Any discussion of the greatest custom knifemakers of the modern era must include the late Buster Warenski, a member of the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame.
While best known for his reproduction of the King Tut Dagger in the late 1980s, Warenski’s influence on custom knives, knifemakers and the Knifemakers’ Guild was immense and, in many ways, continues to this day. One of the early Guild voting members, he was considered among the best custom makers from the get-go. He excelled not only by the example of his workmanship but also by his leadership, serving on the Guild’s board of directors for a number of terms, including as president (1977-79).
The workmanship of his knives pretty much spoke for itself. He could make just about any fixed blade, folder or sword, and make it extremely well, though it is his art daggers for which he is most remembered. He taught himself how to engrave and although he may not have been the best engraver, the early examples of his engraving held up among other knives of the time.
But then it always seemed that Buster found a way to make his knives the best—and one way was marrying Julie, who learned how to engrave and became one of the best, lending her talents to Buster’s knives and making them even more fabulous. (Julie Warenski-Erickson continues to engrave today and is married to knifemaker Curt Erickson.)
Perhaps the greatest tribute to any knifemaker is one from one of his peers who also happens to be one of the world’s best makers—in this instance, Steve Johnson. As Steve noted, “Putting myself in even the same sentence as a ‘fellow knifemaker’ with Buster makes me uncomfortable. No one will ever attain the skill and ability as a knifemaker as this great man did.”
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