KA-BAR designer Steve Johnson of Johnson Adventure Blades is our feature in the latest installment of KA-BAR’s “Designer Spotlight”.
What sparked your passion for knives?
“I honestly don’t know where it came from, it was almost like it was pre-programmed. All I know is that from the time I can remember I was reading everything I could find about knives, bows and guns in the local library – this is WAY before the internet… – how they were made, materials that were used from stone to bronze to steel over the years and then trying to make them myself from whatever I could find around the shop.”
How old were you when you made your first knife?
“How loosely can we define knife? I started ‘forging’ lead wheel weights with a curved claw hammer on the garage floor making some rough shapes that wouldn’t cut a darn thing by the time I was 5. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I made my first one from steel but I had to use a step stool to get high enough to reach dad’s bench grinder that I wore out in the process of making the knife. The scales were walnut that the local high school shop teacher gave me.”
What is your favorite knife?
A sharp one. There are a few designs that I’m very fond of….Walter Brend and John Horrigan designs are among my favorite; they are both great guys. Daily carry knives…. I have always been fond of the Cold Steel Voyager series 4″ tanto, I retired mine to a hunting pack when we introduced our folders. I’ve had a Baconmaker in my pocket since. Every once in a while I’ll carry a Benchmade 710 and I have a CQC 11 that is my dress knife.
What inspired the creation of Johnson Adventure Blades and the designs that followed?
I’ve come up with my best designs when they were being designed for a specific purpose or need, from friends who are hunting freaks to service members.
What went into designing the unique Johnson Adventure Blade handles?
Well…a frustrating day of clearing brush in a tight area. It was too tight to swing a hatchet, I went in the shop and found a piece of S7 and made the original Potbelly. I designed it so it would chop well. I was designing as I ground the knife and just made it so it felt good, it was one of those things that just worked out; it’s been in my hunting pack since then.
KA-BAR Johnson Adventure Blades Potbelly