My knife making journey began in 1988 when I was required to teach a craft to young boys and men from our local scouting group, Royal Rangers. As a Ranger leader, I could also join our Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship (FCF), wear buckskins, carry and shoot black powder rifles and throw knives and tomahawks. It was great fun and I have wonderful memories of Pow Wow, camping, hiking and other adventures we had in that group of great God fearing men and boys.
My first knives were of primitive styling and looked right a home with my leather pants and racoon-skin cap. Although when it came to function, it soon became apparent that a knife needs more than good looks. These early works could not perform well even simple camping chores. I needed to learn how to make a blade that was tough and held a good edge in order to teach this craft.
I soon joined American Bladesmith Society and began forging high carbon steel in a coal forge, followed by a propane forge of Ed Caffrey's design with inclusion of a huge fan. I could melt cast iron with that forge, but unfortunately it would burn the carbon out of every blade that went in there. Finally I bought a Mankel 3 burner forge like Ed Fowler uses. My blades began to improve dramatically with better control of heat and addition of a pyrometer and thermocouple. I have been a full-time maker since 1998. I received my Journeyman Smith through ABS in 2000 after tutelage by Wayne Goddard, and became Master Smith in 2003 with tremendous help from Ed Caffrey and Audra Draper via many phone and email conversations.
An interest in black powder pistols and knife combinations was sparked by Atlanta's Blade Show in 2000 upon seeing a large bowie knife displayed with a flintlock pistol mounted on one side of the blade by maker Wade Cotler. This struck me as a blending of beauty and artistry. I began to research knife and gun history books revealing that craftsmen made these “dual threat” weapons as soon as gun powder was invented. In those days firearms and gun powder were so unreliable that they relied on a blade as backup and perhaps the other way around. I fell in love with these combination weapons, and had built a first in time for my Master Smith test in 2003. “Love and War”, a 22 caliber black powder pocket pistol and folding damascus blade combination. I asked to submit it as one of five knives to be judged and Jerry Fisk was hesitant to accept it. He took it up with the board deciding to allow it only if I had five pieces to submit including this pistol/folder. Since I had brought a spare knife in case it was refused, I ended up submitting that one in its place. I will never know if I could have passed with the pistol/folder in the judging.
As a Master Smith knife-maker I enjoy making a wide variety of knives. I have never settled on any one style or design as my favorite but that early love of black powder keeps a strong influence. I marvel at the “Makers of Old” with their artistry and limitless imagination. Fine craftsmen with life long dedication to their art. Intricate details and complexity of their guns, knives and swords are nothing short of miraculous achievements to me, truly inspiring considering they had no electricity.
Please contact me with any questions or comments about my work or a possible future project. Thank you for your time spent viewing my work.
Bruce D Bump
2015 International Custom Cutlery Exposition, Best of Show & Best Collaboration
2013 Knifedogs.com, Best Educator, Best Non-Tactical & Best Fixed Blade
2013 Bladeforums.com, Bowie of the Year
2012 Arkansas Custom Knife Show, Best of Show
2011 Knifedogs.com, Best Educator & Best Bowie/Fighter Knife
2011 Oregon Knife Collectors Assoc., Best Damascus
2011 Boise Knife Show, Best Folder, The Very Best, Traveling Award Cup
2010 Bladeforums.com, Bowie of the Year
2010 Oregon Knife Collectors Assoc., Best Damascus & Best of Show
2010 Knifedogs.com, Best Art Knife, Fixed Blade
2010 Professional Knifemakers Assoc., Best Fighting/Tactical Knife
2009 Oregon Knife Collectors Assoc., Best Bowie & Best of Show
2009 Bladeforums.com, Bowie of the Year
2008 Bladeshow West, Best Fixed Blade
2008 Blade Magazine, Blade Handmade Award (points system)
2008 Montana Knifemakers Association, Best Art Knife
2007 Bladeshow West, Best Art Knife, Fixed Blade
2006 Montana Knifemakers Association, Best Fantasy/Art Knife
2006 Bladeshow West, Best Art Knife
2003 Salem Custom Knife Show, Best Collaboration
2003 Oregon Knife Collectors Assoc., Best Fighting Knife
2003 Montana Knifemakers Assoc., Best Art Knife & Best of Show