“5 from the Grinder” with Stephan Fowler

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.


 

If you are a knifemaker or know a knifemaker that would like to be featured in a future 5 from the Grinder post, please send an email to thetruthaboutknives@gmail.com

 

 

comments

  1. Sam L. says:

    Very nice!

  2. Joseph Rector says:

    Stephan is a good friend and mentor willing to impart his knowledge to anyone willing to learn. His skills are top notch and 1hour working with or learning from him will save you hours. Just dont be surprised if you ask him how would you fix this and he responds “hit it with a hammer”.

    Bring out the flamberge…

  3. Brian says:

    I would agree that the industry seems to be moving towards the classic big knife/bowie look again, with a modern twist. The style of course made famous by 80s movies and frontiers of old around the world. I also think it’s safe to say, something that we are going to see more of, because it seems to be the trend right now is last option style knives. In the sense that these will become the “fighting knives” for quite a while.

  4. cmeat says:

    recurve bowie does make sense in a combo functional (weight forward) chopping capable yet still very stabby way. these are extremely beautiful as well.
    this sours me on the straight bowie design.
    and thanks for teaching me what a hamon line is. it was easy to spot on these blades.

  5. McNamara says:

    Having met Fowler and seen his work at blade as well as his for sale work at Preppers Vault as well as Tru Prep I can say it’s come leaps and bounds after his injury recovery.

    The first one I owned I couldn’t get past the lopsided bevel, was a 60/40 so not quite on par for the price. However at blade I picked up a lovely recurve and love it. Really wanted his viking sword but couldn’t justify it, it was beautiful though. Curious to see what he makes on Forged in the short period of time, would enjoy seeing him him make the final sword (Zweihander I believe is this week’s one).

    P.S the link to his Web page needs a spell check.

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“5 from the Grinder” with Stephan Fowler

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