John has always been a metals guy. As a child, he was a tinkerer, taking things apart to see how they work, and then trying to put them back together again.
His next step was learning all about cars, beginning as a young teenager. He made auto mechanics his profession for many years, specializing in European makes and models. John has strong preferences about cars, and of course, prefers older models over the newer, computer-filled versions. Old cars and motorcycles, as John says, "have soul." He has written a book, The Wankel Rotary Engine, which was published by McFarland and Company, in 2001. Currently, he is working on other writing projects related to his knowledge of the automotive industry.
In 2001, John ventured into a blacksmithing meeting in Winston-Salem, NC to learn about this trade which he hoped to make his new profession. As fate would have it, he soon met Tommy McNabb, a renowned knife-maker, and Tommy took John under his wing and began teaching him about the art of knife-making. Tommy is a tough teacher, never cutting John any slack, but all of those hard-as-steel lessons paid off!
Since then, he has been making knives in his own shop in Stokes County, NC since 2004, but he still visits and works with Tommy when it's time to make damascus steel.
John taught himself how to make sheaths, and each of his knives comes with its own sheath to protect both the owner and the knife. He also has learned engraving, having taken a week-long, intensive course in this skill at Montgomery County Community College in Troy, NC.
John is a member of the North Carolina Custom Knifemakers Guild, and in the summer of 2007, he gave a demo on making tomahawks at the Guild's summer weekend meeting. He recently gave a very informative demo on silver wire inlay at the Guild's January 2009 meeting.
John won the Best in Show award at the Triad Cutlery Club knife show in August 2008.
In January 2009, John retired from auto repair to expand his shop and work on knives full-time.
John's knife shop in 2005