One of my favorite aspects of our “5 from the Grinder” series is that the format is equally applicable to major names in the knife world like our two most recent participants Allen Elishewitz and Les George, as it is to less established makers who you likely have never heard of – until now of course.
I have been corresponding with Bryce Harding of Ronin Custom Blades for some time, mostly on Twitter. Bryce is an up-and-coming Australian knifemaker, whose khukris and other blades show a great balance of functionality and artistry.
I like that his answers show a distinctly Australian character, chronicling the challenges of being a knife-lover and maker in an increasingly hoplophobic Land Down Under.
But I will let Bryce explain things himself.
First, in a few sentences, please introduce yourself and let us know what led you to making/designing knives.
I’m Bryce Harding and I live in Darwin, which is in the Northern Territory in Australia. I took up knife making in 2011 after I came home from a trip away with this strange notion of becoming a knife maker. It’s been a slow progress but I’ve got myself a nice little back yard workshop and I’m now achieving really good results. I’m still a long way from being a great knife maker but progress is being made and each new knife I finish provides me with a great learning opportunity. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to travel to Nepal and make a great friendship with the owner of the Famous Gurkha Khukuri House in Kathmandu. I’ve been working with them since the beginning of 2015 to import and design traditional and modern Nepalese Khukuris for the serious Khukuri collectors out there.
Question 1: What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?
I’ve been following just about all the Australian knife making groups on Face Book and there are a number of great makers whose work I admire. If I had to choose one it is the work of Keith Fludder from New South Wales, Australia. I met Keith when I completed one of his knife making courses in 2015, he is a down to earth bloke and an excellent blade smith. I consider myself really fortunate to have been trained by Keith.
Question 2: What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?
My favorite knife from history is the Finnish Puukko knife. Its simple elegant design can take on an infinite number of handle designs making each one different and fun to make.
Question 3: What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?
In Australia knives are often viewed as something to be feared and policed which makes no sense at all. With the increase in popularity of knife making and collecting in Australia we may start to see increased negative attention drawn towards our craft. I think that the next big thing in the industry in Australia is the increasing popularity of Knife shows around the country. By showcasing knife makers work and educating the wider public about what knife makers are about, the stereotypes and negative opinions about knives will give way to a more informed and accepting audience.
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?
My go to knife design when it comes to forging is the drop point camp knife either as a full tang or hidden tang construction. This is what I worked on with Keith Fludder and is the design I try and forge each time to keep developing the skills I learned on my forging course.
To me the drop point is a great all round knife design and can be used for just about all of your outdoor hunting and camping needs.
Question 5: What is your EDC and why?
Australian laws are very strict when it comes to the carriage of ‘weapons’ in public, which means the open, or concealed carry of knives is pretty much out of the question. But if the laws were different the Finnish Puukko would be my knife of choice. I’m more partial to a fixed blade and the Puukko is small enough to sit comfortably on your belt and versatile enough to handle the day to day knife tasks required of it.