Creative Man: Meet The Maker Series - Luke Andrew Cole
By Riley Burns, 11/11/2020
Luke Cole is a Brisbane based maker in his late thirties who has been a trade qualified jeweller for twenty years but his love for knifemaking began in his home town of Tamworth in northern nsw where he joined the local blacksmithing club while in high school.
Luke’s interest in knives began with looking at historical knives and looking through his father's antiques collection and those of friends. He made his first knives in the metal work department at school. Luke credits Lee Knives of Tamworth as an early inspiration.
Since then he’s been influenced by makers like Steve Fillicetti and J Doyle Knives whose work is clean and more traditional in style.
The time between Luke’s first knives at fourteen and his most recent at thirty nine involved a large gap but he’s now got four or five on the go. Luke’s most recent knife for the Knife in the Hat challenge included an inset diamond.
Luke is currently the treasurer of QMAC and the club organised a trip to South Africa last year for six weeks and some of the group did the pre ABS course at Heavin Forge while Luke attended an engraving workshop with Jan Hendrik Viljoen which was amazing. They visited Black Dragon Forge and Luke did a course with Henning Wilkinson and a folding knife course at Three Leg Dog Knives with Riaan Manser.
Luke identifies at a wood hoarder and he feels this has led to him being a hidden tang knife maker to keep the amazing timbers on display and also because he feels the style is more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing. Luke told me a story about buying a big piece of Australian Ebony with a large section of heartwood at the Maleny Wood faire for a bargain and still doesn’t quite believe his luck further evidence of his wood hoarding ways.
I wanted to make sure I asked him about his favourite timbers to work with given the above, he answered without hesitation; Arizona Desert Ironwood for it’s contrast and chatoyance, Curly Tassie Blackwood (and most blackwood) as it stabilises really well and dries well, Spalted Sassafras when stabilised properly, Banksias and Grevilias if not spalted and more exotically Chittum Burl which has the golden tones you sometimes see in Desert Ironwood but is rare see because they need to use dynamite to extract the root burl because it only grows in limestone.
Luke likes to pay attention to the fit and finish of the knife. He credits his jewelry background for such gems as “If something needs to be polished, it should actually be polished”.
Luke draws far more knives than he makes at this stage and mostly draws chefs knives and bowies or fighters like the ones he used to see in knives illustrated in particular a copy with Bob Loveless’s Deleware Maid on the cover.
Luke thinks his trade in jewelry has insulated him from the worst of the frustration in knifemaking as he’s become used to projects melting literally in front of him, he finds the most frustrating part of knifemaking and the most rewarding are two sides of the same coin when nothing fits together it’s awful when it fits perfectly it’s amazing!
Luke likes to work in both stainless and carbon steel each in their own application, Carbon steel is in his opinion easier to finish and clean up but the ease of maintenance on stainless steel knives is hard to argue with, RWL and 440C are particular favourites. He’s moving now into tool steels like W2.
Luke has set himself the challenge of making more folding knives in the future and refining his processes there, he hopes to do a class with another australian maker in the next few years.
Luke uses knifemaking as a relaxation from his job which is effectively full time making, he finds it’s different enough while using similar skills that you can get some out of making something.
Luke wants readers to take away these three pieces of advice;
- Do it the hard way, don’t go out and buy all the tools straight away, get a peice of simple steel and do it the long way.
- Buy a Disc Grinder, It’s the best thing ever.
- One of the best things you can learn is how to file flat properly, if you can file flat then your file work will improve dramatically.