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EDGE Wa l l a c e E d g e d To o l s

SPRING 2016

Hand Crafted, Fixed Blade Knives


Mike Wallace

CEO and Founder of Wallace Edged Tools Mike@WallaceKnives.com

Bob Poole

Publisher BobPoole@BobPoole.com

Phil Elmore

Editor Phil@PhilElmore.com

Jana Rade

Creative Director jrade@impactstudiosonline.com

Wallace Edged Tools Magazine is copyrighted by The Poole Consulting Group LLC and may not be reproduced by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the express, written permission of Bob Poole, The Poole Consulting Group. The magazine is a quarterly publication offered in both print and digital form.


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14

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CONTENTS 8 Mike Wallace Field Mouse 14 Mike Wallace OS II

24

18 Is Your “Preparedness” Missing a Critical Item? 24 Social Media, Impulse Buys, and a Man’s Knife 28 Maker Spotlight: Jose Trevino

32

32 Maker Spotlight: Doug Wilson


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From the Editor Phil Elmore

I

t’s been said that form should follow function. Too many knife makers pay only lip service to that notion. That cannot be said of Mike Wallace, whose designs for field work and bushcraft continue to impress. This month in Edge Magazine, we take a look at a pair of Mike’s field knives that really shine regardless of size: the Field Mouse and the OS II. Both are great knives, but the difference in size is noteworthy. That’s because depending on what you want to do and how you want to do it, a knife’s size can make a big difference.

One of the things that a custom Mike Wallace knife does for you is get you where you need to go in an emergency. If you are lost in the woods or just hiking from point A to point B, you couldn’t ask for a more faithful companion. Increasingly popular of late is the concept of a citizen Bug Out Bag, or BOB, which makes the average citizen better prepared for emergencies. Even our governments are getting in on the “prepper” landscape, offering various programs that are supposed to help you survive when FEMA tells you things have gone crazy where you live. But do these kits really do the job? What are their assets and liabilities? And could adding a Mike Wallace knife really make the difference between success and failure in an emergency? We explore these questions in this issue. Finally, every Mike Wallace knife comes with a beautiful, functional sheath. Some are leather and some are Kydex. We thought you might like to take a look into the work of the two men responsible for Mike’s sheaths. Jose Trevino makes Mike’s leather sheaths, while the Kydex sheaths are formed and finished by custom Kydex maker Doug Wilson. This issue includes profiles of both men. As always, we thank you for exploring this issue of Edge. We are honored to have your support... and privileged to bring you the latest word in functional, beautiful field knives. Kind regards, Phil Elmore


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Heat treating

for the hobbyist

or professional.

No order

TOO BIG

or too small.

bstall@petersheattreat.com • (814) 333-1782 • www.petersheattreat.com

My name is Phil Elmore. I am an Internet gunslinger—a full-service Web professional who can provide you with anything that you need. I’m primarily a writer and content creator, but I’m also a videographer, editor, social media operative, marketer, and business and technology consultant who specializes in information design, photography and illustration, commentary and punditry, and everything in between. If you need my help, I can provide it. Consider hiring me today. We’ll talk. philelmore.com


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B y Ph il E l m o re

MIKE WALLACE FIELD MOUSE


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one of the simplest tools produced by human beings. Since the first flaked blades shared space with the rock and the stick in prehistoric man’s tool box, humanity has relied on the fixed cutting edge to manipulate the world around us. That is, after all, what a cutting edge is: It is the means to change the environment, bending it to your will and modifying it for your purposes.

“I wanted to make a running change on the FS1. The Field Mouse is basically the same knife with a drop point instead of a clip point. I think this is an excellent ‘everywhere’ knife, very sheeple-friendly. ~Mike Wallace

T

he fixed blade knife has long been associated with utility and field tasks. The simplest reason for this is that a folding knife is a knife that is already broken; it is no better than the strength of its locking mechanism. If it fails, it will almost always fail at that pre-broken point of vulnerability. A fixed blade has no moving parts and thus remains

Typically, fixed blade knives run from medium to large, at least among those accepted for general field use. There are no hard and fast rules for the size of such knives, but an overall length of 10 to 12 inches is probably the median, with a foot (the length of the venerable Ka-Bar knife) probably being the most common. A field knife is often judged against this unspoken standard. This presents a unique question, if not a problem, when evaluating a much smaller fixed blade. Just what role does such a knife play...


