J.B. And Son Knives
Jonathan Bolton is the owner operator of J.B. And Son Knives, producers of high-quality custom made knives in the little town of Lindale in East Texas. Jonathan is known for his custom worked blades and scales, both sometimes made from odd and exotic materials, including a recent knife forged from a 1951 Harley Davidson piston rod! What a great and unique idea!
Jonathan Bolton and J.B. And Son Knives In his own words
I am going to let him tell his story, and his businesses story in his own words, You will want to read it because it is an awesome story for several reasons:
‘I have only been making knives for about 4 years, I started in 2013 the first year or so I was selling under the name bushcraft and metal works. When my son was born I changed the name to what it is today.
My father is a knife collector so I grew up with knives being a pretty big deal. I got my first knife at the age of 6, it was a Swiss army knife. I have always been an avid hunter and outdoorsman. I prefer primitive camping which involves not taking much more than a knife and making what you need at camp ( bushcraft ) so my favorite knife and the one I make the most is a drop point full tang camp knife. I am not a fan of hidden or partial tang. I will make them but I usually try to talk the customer out of it if it’s going to be used, If your scales break off a full tang you still have a useable knife.
It’s kind of a let down when I make someone a knife and it’s shelved. I prefer high carbon steel. They are a little more work to take care of because high carbon rusts but the edge you can get and keep on high carbon is worth the time to take care of it you don’t hear people complaining about oiling their guns it’s just something you have to do! Same way with your knife.
Before I started making knives it had gotten to the point where I was using a box cutter to skin the animals I hunted. Try to skin a 200lb hog with a chain store knife, it’s going to be a long day. I could not afford a custom high carbon knife good for bushcraft of skinning large game but I have always been good with my hands and I have the mindset there is nothing I can not do. So, I built a coffee can forge I used sand and plaster as an insulator and ran it on a Burnzomatic I picked up at WalMart in the plumbing section. Those first knives were awful and if someone had told me that, I would have probably stopped there but everyone was nice and gave me the old “that’s nice” like when someone shows you a bad tattoo there proud of.
But, they slowly become better with each one I learned little tricks to make it easier and better. I reached a point where I wasn’t generating enough heat with the Burnzomatic for what I wanted to do so I built a coal forge from a cast iron pan and a hair dryer. It was with that I could get to forge weld temp and successfully forged my first Damascus.It was at this point I had gotten enough confidence in my work to try to sell some. I sold one or two a month for $40 apiece.
My son was born and I was supplementing my income with knife sales I would work 10 hours at a full-time job come home have dinner play with my son put him to bed and go forge knives till about 1 am and go to bed to start it all over again I would then take them to trade shows to sell. This went on for years.
One day I realized I was only seeing my son two hours a day that’s only 10 hours per week and it broke my heart I was missing so much working a job a hated to buy crap I didn’t need! As a parent, we want to give our children what we didn’t have and for me that was time.
So I was inspired to work for myself forging and selling knives. Then I could spend all day with my son and work at night. In the back of my mind, I knew it was just a pipe dream, building sky castles.
My father n law wanted an 18″ blade bowie knife with elk horn handles. With the equipment I had, it took forever. There was no way I could charge for my time and when he asked my how much he owed me I said nothing, its a gift! A few days later he called and said he needed help at his house and when I walked in, there was a two burner propane forge in his front room he said it was a gift. Karma! So now with a propane forge, I could reach temps of 2500 degrees without as much risk of damaging the steel. I continued my day job and working at night as well to quote an old man I use to know “There is no rest for the wicked and the good guys don’t need any!” I would sell some knives, buy some equipment, sell some knives buy some more equipment and I saved up for a 40ft Conex Building that I now work from. In November of 2016 I became unemployed from my day job and Figured this was the push I needed to go full-time knife maker I still don’t have the fancy equipment that some other smiths have like a press or power hammer so it does take a little longer but that means everything I make is from the swing of a hammer on a 180lb mouse hole anvil made in Sheffield England in 1835.
We are located in Lindale Texas and a relatively low price we make knives for charity as much as we can I don’t have a lot of money but I do have a talent so I use that to raise money for health clinics, Christmas toys for children and Saint Jude’s children’s hospital.
I still don’t sleep I work all night and spend all day with my son but I am living the dream and hopefully, I can continue and grow. I don’t want to make a fortune I want to spend time with my son and this is how I do it. So every knife has that dream and love and quality because if I don’t do quality work I won’t have customers, I will have to get a day job and I won’t be able to be around as much. It has been an exciting journey!’
J.B. And Son Knives on Facebook:
What a great story! I would say that unique is the key word for this knife maker. Check out his Facebook Page at: J.B And Son Knives