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CJA Edged Art Vendor Interview (CrisAnderson27)

Discussion in 'Life on the Edge' started by Toothpick, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

    Greetings everyone!
    Today I present to you Cris Anderson of CJA Edged Art/Scorpion Forge
    Thank you Cris for providing us with an insight in to your life and business!

    KKFlogoK.jpg Who are you? Where are you located? (Tell us a little about yourself)
    crisanderson.jpg My name is Cris Anderson. I currently reside in Phoenix, AZ (actually Glendale, but close enough). I'm primarily a single Dad doing my best to raise my three kids. Outside of that, I'm a bladesmith, racing engine/car builder (small block Fords, thank you very much!), super sport bike racer (Triumph Daytona 675), off road geek, fitness enthusiast, and sometime online gamer.

    KKFlogoK.jpg How do you take your coffee?
    crisanderson.jpg It's funny, I'm usually a pretty simple sort of guy...and I do actually like coffee. But, only after it's been so completely altered by cream and sugar (and any other flavoring at hand) that it's more of a drink someone waved some coffee beans at.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Do you do much cooking? If so what is your favorite dish to make?
    crisanderson.jpg Actually, I do! Though I'm in no way any kind of professional. I always did enjoy cooking, but in learning to make what I hope are professional quality chef's knives, I've learned also to enjoy using them on a whole new level. When I first started bladesmithing, I was fascinated with Japanese swords, and ended up studying Japanese Sword Arts for two years in order to better understand their purpose, and thus perfect my making of them. It's been much the same with kitchen knives. You might be surprised by the way, just how much influence learning to make the former, has had on how I make the latter!! I promise there's the soul of a katana in every knife I make...and it goes far beyond the hamon :D.

    As for favorite dishes to prepare...I like most food in general, so when I cook it might end up being anything. Tonight's dinner was something simple...grilled chicken breast, butter, baby bella mushrooms, pine nuts, fresh French green beans. Tuscan influenced seasonings, and McCormick Montreal steak seasoning. Toss it all in a pan and cook on medium until the beans are done, then serve it with crumbled feta cheese on top.

    crisanderson.jpg I also use every knife I make in at least one meal for my family...and sometimes multiple. I like knowing how each one acts before it goes to its new owner, as well as how it cuts things other than me (that was supposed to be a funny :p).

    Tonight's lovely assistant was a 190mm ko-gyuto :).


    KKFlogoK.jpg What is your favorite "home cooked meal". (made by you or someone else).
    crisanderson.jpg That's actually pretty easy! My dad makes these chicken strip things. He filets then quarters a chicken breast, breads the pieces by dipping them in raw egg, then shaking them in a bag filled with salt, pepper, flour, and Lawry's seasoning salt. He then fry's them in pure butter, and after he makes gravy from the leavings. Mashed potatoes and butter saturated broccoli usually finish it out. I swear I could eat that seven days a week.

    KKFlogoK.jpg If you could have breakfast/lunch/dinner with anyone alive or dead who would it be and what meal would you eat?

    crisanderson.jpg That's a tough one. Probably my grandpa on my mom's side though. He passed when I was very young (maybe 5), and I never got the opportunity to know him very well like my other grandparents. He was a professional chef and restaurant owner though...and my fondest memory of him was being chased through the kitchen at the restaurant with a fly swatter (my little brother screaming behind me) for stealing from the pickle bucket, lol. I clearly remember that he never actually caught us...and I know now that that wasn't because we were super fast (yes, it took me a NUMBER of years to figure that one out)


    As for what we'd eat...I'd leave that one up to him.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Do you have any formal training or was it 'learn as you go'?

    crisanderson.jpg Pretty much everything I've done in my life...I've taught myself. As far as bladesmithing goes...the internet had a huge impact on my learning curve. My first blade was a rail spike knife, and my fourth was a 23" ko-katana.


    First knife.

