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Interview with Dave Wenger

Dave Wenger grew up with a fascination for medieval weapons and armor. One day, the boy decided to try his hand at making his own weapons. He flattened metal tubes his father had lying around, cut a point on them with a hacksaw, and used a few rolls of duct tape for the handle - and there it was, a feudal Japanese samurai sword. His grandfather worked as a blacksmith, enabling teenage Dave Wenger's approach to professional knife making. 18 years later, in June 2012, Dave Wenger got serious and earned the Journeyman Smith rating with the American Bladesmith Society, ABS. In January 2013, Wenger Blades was founded.

How did you come into contact with the subject of knives?

Basically, my enthusiasm for knives was sparked by my grandfather, a blacksmith by trade. During his time in the U.S. Navy, he was stationed for a time in Pearl Harbor as an aircraft mechanic and made a hand-forged knife. That's when I was hooked, and I wanted to hold that knife in my hands as often as possible.

And when did you finally design your first knife?

I think it was around 1993, when I was 13 years old.

How long have you been working as a custom knifemaker now?

Between 1997 and 2017 on and off with minor interruptions, since then I've been working full time as a knifemaker.

What profession did you originally learn and what jobs did you do before that?

I was a tool and die maker for 5 years after high school, then worked in construction for 15 years.

Is there anyone you would describe as your mentor?

My grandfather gave me a lot of guidance. For technical questions, master blacksmith and "U.S. blade pope" Kevin Cashen was always there to help and advise me. An extremely talented man!

What would you describe as your greatest gift as a knifemaker?

Probably my ability to take an idea and turn it into a highly functional product that can be produced in high volume in a relatively short period of time and still meet high quality standards.

What inspires you for your designs?

Actually, many ideas come up during the time I spend together with my friends from the bushcraft scene. In addition, I have a keen sense for market trends and discover one or the other gap in the market, which additionally fuels my creativity.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The fact that my ideas become reality within a very short time and are also very well received by customers. When things go like clockwork, I'm happy as a clam.

What should interested parties start with if they want to make a knife themselves?

Nothing works without the essential basics. Transitions on the blade and handle, the right heat treatment, design and balanced ergonomics - you have to have a certain basic understanding of all these things. Only intensive use reveals design flaws that subsequently need to be rectified. And the most important thing: never think that you have reached your goal. There is always someone who is even better. Become the one others admire!

What does a typical working day look like for you?

The early bird catches the worm, but the early worm gets eaten. So my workday usually starts a little later than when I was an employee. But once the engine is running, other than a few minutes for dinner, I work late into the evening, especially in the summer months.

Can your custom knives be ordered just like that?

Yes, as long as it is a variation of my current knives or axes, it is possible. However, I no longer make custom one-of-a-kind pieces.

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on a tomahawk with a short spike on the neck of the axe. There are also some fixed knives in the pipeline, but I don't want to reveal more at this point. A knife with a massive blade is planned for next year.

Do you sometimes get fed up with knives?

Fortunately not. Sometimes I get stuck on a particular design, which I then put to one side for a while or eliminate from the program altogether. But the next idea is already waiting to be implemented.

What about your wife? Does she share your passion for knives?

My wife Jenny is just wonderful. She supports me wherever she can without interfering in the day-to-day business. When things aren't going so well, she gives me the support I need. Without her, I wouldn't be where I am today. At home, she keeps things running smoothly as a loving mother of three daughters.

Do you have any time at all for other things besides your extensive work?

Yes, but I often find it difficult to switch off and let my job be my job.

How do you like to spend your free time?

We love camping and regularly participate in various bushcraft events. Spending time with my family is especially important to me. We especially focus on traveling so that my daughters can see as much of the world as possible.

Do you also have hobbies that have nothing to do with knives?

These include shooting and gardening. I like to build small castles, tree houses or lamps for my children...quite unselfishly, of course, so that my building skills don't get rusty.

What can you not do at all?

Singing, dancing and taking myself seriously.

What would you even get up in the middle of the night for?

That's a good question. As a devoted husband and father, I will naturally protect my family if necessary. Even if service to the fatherland is required, for whatever reason, I will be there for my nation as a proud citizen. He who gets much should also give much.

Do you have any final words you would like to address to our customers?

Words cannot begin to express my appreciation to Böker customers, whose hard-earned money supports my business and that of many other talented knifemakers. My goal is to never disappoint the customers.

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