KNIFE-making, whether as a hobby or full-time job, can be very rewarding, especially when one sees his or her smithing or designs reaching new levels of mastery.
StarMetro talks to two people, one a skilled hobbyist and the other a professional knifemaker, on what got them interested in turning pieces of metal into well-crafted tools for the outdoors, kitchen or tactical use.
Kumar Muthusamy of Vicious Tools is a banker by profession and a knife-making hobbyist who started off by being an avid knife collector.
However, the customs often seized his knife orders from overseas, making Kumar a regular at Sepang where he would have to explain his shipment. “This got tiresome, and I felt I could make the same knives at home. So, I started with an old file which took six hours to file down.
The knife was never finished, but I kept it as a memento of where I started,” he said.
After that, Kumar bought The $50 Knife Shop, a book by Wayne Goddard, and he started buying basic equipment like the O1 and O2 steel.
“With these, I made a bunch of knives, sold them and reinvested the proceeds in more serious equipment.
“At the same time, I bought books on heat treatment and knife designs, watched videos, and made notes. It was like studying for another degree!” he enthused.
“I started making knives through stock removal where one takes steel bars and remove material until the desired blade profile and knife shape is achieved, and I’ve gone on to do CNC (computer numerical control) machining,” Kumar shared.
Since he has a full-time bank job, he fulfils his orders on weekends and public holidays.
“These days, I do limited runs of my own design, and aside from Malaysia as my main market, I’ve also sold my pieces to collectors in Europe, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa,” Kumar said.
“Although I do mostly tactical and outdoor knives, where I’m inspired by famous American knifemakers such as the late Bob Loveless and Allen Elishewitz, I’ve also ventured into kitchen knives and also folding ones,” he added.
For Faris Zulkifli of Fursan Blades, a full-time knifemaker and former professional chef, his interest in blades ever since he was young drove him to become a professional chef later in life. “That’s because I got to work with knives, and I was even known to sharpen the kitchen knives till they were very sharp.
“I started working with scrap metal, even though that is the incorrect metal to work with. But it’s a mistake I feel I had to make to start somewhere,” Faris reminisced.
From then, he started learning to make blades properly, visiting other knifemakers who were also working with higher-end steel, and in 2015, he opened Fursan Blades.
“Now, we’ve grown to three people – my two assistant blacksmiths and I – so we do both production runs, and people come to me with custom designs as well,” he said.
These days, however, his schedule is so full that the minimum waiting time for custom designs is five months.
Aside from limited runs and custom designs from clients, Faris also has a range of production knives ranging from just below RM100 to over RM600 for the bigger choppers.
“Because I do knives mainly for outdoors and general purpose, my design philosophy focuses on the blade’s practicality and comfort, so balance and how it feels in the hand is important.
“As to whether I watch the History Channel’s Forged in Fire, yes, I used to keep up with it, and I was even asked to participate, but I had to decline because I wasn’t well-versed in creating Damascus Steel.
So that’s an area I’d like to grow in, and of course, as I expand the forge down the road,” he said.