So there I was
arm deep in a hooker somewhere just outside Fayetteville driving down a country lane, allegedly driving to a knife shop. My GPS had no idea where the hell I was, and I was following directions sent via text message. The email said “I manufacture knifemaking tools and knives in my backyard shop” and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m not what many would consider as a “knife guy”; sure, I carry a pocket knife like anyone else but I lack the neckbeard and leather gauntlets required to be truly hardcore.
For those of you who already know about Wilmont, please hold your snickering and just enjoy the view.
Yes, it was technically a backyard shop, but certainly not what you’d anticipate from such a description. What I found was thousands of square feet of machine space spread through multiple buildings, all full of custom-made awesome.
Knives and EDC gear of all types were on display, in various states of finishing and undress.
Because these knives aren’t punched out by the tens of thousands in some huge Chinese automated factory, each handle is custom fit and matched with each blade.
And the results are nothing short of fanfuckingtastic.
The man behind Wilmont Knives is one Chris Williams. After retiring from twenty years of pipe hitting for Uncle Sam he started dabbling in knife making.
Displeased with current grinders, since they were usually just normal shop grinders re-purposed for knife-shaping, Williams decided to forge his own. Soon other knife makers noticed his higher output without the anticipated drop in quality.
“This was my secret weapon for two years,” Williams says, gesturing to one of his custom grinders. Finally he decided to sell some of his custom grinders, unsure if they would move. But move they did. Wilmont Grinders was born and now they’re used across the world.
“Grinders are my day job, and knives are my passion,” Williams remarks. But it’s not just knives. He’s been known to re-work black powder pistols, smoothing edges and aging them. Like the rest of the Wilmont gear, it’s functional art.
Wilmont also has the ability to forge their own Damascus through some medieval looking forges. And there are just cool tools and machines all over, grinders and milling machines and presses and table saws and drills and more.
Wilmont Knives also produces various multipurpose EDC gear. And everything has to have a bottle opener–I think that’s a rule.
I may not be a “knife guy”, but if I ever become one it’s going to be directly because of guys like Chris Williams. His passion combined with obvious craftsmanship somehow imbues his knives and tools. And holy hell, do I want one of those raptor claws.