Knives Illustrated - - Contents - STORY BY JOSHUA SWANAGON

They are sharp, pointy and beg to be held. When I stum­bled on the work of Cur­tis Haa­land at Free Hill Blades I found my­self want­ing to reach into my com­puter screen and pick one up. It was al­most a com­pul­sion. Ev­ery once in a while you dis­cover the work of some­one that makes you ask your­self, “How have I never seen this maker be­fore?” Cur­tis is one such maker.

01 An Early Start

To look at Cur­tis’s work it would be dif­fi­cult to guess that he is only 21, but per­haps more im­pres­sive is the fact that he got his start when he was a wee lad of 17. Com­ing from an artis­tic fam­ily, Cur­tis has al­ways loved art, knives and work­ing with his hands. One day his fa­ther told him he could put those pas­sions to­gether and make knives. We now get to reap the re­wards of his fa­ther’s ad­vice.

02 The Chal­lenges

Cur­tis finds chal­lenge in de­sign­ing and cre­at­ing some­thing that is visu­ally flaw­less, com­fort­able and use­ful. How­ever, he finds his big­gest chal­lenge in gain­ing the no­to­ri­ety to make money do­ing what he loves most, al­though I think this will be a short-lived prob­lem.

03 In­spired

A cou­ple of years af­ter Cur­tis started on his knife-mak­ing path he met Burt Foster at a ham­mer-in at Hay­wood Com­mu­nity Col­lege. Cur­tis has since got­ten to know Burt and learn from him. For this rea­son, Cur­tis cites Burt as his big­gest in­spi­ra­tion, along with other knife-mak­ing dy­namos, such as Nick Wheeler, Ja­son Knight, Scott Mcghee and Michael Que­sen­berry.

04 The Ma­te­ri­als

When it comes time to start work­ing on a new knife Cur­tis likes to reach for the W1 tool steel due to its round stock and abil­ity to take a good ha­mon, which lets him get re­ally cre­ative. For his han­dle scales he prefers African black­wood be­cause it looks classy when fin­ished and has a sub­tle wood grain.

05 Dual Tal­ents

When Cur­tis is work­ing on cus­tom blades he likes to forge, giv­ing them that ex­tra per­sonal touch. For any of his more stan­dard de­signs he uses stock re­moval.

06 Or­der­ing

Work­ing out of his Gray, Ten­nessee, shop, Cur­tis pro­vides cus­tom blades and more stan­dard de­signs that he can cus­tom­ize with dif­fer­ent han­dle ma­te­ri­als and blade fin­ishes. He does take cus­tomer re­quests and will take di­rec­tion from the cus­tomer, but he ex­e­cutes the de­sign work him­self.

If you would like some cus­tom work from Cur­tis, you can ex­pect your wait time to be a stag­ger­ing two to three weeks—now that is fast. How­ever, I have a feel­ing that af­ter peo­ple start see­ing his work the time frame will get longer. I rec­om­mend that you get while the get­ting is good. Judg­ing by his work, it isn’t go­ing to be long be­fore he will be in de­mand. KI


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