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“This is a Missouri walnut tree I hauled out of a river,” Schrum says, kicking a knobby stump shoved under a table. Like the rest of the wood Schrum sources from riverbanks, old warehouses and even his own backyard, the walnut is first dried and cut into 1¼-inch blocks. It’s then shipped to Arizona where it’s injected with resin, which hardens and stabilizes the wood. The resulting blocks are smooth to the touch, and the glossy surfaces reveal webs of veining, from a discoloration in the wood called spalting that’s caused by fungi trapped inside. The blocks appear to shimmer with faded purples, deep greens, blues and blacks. Some have been dyed, but others reflect these colors naturally. Either way, Schrum can identify each type of wood in his collection. There’s the apple tree from his front yard that died and was cut down, and then there’s a pile of wood blocks made from a Maker’s Mark bourbon barrel. He picks up block after block, naming off wood types: Missouri walnut, California redwood burl, curly bubinga, pistachio, honey locust... the list goes on. Besides bone and wood, Schrum even creates his own laminate for handles. He soaks fabric in resin before cramming it into a tube, where it hardens into what looks and feels like a rod of plastic. Everything from scraps of denim and flannel shirts to burlap coffee bags, aprons and flour sacks have wound up as handles. Schrum even made a handle using a Kevlar vest, which produced a rich woven pattern the color of honey. When he takes custom orders, Schrum asks if the client has material he or she wants incorporated into the knife. One of Schrum’s first orders was made from a flannel shirt, hedge clippers and a shovel cover dating back to World War II. Another family who lived through Hurricane Katrina sent in chunks of the cypress tree ripped from their yard to be used in a knife. Each knife starts with a pencil sketch. The handle pattern is then cut out with a saw and sanded down until smooth and polished. The size and shape of the handle varies based on the type of knife he’s making, but most of Schrum’s chef knives have a gentle curve, which makes them easier to hold in your hand. Once the handle is sanded smooth, the steel blade is fit into place. It can take 10 hours for Schrum to complete a knife from blade to handle. Right now he’s booked six months out with custom orders. Schrum doesn’t have a marketing budget and has only spread word of his work through Instagram and his website, but it’s been enough to spark people’s attention. Since starting Halcyon Forge last year, he’s shipped knives all across the world, from Canada to Sweden, which is especially impressive considering Schrum still has a full-time job as a production supervisor at a feed mill. “I work 50 hours a week,” he says. “This was just a hobby until Dan Bertarelli [of Bertarelli Cutlery] said he wanted to wholesale my knives. I didn’t even have a name yet.” Inspired Local Food Culture

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October 2016 Feast Magazine  

Inspired by our love of nature, this issue of Feast is dedicated to the joys of fall in the Midwest. Crack open a cold one, find a place to...

October 2016 Feast Magazine  

Inspired by our love of nature, this issue of Feast is dedicated to the joys of fall in the Midwest. Crack open a cold one, find a place to...