Knifemaking: being your own cheerleader and the Stag

“You’ve just got to pat yourself on the back and keep moving.  Ain’t nobody else gonna do that for you.”

-Gordon Russell, chef

The other week, early in the morning, I got a knock on my door.  It was the police.  My car alarm had been going off for the past hour and the officer said there had been quite a few calls about it.

We walked over and I turned the alarm off and disconnected the battery.  As the officer was leaving he said that someone had been kind enough to leave a note for me on my windshield.  I found a piece of paper under the wiper and read it.  I’m not sure what I was expecting.  After I read through all of the expletives, I saw that it was signed by “I Hate You”.

Beautiful.  Somebody hates me.

I tried to go back to sleep but I had a hard time.  I knew I wasn’t the first person to have their car alarm go off and I probably wouldn’t be the last but I was having a hard time figuring out what “I Hate You” expected to accomplish through their eloquently worded salutation to me.  Those sorts of things written to you by a stranger don’t feel nice.

Later in the day I found it to be really funny.  I kind of wish I had kept the note.

So what do you do when you find yourself on the receiving end of toxic outrage?  Or of violent vitriols or virulent viscosities or even vicissitudes of the most vicious varieties??  This is where you have to be your own cheerleader.  Because we’re going to screw up at some point, maybe say or do something in poor taste or offend someone’s sensibilities.  People can be awful- much worse than notes on cars.  And hiding behind the veil of social media, people often write things that they wouldn’t necessarily say to someone’s face.  So when someone says or does something dumb, it can be often accompanied by a slurry of shame-dumping and rage. Before long any sense of civility or compassion goes out the window.  If you find yourself on the receiving end of these sorts of shenanigans, it’s best to pat yourself on the back and just keep rolling.  These are the hard things to master in life, but they are worth it.  It’s important to keep moving forward.

This blade was a commission for a gentleman who is a cheerleading coach.  His wife asked if the knife could have an essence of an old Buck fixed blade he had as a kid so I took that into the consideration of the design.  ‘The Stag’ is a bit of a double entendre.  In the animal world a stag can be much larger than a buck, and this knife has a bit more heft than its commercial counterpart.  But on the other side you sometimes have to go stag, by yourself, and give yourself the things that the world is not always going to give you.

The other day I was working with a lady who was late because someone parked her car into her spot.  She said she didn’t even have time to write a nasty note.  I very gently told her that not writing that note was probably for the best…

I did two designs for this knife, based on some of the Buck fixed blades.  I went with the bottom drawing:

Wet sanding:

This is after heat treat, slag all removed, at about 600 grit:


Walnut for the handle:

The Stag:  O1 tool steel, Walnut handle scales, fiber spacers, and steel hardware:

In the words of a dear friend, just pat yourself on the back and keep moving

Much love to Kent Huffman for the beautiful leatherwork and to Taylor Huffman Bernard for the beautiful woodburning.  Finished knife photos by James Bernard and his superior camera.

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