I AM NICK BACHTEL, OF N. M. BACHTEL FORGING COMPANY AND I MAKE HAND FORGED KNIVES.
Based in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, I utilize an antique coal forge, a hard-hitting power hammer, and thousands of hours of experience to forge one-of-a-kind knives inspired by my natural environment and its history. They’re practical tools that can be carried and used every day, but also a clean canvas on which artistic thoughts can be expressed.
I’m stubborn in my belief that quality comes first and foremost. Each knife began its life essentially as a block of steel, a piece of wood, and a roll of USA-made raw leather materials. Each one is hand-forged to shape in the coal forge and heat-treated in an industrial heat-treating kiln. The handles are sculpted and polished by hand and the leather sheaths are all stitched right here in my shop. There’s no outsourcing of any kind—I am the sole creator of each piece. I typically use two styles of finish—heirloom grade and field grade.
“I’m stubborn in my belief that quality comes first and foremost”
All of my knives are built to be tools, but some, like the heirloom grade knives, are also built with the collector in mind. Heirloom grade knives are more refined, with a carefully hand-polished finish. Field grade knives are simpler and built for utility, so they have a more rugged finish. I typically forge knives for specific purposes—bird and trout knives, skinning knives, and everyday carry knives, just to name a few.
I especially enjoy work that comes from some kind of personal inspiration—a dagger carried by a Native American, a Bowie knife carried by a Old West gunslinger, or a fighting knife carried by a World War I soldier. I find imbuing a knife with that kind of personal history and then working tirelessly to bring that idea to fruition incredibly rewarding. Taking a knife like that into the field and putting it to use really brings everything full circle.
Each blade I make is unique and carries a story. Every time I create a knife for someone it’s like sharing a piece of my life and my soul, making the whole experience extremely satisfying and slightly bittersweet.