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and why would one choose it over a folding knife of the same overall open dimensions? That question is asked and answered in the Mike Wallace Field Mouse. Mike’s little fixed blade is basically a modified Field Series One. At just 7-3/8 inches overall, with a 3-1/4 inch blade, it falls easily into the “small fixed blade” category. The blade is CMP154 steel, while the handles are G10 scales (like so

many of Mike’s knives). Our sample is a very pleasant striated deep blue, which does not look out of place in the field but stands out nicely should you drop your knife. “I wanted to make a running change on the FS1,” Mike explains. “The Field Mouse is basically the same knife with a drop point instead of a clip point. I think this is an excellent ‘everywhere’ knife, very sheeple-friendly. I considered calling it the ‘Church Picnic.’” By any other name, the Field Mouse is definitely friendly to a mixed audience. It’s small enough not to be overtly threatening to people who get nervous around knives, yet not so small that it is not still a very handy utility knife. It shipped razor sharp and, despite its small size, very capably zipped through any of the small chores set for it. These included cutting small branches and furring them up to use for kindling, as well as mundane things like opening mail, cutting up recyclables, and even some limited prying and digging (which is abuse of any knife). It cut like a champ. Its slim profile make it a good small game and camp knife, while its small package and light weight would make it an ideal backpacking knife. You can tote this knife without ever feeling burdened by its presence.


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Our Field Mouse shipped with a beautiful leather sheath by Jose Trevino, which encloses the knife fully by friction (There are no retaining straps). There is a loop for a 3/8 inch ferro rod, but the rod itself is not supplied with the knife. (I added the rod pictured to complete my little field utility package). Given how relatively small the handle is, and how much of the sheath encloses it, the attached lanyard

is very useful for withdrawing the knife from the sheath. The

G10

handles

are

nicely

smoothed without being slick. The overall shape of the handle is a basic rounded rectangle, but there’s a nice big contour for the index finger that locks the knife into your hand. I tend to put my thumb on the spine and found myself wishing for some jimping


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up there, but that’s a personal preference only (and would, arguably, disrupt the clean aesthetic of this little blade). Fit and finish are of course impeccable, as I’ve come to expect from any Wallace knife. The handle has one of Mike’s neat little coin emblems inset in it. I was tempted to dedicate the Field Mouse to one of my outdoor bags or bug out bags because it is so easy to carry. Where the knife ended up, however, is in my glovebox. I carry a survival kit in the car but couldn’t resist placing the Field Mouse in the glove box because it fits so conveniently in side. There it can be used for any of countless cutting tasks that might come up while out and about—and because it is so small

and definitely looks like a “hunting” knife, not a “tactical” knife, it is less likely to raise any eyebrows should its presence be made known in a traffic stop. The old cliche about big things coming in small packages definitely applies to the Field Mouse. I find its compact envelope very pleasing, both to the eye and to the hand. It is easy to carry everywhere, easy to store, powerful when used as a knife (despite its small size), and therefore eminently useful. That is the only measure of a knife’s utility that matters, at the end of the day, but it’s nice when all these qualities can be had in a blade that is also beautiful to look at and crafted with pride.

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MIKE WALLACE OS II A Revi ew by Phil Elmore

T

he foundation of any good outdoor survival kit, hunting pack, or other preparedness assembly is

a good fixed-blade knife. This is not for any “tactical� reason; the field knife is not a weapon (or at least not primarily). It is, however, the first line of survival in that it enables you to shape your world, dress your game, and tackle any


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My sample OSII has a blade of CPM154 steel that is 4-3/8 inches long. It is a leaf-shaped drop point profile, very well suited to cutting and slicing and for other general field work. It’s also about 1-3/8 inches wide at its broadest point, making this a knife that is not too big, but will never be considered too small for outdoor chores. It came to me razor sharp, as I have come to expect from Mike Wallace’s knives. It also had a short lanyard attached to the blade. Like all of Mike’s knives that ship with leather sheaths, the OS II has a beautifully worked leather belt sheath by Jose Trevino. The sheaths are designed for a simple friction fit. There are no retaining straps, but the knife sits deep enough inside the sheath that there is no danger of losing it in normal wear. Each sheath also has a loop for a 3/8-inch ferro rod (which I of the other utility tasks that come up when in the field. For a knife to be of use in this capacity, it has to be substantial, it has to be comfortable, and it has to be both strong and sharp. The Mike Wallace Outdoor Series 2, or OS II, is all of these things—and like all of Mike’s work, it exhibits his usual superb attention to detail and execution.


