Story and Photos by Shane Adams
It isn’t often that the lines between form, function, and art intersect; but when it happens it’s a thing to behold.
While many have the ability to produce a functional product, fewer have the talent to produce a product that is equally as aesthetically pleasing. It takes a special person to produce the functionality of a craftsman and the creative concept of an artist.
Russell Reece, of Cohutta Knife, just happens to produce the kind of products that are as rare as a sasquatch sighting, while successfully merging the paths of art, work and practical use.
As a self-admitted “blade guy” I remember having a photo stop me dead in my tracks on Instagram. When I read the name, I knew immediately that this guy must live near me.
You see, I live in North Georgia and grew up with the Cohutta Wilderness as my playground—helping me to immediately recognize the names of his blades as some of my favorite landmarks in my home wilderness. As it turns out, Russell just happens to live over the mountain, in Ellijay Georgia, and shares the same love of our common ground.
It’s always been my belief that a name should have meaning, purpose and a story. It’s evident, as you look over Russell’s line, that he has the same deep affinity for the Cohutta Wilderness that I do—with blades named after some of my favorite gaps. These spots all require effort to access, and his blades reflect the experience of getting there.
One thing that immediately stood out to me when looking at Russell’s work, was that his finish work is impeccable. After calling him to ask some questions about his background, things became clearer as to why.
On the phone Russell recounted his start into knife making as a hobby, around 2016, and was completely self-taught. Later he went to work for Andy Roy, of Fiddleback Forge fame, for 8 months—taking his skill and attention to detail to another level.
Andy does not shy away from praising Russell and stated that he showed up very proficient, and only improved once he began his apprenticeship. There is no denying the influence and attention to detail that Andy had on Russell’s craft. Russell is now out on his own as a full time bladesmith, with a rapidly growing fan base.
A year ago, I had an opportunity to get my hands on a Cohutta Knife Large Puukko—in 01 tool steel—and jumped at the chance.
I am a sucker for a traditional puukko and this one was calling my name from the moment I saw it. It has been a staple piece of gear for me, during quite a few classes, and has seen more than its fair share of recreational outings.
While locked down during Covid I have spent many hours on my front porch, making feather sticks and practicing my notches on a Mors Kochanski Try Stick. At 8.5-inches overall, the 4-inch long, 1/8-inch thick, scandi grind blade makes quick work of bushcraft tasks—both big and small.
I’m a fan of 01 tool steel and this blade only reaffirms that affinity. 01 tool steel holds a great edge, can take quite a bit of abuse and can still be brought back to a sharp edge fairly easily. It also takes on a natural patina after a bit of use; only adding to the character of such a finely crafted tool. One look and you know this knife has seen real use, with even better stories to accompany it.
This Cohutta Knife Large Puukko has been put through the ringer, over the last year, and has performed flawlessly. I’ve enjoyed loaning it to friends and students during our Advanced Bushcraft class, at Randall’s Adventure & Training, and watching their reaction as they use it.
I’ve been fortunate to own many custom blades but very few have had such an ethereal effect; simply put, this knife just feels right in the hand and makes me want to use it.
There are many knife makers out there that make a good product, but if you want to separate the wheat from the chaff, in knife making, it happens in one spot—fit and finish.
Russell’s blades exemplify an attention to detail that is rare to see in knife making, and even more so from a maker this early in his career. As an example, plunge lines are often the nemesis to burgeoning knife makers and one of the first places I look. The lines on this Large Puukko are dead nuts even and symmetrical. I can’t imagine what his blades will look like a decade from now, as he continues to develop.
Nick Allen, of NWA knives, sets a very high bar for the ergonomic feel of his scales, as well as his fit and finish; simply put Nick is one of the best in my opinion. While Russell’s scales are not as sculpted, the canvas Micarta scales on the Large Puukko are finished exceptionally well and extremely comfortable to use for prolonged bushcraft sessions—without hot spots or other uncomfortable annoyances.
Even the stitching and fit of the custom leather sheath is impeccable in its execution and function.
I don’t own show ponies or collector grade knives but there is something about the aesthetics of this blade that make me want to use it more.
When you combine the right ergonomics with a discerning aesthetic, you have a winning combination for a tool that will be a working heirloom for generations to come.
Not only will I pass this knife down to a son or grandson, I will also pass down the stories and experiences that go with it. Knowing the hands that made it makes the tool and accompanying experiences even that much more special.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure we can ask for more than that. K&G
Join the Conversation, comment on this story below. >>
Blade Material: O1 Tool SteelBlade Length: 4 inchesOverall Length: 8.5 inchesBlade Thickness: .125 inchWeight: 6.2 ounces (varies by build)Handle Material: Canvas MicartaMSRP: $350 +/- depending on materials
Cohutta KnifeInstagram: @CohuttaKnifeFacebook: @CohuttaKnife
@CohuttaKnifeRansom Wilderness Co.
Shane Adams is a native of North Georgia and has spent a lifetime cycling, hiking, paddling, and exploring. He currently works for ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training as their Marketing Director/ Utility Player. Along with the rest of the RAT crew he routinely spends more than 100 days in the field teaching, learning, and is an active member of RATSAR. (RAT Search & Rescue).
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.