Story by Joshua Swanagon – Photos by Jesse Miller
I often find myself drawn to makers that exhibit faith and patriotism in their work. I find that there is a level of integrity that comes with always being true to who you are, in everything you do, without fear. While looking through his work I have found that Jesse Miller – of Jesse Miller Made Custom Works – demonstrates that, not only in his mission statement, but his work itself.
The level of integrity that that Jesse displays is only equaled by the staggering fact that he has only been doing this for a little over a year; although to look at his work it would be easy to believe that he has years of experience. An obvious quick study, it would appear that Jesse has found his calling in life and the rest of us are all the more fortunate for it.
I had a chance to speak with Jesse and although his work speaks for itself, he positively demonstrates why he is worthy of attention.
1 – An Imagination Captured
With his imagination being captured by the ancient art of knife making – as well as the global historical and cultural lines that it crosses – Jesse made his first knife in October of 2018, after taking an intro to knifemaking class. The challenge of the craft has held his attention ever since.
2 – The Challenge of Time
Jesse finds that there is so much he would love to learn, and so much proper technique that he would like to understand, that it could take 3 lifetimes to really achieve the level of knowledge he desires. But, taking it in stride and prioritizing, Jesse has a wish list that he is working through, with his current item being to learn how to make a frame construction hidden tang full takedown Bowie.
3 – Finding Inspiration
Discussing his inspirations, Jesse first turned to his mentor Tim Troyer. Following that respectful mention, he went on to list MS JW Randall, Curt Haaland, JS Jim Coffee, Josh Scott and JS Kelly Vermeer Vella for their inspiration to make him push harder.
4 – A Favorite Build
When I asked Jesse about his favorite knife to make, he answered that he really likes to make his medium length full clip fighter with hamon. He stated that he really loves to finish up a big blade.
5 – A Perfect Blend
Although Jesse doesn’t have any production models, he does have 10 stand-by designs that he starts with when speaking with new clients. After discussing these 10 models, Jesse is happy to work with a customer if they prefer something different done to one of these designs or would prefer something fully custom.
6 – It’s in the Materials
While discussing materials with Jesse, it is clear he has a good grasp on what he prefers to use for the construction of his knives.For the steel he has an order of favorites. He lists W2 as his absolute favorite for its aesthetics and function, followed by 80CrV2 for overall toughness and rounded out by 1084 as a good old trusty stand-by.
For his handle scales Jesse prefers to use stabilized wood from Rob’s Wildwood – specifically Tasmanian Blackwood, Box Elder Burl, Buckeye Burl, Big Leaf Maple and Bog Oak. Following those selections, he also likes to work with paper Micarta, carbon fiber and G-10.
For his hidden tang knives Jesse likes to use brass and nickel silver for the guards. On really special knives he likes to use his custom mosaic pins, with his logo inside.
7 – Ordering
Although he used to do a lot of custom work, Jesse finds that he prefers to make what he enjoys making and let the work attract the customer. That is not to say that you will not be able to get something custom, but give his standard models a look, you might find exactly what you are looking for.
The typical wait time for a knife, if he doesn’t have one readily available, is 1-3 months – which is quite fast. Although, I wouldn’t wait too long to order, with the quality of his work and the recent attention he has been receiving, I expect his schedule to change dramatically and quickly. K&G
Instagram: @JesseMillerMadeFacebook: @JesseMillerMade
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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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