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Pro Craftsman Pierre Rodrigue Interview

Discussion in 'Life on the Edge' started by Toothpick, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Greetings everyone! Here is your chance to learn a little more about Pierre Rodrigue, the proprietor of Rodrigue Knives. Pierre graciously took time away from the workshop to answer a few questions for us and we truly appreciate him doing this for everyone here. Below is some fantastic insight in to Rodrigue Knives and the man behind the business. Kindly devote a few minutes and enjoy the interview!


    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Who are you? Where are you located?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png My name is Pierre Rodrigue, and I am a part time knife maker, full time surveyor, husband and father to 3 beautiful girls. I call Lloydminster Alberta, Canada home, but grew up on Canada’s east coast.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png How did Rodrigue Knives get started?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Kind of an odd story really. I hunt a fair bit, have been for a few years. Of course, along with hunting, comes the chore of field dressing game. I used to carry a back pack, with half dozen or so knives that were sharpened prior to each hunt. I had a few, for the reason of keeping a sharp edge through the different tasks required. It was annoying!! Holy crap! Really? There had to be better options. I started asking the steel suppliers for knife steel. No body had a clue? I was introduced to a gentleman, who offered me a piece, I ground out a knife shaped object, and he heat treated it for me. The following fall, I used the knife to field dress and skin 5 deer! Huge improvement! I showed a couple friends, and workmates, they asked if I could make one for them, Soon I had a few orders. I developed my first website, as a place to keep photos available for anyone to look at. Soon I joined my first forum, and was hoping to get noticed for my hunters, and folders. Someone seen a fillet knife that I had made, and was showing it in the kitchen section. The asked me to pop in and see what was being said about it. That generated a few more orders. That's about it really.

    Rodrigue.jpg

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Do you have any formal training or was it 'learn as you go'?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png My first few were learn as I go. School of hard knocks. I showed them to family and friends, and had them go over them, and “pick ‘em apart” They were all too picky!! But it helped me be critical. I did a folder course with Bryan Lyttle, a master knife maker in his own right. Look him up, you’ll see what I mean! I also did a weekend forging course, to understand Damascus, and san mai, the rest I developed along the way.
    [​IMG] On average how long does it take to make a knife from start to finish
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Depends on the knife really. If I were to start, and work through to completion, anywhere from 8 to 30 hours, depending on size, and complexity.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png How many knives do you own? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png How many of those have you made?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png I probably have a half dozen folders, maybe 5 hunters, 25-30 kitchen knives, some vintage ones as well. I have a folder, a hunter, and 6 kitchen knives that I have made. The kitchen knives are seconds.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Are you a one man army or do you have a support team?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Completely a one man show.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png What is the strangest/oddest request you've received from a customer?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png If anything has been weird, it was a request to carve a dragons head and body on a straight razor, and make the scales look like wings. A cool idea, but I don’t have a clue how to execute it. I also had a guy want to commission a sword, with an outlandish handle.

    rodigueforge.jpg

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png What do you do with knives that don't make the cut?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png They don’t get completed, or they become bench knives, or tossed in a tool box to live out their usefulness as rejects!

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png You're stranded on a desert island and you can only have one knife...what do you choose?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Well I think for practicality, I would have a large camp knife or a shorter machete. That’s if I have no other tools at my disposal.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png What do you cut most with your knives? Veggies? Meats? Zombies?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png A balance of both really, meats and veggies. I do most of the cooking at home, so nothing food related is safe! As far as zombies go, I like to engage them at say 1000 meters, this way I keep crap off my blades. If they get close enough for blade use, I have a few swords…

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Do you do much cooking? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png If so what is
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png
    As I mentioned, I do most of the cooking, and baking. My wife is a really good cook too, I just usually take over the kitchen, and she is good with that. As for a favorite dish? No. It depends what I’m in the mood for. There isn’t much I won’t try.