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added to both sheaths, but which was not provided with the knives). Where the OS II shines brightest is in its incredibly ergonomic handle. The G-10 handle scales are available in a variety of colors, making these knives extremely attractive, but it is the contours of the G10 that make the greatest difference. In use, the knife is comfortable and secure in the hand, which is nice enough in and of itself. For a field knife, though, that comfort translates directly to the ability to go

on working. A handle that has “hot spots” produces discomfort and blisters—and ultimately stops you from being able to work. In bushcraft and survival, the inability to work is the inability to survive. In other words, making the knife comfortable in the hand does not merely improve the user experience. It also makes it a better overall survival tool. The OS II has more belly than the OS1, its sibling in the Wallace product line, which makes it an even better tool for skinning, field-dressing, and quartering medium to large game. “I wanted a blade with a continuous curve and a big belly for skinning,” Mike admits. The inclusion of the loop on the sheath for the ferro rod points to the knife’s role as a survival and outdoor tool, but this is also a knife that is ideally sized and shaped for all general tasks. If this was the only knife you had available to you, there are few things you could not do with it. A larger knife would not be useful for finer tasks; a smaller knife could not tackle bigger field jobs. The OSII sits right in the pocket in between. It is a superb “compromise knife,” which gives up neither quality nor functionality in the process. One of the joys of evaluating a Mike Wallace knife is taking it out into the field and using it for whatever comes along. It’s a delight to use this knife when out hiking, camping, or


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just puttering around outdoors. On a recent jaunt around my brother’s farm property, I used the knife for everything from cutting kindling to starting a campfire without matches. First, I furred up the kindling and built my little fire pile; then I used the ferro rod I added to my OSII’s sheath to spark the fire. It took a little doing but, with the luxury of time and good weather, it was an enjoyable way to prove to myself the knife could support and sustain me in an outdoor emergency. In test cutting, the knife performed extremely well, thanks again to its generous belly, keen hand-honed edge, and excellent ergonomics. It penetrates reasonably well despite its breadth and cut through brush and even some junk around the

farm without difficulty. I used it to zip through an old baseball cap (which I also used for kindling for my little test campfire) and it was as if the fabric wasn’t even there. When evaluating any piece of survival or field equipment, you must ask yourself: If this was all I had, would it be enough? The OSII answers that question in the resounding affirmative. I would have no problem relying on this knife for just about any field chore. It also makes a great hunting knife. The workmanship is excellent, the fit and finish are superb, and knife is comfortable to use while being beautiful to look at. There isn’t much more you could ask of a field knife, but this is the least we’ve come to expect from Mike Wallace.blade.”

Professional heat treatment

for custom & factory cutlery

LIFE FOR

YOUR KNIFE bstall@petersheattreat.com • (814) 333-1782 • www.petersheattreat.com


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B y Ph il Elmo re

IS YOUR “PREPAREDNESS” MISSING A CRITICAL ITEM?

