Stott enjoys knife making

By Joe Crine

Knife making is an art, and local South Africa native and professional photographer Bob Stott has perfected it at his home workshop on Day Drive.

For the past two years, using local materials, he has manufactured various kinds of cutlery, ranging from kitchen knives to hunting knives to various kinds of specialty knives.

“Knife making was something I always wanted to do and two years ago I just decided to stop and do it,” he said. “I wanted to give it a try and it has worked out well.”

One unique aspect of Stott’s knives is that he uses scrap metal and discarded materials for just about all of them. For example, the handles for one of his specialty knives — a mezzaluna double-bladed Italian knife used for chopping, dicing, and mincing of vegetables and meats — came from an old plow.

Stott built his own tools, many from local materials he has found, and uses them in the manufacturing of his knives.

Stott begins the knife making process by heating the metal inside a forge, which is a hearth used for forging or heating the metal to a temperature where it becomes easier to shape. He then uses an anvil and hammer to mold the hot metal into an approximate blade shape.

The metal is then taken to a grader where the knife is more finely shaped. After connecting the handle to the blade, Stott sandpapers it down to size with a glossy finish.

Stott said he spends most of his knifemaking time working on fine-tuning the details. The actual hammering only takes a short while, but painstakingly making the perfect blade and design can take dozens of hours.

“While there has been quite a bit of mass-production technology in recent years, you still need a lot of personal involvement to make sure knives are produced correctly,” Stott said. “Forges are also used by blacksmiths and there is a blacksmith school in North Carolina that I wouldn’t mind going to sometime.”

Stott said he has sold knives he manufactured that ranged in price from as low as $20 to as high as $800. He does not purchase any metal to be used in his knife making projects.

“I just use metal items that I come across, like the two plow handles that I used to support my mezzaluna knife,” he said.

Stott’s knife collection can be viewed by logging onto his Facebook page of “Bob Stott Custom Knifes.” Stott said he spells the word “knifes” that way for two reasons — one, it’s the proper British spelling similar to what is used in South Africa; and two, because it catches people’s attention.

While making the knives is fun in itself, Stott said a craftsman can spend just as much time and creativity on making the handle.

“I made one of my knife handles from blue jeans,” he said. “You can pretty well form knife handles from any material.

Stott said he began his knifemaking simply as a hobby, but eventually realized that people were interested in buying them. He sells them through online accounts and occasionally at local festivals, like River Town Days. However, he noted that the knifemaking is not necessarily a money-making pursuit.

“Usually I make enough money to buy more materials to make more knives,” he said. “It’s about keeping an old craft alive that has started to die out.”

Stott said he stands by the quality of his knives.

“If anything goes wrong with one of my knives, I will replace it free of charge,” he said. “They are made to last. I can make any kind of custom knife. I have made my wife some very nice kitchen knives.

“I take a lot of pride in my work and I want all of my knives to be of the highest quality.”

Stott and another area knife maker, T. Paul McGowan, are also involved in a local charitable event. They are holding a raffle to benefit Robbie Palmer, a local cancer patient. Each has donated a knife for the raffle.

The tickets are $20 and the raffle winner will receive the two knives that are valued at $1,000. For tickets, call (229) 726-4163 or (229) 205-7858.

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