    rodrigueSR.jpg

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Do you make anything besides kitchen knives?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png I make hunters, fillet, folders, and tacticals. Recently straight razors. More kitchen knives, than any other. I also make my own sheaths, wood and leather. I make cutting boards, shaving brushes, and a few other odds and ends.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Is it harder or easier to make a straight razor than a knife? View attachment 993 How does the process differ?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Loaded question. One is no harder or easier than the other. Both have their issues. A razor goes much quicker, because its smaller, so it seems easier. Also doesn’t take as much time finishing. Razors are typically hollow ground, knives are convexed, different use’s results in different process to build.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Do you have any other hobbies? Hunting, fishing, wet-shaving, all of the above?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Haha! Yes, all the above! I hunt, birds, and big game. Fish when I can. Been wet shaving for a couple years, have a collection (growing) of vintage Sheffield razors. Make my own gear. I bake, make wine, love long distance shooting, metal work, drawing (pencil/pen/pastels/charcoal)
    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Were you nervous making your first professional "for sale" knife ? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Did it feel any different then any knife you had made before?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Well, the first few knives, I made for friends/co workers. I was quite proud of my new found skill, and didn’t stress it much. However, once n the forums, selling the first “ordered spec knife” i was a tad paranoid, yes.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png What is your favorite knife to MAKE?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png I still enjoy folders, razors, and any knife that is a one of, or different from the masses. San Mai knives, and damascus are cool, cause its like Christmas kind of. You never know for sure what your gonna get till you etch it.

    rodrigueboard.jpg
    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png What is your favorite part of the knife making process? Why?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png I would say designing is the most enjoyable, and the interaction with customers. Apart from that, final finish, and polishing and the photos.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png What is your least favorite part of the process? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Why?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Hand finishing!! Because I like my skin, and I typically have less of it when doing some steels. I hate working with gloves, I am a guy who likes to touch and feel, looking for imperfections.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Power hammers. Do you have one? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Home brew or manufactured? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png ] How did it change things? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Do you still use the ole Armstrong version to make a knife from scratch?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png I have access to a friends homemade pneumatic 50 pound hammer. It does speed things along. However I am building a 50 ton press. Its quieter, and moves steel more efficiently I think. I would love to get one of the Japanese style hammers, and/or a nice tire hammer. Yes, I do use hammer and anvil as well.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Is there a specific maker that you draw most of your inspiration from?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png There are a few. A friend of mine, Brian Lyttle has been an early inspiration. I learned to make folders with him. As far as kitchen knives go, I have always looked up to Devin Thomas. His work is outstanding, fit and finish is impeccable, has mastered damascus, and is just one hell of a nice guy. I am privileged to know him.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Is there a specific steel that you prefer to work with and why? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png On the other hand, is there a steel that you really dislike or just outright refuse to work with and why?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png I like most CPM steels I have worked with. I also like O1. They make great blades, have a nice grain structure, and hold great edges. I am not a fan of D2, however have tried CPM D2. It is an improvement, but I would not use it for a kitchen knife. Just don't like it.

    RodrigueKnifehorn.jpg

    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Most of the kitchen knives and hunters that I do, are essentially the same to work on. In that they have a blade under 12” long, and a couple inches wide. So grinding and finishing requires similar steps. Cleavers, and hunters with gut hooks are a PITA. I won’t do gut hooks any more, and avoid hand finishing cleavers. Like Butch said to me once, like polishing a license plate!

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png How many beards? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png And which is your favorite?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Beards? Just one, had it for 10 years or more. Kinda like the goatee. Now had you meant bread, well, there are 8 or so that I make. My favourite is cinnamon raisin. I am working on my sourdoughs, trying to nail the nuances of them. Have baguettes figured out, working on no kneed formulas, have a stellar sandwich bread.​
    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png
    Your overall designs are pretty fresh and not cookie-cutter. How about cross-sectional geometry? upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Do you study and imitate the geometry of other knives, or do you prefer to develop your own shapes intuitively or through experimentation and testing?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png A lot of my designs were developed or tweaked based on feedback from users. I also cook a lot, and have my own feelings. As far as emulating other products, I think it will be difficult to improve much on Japanese knives. They have so many use specific knives its crazy! I mean a knife just to cut eels! So if I can incorporate features of two or three use specific knives, into a great all rounder... That is the goal. Cross sectional geometry? Yes of course, it is very important. To have a custom cut through a potato for instance and not have it stick is sweet. Making that happen by determining how and where to adjust geometry, is part of the puzzle, and keeps it interesting. Sometimes I gain or loose performance, by a geometrical decision. Testing rules.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Have you or would you make a single bevel knife?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png I have not yet, but am planning to.

