Sam Stoner makes knives by hand at his Out Back Forge with no electricity. Kentucky Life travels to Allen County to learn how he does it.
Sam Stoner is a master knife maker, and his knives are considered among the best available. He lives in rural Allen County in a large Mennonite community near Scottsville.
Stoner showed Kentucky Life host Doug Flynn the process of making a hunting knife. He begins by getting the fire up to a high enough temperature so that he can work with the steel.
“I’ll determine the size and the shape of the blade at this point through hammering and shaping it,” he said. “I’m judging my temperatures just by sight. It all boils down to color.” He said he was trying to get the fire up to the 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once all the metal is at the right temperature, Stoner takes it to the anvil to begin shaping it.
No two knives are exactly alike. “Because of all the individual steps, as you’ll see, that go into each knife, and the designs and styles that I use and the equipment and everything that I use, there’s no way to exactly duplicate one. “
Stoner uses no electricity. “Everything in here and all my equipment is powered by two horses,” he said.
The two draft horses stand on a treadmill of Stoner’s design. “So when I’m ready to start using any piece of equipment in here, I have to release this brake. And they start to walk and the treadmill starts turning. And from there everything is belt-driven.” He engages different pieces of equipment by putting different belts on or taking them off.
Stoner can make any kind of knife. “I try to be very versatile. I try to let the customer pretty much decide what they want when they come in and how they want it, because they’re not able to get that just anywhere.”
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2117, which originally aired on May 14, 2016. View the full episode here.