Legendary knifemaker and teacher Mel Pardue passed away recently, leaving an incredible legacy in his wake.
One of the greats passed away over the weekend. Renowned custom knifemaker Mel Pardue of Repton, Ala., leaves an incredible legacy in his wake. In addition to his custom work and collaborations with top manufacturers, Pardue was a respected and honored member of the knifemaking community.
Pardue was a BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame® member and a voting member of the Knifemakers’ Guild for almost four decades, 14 of those years as a member of the board of directors, the final 10 as vice president. Furthermore, Pardue received the Ron Little Award in 1992 and is a past winner of the Guild’s Red Watson Friendship Award. 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.
An inventive and consummate professional, Pardue made his first knife in 1952 and regularly created new designs since 1956. While he produced custom knives throughout his career, he is perhaps most widely known for his work in 24 years collaborating with Benchmade, which produced a number of his designs. Among the most popular and recognizable from this partnership was the Griptilian, an EDC folder that became a prolific part of the Oregon company’s catalog. The manual folding knife with the AXIS® lock eventually became available in nearly every conceivable size and color.
Aside from the creative aspects of Pardue’s career, he was also a dedicated teacher of the art and craft of knifemaking. He was 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 taught the same subject at the Batson Bladesmithing Symposium and held seminars and classes in his shop for over 40 years. The drive to pass down his wealth of knowledge was also evident in his family legacy, as his son Joe Pardue and grandson Robert Carter are also well-known knifemakers.
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