Story by Joshua Swanagon – Photos by Josh Wentz
Coming into 2020 has me looking to our past and waxing nostalgic. Although, admittedly I am always drawn to rustic looking knives.
While they are more of a new trend and not really something you would find on the frontiers of early America, I have recently been drawn to the mini cleaver designs that have been coming out lately. When I was looking through the photos of Dreadnought Knife Shop’s work, I was impressed by the variety of designs that he has been working on – but kept getting pulled to the mini cleavers.
With that said, although I am drawn to his cleaver designs, I really thought it showed a great amount of diversity for a young knife maker to have such an eclectic array of designs – everything from kitchen knives (including large kitchen cleavers) to bushcrafting and hunting knives. Along with a large selection of styles, Josh uses many different handle materials, ensuring that each and every blade is unique in its own right.
Although he hasn’t been at it for long, I think that Josh is on his way to a very successful career in knife making. But don’t just take my word for it, check out his work for yourself.
1 – Filling up Space
It may sound like an odd way to start a new career, but Josh’s entry into the knife making world began as a result of a lot of extra room in his new home, that he didn’t know what to do with. Having attempted making a knife with his brother a few years prior, Josh started noticing a bunch of knife makers – like Neil Kamimura, Josh Scott and Storm Richardson – showing up on his Instagram feed and decided that he could use this new found space to give knife making another try.
2 – The Challenges of Being Unique
Like most up and coming knife makers, Josh finds it hard to get his name out there. But another challenge, that I think all knife makers will be able to agree with, is finding a unique style. With knives being a tool almost as old as man, Josh works diligently to find that style that is unique to him and sets him apart from the crowd – past and present.
3 – Finding Inspiration
When asked about his inspirations, Josh found it hard to whittle the list down, because there are so many great knife makers in the industry and he could go on forever. But the makers that topped his short list are Josh Scott, Built Wright Bladeworks, Colony Knife Co., Kamon Knives, Heartwood Forge and Running Man Forge.
4 – Everyone has a Favorite
Although you can see, from the variety of knives he has done to date, that he is capable of fulfilling any request, Josh finds that his favorite type of knives to make are meant for the kitchen. He finds great enjoyment in knowing that his customers are happily working in their kitchens each day, using the knives he created.
But on a personal level he finds that there is just something about a gorgeous kitchen knife that makes you passionate about cooking again.
5 – The Build
Josh uses stock removal to create his knives but uses a forge to hot texture the blade flats – which gives it a very rustic, camp forged, kind of look.
6 – It’s in the Materials
When I asked what type of steel he prefers to work with he simply stated 1095 high carbon steel. A man of few words, but solid commitment to his material.
When it comes to his handle scales, he likes to work with a little of everything, especially anything unique and wild looking. He prefers to use a lot of wood/resin hybrids and outsources all of his segment scales from Flying Shark Knives on Instagram.
7 – Ordering
Although he takes some “me” time every once in a while, to work on a design he wants to make for sale on his Instagram page, Josh mainly takes custom orders. He is typically booked out about 3 months minimum, all year round, so the waiting period is quite reasonable for a hand-crafted knife like his. As luck would have it, at the time of this posting his books are open. This would be the right time to contact him with your request. K&G
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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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