I was born in West Yorkshire 1964, where I remained until I moved to Auckland New Zealand in 2012. The move was for 2 main reasons; to build a better work/life balance and access to the great outdoors.
I have loved the outdoors all of my life; when I first started exploring the outdoors in the mid seventies it was referred to as boy scouting, then in the eighties it became the survival movement and in 1989 I attended my first formal `survival course`, the advanced survival course run by John Lofty Wiseman. Then in the mid nineties the bushcraft phenomena burst forth and I attended a number of courses run by Ray Mears between 1996 and 2000 which started a lifelong study of these skills and especially of tracking and nature awareness with bushcraft providing the vehicle allowing safe access to wild places for longer periods of time.
In 2005 I was lucky to meet Ian Max Maxwell who ran, as I was to discover, the best tracking and nature awareness school in the UK at that time, Shadowhawk. Over the next seven years I was to attend courses both in the UK and abroad, culminating in me finally achieving instructor status in 2011 and my coveted instructors silver feather, with me leading much of the bushcraft and camp craft based syllabus.
Throughout this time my interest in knives has always been a very pragmatic one based on the tools ability to perform its required tasks in whatever field of interested it was to serve. My interest in knife making came from my dissatisfaction in the performance of the available knives resulting in me doing what my friends called ‘simonising` untold numbers of blades and leading to my early attempts at hand made knives better suited to my needs. One of the main things I learned was that a well designed but poorer quality knife would outperform a better made knife of poor design, so I set out to combine the three areas I noted leading to my mantra of;
Form- the knife design must be correct for its intended purpose Performance- the knife must perform as expected/ required. The heat treatment received is far more important in this respect than the steel type used! Finnish- whilst I feel this is the least practical of the three areas, it is never the less important as I believe it shows more than the previous areas the makers intent to produce a high quality product
In the early days very little information was available to those not in `the trade` with most information being seen as closely guarded secrets. This inevitably led to a very long learning curve with most information gleaned from many sources such as; woodworking from my dad, a joiner, some metalwork from my Uncle an engineer and leather work by trial and error, three decades of long slow improvement as a hobby, with each lesson hard learned.
Then in early 2016 my son introduced me to the previously unknown world of you tube. This opened a world of previously unavailable information and knowledge leading me down the rabbit hole of the knife maker and leather worker and fuelled a passion to build the best knives I was capable of producing. In 2017 I left my career as a nurse of over 33 years, there were many reasons for this not the least of which was to give more freedom to pursue my goal of making the best working knives out there, a passion which continues unabated to this day.
I work predominantly in carbon steel, wood and leather as I love the way traditional materials age and grow with me, repaying a little love and attention by becoming lifelong friends then heirlooms and shying away from the disposable age. This may be seen as a little old fashioned these days but that`s me and as a good friend, Graeme, told me ‘buy right cry once, buy crap cry twice’, boy is he right!
My love of all things outdoors continues unabated, though life demands don’t always leave me with as much free time to indulge this passion as I would like. However my interests and that of friends gives me the avenue to continually test the real world performance of my blades and designs, whilst examining and testing accepted `popular styles` of knives to meet my 3 F`s, with plans in place to get back to teaching others others the great life skills of knife and tool care and how to safely explore and maximise their time outdoors.