Tom Scarlett handcrafts custom wooden pocket knives as a way to blend tradition with art and give a nod to more simpler times.
“When I was growing up, every kid carried a pocket knife. Every man carried a pocket knife. Even to this day, I carry a pocket knife around with me everywhere I go,” Tom says. “That tradition has kind of faded away with society being what it is, and I get it. These old ways are going by the wayside, so it’s kind of a nod back to that.”
Creating a custom wooden knife, with absolutely no metal involved, allows Tom to romanticize and continue that tradition through art. They also make really interesting commemorative gifts. For instance, he customized one for a retiring police officer by engraving his name and badge number, and he’s crafted others for communions, graduations, bar mitzvahs, and more.
Tom may start with a traditional style, like Barlow, Copperhead or Trapper, and then add his own take. He painstakingly chooses which wood to use, blocks it up, then allows a full day for glue to cure. The next day, he splits the block, drills holes, installs a liner on the inside, and then begins shaping the knife’s style and custom-making each blade.
“After all of the pieces are individually fabricated, then I sand them ad nauseum,” Tom says, and then he gives each one that “shiny, new pocket knife” look by finishing with a lacquer typically used on watercraft.
For now, knife-making remains just a hobby for Tom, who is also a husband, father, full-time worker, church deacon, and weekly podcast host.
“I don’t let the dust settle too long … I believe I’m making art that will last for many years,” Tom says. “It’s a great conversation piece for generations.”
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