W

hen thinking of states whose residents are deeply invested and interested in the concept of preparedness and survival, one rarely thinks of New York State. New York is typically fairly left of the political center and can be relied on to vote “blue” in every election. What most people don’t realize about New York, though, is that its reputation for left-wing politics comes primarily from the dense population center that is New York City. Upstate New York tends to be far more rural, and far more moderate in its outlook. The state even leans conservative, in many areas. While preparedness has no political orientation, if you asked most people familiar with the concept, they would tell you that they associate survivalism, preparedness, stockpiling, and having tools and weapons as more “conservative” than “liberal” (if only because the left side of the


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When thinking of states whose residents are deeply invested and interested in the concept of preparedness and survival, one rarely thinks of New York State. political aisle is traditionally more willing to support restrictions on the ownership of guns and knives). It was therefore surprising to discover that New York State runs a preparedness program called the “Citizen Preparedness Corps,” the motto of which is “Prepare, Respond, Recover.” Integral to the programs outlined at http://prepare.ny.gov are the organization’s “preparedness kits.” These are actually given to anyone who attends free, in-person, regional public events. Registration is required, but those who

register and attend receive a “free” backpack full of survival gear. That’s right: The kit is paid for with taxpayer dollars and costs the individual citizen nothing at the time it is received. It contains a plastic drop cloth, a single light stick, two D batteries (and a flashlight that runs on 2 D batteries), a face mask and safety goggles, an AM/FM pocket radio, just enough food and water to let you know you don’t have enough food and water, one of those mylar “space blankets,” some duct tape, work gloves, a first aid kit, and a collapsible water bottle. These are all useful survival items. The contents of the kit should be enough to get most people thinking about the many things they don’t have on hand for emer-


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gencies that they probably need to stockpile. I would be interested to know just how much the state of New York pays in tax money to buy these kits, as the merchandise is on par with the sorts of things you find in a dollar store. In other words, it’s all dirt cheap. That’s not a bad thing (especially because the kit is “free” to the end user at the time of acquisition, if not when state income taxes are paid) but it does make me wonder what the actual unit cost of something like this is. The kit ships with documentation that includes a list of other items the individual might want to stockpile, including more medical gear, extra batteries, a multitool, a sleeping bag, water purification tablets, canned foods, hygiene products, and even a cell phone charger. One of the most striking aspects of “Super Storm Sandy,” which hit the New York City area hard, was how people coped with the sustained loss of electrical power. Those who had power were hooking extension cord after extension cord to their outlets so that hapless New Yorkers could charge their phones and tablets, keeping them connected to the rest of the world. It was during the news coverage about all this that many prepared citizens realized the value of a solar USB charger or even a heat converter. There are multiple such devices on the market now. The former is just a solar panel that can

The contents of the kit should be enough to get most people thinking about the many things they don’t have on hand for emergencies that they probably need to stockpile. be used to slowly recharge your smartphone. The latter is any of several devices that convert heat from a campfire (some are dedicated little stoves) into USB power for the same purpose. Some of the items in the kit have more significance than others. The duct tape and plastic sheeting (both very useful items for survival, both urban and wilderness) harkens to the days of the Anthrax attacks that had authorities telling us to stock up on both. The idea was to seal your home off from outside chemical or biological attack using plastic and duct tape; how you were supposed to go on breathing after you’d done that was anybody’s guess. The other items are self-explanatory. The nicest feature about the preparedness bag is the bag itself; it’s well made and has plenty of good pouches and pockets. I could do without the seal of the program on the outside, which screams, “This bag has survival items in it that you need” to anyone around you in a crisis who might not be as prepared as you are. In any emergency, the threat of desperate people wanting to take from you what they don’t have is a very real one. Speaking of what you don’t have, there are some glaring omissions


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It’s never a good idea to obtain or buy a commercial kit and then decide that you’ve got your survival and preparedness needs covered. from this preparedness kit. It’s never a good idea to obtain or buy a commercial kit and then decide that you’ve got your survival and preparedness needs covered. Gear must always be tested to make sure it works, and the contents of any commercial survival kit should be evaluated to see what is missing and what is not “good enough.” In this case, the New York Preparedness kit is missing three critical items: line, fire-starting materials, and a cutting edge.

