Story by Joshua Swanagon – Photos by Andy Cruz
I have been following Riven Knifeworks on Instagram for a while now and have noticed a pattern emerge during that time – when Andy posts something, it makes me stop scrolling and look.
As you look through the entire catalog of his work, it is obvious that he has very eclectic tastes and has done nothing to pigeonhole himself into any specific genre. Riven Knifeworks offers everything from bushcraft and tactical to kitchen knives, with all presenting very clean lines, ergonomics and attention to detail that almost make it a surprise to learn that he only does this part time.
Beginning in 2014, Andy has utilized his spare time, working away in his shop in Tempe, Arizona, to bring life to his creations and send people running for their wallets. And for good reason.
Let’s take a deeper look at what makes Andy Cruz and Riven Knifeworks’ work so appealing.
1 – Thank You, Mom and Dad
Andy has been interested in making knives since he was a kid. This interest led to his parents buying a copy of David Boye’s book “Step-by-step Knifemaking: You Can Do It!” Since this was before the internet, this was the only information Andy had to work with at the time. After making a few kit knives, Andy’s knifemaking endeavors took a bit of a back seat for a while, before picking it back up in 2014 and continuing with it ever since.
2 – So Much to Figure Out
Andy found that trying to figure out all of the tooling he would need to get back into knifemaking was a little daunting at first – the array of grinders, drill presses, sanding belts, drill bits, cutting tools, glue, handle materials, etc., was a lot to take in.
He also found the trial and error of grinding, and learning to grind by hand, with consistent results a little challenging. He tried to research it as much as possible but opted for the hands-on approach, putting in the time and making the mistakes.
3 – Finding Inspiration
As with many of the makers I ask this question, Andy had a long list of inspirations and could have gone on for a long time. But I found it very telling that he began his list with a few classics like Scagel, Randall and Loveless. He went on to list just a few more makers that he finds inspirational…“Don Hanson, Jim Coffee, the folder work of Bob Terzuola, Michael Walker, Jakub Wieczorkiewicz, Jared Price, Jesper Voxnaes. So many other makers that have such a great attention to detail like Shawn Hatcher, Nick Wheeler, Josh Gallardo, Caleb White, Samuel Lurquin, Ben Seward, Don Nguyen, Noah Vachon. I could go on…”
4 – A Favorite Build
Andy has an EDC model, he calls the Field Buddy, that he really enjoys making. He finds that its 7-inch overall length makes it a great size for either pocket or belt carry, while being light and useful. However, Andy has been enjoying making kitchen knives, because he knows they are going to be used on an almost daily basis, which he finds very satisfying.
5 – The Creative Process
When coming up with a new design, Andy likes to consider the intended use and general size requirements. Once he has determined these factors, he does some sketching before moving to the computer to refine the design. If it is a custom knife or special scale design, he goes the extra step of doing a computer rendering before building it for the customer.
6 – It’s in the Materials
When asked about the steels he uses, he mentioned that he tends to use stainless steels, such as CPM154 (which he uses for most builds), AEB-L for his kitchen knives, and has dabbled with A2, CPM3V and D2. He has his heat treating done by Peter’s Heat Treating, to ensure that his knives perform as well as they look.
For his handle materials he really loves natural materials like Ironwood, Koa and burl woods, for the most part, but also uses Micarta when called for.
7 – Ordering
Because Andy views his knifemaking as a very part-time hobby, he finds the idea of opening up his books as very daunting. He typically enjoys making knives for friends and word of mouth. However, don’t let that discourage you, because he does make models that he places for sale on his website – and he is currently focusing on making more items readily available.
Make sure to keep checking his Instagram and website for availability. And if all else fails, tell him that Knife & Gear Society sent you, because he does take word of mouth, after all, it couldn’t hurt to ask. K&G
Website: www.RivenKnifeworks.comInstagram: @Jon_Kelly_Designs
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Joshua Swanagon has studied survival in both urban and wilderness environments in Colorado and Michigan for most of his life, while also adding experience in harsher terrains abroad. He utilizes his experience and years of diverse martial arts and combatives training and real world application as a self-defense/combatives instructor, published freelance writer and Field Editor for various magazines in the fields of knives, survival, self-defense and tactical subject matters. Joshua also brings with him his years of experience as Editor of, and Subject Matter Expert for Knives Illustrated Magazine.
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