Knifemaking: honor, integrity, and the Hound

Both sides of my family were landless sharecroppers and mountain people from as far back as I can remember…What did I receive from this lineage?  Things I believe to be very valuable: a good raw intellect and a good tough body…A sense of honor that results in a touchiness common to our people…When the only thing you own is your sense of personal honor, you tend to protect it at all costs.

Eric L. Haney, Inside Delta Force

This blade was initially a commission from another very dear friend of mine.  He asked for a knife that was based in a sort of old-world honor.  A sort of honor that is maybe not seen so much today, at least not on the surface of things.  Something that may get lost in performance reports and email threads.  Something that isn’t tied to how much money you do or do not make, what deity you do or do not pray to, what color your skin may or may not be, and completely independent of whatever gender with which you happen to identify.  A sort of goodness that comes from having a place in this world, of knowing deep within your being that you deserve to be here and that no one can take that away from you.  He asked that it be called the Hound and I got to work.

There are times in my life when I have felt empty and hollow, like something was missing.  I tried filling this with all sorts of things- material things, a busy schedule, pharmaceuticals, and overindulgences of food and drink.  What was actually missing at those times was a personal bearing.  In more difficult times I had traded my honor for things that were fleeting, for a sense of security, and for a feeling of belonging.  When you have something to ground yourself in and can carry yourself in esteem, the aforementioned things will find their way to you, though at times it may feel like you are a thousand miles away from any of them.  No one gives this feeling to you.  Some people have this from an early age, others have to find it, and still others go through hell and many trials by fire to figure out what it is for them.  Some people have been beaten down so far that they aren’t aware that it even exists- but still it can be theirs.

When you act and speak from this place it brings an integrity and truth to the things you do.  A resonance that permeates everything- like an orchestra, where a balance of intonation, volume, harmony, and depth of emotion makes a gorgeous sonic mass.  There may be chaos all around you but within you everything moves in synch, just like the bows of a symphony orchestra.

I “finished” this blade some months ago and was never quite happy with it.  I’ve since made a blade of the same bearing for my friend, the Hound Mark II (here is a picture).  I didn’t find the initial bevel work on this knife to be satisfactory and I didn’t come to this conclusion till after I had hardened the steel.  One has to be careful grinding on hardened steel: if it gets too hot the steel loses it’s temper.  So with a cup of ice water I took the bevel to where I was happy with it.

It’s important to not give away our honor, as it can be the thing that gets us through when there may not be anything else.  As it follows, I added a sturdy grip on the Hound.  I wanted it to melt into the hand and hold fast for times when holding anything may be challenging.  
Profiled, ground, and sanded  After hardening…
During tempering…    Roughing in contours…Cherrywood for balance….
Mostly sanded…  The Hound

The Hound was made from O1 tool steel with a Cherrywood handle and brass rivets.  Hold to your honor.

If you find you would like to purchase one of my blades or have me craft one for you, email me or check out my Etsy store.   It may end up on this blog…

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