Today I would like to introduce you to Russell Reece and his company Cohutta Knife! I met Russell at BLADE Show earlier this month – he was one of the talented apprentices at the Fiddleback Forge table – and his work speaks for itself. I am currently testing his Bearpen model for review here, and the quality of the blade is right up there with his mentor’s. We’re happy to have him on today’s edition of 5 From The Grinder. Enjoy!
First, in a few sentences, please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
My name is Russell Reece and I’m from the small town of Ellijay, Georgia. I have spent the majority of my free time over the years camping, fishing, hunting and hiking. From age 6 I have had a knife in my pocket and a fascination with anything that cuts. For years I had passing thoughts of trying my hand at making knives, particularly after using blades of poor design, but never pursued it. In the winter of 2016 I randomly struck up a conversation with one of Andy Roy’s old apprentices, Ron Solomon, while browsing through old axe heads at a flea market. After talking for a bit we made a deal that he would show me how to make a knife if I taught him to properly haft an axe. Ron walked me through one knife and I immediately ordered a grinder and started on my own. In January 2018 I started working full time at Fiddleback Forge and the rest is history.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
Where to start on this…. Andy Roy is clearly a big influence. There are very few makers out there that have combined comfort, functionality, and visual appeal like Andy. There are plenty more that have influenced me, but he has been the biggest. As for mentors, Andy Roy, Ron Solomon, Allen Surls, Dylan Fletcher, and all the members of the Georgia custom knife makers guild. The amount of knowledge, skill and willingness to help new makers in this group never ceases to amaze me.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
For a folding knife that’s an easy one. Sodbuster. Simple and functional. There is just something I love about single blade slip joints. I don’t think I can pick just one fixed blade. There are too many great designs and makers.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
That’s a tough one. Right now the knife industry is booming. New makers are everywhere. Shows like Forged In Fire, Naked and Afraid, and all of the other bushcraft/survival shows have brought a lot of new interest to the knife world. I won’t speculate on which way it’s going to go in the next few years but hopefully it continues to grow.
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?
Yet another tough one. I make working knives. I do my best to put function and comfort above everything else in my designs. What good is a great looking knife if it’s uncomfortable or lacks control in use? I can’t pick just one but the Ocoee, Bearpen, and the Strebig family (micro, mini, full size) are my favorites.
What is your EDC and why?
My edc consists of a GEC Bullnose in addition to an Ocoee or mini Strebig. I’ve had a sodbuster style knife in my pocket since age 6 and I doubt that will change soon. The other two just work for me. They fill the gap between a full size bushcraft knife and the super small fixed blades perfectly. So far I haven’t ran into anything this combo can’t handle. Carving, food prep, splinter removal, cutting boxes, cordage or anything else you would use a knife for. If I’m planning on being in the woods, a small hatchet or folding saw handle what the knives can’t.
If you are interested in a Cohutta Knife, you can find him on Facebook and Instagram with the following links.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the introduction to Mr. Reece. I know I have, and am excited to see what he will come up with in the future!