The UK Knife Show 2012
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- Last updated: 15/12/2016
This is my second year of attending this show, and it was just as impressive this year as it was last. Some familiar faces, some new and one or two absences, but overall a highly impressive display.
A Good Turn Out
The show was again held at the Tortworth Court Four Pillars Hotel in Wooten under Edge, Gloucestershire. The building is always impressive and you can only imagine what it must have been like as a private home. As I said last year the fact that it is only a few minutes from the M5 makes it an ideal venue.
On arrival, I spoke to Mike Keogh from Mikes Knives, who is one of the organisers. Mike was accommodating as ever. and told me to go ahead and “help myself” to pictures. I always make a point of introducing myself to each of the smiths / stallholders and asking if there is anything in particular they would like me to feature, they are after all experts in their field, who have put the time and effort into producing the highest quality pieces with which they hope to entice the buyers.
Walking round just after the doors had opened at 9.00am, there did not seem to be as many people around as there was last year, this may have been due to the weather the night before the show, which was terrible, as two hours later the venue was really filling up fast and I was glad I had managed to see the various seller before the rush began.
Once again there was more to see than just completed knives, with polishing and forging equipment also on sale as well as some both interesting and stunning handle materials, so I will again try to give you an impression of the show and some of the items that really took my fancy.
This year there were some exhibitors in an adjacent marquee, and this was where I headed first. There were only a couple of stands in the marquee, but they were well worth the visit, as both had some stunning offerings in Damascus steel.
One piece that was really unusual was on the Perkin Knives stand; this was a solid steel knife and handle. It was heavy, but not unmanageably so, and was something else to look at, as were pretty much all the knives on the stand. Right next door were Azzuro who had a range of knives from Turkey, India and a number of other countries. There were also some impressive short swords, which are really the Asian equivalent to the traditional Dirk from my home land of Scotland. However, when I asked which blade they would like me to photograph, they instantly offered me a beautiful looking skinning knife, with a wood and brass handle. Again, the whole stand was a mouth-watering display of Damascus steel.
The Main Hall
My next stop was the main hall and with Guy Stainthorp, who I met last year. This year he had a series of fixed blade knives that he was understandably very pleased with. These were in a range of styles, but all stunningly finished.
Close by was Raven Armoury, where Simon Fearnhamm had another impressive display of swords, including a boxed Scimitar, complete with a miniature of the blade. I was able to restrain myself this year and so there was no repeat of last years Claymore waving. Just as well, as it always unsettles the locals!
My next port of call was Penfold Knives, who had a wide range of fixed blade knives, both in Damascus and conventional steel. Mick Penfold is a stalwart of the UK and international custom knife scene, and his wife Sue helps organise this show – particularly the competition side.
Exotic Hardwoods had the most impressive display of very reasonably priced woods, not just for handles, as some of the pieces were big enough to make scabbards for both knives and swords.
Brian Richards had some really nice working blades, particularly good was a neat brushed fi nish blade with a hardwood handle. Right next to him was Stuart Wilson, who had an extremely varied display of his work on his stand, and was particularly pleased with his Damascus blade and leather scabbard.
Next along was Steve Nowacki of White Tiger Custom Knives. I am a bit of a fan of Steve’s work, and one of these days I think I will have to commission a blade from him. Steve has taken his rough/smooth design on a couple of steps since last year and had a very nice Bowie with a leather and beaded scabbard. Like myself, Steve is a martial arts and Japanese sword enthusiast, and I could have easily passed several hours talking swords, smiths and techniques with him.
Ferraby Knives were a new name to me, and they had some really nice blades on display; the engineer in me was rather taken by the wavy tang on many of the knives and the finish on all the knives was flawless.
Wayne Potter and Andy Martland had stands right next to one another, and both had really nice displays of working knives, with a smattering of Damascus in evidence in Wayne’s cabinet. Wayne and I had a chat last year about practical knives and all of the blades in both displays looked like they could really earn their keep.
It’s not all about the newly made blades at the show, there were a number of stands with antique as well as working and utilitarian blades too, including once again a few axes. What is it with me an axes? Don’t answer that!
My knife of the show was on the Pegasus Knives stand. It is actually made from a Damascus offcut, and I have no idea what it actually is, neither for that matter did Pegasus, but it looked very small, sleek and mean to me, and would make a very interesting piece to have in your collection.
Once again, local smith and Tanto man Paul Baker was at the show. Paul has a new line of very lightweight titanium and wood folding blades that really do weigh almost nothing. He did of course have a couple of his Tantos, with some collectable and working blades on display too.
Now, every so often, someone says something that really takes you back. This happened to me on Ratel Knives stand when the word giraffe was mentioned. All the bone handle material that Ratel sell is collected giraffe, zebra and wildebeest bone. I did ask how the bone is sourced, and was assured that it is all collected from the wild by biologists, so you don’t have to worry about animal stocks being depleted, but a giraffe bone handle has got to be quite a talking point for any knife maker or collector. Ratel also had some really appealing carving knife and fork sets, both in Damascus and plain steel, rather appropriate for a Sunday I thought.
No visit would be complete without a chat with Alan Wood. As always Alan’s work is exemplary and he chose three blades for me, which he is particularly pleased with. I know our Editor is a fan of Alan’s work; it’s not hard to see why.
Last but be no means least was a visit to Mikes Knives stand. Mike has exclusive distributorship of the Great Eastern Cutlery range of folding knives including GEC, Tidioute and Northfi eld knives. The range is extensive and there are some very pretty looking folders there, as well as some sturdy looking working knives.
I said last year that you start to run out of superlatives at a show like this. That was even more true this year, as the smiths had noticeably refi ned their art and all of the knives I looked at were fi nished to an amazingly high standard.
Once again it would be almost impossible to pick one blade that I would have wanted to bring home with me; Steve Norwaki’s rough/ smooth combination continues to appeal, Guy Stainthorpe had a stunning little fixed blade, that had a hint of a tanto about it, and then there was the… whatever it was on Pegasus’ stand, which has to be the prettiest and at the same time, one of the most wicked little blades I have seen, rather like a Medieval scalpel, if such a thing ever existed.
Finally, I have again to thank all the smiths who kindly opened up their display cases for me to take photos, and once again I have to say that regardless of whether you are a knife enthusiast or not, if you are within sensible driving distance of this exhibition, it should be a must in your diary. I managed not to spend any money again this year, but I don’t think I can hold out much longer. GM