Handcrafted Custom Knives, Robert Hensarling Handcrafted Custom Knives (custom knife)
Custom Knife Artisan
My Great Grandfather – Hiram Hensarling (holding the hammer).
His son, my grand father, is the little kid leaning on the sawhorse. Circa 1894
My Great Grandfather, Hiram Hensarling, was a blacksmith, in Madisonville, Texas, from the late 1800’s through about 1920. Ever since I can remember I’ve been interested in working hot steel with hammer and anvil.
About 1988 I started experimenting with forging custom knives. These early examples were mostly done from railroad spikes. They always sold very well in my shop, however they are mostly a novelty, or letter opener at best.
Over the last few years I have refined my abilities and interests in bladesmithing, and have been making custom fixed blade knives and custom folding or “pocket” knives. For the handmade fixed blade knives, I make my own Damascus (aka Pattern Welded) steel, using a combination of high carbon steels, like 1095, and steels with a good nickel contrast, such as 15N20. The combination of these types of steels produces beautiful custom blades after the forging operations.
I also produce blades using what is known as the “stock removal” method. This quite literally means removing excess material from a piece of steel, using files, grinders, etc. until it has the blade shape I desire.
I do all of my own heat treating, using both hot oils, and a Lindbergh heat treat oven, and finish the process by tempering the heat treated blade. I use a Rockwell hardness tester, and strive for a hardness suitable to the blade steel I am using at the time.
For my custom folding knives, I use titanium sheet for what’s known as the “liners”, and Damascus or high carbon steel for the blades. For the handles on folding handmade knives, referred to as scales, I use highly figured Mesquite burl that I process myself or Mammoth Ivory. Mammoth Ivory is found in the certain areas of Siberia and Alaska, during the spring and summer seasons. Most of it is 15,000 to 20,000 years old or older. There is no ban on this Ivory, since the Mammoths have been extinct for thousands of years. It has a beautiful array of colors and textures, from off-white, to a dark tan/brown, and even blue tones. The area in front of the scales on a folding knife is called a “bolster”. It is usually metal, but can also be wood or Mammoth ivory. For my folding knife bolsters I normally use Damascus that I’ve produced myself, but occasionally purchase other highly figured Damascus patterns from artists that make highly specialized patterns. I am also experimenting with real iron Meteorite as bolster material. There are several knifemakers using this material and it has a unique pattern called Widmanstatten.
Prices vary for folders and fixed blade knives. Hensarling knives are built one at a time, by me alone, in my shop in Uvalde, Texas. The type of material that goes into the knife, and the time it takes me to make it, are what determines the price of the finished piece. I try to have several knives on hand, however currently I’m developing a backlog of orders.
Should you be interested in acquiring one of my pieces, please email me with your interests, and I’ll get back to you with a projected price and completion time.