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Do you make utilitarian monosteel knives?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Yes of course. The majority of my knives are stainless or carbon mono steels. Designed to take a beating. Even slice shoes! Ask Theory lol!!

    Rodriguewishstillhad.jpg

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png How do you do it all, the full time job, the family, and all the knife
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png
    Not easily, or successfully. It usually means one suffers for the other. If I am making blades, or forging, the family is put on the back burner, and vise versa. Work just ruins everything else! I balance where I can, sometimes out in the shop after dinner, when I have the energy. An hour or two means a lot. The little petty I just did, was profiled and HT’ed. To grind, polish, etch, and build the handle from scratch took an evening. I ended up buying a new respirator with a full face shield, and filters capable of removing all dust, and nuisance vapours. There is a TON of crap floating in the shop when I get going!

    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Was there ever a knife you made that you liked it so much you thought about keeping to yourself rather then selling it?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png For a while, I didn’t want to let any of them go. Each was unique, and has a little bit of me built in. Sometimes christened with sweat or blood... Not so much blood any more! Skin is getting tougher... Recently though there have been a couple special ones yes, that were hard to let go of.
    upload_2014-3-31_12-17-46.png Would you like to add any final words for the members of the KKFora?
    upload_2014-3-31_12-18-22.png Gentlemen (and ladies of course) Jim and company have went about starting a resource, and a community consisting of people from all walks of life, profession’s, and backgrounds. We are fortunate to be here from the beginning. You have at your disposal, home cooks, professional cooks, trained Chef’s, retailers, wet shavers, BBQ nuts, sharpeners, handle makers, knife makers, and supporting craftsmen and hobbyists. There should be no question you can ask, that someone here can’t help you with, be it a spice blend, to a wine pairing, all the way to knife and steel selection. As a member here, you are asked only to participate, and add where you feel comfortable. Ask questions without fear, and add to conversations as you wish. This is the beginning of what I hope to be a thriving, friendly community, filled with people with similar likes and passions, I for one am proud, and humbled to be part of it, and will contribute what I can when asked, and sometimes where I am not asked! :p

    Pierre

    My friends call me Bear…​
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2014
  2. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  3. Thats was a fun read.. Thanks Pierre & Jason
     
  4. WarrenB

    WarrenB Contributor

  5. Like. :p
     
  6. Taylor

    Taylor Professional Craftsman Founding Member

  7. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  8. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Great job guys,.. cant wait till Pierre tries more beards.

    The Tactical Walrus makes a great read for sure.
     
  9. Jeffery Hunter

    Jeffery Hunter Founding Member

    Thanks for the great read guys
     
  10. Catrentshaving

    Catrentshaving Founding Member

    A wonderful interview and knowing the man himself after having the pleasure of meeting him made it that much better. Bravo to you both.
     
  11. roberto

    roberto Founding Member

    I like these interviews a lot,it shows the person behind the name.
     
  12. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  13. PierreRodrigue

    PierreRodrigue Tactical Walrus Founding Member Contributor

    Maybe not as a job, but forsure as a favor.
     
  14. CrisAnderson27

    CrisAnderson27 Professional Craftsman

    Love it! I've always been a fan of your knives, though I've never had the opportunity to handle the one. Your aesthetics very much match my own, and your knives reputation as great cutters is impeccable. I've got to admit though that I wasn't expecting to find an interview with some insights into the man behind the knives.

    Again, love it!
     

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