    First katana.

    crisanderson.jpg I was lucky in that I somehow cultivated mentors like Randall Graham, Howard Clark, and Walter Sorrells over on Don Fogg's forum to help me on my way. Without their (and so many others like them!) freely shared advice and example, I'd never have been able to do what I've done so far. That's one reason I'm more than willing to help others learn what I've learned. I truly believe that giving freely of what I've learned...as others did for me, will only come back to me in turn. I'm actually proud (and more than a little surprised!) to have heard that some of the things I've shared have even helped a few of the craftsmen on this very forum to be able to pursue a deeper involvement with these knives we all love. To me, that is the biggest compliment a person can give to me.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Are you a one man army or do you have a support team?

    crisanderson.jpg My family are a HUGE support system for me...both my parents, and my little ones. Without them I'd never be able to pursue this line of work as a full time career.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy?

    crisanderson.jpg I mentioned a number of them above, lol. I build stupidly fast cars, race super street bikes, off-road, and any number of other things. I also draw, and write...though I've never been published.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Is this your only job? What do you do for a living?

    crisanderson.jpg Actually, yes it is. I've been in construction virtually my entire life...and even owned my own business for a number of years. However, with the economy so unstable since 2008, there is just no way to support a family on such an incredibly fluctuating income. When your boss wants you to work, you owe him 80hrs a week (for ridiculously low pay)...however, when there's no work, he owes you nothing. I'd rather work for myself! I mean, my boss can be a real ass...but at least I get paid on time, and can take off when I need to for my kids, lol.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Whats the best/worst thing about running an online business?

    crisanderson.jpg The best things would be the incredible exposure!...along with the amazing people I've met! Being a bladesmith is sort of a niche profession, and I couldn't imagine trying to support myself out of a brick and mortar storefront.

    As for negatives...I haven't really found any. Some people are sort of flaky, but that would happen anywhere so I can't really fault the internet for that. All in all, it's honestly been nothing but positives.

    KKFlogoK.jpg How many knives do you own? How many of those have you made?

    crisanderson.jpg Hmm...I own...well, maybe nine knives...three of which are for kitchen use. I've made all of them but two (which are never used). Those two are antique Dexter butcher's knives, of all things. I got them from my great grandfather many, many years ago.

    KKFlogoK.jpg You're stranded on a desert island and you can only have one knife...what do you choose?

    crisanderson.jpg EASY choice (though it's unfinished, lol).


    crisanderson.jpg I call this my Japanese Camp Chopper, lol. It was inspired by a pair of blades Jimmy Fikes and Don Foggs put together years and years ago. Edge length is 14", with 11.5" of handle. The back edge is very, very sharp...and is 8" long. The blade will eventually have a blended triple geometry ground in. The top (8") edge is for splitting and/or chopping wood, with a very robust, hatchet like convex edge. The bottom (14") edge is very fine for the first 4-5" from the handle, and grows thicker and more substantial for the remaining 9" or so. The reason for this is balance. When held in a choked up grip, the blade is VERY fast and perfectly balanced. When held towards the butt, the forward weight is incredible. With the rough edge on it now, I've cut 3" saplings with a single swing. The steel is 1075 (I will eventually make myself one out of Aldo's W2), and the blade is differentially hardened.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Do you make anything besides kitchen knives?

    crisanderson.jpg I do...some of them you've seen above. I also make every day carry knives, hunting knives, and even (sometimes) make jewelry, both edged and otherwise. My friend Son (Sachem Allison) even bullied me into making him an antiqued friction folder, lol. Here's a pair of necklaces I've made in the past, as well as my current EDC and Son's folder.




    KKFlogoK.jpg Were you nervous making your first professional "for sale" knife ? Did it feel any different then any knife you had made before?

    crisanderson.jpg That's tough to say...not so much 'nervous' I guess, as excited. And it did feel different, but only in that I was incredibly honored that someone actually wanted what I was making. I truly am my own worst critic, lol...so as far as holding those knives to different standards...it wasn't really necessary.

