10 Questions with Andy Roy of Fiddleback Forge
Recently, I reached out to Andy Roy, owner and president at Fiddleback Forge and to do my “10 questions with” segment. This blog post is a verbatim transcript of that discussion. As you will see from Andy’s answers to my questions he is one incredible knifemaker and an even better human being. With that let’s get started:
Q: How did you get into knifemaking and what was the draw for you?
A: I got into knifemaking kind of by accident. I discovered the internet forums and found a thread that ended up with me making a simple, very ugly knife. I was hooked. I had graduated from college only to find that I really didn’t like being an electrical engineer. It was a low point in my life and I was praying daily for direction. Knifemaking consumed me, I couldn’t stop. Two years later I was laid off from my job and went full time. It wasn’t till later that in hindsight, I realized that the my prayers for direction had been answered. Knifemaking was the new direction.
Q: Your handles are some of the most comfortable knife handles I’ve ever seen. What was your inspiration for these handles?
A: Thank you very much. When I was a kid I was constantly carving walking sticks for some reason. The handle shapes kind of flowed out of that. The idea is for the handle to be comfortable in several cutting positions, and to index itself in your hand. Also, the designs should preclude the need for the dreaded choil, which is a fad that I can’t stand. A good handle does away with the need IMO.
Q: I love the materials you use and the combinations you come up with. How do you do it?
A: A lot of it came about very naturally. I did a lot of woodworking before knifemaking, so there was an inclination to use nice exotic woods. And certainly Micarta has a longstanding role as a first rate handle material. So incorporating that was easy. We hooked up with Shadetree Phenolics a few years back and they are making some of the best stabilized burlaps available. In terms of the combinations, a lot of that was trial and error. I really like adding the pinstripes to make the knives pop. The idea that curves, and layers together really made an outstanding looking handle kind of dawned on me as it happened. Everything in knife making has been done, so I can’t really take much credit for it.
Q: Your knives have an artistry and style that make each one a true custom and in my opinion a work of art. Would I be wrong in guessing you have real artistic talent?
A: I don’t like thinking of myself as particularly talented. I’m an artisan, and that is enough for me. My drawings are very simple things. In high school, I did enjoy pottery. Something about working 3D makes more sense to me than painting or drawing.
Q: What is something about you that most people would never guess?
A: People might not guess how much it bothers me when children suffer. I just have no stomach for it. I give as much as I can afford to children’s charities and nothing to adult charities.
Q: What is your favorite steel to work with?
A: I love working with tool steels. I love that they are easy to sharpen, and I also like how they age, and look used. Stainless is too sterile to me and picking up an older stainless knife with no staining on the blade always makes me feel like putting the knife down and picking another for the task. Tool steel knives tell a story and I like that a lot. I also like grinding them better, and sharpening them better. Tool steel is the way to go unless you’re a sailor or a surgeon.
Q: What are some of your hobbies when you aren’t building world class knives?
A: My spare time is spent with my family. I have a wife and two daughters. The oldest plays softball and I coach her team. I love to hunt and shoot and fish, but honestly, there isn’t much time for that left after running the business and the family.
Q: Where did you come up with the name Fiddleback Forge
A: My Granddad’s farm in N. Mississippi was, and is, infested with Brown Recluse spiders. At the time, I was forging knives in my garage. The name came from that.
Q: What is your personal favorite knife you build?
A: I like the Bushfinger best. I’m partial to 4” blades, and that one really came alive for me when I was drawng it. I still like that one the best.
Q: If you weren’t making knives what would you be doing if you had your choice and why?
A: Man I hated my career before knifemaking. I am going to fight and work myself to death to avoid going back to that. I guess if I had a fantasy career, maybe a fishing guide would be nice.
If you already own Fiddleback Forge knives you are familiar with Andy Roy and his incredible craftsmanship. If you do not yet own one I would like to personally invite you to try one. Each and everyone is truly a work of art.