A couple of weeks ago I shared a special knife (above) to the TTAK Facebook page. It was made by Richard Osborne of Terrapin Bladeworks, and was made for his boss and mentor who unfortunately passed away from cancer before the knife was completed. Richard has plans to auction off the knife next month (details to follow) to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – his boss’s favorite charity.
Richard was touched by our simple gesture and reached out to me. As we corresponded, he agreed to participate in our 5 from the Grinder series. Enjoy.
First, in a few sentences, please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
I’m Richard Osborne, founder of Terrapin Bladeworks based in Charlotte North Carolina. I have been using, and collecting knives since the age of around 7 or 8. My Grandfather, Great Grandfather, and Great Uncle got my collection started for me.
As a career woodworker, out of boredom, I needed to expand the materials I was working with. A good friend of mine had been making knives for several years, so with his encouragement, I thought, why not give it a try. It was love at first grind!
Question 1: What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
The biggest influence on my knife making has been my good friend Brian Goode. He taught me how to heat treat 01 tool steel, and it remains to be the primary steel I use today. His designs are simple, ergonomic, and clean, and from there I started to develop a few of my own designs using the stock removal method.
Question 2: What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
I would have to say that my favorite design from history is the traditional Bowie. As a kid I always had my eye on the big fixed blades, but wasn’t allowed to add one to my collection, because for me, at the time it has no practical value. My elders were big on the practicality of what went into my small collection, so it wasn’t until I started earning my own money that I was able to obtain one.
Question 3: What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
I see custom knife making leaning towards the vast array of new materials available. I have been using a lot of the products made available to me by Matt Peterson at Voodoo Resins, for handle scales. The materials, and colors are only limited by ones own imagination.
In the fall I will be trying out some things that will marry these new products with the old traditional forged blades, and I’m hoping to get a mixed media type of aesthetic feel.
Question 4: 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?
My designs are so varied due to my need to shake things up for myself, that it’s hard to settle on one that exhibits who I am as a maker. One I would mention is called “The Protector”. It’s a 4″ tanto blade designed for close protection in conjunction with Karl De la Guerra, of KDI Inc. We worked together to create a knife that would suit his need in executive protection, and since then it has ended up in the hands of some of his employees, and colleagues, as week as various law enforcement agencies in my area. I’m particularly proud of this because I have always looked up to those who devote their lives to keeping us safe on a daily basis. I have presented a few of these knives as gifts to key officers such as the Myrtle Beach training officer of the year, and the South Carolina gang investigators associations office of the year.
Question 5: What is your EDC and why?
My favorite EDC is a small 2″ fixed blade that I have yet to give a name, and so far remains a one off. Carried horizontally on my belt out suits my day to day tasks as a full time exhibit builder, and part time knife maker perfectly. I also EDC a Kershaw Cryo 2 as a backup. For the money, it’s a great little blade.
You can check out more of Richard’s kniver on the Terrapin Bladeworks Facebook page. We thank him for his participation and look forward to bringing you more of his work in the future.