Back in 1995, when I had no idea that there was any such thing as a ‘handmade knife’, I attended a knife show in Adelaide and was walking around absolutely amazed that the people there had actually made the knives that were on display.
I’d always thought of knives as being something that were just a store bought item. Anyway, after about the 20th time of going around the different tables and really admiring what these guys had crafted, I thought ‘I’d really like to have a go at that’.
At the time I was working at a road construction job and after being there for 18 years, I knew I’d really had enough of the 7 – 5 routine of it all. Something within me was driven to wonder if it was possible to actually become a full time knife maker… a seed had been sown! So I approached one of the guys I met at the knife show, who was more than willing to show me how he made knives.
I hounded and pestered this poor guy for a couple of years, asking all sorts of questions like, “What steel do you use? Why that steel? Why do you do that? What’s that for? How do you harden the steel? What do you use for handles?” and just discovering through reading and research as much as I could about the art of knife making until eventually I got to the point where I felt confident enough to actually go out on my own to produce a knife that people would be able to use, appreciate and enjoy.
Becoming a full-time knife maker
Since that first seed was sown all those years ago at the knife show, I’ve always known in my heart that I would achieve my dream of becoming a full-time knife maker. So I decided to pursue a knife making career – the guy who taught me said, “It will be a very hard road to follow but give it a go and make every knife to the best of your ability, a knife that people will be proud to own and to use.”
It definitely hasn’t been without its trials and errors and I’ve had to work at other jobs to bring in the money to pay bills, but slowly and surely my dream of making knives full time is coming to fruition. Even though at times this journey has been tough and somewhat scary, I really enjoy meeting and forging (no pun intended) new friendships through the people I meet while making knives. I’m still fascinated and enthusiastic as to what can be achieved when two people, customer and maker, get together and design something functional and well-made that will last for generations to come.
“I believe that a knife, whatever it is used for, should become an extension of your hand… and a real joy to use.”
The knives featured here on the website are just a sample of what I’ve been creating – please feel free to contact us if you have a specific requirement or even just a vague idea of a knife you want - I really encourage you to create your own knife design and together we can make that a reality.
I especially enjoy making unique and distinctive knives, ensuring that no two knives will ever be the same. The process of creating and designing knives on a day-to-day basis is also really helping me to hone my skills as a knife maker, in all areas – from design, through to shaping, forging, and final finishing. I’m constantly learning and progressing and very much enjoy the concept of sole ownership of my knife making. I make knives to suit a purpose – I want my knives to be used, enjoyed and talked about as refined products which are also beautiful to look at.
I enjoy firing up the forge out in the workshop, mostly hand forging carbon steels such as: 1095, W1 and W2, and 52100, (but also using 440C stainless steel) and then finishing with selective heat treating; I also enjoy making my own Damascus using 1075/15N20 and L6 and 01 steels. There’s something about the sounds of the workshop – it’s the song of the anvil, the roar of the forge… and the smell of burning gloves - ouch!! It’s another world for me out there!
I like to spend some of my creative time recycling old files, car leaf springs and large timber mill saw blades, as I find these to be a good source of high-grade steel, which a lot of people might otherwise just discard… this really fires up my imagination!
My focus at present is on producing a range of unique kitchen knives with a Japanese influence – I’m so inspired by the Japanese craftspeople and the traditional Japanese-style of knives like the Deba, the Usuba, the Gyutou and Nakiri for example.
I also enjoy using Australian timber for the handles of my knives, from Gidgee through to Lace Sheoak, Vasticola and Mallee varieties… really beautiful and richly textured timbers that enhance the look and feel of a handmade knife.
So thanks for visiting, please call again. And feel free to phone, email, Facebook us with your questions or design ideas for a Gardner knife or even if you just want to talk knives.
All the best,
PS. Even though I’m the knife maker in the family, I really couldn’t do what I do without the support and encouragement of my partner Amanda. She does all the ‘business side’ which leaves me free to just focus on what I love doing and I’m very grateful to her for that.