Since then, the company has pioneered many new products, including the award-winning CrossLock series, and most recently in the BuckTool, named The Blade Magazine Overall Knife of the Year. Knife industry ground breaker; knife-and-sheath designer; author; magazine editor and publisher; custom knifemaker: all apply to Blackie Collins. No matter.
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Perhaps cross-pollinator best describes Collins. According to Blackie, he has over 60 patents on knife mechanisms, as well as many design patents. In , he crossed over to the factory side to produce the first authorized reproductions of Remington folders for Remington Arms Co. In He changed hats again in to found the first-ever knife magazine, The Blade Magazine, known then as The American Blade. He did everything but sweep out the place-and he probably did that on more than one occasion. After printing the first five issues, he sold the magazine and went on to other things.
Collins wrote books on how to make custom knives, the state of the commercial pocketknife industry, how to throw knives, and how to scrimshaw and carve ivory. He sold his sheath company to Gerber in It currently produces over , sheaths per month in the original facility in North, South Carolina, with many of the sheaths being used by contemporary knife manufacturers. Since selling his knife company, Benchmark Knives, Blackie said he as restricted his work to engineering and design for other companies and the production of diving knives.
Taken completely by surprise by the announcement during the Blade Show Awards Banquet, Centofante sat half in shock, half overcome by emotion as his fellow Hall Of Famers gathered round to congratulate him. Voted in by his fellow Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame members-which is the only way to be inducted into the Hall-Centofante said the honor capped off his cutlery career, a career he said was highlighted by the landmark strides made by knifemakers and handmade knives in general through the Guild.
We have not always agreed on the path, Old Friend, but always agreed on the destination.
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Many times I have wished for a small measure of your patience, understanding and infinite wisdom. He also has three fine sons: Frank, Tampa fireman; Mark, an airline pilot; and Tony, a career student and future president of the United States. I introduce to you the real Italian Stallion, Frank Centofante. Ron Lake has led the folding knife part of this industry for many, many years. Lake received a patent for the interframe in Basically, I gave more knives away in five years than I sold.
Russell for having the foresight to form the Guild, because he gave me and others an opportunity to have more than our 15 minutes of fame.
Lake also credits writers B. Hughes and John Wooters for giving him the exposure in print that helped jump-start his career. He served on the Guild board of directors for nine years, eight of those as vice president. Sal Glesser, the genius behind the Spyderco knife with the hole-in-the-blade, the pocket clip and the serrations that changed the way an industry looks at folding knives, has achieved an edged immortality of sorts by being elected to The Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall Of Fame.
The road to the Hall has been a long and winding one for the latest inductee. Sal and his wife, Gail, launched Spyderco over 20 years ago in the back of a bread truck.
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Then, in , he designed and produced the first Spyderco knife, the Worker, the initial piece with the familiar hole-in-the-blade for easy one-hand opening and a pocket clip. Next, in , came the first serrated Spyderco knife, the Mariner.
Despite the unique designs, the early- to mids were a struggle for Spyderco. But Sal plugged along, taking his sharpeners and knives to shows where people had a need for such things, demonstrating his sharpeners and his knives to whomever would watch. It was at one such show that knifemaker Bob Terzuola set up at a table across from the Spyderco booth.
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Do you have a knife in your pocket? Sal sold a boatload of those sharpeners. Some time in the late s, Spyderco knives began to capture the imagination of knife enthusiasts on a grand scale. And Sal has shown this in the way Spyderco works, in its success, in its performance, in its growth, and its innovations and its constant quality. Few, if any, have promoted the handmade industry by educating the public at knife shows and through magazine articles the way the Bremerton, Washington, resident has, and he accepted his induction with typical humility.
It has been a long yet satisfying journey for the U. Navy and Air Force veteran, who started out collecting factory knives and then became a custom knife collector in after seeing the Jack Holifield collection at a Las Vegas gun show. Buying his first handmade knife from Jim Pugh and his second from Buster Warenski, Joe built his collection and began taking it to knife shows in , and has done so ever since.
Why is this important? In the past 30 years, those of us who have watched and experienced the custom knife phenomenon have seen collectors come and go. A few of these have unselfishly given of their time and treasure to display their collections to promote custom knives and the custom knife movement. He will be the first custom knife collector inducted exclusively because of collecting handmade knives into the Cutlery Hall Of Fame.
Suffering from failing health, Joe is no longer able to lug pound suitcases full of knives through airport checkins and set up his three or so display tables at shows-though he will continue to display on special occasions in the Northwest, USA.
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And how Drouin has presented handmade knives over the years, not for his own personal profit but as tools to educate and entertain those who would listen, has been a credit to the industry in ways that have benefited, are benefiting and will benefit it for years to come. As Hughes wrote, two-thirds of the full-time knifemakers of the day got their materials from Schrimsher. Among them were Ted Dowell, D. Due to failing health, Schrimsher was unable to attend the banquet to accept his award, so Collins accepted it for him.
Schrimsher also had all kinds of knifemaking equipment and introduced Blackie to the square-wheel grinder. All of us were sorta [broke]—with a few notable exceptions. He would let you go into his warehouse … and pick out what you needed, make a list of what you wanted, tell him what you were getting, pay him what you could and pay him when you could.
There are still makers indebted to Schrimsher—not just monetarily but for all the times he fronted them materials, equipment and other favors. For such a man, induction into the Cutlery Hall of Fame almost seems insufficient. Not only do some makers still owe him for an untold amount of knifemaking supplies, but the handmade industry in general owes him for a significant part of its very existence. When B. Hughes wrote the preceding as associate editor of Gun Week, there was no such shrine for cutlers. Of course, the Cutlery Hall of Fame is for the entire knife industry, not just knifemakers.
Still, Hughes did get one out of three right. Of Finnish descent, Ruana was born on April 11, In the early s, he served as a blacksmith and farrier in the Army. He made knives by emptying powder from.
He sold the resulting knives for 50 cents each. Sometime during his hitch he forged a knife from a section of Ford automobile spring he found in a ditch by the side of the road. Automobile springs were a source of knife steel he would return to time and again. In , he married Helmi Hellman. In , Ruana found work as a welder and mechanic in a Bonner garage and began making hunting knives on a regular though part-time basis.
By , he decided to make knives full time. Ruana knives are unmistakable in style. His early ones were made of vanadium spring steel and silica manganese spring steel. In , he started using high carbon steel. The blades are made of finest Hi-Carbon spring steel, forged with a modern power hammer, freehand hollow ground, individually oil quenched and heat treated.