10 Questions with LT Wright
L.T. Wright is the namesake and founder of L.T. Wright Knives based in Wintersville, Ohio. L.T. and his staff make some of the best bushcraft, hunting, and all-around hard use knives anywhere. On top of that L.T. is a true gentleman with a great reputation in the industry. Today, we sit down with him and talk a little about LTWK.
Q: How did you get into knife making full-time?
A: I made a kit knife for my Dad for Christmas. He took it to work to show his friends and came back with orders. That really sparked things for me. I’ve always had an interest in knives my whole life. Then at a gun show in early 2000 I ran into R.W. Wilson, maker of the tomahawks used in the movie Jeremiah Johnson and accomplished knife maker. I told him how I would love to know how to do that. He told me to come over and he would teach me. When I found out we only lived about 10 minutes away from each other, it was a done deal. I would come home from work and go over every night he let me and stay as long as I could. There I cut out blanks, roughed in, learned the craft. R.W let me go to gun and knife shows with him and there he taught me how to sell knives too. I owe him a lot for helping me get my start. My hobby kept growing to where I was doing my day job and working on knives into the late hours every night. I was also working shows on weekends. I mentioned to my wife Elaine that we could do this full time. I wasn’t happy at my day job, so we made the jump. My daughter was in college at the time, so it was a big risk. But we did it. We stayed dedicated and persevered.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge with your path to making LT Wright Knives a success?
A: The biggest challenge would be balancing knife making with the business side. Being a small business you have to wear all the hats at some point. When I started I made the knives, ran the web site, took the photos, shipped the packages, all of that. You have to be able to promote yourself, go to shows, and be on social media. There is so much more to it than actually making the knife. Managing social media, answering emails, customer service, managing employees. The running the business part is really the biggest challenge.
Q: If you weren’t making world class knives for a living what would you be doing if you had a choice?
A: I love my job. Making knives is my passion. However, if I had to choose something else I would be making guns or building hot rods. Knives, guns, and cool cars, that’s me!
Q: What is your favorite steel to use in your knives and why?
A: At this time, A2 tool steel is my personal favorite. It has all the qualities of good O1 and D2 steels. It falls between the two in edge retention, flexibility, and rust resistance. We’ve had fantastic results with our A2 and we have a very good heat treat.
Q: Tell what the Pout House is and how that came about?
A: We were looking to have a private forum for our fan base where they could go and talk about our knives and the knife industry in general. There are also topics on 4×4, firearms, watches, flashlights, etc. It is a group of like-minded people. Gives them a place to hang out and talk about things they like. We give them the opportunity to get a first chance at anything we put out. Short runs, one-offs, vault knives. There are monthly drawings, camp outs, and more. It’s also a great place for our fan base to get to know us, the crew and I participate in the forum as well. We’ve had several lifelong friendships built at the Pout House.
Q: I know you still go to a lot of knife shows. How does the interaction with customers at these shows affect your design and production?
A: I feel it affects it quite a bit. I learned early on it didn’t matter so much what I thought was cool or wanted to make, I needed to make a product the public wanted. I listen to what people like and ask for. If I have several people come up and say, “Wow that’s great! I wish it was longer/blue/wider.” Then that is something I’m going to consider. Customer input has gone into the development of products right now. It will go into what we build or how we change models in the future. Customer input is the driving force of what we make and build.
Q: Who is the knife maker you look up to?
A: First, R.W. Wilson. He does everything by himself. The amount of knives he makes, the quality of his products, and his knife making attitude were my guiding force when I was getting started. If not for him, I don’t think I could be where I am today. Another knife maker would be Greg Gottschalk. He is a genius when it comes to forging, building folders, and fixed blade knives.
Q: What knife do you carry most frequently?
A: My Genesis is my go-to knife. I carry it in my backpack every single day. If I’m at a show or in the woods, it goes on my hip. My EDC knife is my skeleton key in kydex. I use it for everything. Opening boxes, scraping wax, whatever comes up.
Q: Tell us one thing about L.T. Wright that we might not guess?
A: I was in a band called Faded Glory for years. I was the lead singer and guitar player. I also co-wrote most of the songs. If you watch our YouTube videos the music used is from my band. Yes, that is me singing.
Q: Bushcrafting continues to just grow and grow in popularity. What do you think are the qualities of a good bushcraft knife? Which model in the LT Wright lineup do you think is the best all around bushcraft knife?
A: I think the good qualities of a bushcraft knife include edge geometry, a blade at least 4 inches long, a large comfortable handle so as your carving you don’t get hotspots, multiple grip options on the handle, and a squared spine for striking a ferro rod or debarking, making tinder. The LTWK that fits the bill the best is our Genesis. It has the length, the broomstick handle with thumb scallops for multiple grips, and the squared spine.