Allen Surls has quite the pedigree, having taken stints apprenticing at both Fiddleback Forge and the Loveless knife shop. More impressive is this. Despite being trained by two makers with instantly recognizable and iconic design sensibilities, Allen has managed to create his own distinct style: a blend of his mentors’ influence with a classic Frontier-style aesthetic. In addition to making his own knives, he also acts as VP at Fiddleback, as well as President of the Georgia Knifemaker’s Guild. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Allen on a small level via our interactions at BLADE Show, and I am pleased to be able to feature him in today’s 5 From The Grinder!
First, in a few sentences, please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
My name is Allen Surls, owner/maker at W.A. Surls Knives. I began making knives in 2013 during a difficult time in my life. I had always wanted a custom knife, however, they always seemed to financially be out of reach. I decided to try my hand at it and was instantly hooked along with friends, then friends of friends, and so forth started requesting knives. My wife soon pushed me to quit my sales job in insurance and chase the my dream. Since then, I have never looked back.
What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
Several knifemakers have helped me along the way. The makers that have had the most influence in no particular order include Scott Davidson, Andy Roy, Jim Merritt, Bob Loveless, John Cohea, and several others. I would have to say Andy and Scott are true mentors for me.
What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
Hard to say. I love a simple dropped hunter or rustic styled hunter. I find they will do just about task needed in most situations.
What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
The next big thing in knifemaking is hard to predict. I have a strong feeling that the current tactical phase will begin to slow down and the return of more traditional or frontier styles will return to the spotlight. With the fast return and higher demand of “handmade” products, the traditional and frontier styled knives will offer more of a basis to a widened market of folks.
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?
Honestly, hard to lay a finger on one. I have been trying to carve my own path changing from style to style. Working as VP at Fiddleback Forge, I have greatly been influenced in the design of my models. However, I recently expanded and created more designs that I like to call the “frontier” line. I am a huge fan of natural materials and rustic themes, so the frontier style allows me to be more creative and expressive.
What is your EDC and why?
I currently EDC a Nomad. This is the perfect little fixed blade in my book and of course highlights my liking of the frontier style.
Now, pardon me while I go drool over his rustic Nessmuks!