5 from the Grinder has been on a bit of a hiatus lately as we worked through the queue of contacts we made at last year’s BLADE Show. The timing of our return cannot be better as today’s featured knifemaker, Stephan Fowler, will be featured on tonight’s episode of History Channel’s Forged in Fire. (10pm EST 1/17/17).
To call Stephan an “up-and-coming” maker is to miss the boat by about half a decade. Knives Illustrated featured him back in 2011 as a “Knifemaker to Watch” when he was an ABS Apprentice smith. He has since been elevated to the rank of ABS Journeyman, and is the President of the Georgia Knifemaker’s Guild. He also has a tremendous presence on Social Media. In fact, I stumbled across him doing a live Q&A video broadcast from while he was working in his shop this evening. I can assure you I will be back to watch a future broadcast. It was neat.
Enough blathering from me. Here is Stephan…
First, in a few sentences, please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
My introduction to knifemaking came about from an interest in traditional martial arts and swords in general. I started poking around on the internet for information and stumbled across Don Fogg’s Bladesmiths Forum and decided to give it a shot. My first setup was just a chunk of mild steel for an anvil and some stacked firebricks with a homebuilt burner. My first Hammer-In was at Larry Harley’s where I met Burt Foster, Ric Furrer, Doc James Batson, and I was permanently hooked.
Question 1: What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
My main influences come from Burt Foster and Jason Knight. Their concept of design and blade flow with the way the handle just melts into your hand is an inspiration.
Question 2: What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
Interestingly my tastes in historical knives has changed and morphed a lot over the years. Currently I pull a lot of inspiration from Migration Era Anglo Saxon patterns.
Question 3: What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
If I knew what the next big thing is I could make a killing, sadly I can’t really tell. I do see Direction trends and feel like there is going to be a trend towards a lot of classic Bowie and Fighter patterns done with very modern materials and moving away from some of the more exotic animal products.
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?
Re-curve bowies, hands down. The feel and style of a blade that flows so well that it looks like it’s in motion even when laying on a table is everything I love in a blade.
Question 5: What is your EDC and why?
Generally one of my own prototype folders – W2 blade with Hamon, Titanium frame Lock side with a black G10 face scale.
You can check out more of Stephan’s work at his website Fowlerblades.com. He also has a tremendous Social Media presence, with active Instagram (@fowlerblades), Twitter (@fowlerblades), and YouTube feeds.
As I mentioned above, Stephan does the occasional live broadcast via Twitch.tv as well. This was my first experience with this medium, and his Q&A was fun to watch.