Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared at The Truth About Knives as part of the “5 from the Grinder” series. Used with permission of the author (David C. Andersen). We will be continuing with a similar format as part of Knife Magazine’s new blog under the title “Behind the Grind”. If you are interested in having your work featured, please drop a line to clay@ knifemagazine.com
Today owe feature knifemaker Andy Roy, owner of Fiddleback Forge. The Forge turns out some of the most gorgeous usable knives out there these days. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the Camp Knife and Bushfinger from their mid-tech line and they are fantastic knives, but one of these days I will own one of Andy’s customs! Now I’ll turn things over to Andy. Enjoy!
I’m Andy Roy. I got into making knives in 2007. At the time I was posting in the Himilayan Imports section of Bladeforums. There was a man there posting DIY knife projects. They were real simple projects, and I couldn’t resist. The problem was that once I made that first ugly thing and cut stuff up with it, I was hooked. Not long after that I bought some steel and started making knives in my spare time. On May 1, 2009 I was laid off from my job and went full time making knives. Since then we’ve grown from a one man shop in my basement to a seperate facility with 6 employees. The knives have been a blessing in my life, and now I don’t know if I could stand my previous career.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
This is a tough question. Knifemakers love sharing their craft and I’ve had a lot of influences and mentors. In the beginning, Dan Koster and Scott Gossman and Tom Krein took a lot of my calls and answered questions constantly. I’m also a member of the GA Custom Knifemakers Guild, and many of my mentors came from there. Carl Rechsteiner, Harry and Charlie Mathews, and Dennis Bradley are probably chief among them, but the entire guild has shaped me and helped me constantly on this journey.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
For me, one of the patterns that really caught my eye from the beginning was the Nessmuk. George Washington Sears knife and writings were a focus of mine when I was starting to make knives. I make several versions of his knife these days. Some are more accurate to what I think he wanted and some are big heavy things he would laugh at. Certainly I think its an eye catching pattern and I always stop at a makers table to check out their take on it.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
Man, I don’t really know. The ‘big thing’ is not really what my business has been about. While the industry has embraced supersteels, I tend to like simple tool steels better. When many of the makers I know are switching to folders, I can’t seem to get interested enough to learn how to make them. My business is bushcrafting fixed blades. I do love the businesses that are doing a lot of kitchen knives like Bloodroot blades.
Is there a knife from your lineup that you feel best exhibits who you are as a knifemaker/designer in terms of design elements, aesthetic or techniques used?
I’m going to go with one of the simplest knives I make with this question. The Hiking Buddy is a very basic knife that is useful and easy to carry. Boiling off all of the flashy things and having a basic hardworking tool is what I am about as a knifemaker.
What is your EDC and why?
I EDC a Great Eastern Cutlery sodbuster and a NAA Pug. I generally don’t carry a fixed blade unless I am going into the woods. I do keep a Handyman in the truck (and a Glock). As to why? I’m in the suburbs of Atlanta. I try to stay under the radar with my weapons. And we all know, every knife is a weapon in the eyes of society today.
If you are a knifemaker or know a knifemaker that would like to be featured in a future Behind the Grind, please email clay@ knifemagazine.com.