There’s no excuse for the kit not to have some kind of cord or twine in it. Yes, paracord is preferable and comparatively expensive, but a cardboard flat of twine like you get with a child’s kite would go a long way toward addressing this lack (and cost very little to add). Leaving matches or any other kind of fire-starter out of the kit was probably done for liability reasons as much as anything else. All it would take would be for some rube to burn down his living room with a matchbook he got free in his preparedness kit and the lawsuits would commence. The lack of any sort of tool, even a cheap multitool, might be attribut-


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able to cost factors, but it’s also probably the case that left-leaning New York bureaucrats wouldn’t want to supply the public with sharp blades. The upshot is that to make this bag even begin to be suitable for shortterm preparedness, it needs a lighter, it needs a multool and, ideally, it needs a quality fixed blade. I added a butane lighter, multitool, and a Mike Wallace fixed blade to the preparedness kit. That immediately changed its utility. This remains a “starter” kit, not a finished bug out bag, but it’s a good start. I’m pleasantly surprised to see something like this offered by the state government of New York—and I’m hopeful that the prevalence of programs like this will encourage my fellow citizens to take responsibility for their emergency preparedness.

MILITARY GRADE CUSTOM KYDEX KNIFE SHEATH SYSTEMS Designed/ Hand Built by a U.S. Army- Spec Ops Veteran

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Social Media, Impulse Buys, and a Man’s Knife B y Ph il Elmo re

I think something has been lost in modern society. Call it the decline of manliness, increased “hoplophobia” (a term coined by the late firearms guru Jeff Cooper, to mean an irrational fear of knives and guns), or political correctness if you like.


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T

he other day I did something I rarely do: I bought a gimmick knife from a Facebook page. Social media represents a targeted sales opportunity for a lot of businesses. (This is one of the reasons that Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for their

political biases. The sites’ hostility to firearms ownership has made advertising an iffy prospect for anyone in those industries.) Knives and other Everyday Carry (EDC) gear are so far reasonably accepted on the site, however, which has lead me to “like” the pages and follow the accounts

of various purveyors of pocket gear, knives, flashlights, and other tools. The same is true of many “knife people” who appreciate having with them the tools needed to help them through their days.

I think something has been lost in modern society. Call it the decline of manliness, increased “hoplophobia” (a term coined by the late firearms guru Jeff Cooper, to mean an irrational fear of knives and guns),


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or political correctness if you like. The principle driver is actually much more likely the loss of “rural” life. In other words, fewer people grow up in anything but an urban or suburban environment. Tools, specifically pocket knives, are vital in a rural environment, but much less so when you don’t work outdoors. So it is that daily carry of a pocketknife has fallen out of fashion among today’s men and women, in much the same way that fewer people wear wristwatches (because they use their phones to check the time). I’m fortunate to have had, growing up, a good example to follow. My father always carried a complete EDC kit. He was an engineer and then a manager in the 1970s and 1980s. He wore a “pocket protector” every day of his life. In that vinyl sheath he carried pens and mechanical pencils, yes, but he also carried a penlight (this would be my introduction to EDC flashlights). In his pocket, also every day of his adult life, he carried SwissChamp Swiss Army Knife. This is the biggest model the company makes (short of those weird exhibit models that are too large to carry), complete with everything from a magnifying glass to a pen cartridge to a saw and a pair of pliers. Over the years my father used that Swiss Army Knife to open packages on Christmas, remove splinters from my fingers (with the supplied tweezers, natch), and

tackle anything else that required a cutting edge or a screwdriver blade. I carry a Swiss Army Knife of my own these days, although it’s not the largest one. But so many of the people I encounter don’t carry even that much. You can spot these people easily enough; they’re the ones using their car keys to open packages or ripping into bags of pretzels with their teeth. A positive trend in social media is the rise of the gear websites. Anything that encourages people to carry useful tools is a good thing, in my book. Recently, one of these sites, StatGearTools.com, advertised their CaraClaw knife on Facebook. In a fit of impulse buying, I purchased one. The CaraClaw is a carabiner (not rated for climbing, the packaging warns) just over 3.5 inches long. It features a rocker-bar locking hawkbill blade that is just under 1.5 inches in length. This is built into a set of textured, almost rubberized slabs that presumably cover a metal frame. The carabiner part is, well, a carabiner, although it doesn’t always line up properly and it tends to hang up when pushed all the way open. It’s sufficient for hanging the tool on something like a messenger bag or a keyring, though. There is a tiny oval opening hole in the CaraClaw’s 440 stainless steel blade, but it’s very difficult to get the leverage needed to open the blade one handed. It’s simply too


