“Making a knife is easy when you don't know how but very hard once you do.” Al Garnto.
I make knives & sheaths that have an old-world look to them. They are user knives. All my knives are hand forged. I do every step of the process myself – from the first hammer blow to the final stitch in the sheath.
My hand forged knives are known for their wicked sharpness -- they keep a fine edge!
I make a hammered-out knife with the raw hammer marks still visible -- there is no Trip Hammer run by an electric plug, just a good hammer and a strong arm used to carefully form each knife.
All my knives are made from high carbon steels. 90% of them are made from recycled steel like coiled springs, leaf springs, tool steel, and so on. Very seldom do I buy stock steel to make my knives. (For my fellow technical nerds -- the descriptions of the steels I use are located at the bottom of page. See below.)
My sheaths are made from deer skin and rawhide stretched over 8 oz. leather. They are decorated with deer antler beads, tin cones, and other natural materials. My sheaths are tough beyond all measure, and the knife fits snug! No matter how long you hang upside down in a tree, you will not lose your knife. I am very particular about my rawhide sheaths. My knives fit securely in their sheaths and can take anything nature can dish out.
Since I am a hunter, I put knives to good use. When I am out in the fields and woods, I learn from experience what I want in a knife. I also listen to feedback from other hunters, some with over fifty years of experience.
I strive to make a knife that is a natural extension of the human hand with an aggressive cutting edge. It must also be well balanced. Whether used to open the daily mail or to open up a big grizzly bear, my knives will get the job done.
Making my living as a professional artist and kinetic sculptor for over 28 years, I can say that I understand what appeals to the eye. Some of the collectors that buy my knives will use them as display pieces only. That is fine, but if a survival situation arises or there is a need to skin out a buffalo, that attractive display piece can quickly become a knife that will do the job.
In short, a Garnto knife & sheath not only has eye-appeal but can be carried and used for generations to come. As the famous knife maker, Bob Loveless said, “They have to look so good you want to pick them up, and feel so good you don't want to put them down”.
* (High) Carbon Steel - generally, The American Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) scale is used by knife manufacturers. The most commonly used steel for functional knives is plain carbon steel, which is designated by the first two digits 10 - and a number from 01 to 99 afterwards, with each point signifies that .01% of that steel is carbon.
For example, steel classified as AISI 1045 has 0.45% carbon content, 1060 is 0.60 carbon, etc.
Steels with a carbon content between 0.05 to 0.15 are considered to be LOW CARBON STEEL, and 0.16 to 0.29 MILD STEEL - neither of which are suitable for a functional knife (as any knife with a carbon content of less than 0.40% can't really be hardened and given a decent heat treatment, although mild steel can and often is used for fittings).
The most popular three types of carbon steel used in hand forging knives are 1045, 1060 and 1095.
* Coiled Spring/1095 Carbon Steel - I use mainly 1095. The main advantage to knives made from 1095 carbon steel is that they can take and keep a much keener edge than knives with lower carbon content. The disadvantage is that they can sometimes be a little on the brittle side - so durability is traded off for edge retention.
It doesn't mean that a knife made from 1095 carbon steel is exceptionally fragile, but it is simply nowhere near as flexible as the lower carbon content knives.
So it just depends on what you are looking for in a blade. I like a knife that has a little flexibility but can keep a very sharp edge in order to skin many deer before needing to be sharpened. I am not looking for a knife that I can use as a pry bar.
These knives by Al Garnto are hand-forged and made from 1095 high carbon steel. Special attention is payed to the hammer blows during the forging process to resemble deer tracks down both sides of the blade…hence the name, The Deer Trot Skinner.
Hand forged knife by Al Garnto with burnt stag handle (pictured above and below)
These high carbon steel knives by Al Garnto are created from coiled shock absorber springs. Al also makes fine Native American/Frontier style rawhide and beaded sheaths.
Teepee series - knives and sheaths by Al Garnto