis. Gerry’s knives and styles are on an amazing level, delivering a fresh and young breath to the knife making community. Among many of his models, Gerry makes a neck knife and a few folders that have glow in the dark scales. I would have found many lost knives with these glow in the dark handles. Gerry’s fixed blades were on par as usual, and he has dabbled into some more artistic inlaying of handles as shown in this collection, owned by the president of Davi’s. Keep your eye on Gerry McGinnis. At the rate this gentleman is going, there will be quite a legacy to behold.
I met a gentleman named Patrick Nihiser, a blade maker that easily blurs the line between art and tactical. His classic folders sported Micarta, with pleasant curves that would be pleasing to the hand in hard use. He also showed the other end of the spectrum, with jagged models that looked cutting edge in design, not just function. He was also a hilarious gentleman to talk to, as we joked with the maker next to us, Alan Folts.
Alan Folts had some crazy stuff on his table. As I read this, I know Tim Stetzer will delight when I tell him that Alan had an anodized spork. Among the titanium chopsticks and other fun oddities, the knives he had were techno-looking, complete with interesting features that set them apart from everyone else. But in all seriousness, and as odd as this may seem, the biggest thing that caught my eye was the scaled pattern of his sheaths. Of course, being of herpetologist background I thought it was an imitation of the head scale pattern found on cobras, but Alan informed me that it came from ostriches. WOW!!!! Make mine Ostrich next time.
Dan Ritchie, a more classic maker from here in the capital city, was also present. His table consisted of traditional hunting knives and forged axes. Many of the knives Dan had incorporated classic stag handles that would look good on any hunting belt, with some of the blades sporting brass guards. He said he has also made hawks for avid tomahawk throwers as well. I hope to visit his site for a future woodsmonkey article.
Need Kydex done? How about while you wait? David Stillwell was in charge of making Kydex sheaths on the spot; I marveled at the set up he had, a small representation of Grandfather Oak Custom Carry sheath works. David made sure to inform me that this wasn’t his actual shop, just something mobile he put together for this show. I gave him one of my multi-tools and flashlights and let him experiment with the duo, seeing what he could come up with for an EDC rig. Go to the picture gallery to see some images of the process.
Rick Haney, a knife maker from Chattanooga, TN was also present. He had an enthusiasm that was purveyed when he showed me some CAD drawings of knives he had up and coming. We discussed the use of CAD as he told me he was new to using it and I was interested in dabbling around with the program. He had some wonderful liner locks featuring G-10. Another eye catcher was his new karambit he had out on display, along with a skeletonized liner lock that was well thought out.
Of course the Jones brothers were there. Good friends of Terrill Hoffman, they showed me some of the eye-catching photographs that Terrill had done for them and their knives. They had their diver tool with the integral razor blade design. They also had some more woodsy neck knives that I think would be fabulous for use out in the bush, as they figured out the three finger knife handle design and put it to use in a way that felt comfortable in the hand.
You don’t have to play with metal to be at a knife show, as Paul Pittman made painfully obvious with the beautiful bokens he exhibited. Each one of these wooden practice tools was a masterpiece. My favorite piece out of the bunch was an intrinsically grained and well finished piece that he is holding in the picture. Another North Carolina native, Paul is a fireman and water rescue specialist located right on the beach of Wilmington.
With other tables such as Blackhawk knives and flashlights, and the aisles of other tactical gear, I knew this was a Sunday well spent. Apparently I came at a good time, as Randy of Davi’s informed me that it was packed wall to wall with people Saturday. I’m glad too, as I got to have more than a friendly chat with some of the industries finest makers out there. Davi’s informed me that they will be having this again next year. By then, I hope to have a video camera and film every second of it! Until then, I will be stopping by Davis and chatting edgeware with them every chance I get. I also need to meet Francis Davis, one of the co-owners. If you are ever in the Raleigh area I suggest you do the same!
For more pictures from show show in our slide presentation, Click Here!!
Grandfather Oak Custom Carry
Paul and Joy Pittman
George F. Matheis Jr.
Modern Combative Systems (Instructor)
Classic Carving Knives
Shooting Sports and Cutlery