A Salmon Arm butcher has recently turned his blade-smithing hobby into a full-time job.
Georg Gagavuoz, immigrated to Canada from Germany in 2004. As a European trained butcher he worked at Riverside Meats until the company folded six years ago. After that Gagavuoz started working odd-jobs in construction and making the occasional knife as gifts for family and friends.
Gagavuoz obtained a business licence in June and since then has made knives full-time, taking orders from his Facebook page, Georg’s Gorgeous Forges. Currently Gagavuoz is in the finishing stages of a set of steak knives for a customer and has several other projects on the go. He also has five knives on consignment at Westside Stores.
His interest in knife making stemmed from his career as a butcher as people would regularly ask him to sharpen or repair their knives. This happened so often that he decided to try his hand at making one of his own.
His first knife used a recycled broom stick as the handle, a beaten to shape metal doorstop as the guard and a ground down file as the blade. He even made a sheath for the knife out of an old cowboy boot. Gagavuoz still uses files to make some of his knives but everything else has changed. Now he uses various contrasting hardwoods segmented with brass disks to make up the handles and thick hand punched and hand sewn leather for the sheaths.
One of Gagavuoz’s personal flairs is a spent bullet cartridge which covers the top of a pin that holds the wood handle to the tang of the blade. The detail came from a mistake made during an earlier project and he liked the look of it so much it became a staple.
he likes to include in his knives is the end of a fired bullet casing which covers the pins that hold the handle to the blade.
The work comes at no small cost to Gagavuoz though, he can spend up to 12 to 14 hours in the shop everyday working on orders.
“It’s not something that will make you rich, at all. You might be able to pay bills with it, that’s it,” Gagavuoz said. “It’s a labour of love.”