That said, it is a testimony to Nichole’s work that I knew of neither of these points when I first approached her about participating. Her knives stand on their own and speak for themselves. I first saw one cross my feed on Facebook (the Bird&Trout above), really liked it (especially the handle), and dropped a line to the Lindstrand Custom Knives page on Facebook.
As I have mentioned before, I really like how the “5ftG” questions are just as applicable to a legend as they are to someone newly turned-pro, so I yield my soapbox to the lovely and talented Nichole Lindstrand.
First, in a few sentences, please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
Hi, my name is Nichole Lindstrand and I am an 18 year old knife maker. I am a Mechanical Engineering student, hunter, and avid competitive shooter. I was born and raised in rural Northern California. My father is a wildlife biologist and my mother a hunter; I grew up always being outside where a knife is a tool that is used all the time! My love for knife making began as a combination of my love for working with my hands and a passion for the outdoors. I made my first “knife” from an old bandsaw blade and a scrap piece of cherry due to simply being intrigued by knife making. Looking back, it’s a really ugly thing, but after I made it I was hooked! I started doing research and learning more and more about knife making. I soon found that custom knife making is, in a way, it’s own world and that there are people who do it professionally. I still have so much to learn, but I’m really enjoying the process and getting to see my skills improve with every knife I craft. I’m someone who loves a challenge- one of the reasons I love knife making is because I know I will never be done learning or being challenged by it. There will always be different techniques or designs to try and something new to experiment with.
Being out in the woods is my passion, I strive to make a functional piece of art that any outdoorsman or woman would be proud to carry.
Question 1: What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
Most of what I have learned has come from good ol’ trial and error and long nights out in the shop making sparks fly. I am a big fan of simple elegance in knife design; makers such as John Doyle and Shane Alexander truly capture that elegance in their work and have inspired quite a few of my blades. I am primarily self taught, but have been able to learn a lot through online bladesmithing forums and talking to experienced makers who have been willing to share their knowledge. Knife maker and leather worker Dave Ferry (Horsewright Clothing and Tack) has greatly helped me with with improving my leatherworking skills by sharing his knowledge and experience. John Doyle (although he lives 2,000 miles from me) has been kind enough to help coach me through some of the times where I have bit off a bit more than I can chew with a knife project. He has received a couple frantic phone calls from me going “Whoops, how on earth do I fix this?!?”.
Question 2: What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
Going back to the topic of simple elegance, my favorite knife design is a drop point hunter. There are so many different ways this design can be made and interpreted that allow the maker to really get creative with the design. It is simple and useful for many different tasks!
Question 3: What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
Knife making is a fast growing hobby, which is really neat, but it has also resulted in a lot of people assembling knife kits and calling them custom knives. Starting out that way is a good way to learn, but I hope to see a trend in people making everything on their own- that’s really what the craft is about. For me, my next big thing is making larger knives. I’ve always loved different types of bowies and rifleman’s knives. I am big into muzzleloading, the knives of that era are not only pieces of art, but history. Makers such as Wick Ellerbe do a phenomenal job of bringing the old designs back to life, something I hope to soon be able to do… that and a friend of mine keeps nagging me to make old styled bowies, so it will have to happen eventually!
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?
The knife that best exhibits me as a maker is my Wintu model. The Wintu is 8.25 inches overall and is a sleek yet rugged hunting knife. I have had several customers use it to process wild game and are very pleased with it’s performance. My favorite thing is to hear back from my customers and see my knives in action! Most of these knives are differentially heat treated, a process that yields a strong blade and (after lots of etching and polishing) shows a hammon line.
Question 5: What is your EDC and why?
My everyday carry knife is my 6.5 inch bird and trout knife. Making small knives comfortable to handle can be difficult because your hand doesn’t have as much material to hold; the way the handle on this knife is shaped allows for a very comfortable grip, while also being a small, easy to carry knife! I use 15n20 steel on most of these knives, they are razor sharp and the blades are slightly flexible- making for a great fish or small game processing knife!
The best place to check out more of Nichole’s work is on the Lindstrand Custom Knives Facebook page. She is still establishing herself as a professional maker, and I will update this post when she has a standalone website and Instagram. I am definitely going to keep following Nichole’s work, I have a feeling that she will be making waves in the coming years.