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
My favorite part of this writing gig is getting the chance to meet so many cool players in the industry. I had the pleasure of attending the Beckerhead Gathering a few weeks ago and got to meet, among others, Todd Hunt of T.M. Hunt Custom Knives. Like his work, the man is larger than life and I am excited to share his answers with you on today.
My name is Todd Hunt. I am the owner of T.M.Hunt custom knives in Seymour Indiana. I’m 42 years old and made my first knife (complete start to finish) in 1998. I did it as a hobby for many years until an unfortunate turn of events at my regular job kind of pushed me to do it more seriously until finally in 2013 I quit to pursue knife making full time. It has been quite an adventure. Besides the cool job, the people and friends I have met have been some of the best people in my life, and aside from my wife and two kids, is the biggest blessing and the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
First introduction and first influence in knife making was my Dad. When I was very young (5 or 6) I used to stand on a box so I could see over the workbench in our garage [and] watch him make a couple knives a year, mostly out of saw blades and deer antlers. It amazed me [that] something like that could be made with two hands and determination. It definitely sparked my curiosities and taught me about the payoff of hard work at a young age.
Through the years, I’ve many influences as far as knife styles. A few names would be D. Holder, Ed Folwer, Jay Hendrixson, and Buster Warinski just to name a few. But my knife making life change drastically when I met and became good friends with Ethan Becker about 5 years ago. His advice and friendship has meant a lot to me and has helped me learn a ton. That’s wisdom you just cannot buy.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
I’ve got a real gushy soft spot for bowie knives. I love everything about them, Their style, their size, their historical significance. Plus, one’s interpretation is endless and there’s really so much you can do with them artistically. One of my favorite pleasures is making high-end, ornate bowies when time allows. I’ll never tire of them.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? What direction do you see the industry going?
I don’t really know whats the next big thing in knife making. Hopefully me. I think that’s what keeps me captivated with the craft. It never gets old and is always exciting. You never quit learning and your skills just continue grow. As far as what I’d like to see for the industry, I’d like see more focus on the little guys making pieces in there garages or home shops because they love it. Bring back the feeling of pride in a job well done, and teach a true appreciation for old world craftsmanship. Something that I feel is getting lost in this fast paced world.
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’d say the knife I’m most known for is the M18. I designed it a little over 5 years ago and its pretty much remained unchanged since the first prototype. For its intended purpose it just worked too well for me to mess with it too much. To date I’ve made well over 100 of them and am ramping up production now to triple my output. It has been featured in several different magazines and has even been on the Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid twice. I would even venture to say its attitude and personality so to speak is much like my own as well. A hard worker with a face only a mother could love! Lol.
What is your EDC and why?
My EDC varies depending on what I’m doing. For everyday activities I usually have a multitool of some sort (I have too many to mention) and I always have one of my lil Billy Bad Axes handy on my keychain. If I am out hunting, hiking, or camping I have one of my own Tradewater models that’s always on my belt, along with a M18 in the pack or car. I never go anywhere without a edged tool on me, and its been that way as long as I can remember.
Many thanks to Todd for taking the time to share his answers with us. You can check out more of Todd’s work at his website, Facebook, Instagram, and official forum on BladeForums.com. Also be sure to visit him if you are at the BLADE Show next month!