Meet The Maker #3: PJ Hunt
Next up our Meet the Maker is PJ Hunt, who has done some great work in a relatively short period of time, and definitely giving his IT hands a workout!
The question I get more often than not from friends and family these days is “What’s with the knives?”
I tend to publish my attempts at knifemaking on my Instagram and Facebook, so the question is a valid one.
I am a 46 year old, IT professional who moved from Ireland to Australia 11 years ago. Apart from butchering the edge of my Scanpan chefs’ knife, my exposure to knives in general was limited to the kitchen, and maybe the garage, when I needed to slice up a box for the recycle bin.
Roll back to about 18 months ago, when I decided to chop a lamb leg with the aforementioned Scanpan chefs’ knife. Bad idea, needless to say the lamb bone came off the best, and left the blade with some healthy chips in it.
I called up a local knife sharpening crowd and they quoted me $200 to reprofile and sharpen the knife…I declined.
So, I started Googling, as you do and stumbled across www.creativeman.com.au and ordered a kit. Damascus blade, and make your own handle. It turned out great, so I thought, why not try and make something from scratch.
So back to www.creativeman.com.au I went, and ordered a make your own set. I was hooked.
I started ordering steel, handle materials, made my own heat-treating setup, bought a cheap Ryobi belt sander and went full Mad Max on it till it became a mini knife creating system.
Then the pain set in. The pain of bevels, plunge lines, scratches, and handle finishes. The endless hours in the garage, sanding, resanding, changing blade profiles because I screwed up, more sanding and yet more sanding. But you know what? It was worth it. To end up with a functional, tough and hardworking tool like a camp knife, is well worth the effort.
Around the same time, I had been searching for some other activities to fill the void that The Black Dog tends to bound into, and discovered Krav Maga, and later, Muay Thai in my local martial arts club. www.smac.net.au
By the way, if you or a loved one is being visited by The Black Dog, please visit beyondblue.org.au
So, one day, my Kyoshi, Mattew Ball suggested I create a perpetual trophy for our Krav Maga student of the year, hence the birth of my first Bowie, along with a presentation stand and distinctive sheath.
This knife pushed me to try a long list of new things, hidden tang, Damascus etching, etc etc
If I had one piece of advice to give to a new knifemaker, try new things. Go and ask someone if they would like a knife made. Start the creative process and try to produce something that the person would like. Its sure to get you to use different materials, different processes, albeit without the pressure of making for a cost or a price.
Here are two examples: 1) I heard one of my fav New York comedians mention on his podcast that he liked a particular type of knife, so I reached out to him on Twitter, he responded, and it ended up with me creating, and sending 3 knives and sheaths with ferro rods to New York.
Progress of 3 knives
2) My friend who is an up and coming chef, suggested a mushroom knife. Again, a totally new process and another project that pushed my boundaries. That little knife is now with her in Paris.
What I’m trying to say here is if we sit in our garage/shed and tinker, we will remain inside our safe zone. Let’s get out there and make it happen.
From a materials perspective, I, like many others tend to stick to the 1075/1084 side of things, the ease of working and heat treating is fantastic. It’s a bonus that these steels make awesome camping/survival type knives.
Handle materials are decided by the type of knife, time of day, and the Moons waxing. Seriously though, I am tending to lean towards more synthetic materials these days. Presentation style knives, still lend themselves to natural woods, however if I want a tough knife for the bush then G10 etc has got to be considered.
Take this advice with a pinch of salt of course, I’m sure there will be many more episodes of this series with words of wisdom from much more experienced makers, and as in life, take all, or none of it to heart.
You can find me at pjhunt.org