COLUMBUS — A local man recently received what for a knife maker is a great honor.
One of Phil Evans’ knives, a Damascus steel Bowie knife was included in a book which comes out once a year called the “World’s Greatest Knives.”
Evans said there are only 500 or 600 knives out of the tens of thousands of custom knives made each year included in the book and “I was fortunate enough to be picked.”
Evans, who has been making knives since 1995, said he has his blades professionally photographed and the photographer sent it in to editor Joe Keitzman without telling him, so the honor was something of a surprise.
Unlike some makers, Evans says he makes his to use, in fact skinning knives are his most popular blades.
He also makes fighting knives and utility knives, several of which have wound up with combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“A mother came up to me one day and told me the knife I made saved her son’s life,” Evans said softly.
Evans said he has two basic goals right now. First to become an American Blade Society master smith. According to Evans there are only 134 in the entire world and only two in Kansas — he is currently a journeyman which is a difficult task in it’s own right — but the master test involves several knives which have to be examined by other master smiths and must be perfect, as well as other tests.
His other goal is for knife making to be his only job. He currently works at the Pittsburg Wal-Mart, but says he’s recently cut back to only four days a week to focus more on his knife making.
He works with a variety of materials, from hand-made Damascus steel — a process which involves layering several different types of steel to make a particularly good knife, to stainless. He also uses many different types of material for handles from wooly mammoth ivory to exotic woods to whale bone.
“I like to use weird stuff,” he said, holding up a walrus penis bone which will someday become a knife handle.
Many of the materials look dull and plain until polished when the underlying beauty comes out.
Evans knives are all custom made and start at around $175 and can run as much as $1,500. In fact he said he’s currently working on a set of knives which will cost their buyer around $4,000.
Money is not the object for Evans, however, so much as making beautiful knives for people to use.
“I make these to use,” he said. “I made a hunting knife for a guy who was going on an elk hunt, and I told him ‘do me a favor and use it.’”
For more information on Evans knives go to www.glenviewforge.com.