My love for knives began when my Grandpa, George Washington Hendrix gave me a Winchester knife When I was about five years old. The knife had Christmas tree handles and he had broke the tip off so I Would not stick myself with it. I spent a lot of time on my Gradpa’s farm while my dad was in the navy. I would often watch him sit in front of a pot belly wood stove at night and sharpen his four blade congress Pattern John Primble knife. In 1957 I was given Grandpa’s knife and still have it today. While growing up I had purchased several hunting knives made by Puma and Buck. In 1964 I was asked to go to the Piedmont Jockey Lot which was a very early flea market. Old timers were sitting around a large buck stove trading knives. I became very interested in old knives and the history of old knives. Over the next eight years I traded and purchased case and other collectable knives and collected Remington knives. In 1973 I sold my collection of Remington knives at local gun and knife show and while at the show met Harold Corby and purchased one of his knives that was featured in a knife publication. I found the whole idea of making a knife very interesting. I located a company that sold Square Wheel Grinders and purchased one and began A long relationship with knife making.
I made a very few, very crude knives. These knives were marked --- RL SMITH the letters were individually stamped and not very straight. There was not anyone around to ask for or receive help in knife making. Knife making was top secret and no one shared their craft. I made maybe fifteen knives over the next three years.
I began using a engraving machine to put my name on my knives. They were still marked RL SMITH but very neat and in line. I used this mark through 1980.
I am a Founding Member of South Carolina Association of Knifemakers which was founded in 1980. I am (3 term) Past President of SCAK.
I petitioned the KNIFEMAKERS'S GUILD & in 1978 and became a voting member in 1981. While attending the GUILD SHOW in 1981 I purchased a Marking Methods etching machine and began marking my knives with: South Carolina map outline with SMITH Handcrafted Knives inside.
I retired from FLUOR CORPORATION, after 41 years in Construction Engineering, Management, Marketing, and Global Business Development. I enjoy making knives and the association with buyers, vendors, and other knife makers.