Stan: “I’ve made knives for presidents and royalty.”

By Charlotte Wilson

Stan Shaw, 89, has been a folding knife cutler for over 70 years and is still working at Kelham Island Museum today.

Living in Deepcar, Stan has made knives for some famous people including Elvis Presley’s band, President George Bush Sr and the Queen.

“I’ve met some wonderful people over the years. It has taken me all over the world and now my knives are worth thousands of pounds.”

Stan names his knives by number. Watch him explain the different types of blades in his first knife, 001.

Not only does Stan make knives to sell, he also makes them for his grandchildren for every Christmas and birthday,

“One grandchild of mine is 15. She asked me if I could make her 18th knife early in case I pop my clogs. I told her that I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon!”

Stan uses basic tools to create his knives. He said it is like a work of art and that it’s important to keep his process as natural as possible.

“You won’t find any templates or rulers in my workshop, the patterns are all in my head. I design straight lines by eye, that really fascinates people but it’s all I’ve ever known.”

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No rulers or stencils in Stan’s workshop. Stan creates his straight lines by eye.

 

Stan has made tens of thousands of knives over his lifetime and says that he is one of very few who create folding knives by hand.

“I’m one of the last of the ‘little mesters’, which is what we used to call ourselves back when there was lots of people who did what I do. Now I am the only one who makes knives this way.”

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It can take months for Stan to produce his knives.

Stan says that many people collect his knives or sell them on for profit,

“Money isn’t worth anything in the bank so people buy and sell my knives. Some people even buy my knives to save for their pension.”

Stan uses different materials for the handles of his knives, including ancient mammoth found in Iceland, but all his metallic materials are sourced in Sheffield,

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Stan likes to keep the knife-making process as natural as possible.

 

“It’s important to me to utilise the materials that this great city produces.”

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