Part of the appeal to knife collecting are the stories behind the blades. The so-called “Phoenix Knife” from master smith Kevin Cashen is one such knife.
Judging from the name, you’d be correct in guessing Kevin Cashen’s piece figuratively rose from the ashes. In a tragic turn of events, it literally earned the title, too.
According to the American Bladesmith Society (ABS), which posted the video above, the Phoenix Knife started life as a group project. Several ABS board members got together to make a Bowie, including Kevin Cashen.
However, a house fire destroyed much of the knife’s progress. Undeterred, the board members regrouped and gave it another shot.
The result, as the video shows, is the Phoenix Knife. “It’s alive!”
Have a great knife story? Post it in the comments below.
The Stories Behind the Designs
Certain knife designs are repeated again and again for good reason: They work. Murray Carter explores the stories behind many designs in his new book, 101 Knife Designs. You know the designs that stand the test of time. Now read why.
Click here to order 101 Knife Designs.
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Phoenix Knife – 2013 Special ABS Board Knife
The phoenix is part of Greek and Egyptian mythology where this bird of myth and story is consumed in fire only to rise out of the ashes with a new life. The phoenix knife derives its name from a very similar history. Originally, this knife was created by several members of the ABS Board. These smiths who worked on the original knife included Dr. James Batson, Joe Keeslar, Bert Gaston, Greg Neely, Steve Dunn, Harvey Dean and Rick Dunkerly. Neely forged the blade, Keeslar did the grinding, Batson did the frame, Gaston did the heat treat, Dean did the hand finish, Dunn engraved the throat of the nickel silver-mounted sheath, and Dunkerly inset the handle material. The knife was made to resemble the famous historical knife, the Broomhead and Thomas Bowie Knife (see Antique Bowie Knives, pp.362-3). Then disaster struck. The knife died in flames and was buried in ashes when in 2010 Burt Gaston, the custodian of this board knife at the time, had a tragic house fire. Combing through the ashes of Burt’s home the board knife was found by Burt’s son. When he picked it up the handle material crumbled away but the rest of the blade and handle frame seemed structurally okay. The knife was then sent to Greg Neely who recognized that the knife was not so damaged by the flames that it could not be given a new life. Greg then named it the “phoenix knife” since it too would rise out of the ashes. On its second life Greg Neely spent days sanding it all clean. He then wrapped it in stainless foil and annealed the blade in his heat treat oven. Other master smiths on the ABS board then contributed to bringing the knife back life. Master Smith, Kevin Cashen, received the knife in a blackened annealed state. He brought forward his exceptional heat treating talents and breathed new life into blade. Next, Master Smith, Dr. Dan Petersen, hand rubbed the blade, handle frame, and fittings. Dr. James Batson gave phoenix its new inlaid handle doing an intricate restructuring of the handle frame and the fit of guard and tang. When Batson was done with the blade the knife had truly risen out of the ashes stronger and better than even the superb original. This knife literally rose out of the ashes and represents the creative talents of nine individual Master Smiths. No knife in history has ever had this kind of lineage. It lives again and as Greg Neely stated, “I do not see how it could be called anything but the Phoenix”.