JESSAMINE COUNTY, KENTUCKY (WDKY)– Pounding a hammer against an anvil can be hard work, but the ringing rhythm is a joyful sound for Nick Peel.
“It’s just something I’ve gotta do. I’ve gotta make a knife,” he said. “Whether I sell it, give it away, whatever. It’s just alsways nagging at me to make another knife.”
He’s been making knives since he was a teenager, teaching himself how to shape steel bars into blades of many shapes and sizes.
“Then there wasn’t no Internet, so I had to get a little info here and there and most of it was wrong.”
But with lots of trial and error, and many irons in the fire, he became an expert, making the kind of knives that should last several lifetimes.
“Everybody, from somebody in the country to someone living in the city, needs a knife,” he said. “It’s one thing we’re always gonna have to have.”
Nick says the secret is in the tempering. His knives go in and out of heat at least seven times until they have just the right amount of flex.
“If it’s hard, it’ll chip. If it’s soft it will bend and stay bent.”
It can take a lot time before they’re sharp enough to meet his standard and get his stamp– his initials and a cross. His hobby has forged his faith.
“It’s amazing to me,” Nick said. “I can take these pieces of scrap metal, little pieces of brass and leather, and I can pull that all together and make something of worth. I think that’s what God wants to do with a person.”
Nick spends many hours a day in this work shed making things of worth– not because he has to, but because he wants to. When you make knives, life is never dull.
“It makes you feel good that you made something someone is going to keep and treasure.”
He makes 25 to 30 knives per year and has sold them all over the world. To see more of his work, go to his page on Shutterfly or check out Nick Peel’s Kentucky River Blades on Facebook.