Two Longtime Knifemakers Join The Elite Of Cut
Tony Bose and Mel Pardue are the latest inductees into the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall Of Fame®. The two living legends of the custom knife industry were voted in by sitting members of the Hall Of Fame, and will be formally inducted at the BLADE Magazine Awards reception during the BLADE Show June 7-9 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
When Tony Bose first started building knives, he asked a maker to share a knife pattern with him. When the maker refused, Tony decided that whenever anyone asked him for a pattern he would give it to him, and he always has, sending patterns all over the world.
Few have done more in mentoring and teaching their fellow makers through instruction and by example than Tony, who is perhaps the world’s best-known contemporary custom maker of traditional slip joints. It’s never been his mission to simply make knives. Instead, he aspires to “bring knives back from the dead.”
His love of knifemaking began in 1972, when he made his first custom fixed blade from an industrial hack-saw blade. As he put it, “I’ve been trying to make a knife that I’m completely happy with ever since. It hasn’t happened yet.”
He worked for years perfecting his skills before pursuing a full-time custom knifemaking career in 1990. His impact was quickly felt when he won Best Folder at the 1994 East Coast Custom Knife Show and also at the 1995 BLADE Show.
In 1998, Tony began working as a custom collaborator with Case. Since 1999, among the knives he has designed for Case are collaborations of vintage patterns made in limited quantities on an annual basis. One such offering was the Arkansas Hunter, winner of the BLADE Magazine 2008 Collaboration of the Year.
Tony’s a crowd favorite at Case consumer events, knife shows and swap meets across the country, and he willingly shares his techniques with other makers to keep the art of making traditional knives alive for future generations. He’s also taught classes on knives and knifemaking at BLADE University during the BLADE Show, and for many years made and donated knives for silent auctions at BLADE Shows to raise money for the old National Knife Collectors Association.
This past year, Tony was awarded the fourth annual Aldo and Edda Lorenzi Award at the BLADE Show for his many contributions as a mentor to knifemakers worldwide.
Mel Pardue made his first knife in 1952 and has fashioned them on a regular basis since 1956. A voting member of the Knifemakers’ Guild for almost four decades, he served on the Guild’s board of directors in various capacities for 14 of those years, the final 10 as vice president. He received the Ron Little Award in 1992 and is a past winner of the Guild’s Red Watson Friendship Award.
He is the first person without membership in the American Bladesmith Society to teach at the William F. Moran School of Bladesmithing, where he conducted classes on how to make folders. He has taught the same subject at the Batson Bladesmithing Symposium, and has held seminars and classes in the Pardue shop for over 40 years. His numerous designs for Benchmade Knives have been among the company’s most popular and best-selling models for many years.
In 2016, Mel was presented with the BLADE Show’s Aldo and Edda Lorenzi Award for his outstanding work in teaching and mentoring his fellow makers in the art of building knives.
As one nominator noted, “Mel exemplifies the pure definition of a custom knifemaker. He is a craftsman of the highest caliber who hand makes his world-renowned knives, one by one, without the use of modern technology. He embodies the highest level of personal and professional ethics.
In the nearly four decades I have known Mel, he has demonstrated a true respect for both fellow custom makers and unselfish dedication and love for his craft, sharing hard-gained knowledge and skills. He has helped dozens of up-and-coming knifemakers of all ages.”