Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tony Bose - Custom Knifemaker

Tony Bose comes from humble beginnings in the west-central Indiana town of Hymera. He suffered an injury to his right eye at the age of six and his family endured hard economic times throughout his childhood. When Tony became old enough to work, he encountered many obstacles due to his partial blindness. As it turned out, that childhood injury and his love of "pocket knives" became a catalyst in making Tony who he is today and his knives some of the most coveted hand made knives today.

Tony started making knives in 1972 after many years of repairing knives for extra money. He made his first folder in 1975. To date he has made over 48 different patterns based on knives from the old cutlery companies. Tony says, "I don't design knives, I bring old knives back from the grave." Tony's forte is just that; bringing old knives back to life but with all the improvements that modern materials and superior craftsmanship offer. Tony's reputation as a master cutler of traditional folding knives was recognized and rewarded in 1998 with his hiring as consultant to the W.R.Case & Sons Cutlery Co. Tony provides a level of expertise with pocketknives that could easily have been lost but he shares the information openly with anyone who wants to learn. Tony Bose, custom knife maker, & W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery have announced the “Norfolk” as the 2009 Case/Bose Collaboration knife. The first Norfolk was created by Joseph Rogers for the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London, England in the 1850s. With 75 blades, and 2-3 in length, it made quite the impression at the Great Exhibition. Roger’s knife company, Norfolk Knives, was located on Norfolk Street and that is where the name of the knife is derived from.

In production as a regular pocketknife of that era, the Norfolk came in numerous blade configurations, and various sizes, but always maintained its distinctive shape. That distinctive shape, along with the Wharncliffe blade, piqued Boses interest and resulted in his recreating this pattern with Case XX. The Case/Bose Norfolk will retain the classic shape of the original Norfolk in a length of 3”, with “Made in America” 154-CM steel Wharncliffe and clip blades, riding on a single back spring. Bose says hes always liked the Norfolk & Wharncliffe blade combination…”Its just handy to have around…you can do just about anything with it, good solid blade to use & being on a single back spring makes it very thin, easy to carry in your pocket. And then when you need the clip blade the “ease” in the handle makes it easy to access.”

In the Bose/Case Collaboration there will be “half stops” on the blades, a great safety feature but they also provide better action and thus the reason they are preferred by Bose. Bose particularly wanted to point out that the 154-CM steel used in these blades is “Made in America” with a Double Vacuum Smelting process (a process not normally used abroad). “This process makes the 154-CM cleaner than what you could get abroad, Theres no slag, and it finishes real nice without freckles or specks.” Being a tad particular about his steel, Tony is especially happy with this 154-CM.

“And hey did you know,” he adds, “this 154-CM is what they make jet engine parts out of. It will work at 1000º without losing its temper.” Impressive. Tony says its always a challenge to put two blades on a single back spring. One side of each blade must have an offset grind so blades can pass each other, but the end result is a thinner overall piece, making for a more comfortable knife in your pocket, which is a just and fitting description for the Norfolk, a very comfortable knife in your pocket.

While we had Tony cornered, we told him we already knew that making knives was his passion and his most favorite thing to do…BUT… what about when hes not making knives? What would be his passion? “Well,” he replied in that drawl that is undeniably Tony, “my vocation is making knives and my hobby is messing with knives. I just love them, love everything about them.” I have 48 patterns in my line drawings but I've probably made twice that many. Some that I have designed are the Lanny's Clip, Zulu Pear, and Panama Trapper.

I've studied old knives all my life, the early U.S.A. and Sheffield. That's what I look for, round handles with no hot spots that feel good in the hand. I designed the BackPocket and Wharncliffe trapper too

Now for any and all who know Tony…theres no surprise there. Thats why his knives are so highly sought after; each one has a bit of Tony within. Besides his obvious interest in knife making, Tony is also an avid sports fan.

Reese Bose

Reese Bose, the oldest of the three Bose kids, was an enterprising young man while he was still in school. He established a knife sharpening business in the third grade. The teacher would collect all the knives that the other children brought to school and hold them till school let out. It was clear even back then that Reese would be involved in the knife making business when he grew up. Tony says that, "I have helped a lot of guys figure out how to make pocket knives, but Reese is the only one I have taught". It's apparent that Reese has been taught well. Reese joined his father in the workshop in 1993 and has established himself as an accomplished knife maker.

Even though working together only several feet apart at Wilfred Works (that's what the boys call their knife shop), there is a difference in the way Reese goes about making a knife. Reese has a style that is uniquely his own and the attention to detail that serves him and his customers well. Reese's free time activities include horsing around (horseback riding and caring for his trusty pal Tonto), hunting, keeping his old pickup running, and starting fires with sticks and strings (which he has perfected).