January 2018
Simple Times

Nixon Knife

The Greatest Form of Flattery ...

 

Derek Weyand working on a knife blade.

"Carrying a maker’s knife is the greatest form of flattery you could give that maker," Derek Weyand explained. "I love when my knives are purchased to give as gifts, but I love even more when they are purchased to be carried and used. Just because you have it – my knife – on your hip or in your pocket doesn’t mean it’s not appreciated."

Weyand, who lives with his wife LeeAnn and four young children in Piedmont, Missouri, is partners with Irondale’s Chris Nixon in creating Nixon Knife.

While the men both work separately, their brand together is becoming known in the knife world … not just the continental United States!

Weyand started making railroad spike knives back in 2013. His work progressed to fixed blade knives made from repurposed steel and 01 tool steel. Just this year, he has added slipjoint pocket knives to those he enjoys making.

"Although a knife can be made with different types of steel, Weyand and I focus on making the blades from repurposed farrier’s rasps," Nixon explained. "Quality rasps make excellent blades so we are always on the lookout for them. Derek travels all over southeast Missouri in search of local farriers.

"The texture in the steel of a rasp lends to an awesome detail on the blade, giving it attitude. There is no denying that it is made from repurposed steel."

Weyand added, "I not only enjoy taking something that has been cast aside or regarded as junk and turning it into something of beauty but the high-carbon content in the rasps makes an excellent knife that will sharpen easily, yet hold a good edge."

Nixon chimed in, "We don’t like to rush the process. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If the process is rushed, you will always be operating with blinders on.

"That being said, some knife designs have many more features than others and take longer to make. I don’t ever tell myself the knife has to be done in a certain amount of time. It will be finished when it is finished. One of the details I spend the most time on is the flow and ergonomics of the handle. If you are not comfortable with the way it feels, you will not use it.

A knife made from a repurposed farrier’s rasp.

 

"These knives are for all walks of life. I don’t want to just make a nice knife for a certain niche; I want to make a knife anyone would be proud to have.

"There are three things we strive for when completing a knife: simplicity, beauty and function. If all three of those factors can be achieved, I know the knife will find its home, whether it be a collector, an outdoorsman or a chef."

Nixon has always had a passion for knives. Although he dabbled in knife-making for about a decade, it wasn’t until about two years ago that he decided to make it his life’s full-time work.

"I started making knives because I’ve always loved them," Nixon said, "and I like to build things with my hands. It’s very rewarding to hold a finished piece in your hand and reflect on how it didn’t even exist a week ago.

"I have a tendency to want to modify everything, but it seemed to me that, out of the millions and millions of knives out there, there should be a knife I didn’t feel the need to modify. I just couldn’t find it.

"Inspiration can be fickle, it can come from anywhere. You can take something negative and turn it into something positive. Unfortunately, my father isn’t here anymore for him to see any of our knives, but imagining his face light up with a smile while looking at a finished piece makes me strive to make each one special."

Nixon grew up just outside of Birmingham in Vestavia Hills, not your typical country boy knife owner. He moved out West after high school to attend Colorado State University.

"That was an adventure in itself," he recalled. "But it was sure nice to move back to Alabama, to move back home.

"After moving back, I did everything from remodeling homes to bartending, but I knew I wanted to create things. I began working an odd job that was only supposed to be a two week gig. Those two weeks came and went … and so did the years. That’s how I developed my skill for woodworking, working for that same family.

 

Chris Nixon working on a knife.

"With woodworking comes patience and with patience comes quality. When it came time to pick the knives back up again, I could really appreciate what I had learned. Now all those skills have rolled into one. It is all concentrated on our knife making."

Weyand has always been very skillful. Through the years, he has had several hobbies such as making fine, custom furniture and custom duck calls.

Weyand started forging in order to make custom hardware for a piece of furniture requested by a customer. Once he started forging, he started experimenting with knife making and he was hooked! He continues to stretch his skill and challenge himself with every knife he makes!

While he has always admired and collected knives, Weyand is now passing this love for knives and knife making on to his son; even his daughters are showing interest in collecting knives and one day working in the family business.

Weyand was born and raised in Fredericktown, Missouri, and lived there until he joined the U.S. Navy after graduating high school. He spent four years serving, but returned home in 2001.

Nixon says he tends to like the larger blades, but "we have made some smaller ones. Hearing somebody quote Crocodile Dundee when they see one of our knives never gets old!

"The future seems bright, but there’s no way to predict it. This is an adventure for us. I hope, in five to 10 years, it has only brought blessings to everyone involved … wherever the wind blows!"

You can contact Nixon Knife at www.facebook.com/nixonknife or phone Chris Nixon at 205-516-9897.

 

Suzy Lowry Geno is a Blount County freelance writer who can be reached through Facebook, Old Field Farm General Store, or her website, www.taitsgapstore.com.