BOYD ASWORTH’S SCARY KNIFE

June 12, 2009

By Roni Toldanes

Boyd Asworth is a unique craftsman with a knack for translating bizarre-looking materials into works of art. Just look at the photos.

Asworth forged 320 layers of 5160 steel to produce this Damascus blade. He used 51 layers for his Mokume bolster, using iron and nickel. For the unlocking mechanism, he installed a rosette made from carved 01 steel.

Asworth forged 320 layers of 5160 steel to produce this Damascus blade. He used 51 layers for his Mokume bolster, using iron and nickel. For the unlocking mechanism, he installed a rosette made from carved 01 steel.

Asworth, 38, is a Journeyman Smith in the American Bladesmith Society. He hopes to present this knife, together with four more of his best knives, to elevate his status this year to that of Master Smith.

Last year, Asworth received a portion of a mule deer’s antler from a hunter in Idaho. It took him about a month to figure out how to create a jaw-dropping knife from the grotesque antler.

“It looked so weird I couldn’t decide how I wanted to carve it,” Asworth recalls, shaking his head. “But I wanted to leave it as natural as possible, so I decided to split it and make a folding knife.”

After many sleepless nights, Asworth decided to carve the dragon’s face in the antler. He engraved nostrils in the handle and embellished it with emerald inlays to create the dragon’s eyes. Then he picked up a small piece of scrap iron from his shop, forging it into shape as the dragon’s tongue, which can be moved up and down with a slight pull.

When Asworth’s wife, Holley, saw the handle, she was appalled.

But as soon as he blended his finished blade into the deformed antler, his wife glowed at the idea. It’s like a mother learning to love her ugly child.

This handle’s close-up photo shows the unique features of the deformed antler that Ashworth sculpted to create the dragon’s face. The Georgia-based knife maker also embellished the handle with emeralds.

This handle’s close-up photo shows the unique features of the deformed antler that Ashworth sculpted to create the dragon’s face. The Georgia-based knife maker also embellished the handle with emeralds.

“She didn’t like it at first, but it grew on her,” Asworth says. “Once I put it all together, she said she liked it.”
The final product, as Asworth describes it, “was so mean and cruel-looking that we thought of calling it a one-armed bandit.”

The knife comes with a display stand made of amboyna, a mottled curly-grained wood of a leguminous tree often seen in southeastern Asia.

For more information, you may contact custom knife maker Boyd Ashworth at (770) 943-4963.


FIGHTER KNIVES

June 12, 2009

By RONI TOLDANES

A bowie with a spine-tingling coffin handle designed by knife maker Kevin Cashen. It features an exotic bocote for its handle and Damascus fittings.

A bowie with a spine-tingling coffin handle designed by knife maker Kevin Cashen. It features an exotic bocote for its handle and Damascus fittings.

A CRO-MAGNON HUNTER noisily gnaws meat off the carcass inside his cave. Suddenly, another hunter lunges from behind, ferociously swinging a huge jawbone as he tries to snatch a chunk of the hindquarter. A bloody clash ensues, with the oafish invader eventually overpowering the smaller hunter, pinning him down with both knees and bashing his head with a huge rock.

Bloodied but still conscious, the victim wriggles and crawls away in a desperate bid to save his life. Then from the corner of his eye he catches the gleam of his knapped obsidian, still sharp despite his recent hunting expedition. He grabs the huge blade with both hands and thrusts it into the attacker’s rib cage, repeatedly piercing his opponent’s heart until the man writhes in an agonizing death.

The brutal fight ends. And the fighting knife is born.

We beg your pardon. The preceding scenario is merely a figment of imagina­tion. Sure, similar incidents involving “fighting knives” may have taken place but there is nothing in recorded history to prove the same. In fact, the history of fighting knives is shrouded in the same ancient mists as those that obscure the origins of knives themselves. But even without any help from historians, there’s one thing we are sure of: Early fighting knives were designed for fighting, no more and no less.

Custom knife maker Emil Bucharski forged this fighter’s twist pattern Damascus blade using 189 layers of 1095 mixed with nickel. Bucharski matched the seven-inch blade with an oosic handle. It has a simple yet elegantly-designed stainless steel guard.

Custom knife maker Emil Bucharski forged this fighter’s twist pattern Damascus blade using 189 layers of 1095 mixed with nickel. Bucharski matched the seven-inch blade with an oosic handle. It has a simple yet elegantly-designed stainless steel guard.

We’d like to think that fighters were also meant mainly for hunting. After all, it seems obvious: They had large, stout blades for killing or field-dressing big game. Even the very first Bowie knives may have originated from this design.

These days, however, we dare say with sincerity that no intelligent man would ever allow himself to be caught commit­ting a crime while clutching a $10,000 custom fighting knife. It’s simply unconscionable.

In short, the whole idea of crafting gold-inlayed, diamond-embellished and Damascus-bladed “fighting knives” is not to produce a tool that one can use to swagger around town with, looking for a fight. Like museum-quality arti­facts, custom fighters such as the knives you see on these pages are mere­ly proof of bragging rights – sharp toys for the big boys. They were not meant as sidearms or for slashing or stabbing. They’re simply art replicas of what beautiful knives are all about.

With that issue clarified, we hope you enjoy gawking at these pictures. These knives are genuine, well, fighters.

Knifemaker Rick Browne’s knife features an integral sub-hilt, making it a really strong knife. It has an overall length of 12 7/8 inches and an eight-inch blade.

Knifemaker Rick Browne’s knife features an integral sub-hilt, making it a really strong knife. It has an overall length of 12 7/8 inches and an eight-inch blade.

Italian knife maker G. Gabona’s knife displays his meticulous attention to detail in this miniature fighter. With an overall length of only five inches, this one comes with a mother-of-pearl handle and integral construction. Its sub-hilt may not accommodate a huge finger, but it was handsomely engraved.

Italian knife maker G. Gabona’s knife displays his meticulous attention to detail in this miniature fighter. With an overall length of only five inches, this one comes with a mother-of-pearl handle and integral construction. Its sub-hilt may not accommodate a huge finger, but it was handsomely engraved.