RICH SMITHSON ~ History Sketch of Helvie Knives

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Friends, Knives

Rich Smithson of Helvie Knives has written a history sketch of the Wood Bee Carver Signature Series knives.  The photo above  is a photo of the # 1 – Universal Whittler (at top) Prototype of # 2 (in middle) and # 2 – Scimitar (at bottom). The prototype in the middle was made early on with an oak wood handle as a trial run with the cherry wood handle becoming the accepted handle. There were many prototypes of the various blade shapes designed by Mertz and Rich would make. Mertz would test and offer suggestions for blade revisions and handle shape, back and forth until a prototype passed the test and Rich would put it in projection. Rich was always eager to try a new Mertz design and always developed each design into another Signature Series Knife. 

What follows is the words of Rich Smithson telling the sketch of history which will be followed by photos of including carvings by Mertz in the private collection of Helvie Knives.

Helvie history and tidbits time! I would like to skip ahead a little and talk about a big influence/ innovator and encourager in my journey of knife making. The year 2011 the Wood Bee Carver Donald Mertz and I began working on scimitar blades. I thought I held my own in sharpening by then but I was wrong. Don created quite a few blade designs. We started out with a scimitar that I kept butchering which became the series 2 blade eventually. Since I was having trouble he modified the shape making it a little easier for me and the Donald K. Mertz Signature series 1 was born. I kept working on what would have been the first one and many conversations with Don I was understanding the planes and bevels…..Signature series 2 was now in the books. Series 3 came next a detail scimitar and 3-1 and 3-2 were detail versions of series 1 and 2. We were clicking now as I was burning up his telephone. He kept on encouraging me and the next big change was his series 5 the Stinger. Bevel the blade all the way to top. A flat grind on a scimitar blade. More calls…more encouragement it clicked. So, I thought I was ready for anything! Then the Sidewinder was pattern came in the mail…. Series 16 and 17. Oh boy now Don was tapping into my abilities. A down angle blade with 3 cutting planes. Straight carving blade angled down but also sharpening the end that went up. Kind of like sharpening a L. The long part of the letter was your knife blade and the short part of the letter was a push gouge. Lots of instructions from Don, calls, emails and printed handwritten instructions. We finally got it! So we made many more series and I have picked his brain for 10 years. I believe there are 63 Signature series knives in his collection. A few have never been added to our website. Working with Don has made me a better knife sharpener even on the straight blades. A true innovator, a big influence on me and years of positive encouragement. The photos below are the first two knives Series 1 and 2 that we made. A few of the many templates he sent me on the blade shapes and out of this world carvings by Don. Thank you, Don, for being a big part in Helvie Knives and mostly your friendship to Holli, Skylar and myself.










RICH SMITHSON,  Thanks for the kind words about our mutual collaboration on the Wood Bee Carver Signature Series knives ~ it has been a lot of fun and you, Holli and Skylar have made HELVIE KNIVES a trusted knife making business that is well respected for the quality and beauty of the knives you custom make. Thanks for your labors of love invested in each knife you make and your friendship to the woodcarving community. Helvie Knives are a “Cut above” as is the service you provide. BEE CARVEFUL, the WOOD BEE CARVER.


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