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small, and the rubberized handles too large. One-hand opening can be done, but not comfortably. The tool is designed to be held with two fingers inside the carabiner and the other fingers braced on the “tail” of the frame. It’s comfortable enough, and there are tiny thumb ridges on the back of the scalloped blade. This arrangement provides good control and a secure grip, even when your hand is wet. The blade was reasonably sharp out of the package, but not impressively so. Resharpening proved to be a challenge because there’s so little clearance with the blade open. The handle is at a right angle to the blade and tends to get in the way, especially given how short the

blade is. There is some lateral play with the blade locked open, but no vertical play. Ultimately, the CaraClaw may not be the blade I’d want, but it’s the blade modern society needs. It puts a useful cutting edge back in the hands, and on the keychains, of today’s young people, packaged in a sporty, tech-friendly way that might appeal to urban and suburban sensibilities. Taken as such, while this is no field or utility knife on which I would want to depend, it’s sufficient for hipster EDC and emergency use. If that’s all you ask of it, then it’s worthwhile -- and if it encourages more of today’s youth to put a knife in their pockets, so much the better.

Originator of the Tri-Ad’s™ lock

demkocustomknives.com


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Maker Spotlight: Jose Trevino

O

ne of the frustrating things about the modern knife industry, in both the production and custom markets, is that great knives sometimes ship with inadequate sheaths. The greatest offenders are those that try to be all things to all people, serving multiple functions at the same time. Typically, such sheaths do none of their individual functions well, leaving them a study in mediocrity. Often, a bad sheath

can cause the owner to leave a good knife at home in a drawer or toolbox. What good, after all, is a knife you cannot comfortably carry? It goes without saying that Mike Wallace makes beautiful, ergonomic, and functional knives. But every one of Mike’s knives comes with either a Yellow Hawk Custom Kydex sheath or, in the case of his traditional sheaths, a leather model hand-crafted by Jose Trevino.


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Jose’s sheaths are distinctive for their beauty and for their function. They are simple, even elegant, exhibiting excellent craftsmanship. They are also quite beautiful. We invite you to see for yourself. The gallery we’ve chosen to include here shows off some Jose’s many masterpieces. Interestingly, Jose is not a fulltime sheath maker. He does it part time while working as a firefighter paramedic. He began crafting his beautiful leather sheaths just five years ago. Jose grew up in Mexico and immigrated to the United States in 1999. He then became a citizen. He had always love knives, and even back then was never without his daily carry. Today, he works out of a garage separate from his home, in what he calls a state of “organized chaos.” The creativity of the work, he says, is what appeals to him. “It may be considered a work of art by some, and it’s a very enjoyable experience working with leather. I never get tired of the smell of fresh leather.”


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“There are endless ways of making sheath. It all begins with tracing the pattern design and tooling it.” ~Jose Trevino In his sheath making career, Jose has faced some challenges. He says one of the biggest was a large cleaver sheath that he designed for Mike Wallace. He also cites some of the exotic inlays he’s worked with. Jose explains that there are endless ways of making sheath. It all begins with tracing the pattern design and tooling it. He has accumulated a lot of tools, he says, from ranging from Barry King and Wayne Jueschke to CS Osborne and others. He’s even hand-made some unique stamps for his leather. “My philosophy is to make a nicequality sheath using top quality leather and materials, and make them with different designs and using my imagination. Customers love some of my designs. Sometimes I’ve made some ugly ones, and still somebody liked it.” Jose admires many other leather makers in the industry, whom he considers great artists. We, in turn, admire his work very much. “I would like to be one of the top ten sheath makers in the world,” he says, with his eyes on the future. We have no trouble believing that’s where he’s headed.


