Reader Submission Contest: “The Story of My Knife”

I will announce a formal end-date to our 2017 Reader Submission Contest soon, with things wrapping up sometime 2 or 3 weeks from now. So there is still time to send a piece to and try to win your share of our prize pool. You can read about that and get all the details of the contest here.


My Knife

by Mike M.

This knife is unique. It is one of a kind. There is no other knife like it. Is it the pinnacle of the knife maker’s art? Hardly. Epoxy is visible around the scales. The jimping is uneven. It takes near super-human strength to pull it from its kydex sheath. But I’d forsake all my other knives before giving this one up. Let me tell you why.

I’m a one-man handyman/remodeler. Every so often I get acquaintances asking if their sons could work for me. I usually decline, given my demand for detail and lack of time to instruct a new hand. However, about five years ago at my children’s school a mother asked if I’d be interested in her son working for me. I was inclined to to refuse, but she offered to introduce him to me the following week. I caught sight of him before we were introduced and knew he was unlike most other 16 year olds. In one pocket he carried a folder, in the other a flashlight. Something I’d been doing for years. Recognizing this as sign he was likely a capable young man, I offered him a job on the spot. His name is Jac Wildrick. It was one of the best business decisions I’ve made. He was quick to learn, had an eye for detail that most lack, and was courteous to my clients. It didn’t matter that he didn’t have a car and I had to pick him up, he was the perfect right-hand man.

Like myself, Jac liked to be prepared for any situation and carried a go-bag wherever he went. One of the tools he had in that bag was a knife he made from an old file. It wasn’t pretty, but it could get the job done. Though capable in many trades, metalworking has remained a distant desire for me, and I was amazed that a teen half my age had the ingenuity and drive to delve into what can be a complex world. It would be an example of much better things to come.

After only working with me (I can hardly say “for me”) for about six months, Jac and his family had to move out of state. Devastated would be too strong a word, but I sorely missed having him on the job. We kept it touch occasionally. He spoke of a desire to begin making knives and sought my advice on starting a business. As I was building a home at the time and could have used a hand, I offered him a job and a place to stay. While grateful, he declined so that he could continue to focus on knife making.

Several months later, his mom calls to tell me she’s in town and has something for me. We meet and she presents me with one of Jac’s first creations – a fixed blade drop-point in a kydex sheath, all made by him, by hand. Like its creator it is a practical knife – capable of striking a ferro rod, carving a tent peg, or being lashed to a pole. I hadn’t comprehended what an impact I had had on him while he worked with me, but this was a sign of his gratitude. I was deeply honored.

This knife is always with me, a permanent tool in my go-bag. It isn’t the only knife I have, or the best, but now you know why it would be the last one I would give up.

If you want to see how far Jac has come since my knife, you can see them here. It’s the least I can do to show my gratitude.


  1. Sam L. says:

    He’s gotten goooooood!

  2. John Oppliger says:

    Great story, and admirable job of providing guidance and encouragement to a young man.

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Reader Submission Contest: “The Story of My Knife”

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