Offbeat: Knife Maker

By Bob Snell - bio | email feedback

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - In the hills of Randolph county a retired welder is working towards the perfection of his hobby. It's a laborious and painstaken process that when complete, puts him a cut above others in his field. James Glisson is a knife maker and every knife he makes is a hand made labor of love. Glisson's fascination and creation of all things sharp, started when he was just a kid.

"When you weren't working on the farm, you had to have something to do," said Glisson. "I made bows and arrows and knives. It was what I did to pass the time."

Glisson took up welding as a trade, but kept making knives as a hobby. He still didn't have the time needed to perfect his craft until retirement.

"I'd like to think I make a pretty good knife," said Glisson.  "It's not something I take lightly, I spend dozens of hours on every knife I make."

For Glisson to fit and fashion a piece of cutlery, it's a 3 month process, from start to finish, and each knife is a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

"In knife making, there comes a point that one bobble and you've lost the whole project," said Glisson. "It's hard to salvage a mistake, you have to start over. After years of trial and error, I've managed to eliminate most errors."

Glisson's been selling his knives since 2003 and uses all types of materials for the handles on his knives, like iron wood, merino sheep horn, buffalo horn, girafe bone, walrus tusk, and even the tooth of a wooly mammoth.

"I've got a lot of what I do written down, and I've got a lot of it in my head," said Glisson. "This is a craft that's passed along, learned from others. I've learned a lot from others."

James is doing his part to pass along his passion and whenever he can he enlists the help of his grandson gage, who's already made a few knives of his own."

"He probably would tell in other company, he teaches me a little bit, but i think i've taught him a thing or two," said James Glisson.

He adds that knives are personal and everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

"Like I tell people at my shows," said Glisson. "It's like shoes, if it don't fit, you don't need it. You'll probably use it, but you'll never like it.

James claims it's his attention to detail and perfectionism that has spread the word about his knives, adding he makes all his knives to be used, not just looked at.

"I've never made a knife that I've really been satisfied with," said Glisson. "I've always tried to do something a little different. I guess that's what keeps bringing me out to the shot. If I ever get the perfect knife, I'll probably quit. I can be feeling bad and come out here and go to work and be feeling better. It's like any other hobby, if you like it, it gives you a reason to get up."

James has sold knives all over the world, some for as much as $2,000. He will take your design and make it just like you want. If you'd like to get in touch with him, just call (870) 609-0033 or (870) 758-1516.

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