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Maker Spotlight: Doug Wilson

T

he man behind the excellent Kydex sheaths provided with select Mike Wallace knives is Doug

eventually that turned into Kydex

Wilson, who served in a special

which happens on a regular basis.

operations unit in the Army for a

Leather also soaks up water, gets

decade. Doug has been designing

very heavy, stretches out of shape,

and building Kydex sheaths for

dry rots, cracks, freezes, etc.”

over 16 years.

for its outstanding weather worthiness—and the fact that you can’t accidentally cut it with your knife,

Doug considers Kydex to be the ulti-

“I started out building leather

mate outdoorsman’s sheath mate-

sheaths for myself and my spec

rial, one that requires no special

ops buddies,” Doug explains, “but

treatment for moisture or exposure


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to the elements (unlike leather). He made his first sheath when he was just 12 years old — an act that touched off a lifelong love of sheath making. Now 48 years old, Doug is becoming well known for his work. His Kydex has been featured on major gear-review YouTube channels, and he started his own with the intention of showing his clients their completed Kydex rigs. He now does knife and gear reviews of his own (“Just search for Yellow Hawk Custom knives,” he says), as well as teaching outdoor and wilderness living skills. Doug grew up in Southern Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Army at just 18 years old. His Military Occupational Specialty for most of his time in the military, he explains, was 18E, a special operations communications sergeant. He was also a cross-trained medic. Following a parachuting accident, he left the military an obtained his CDL, driving tractor trailers and dump trucks for a number of years while still designing and building Kydex sheath systems. Finally, in 2011, he opened Yellow Hawk Custom Kydex, offering his work to civilian outdoor enthusiasts on a full-time basis.


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“I try to design my sheath systems with an ‘organic and rustic’ feel to them,” he says. “One of my custom knife builder clients calls it ‘the gun slinger look.’ I go for the utmost in durability, quality, and asthetics. It’s all important to me. I believe first and foremost that my Kydex fixed blade knife sheath systems are the strongest on the market. I also think they generally afford my clients the most carry options in one sheath.” Doug explains that his sheath components are typically chosen by the client to fit each customer’s personal needs. Each sheath is therefore very different from the next. “I do not use the cookie cutter approach that most other high-end

makers employ,” he says. “It’s just not my style. I typically spend 3-12 hours on any given sheath system. The attention to detail, durability, retention, fit and finish of a Yellow Hawk Custom Kydex sheath is unmatched in the custom Kydex sheath market.” “Highly functional and durable works of art” is the phrase Doug says many of his clients use to describe his work. “What I enjoy most is the high level of client satisfaction that we receive,” he says. “Daily through emails, texts, Facebook comments, outdoor forum comments and threads, etc. We build sheath systems for soldiers as well as civilians, and we hear from many of them on a daily basis.”


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If he has any regrets, Doug admits, it is that he no longer gets out “into the bush” the way he once did. “I still get out, though,” he goes on. “The most challenging issue I face now is coming up with more innovative ways to effectively design and build my sheath systems so that they continue to serve our clients in the field, in even more effective ways.” Surprisingly, Doug’s workshop is fairly rudimentary. “We use relatively simple tools so that we are able to stick to our handcrafted principles,” he explains. “For example, unlike most other makers, we do not use a band saw to cut out our sheath patterns. You see, band saws can cause micro fractures in some Kydex substrates, which can eventually cause a sheath to fail in the field. It is not a common occurrence, but I have seen it happen. We draw each pattern out separately, then we cut the sheath design out with tin snips. Every one. By hand.” Every step of Doug’s sheath making process is done by hand, in fact. “The only power tools used are an electric drill, and a very small Dremel tool for beveling in our ‘tactical edges,’ which are handsanded smooth, but not shiny. Edges that are buffed to a brilliant shine on a buffing wheel (as is the practice of other makers) are a liability in any tactical situation. We just don’t do it.”

“I go for the utmost in durability, quality, and asthetics. It’s all important to me.” ~Doug Wilson Yellow Hawk Custom Knives is, Doug says, fixated on being the premier fixed blade Kydex sheath maker on the market. “After we achieve that goal, we may expand into other areas of Kydex work,” he says. “I am also a knife designer and I have at least 3 designs being made for sale.” One of these, the DW Backcountry, is offered by Mike Wallace himself — and of course ships with a sheath made for it by Doug. (Peter Kohler of Dark Timber Knives also builds a fighting version of the blade.) We look forward to seeing more of Doug’s work featured on future Mike Wallace knives. Be sure to subscribe to Doug’s Yellow Hawk Custom Knives channel on YouTube. He’s got a lot to offer, and we see great things coming from him in the future.


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Edge - Wallace Edged Tools