A visit with James Terrio (Terrio Handmade Knives)

David first met James Terrio (Terrio Handmade Knives) at a BeckerHead gathering. Since that time we have gotten to know him through Facebook primarily, but today I had the opportunity to visit him at his home (waaay on the other side of Knoxville from me). I have long wanted to begin a series of “shop visits” and am happy to have had the chance to meet James in person and get a chance to see him work.

Random side note: I was actually supposed to visit James last week, but a sinkhole opened that very morning on Alcoa Highway and threw a wrench in those plans. It actually took me close to 2 hours to get my kids to school and get home (normally a half-hour round trip). So we punted until today.


James’s grinder is actually a modified benchtop belt-sander.

James suggested that if I were to bring a couple of knives that I felt like re-profiling, he would show me how to do a little grinding. I had two perfect candidates. First, I had an Old Hickory that came from my “big box of knives”. I have been wanting to try modding one since David first wrote about it. I also had my Ontario TAK which had a slight crease in the blade from batoning through a particularly gnarly knot. Since I had already reviewed the knife and it wasn’t in my current rotation, I figured it would work as well.


My TAK had a slight crease in the edge


After a bit of discussion of what I wanted to do to the TAK, we decided to add a clip-point to it in addition to fixing the edge. James did this one, talking me through the process as he went. I was especially interested to learn about how the different sections of belt (at the wheel, the platen section, and the portions of the belt that are unsupported by the platen) removed stock at different rates, and how this can be used to one’s advantage.


We turned a TAK into a Buck 119

The stock TAK is a perfectly good knife, but it is kind of plain looking. While I usually favor drop-points, the TAK looks pretty sweet with a clip-point. The edge cleaned up fine as well.

My first try at grinding a knife

After watching James work, it was my turn on the Old Hickory. We drew out a more or less Kephart style profile, with just a hint of nessmuk-style upturn left over from the blade’s original profile. Taking care to keep the blade cool by constantly dipping it in water, I gradually crept up on the new shape. We centered the edge on the newly ground portion, and then refined it with increasingly finer belts. The results look good.


Not a bad first effort.

I need to put some scales on it, but I am pleased. I plan on using some walnut I have in my shop, and add some brass pins. Stay tuned, hopefully my results will look as good as the Old Hickory that David just rehandled. 

In addition to the grinding lesson, James and I talked about knives, knife design, and many other topics. Since he promises to do a 5 from the Grinder feature for us, I won’t steal his thunder by going into too many details. But I appreciate the opportunity to meet and spend some time with James, and look forward to sharing James’s work with you in the future.

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A visit with James Terrio (Terrio Handmade Knives)

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