    KKFlogoK.jpg What is your favorite part of the knife making process? Why?

    crisanderson.jpg Well...this is an even tougher one than the last one to answer lol. I very much enjoy working with the end user to make him/her a knife that he/she will reach for before all others. I know that that's probably a general impossibility, but it's my goal regardless. As far as a specific part of the process, as I said, very difficult! I love forging out a blade...seeing it take shape...grinding it into exactly what I want it to be...hardening it, and giving it the ability to serve its intended purpose in the process. I love seeing the hamon come out in all its depth and variation while polishing as well. It's such an incredible feeling for some reason, and very hard to describe to someone who has never done it.

    KKFlogoK.jpg What is your least favorite part of the process? Why?

    crisanderson.jpg This one's easy! POLISHING!! The why you ask? Because it's so incredibly tedious!! Every time you think you're ready to move to the next grit...NOPE!!...there's one tiny little scratch you didn't see!...and for some reason, that scratch just HAS to be like half an inch deep! Ugh...I hate even thinking about it lol. But at least its balanced out by seeing the hamon come out, so it isn't all bad :).

    KKFlogoK.jpg Do any skills from your "9-5" job transition in to knife making?

    crisanderson.jpg Mostly no...but common sense is something I pretty much learned on construction sites (just ask my dad what I was like as a kid!), and it's served me well in every aspect of my life, including bladesmithing.

    KKFlogoK.jpg Would you like to add any final words for the members of the KKFora?

    crisanderson.jpg Yes.

    Thank you. Truly.

    Without you guys and the support and inspiration you give, I couldn't pursue my love of making kitchen knives. I enjoy making ALL blades, but the kitchen knife...properly executed, is something else entirely. To me it combines all the intricacy and purpose of design that goes into a full length Japanese sword, but is even more demanding in execution, due to the need for it to be as thin as humanly possible in the process. The conflicting needs for strength, sharpness, durability, thinness, edge holding, ease of sharpening, food separation without wedging, lack of stiction...it's easily the most design intensive blade one could imagine...all in a package 2mm thick. Add to that fact that you guys are an incredibly rough crowd (I wouldn't have it any other way!), and due to that specifically, if you're pleased with my work...I know I've done something special.

    So yes...definitely thank you. The opportunity you provide to me...to be able to make things I love for a living...is honestly priceless.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  2. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  3. Jeffery Hunter

    Jeffery Hunter Founding Member

    Great insight, thanks for sharing Chris and thanks for the putting another one together Jason
  4. larrybard

    larrybard Founding Member

    Thank you. Terrific interview. Really enjoyed it. The sincerity and pride are apparent.

    P.S. Please wash my knife thoroughly before sending it to me -- unless you think any chicken and feta cheese won't spoil by the time they reach me.
  5. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  6. Thank you everyone!...and thank you Larry for this wonderful opportunity to share a bit about me and why I do this. It really means a lot that you guys are interested :).

    I'll definitely wash your knife Larry (I promise no remnants of whatever I make with it will be shipped!), but the one pictured is a ko-gyuto...yours is about 3" longer!

  7. XooMG

    XooMG Founding Member

    The handle on that ko-gyuto looks familiar...
  8. apathetic

    apathetic Founding Member

    That was fun to read, good one! :cool1
  9. Great stuff Cris!
  10. cheflarge

    cheflarge Founding Member

    Off the hook, Cris. Congratulations!
  11. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    this was a fantastic read, thanks guys, love the look and style of your knives Chris
  12. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    Great article. Good job guys.
  13. Thanks everyone!

    James, I really appreciate that my friend...thank you :).
  14. Lefty

    Lefty Founding Member

    That was a great interview. I always enjoy when Cris is in the mix.
  15. mr drinky

    mr drinky Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Good post/article/interview, and and good luck with those kids Cris. When you going to make a knife for them :)

  16. One day I am going to visit your shop Cris, now that you have a standing shop, haha!
  17. Yeah! Once I get caught up from what the whole freakin month of October did to me...we need to get that Tom/Cris mix going...lol.

    Actually...for Christmas! Going to make my boys EDC's.

    For sure man! When are you planning on getting out this way??
  18. zwiefel

    zwiefel Rest in peace brother

    Great interview, thanks for sharing guys!
  19. Well I'll be out there for Thanksgiving week! I may have to stop by one of those days.
  20. Great!! I'll be looking forward to it!

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