Blades of Steel: Nate Runals' Custom Knives

Blades of Steel: Nate Runals' Custom Knives

Some things are just easier to accomplish with a hammer and an anvil. It's a simple notion for sure, but one often lost in today's got-to-have-it-now world of mass production.

Think about it. Our kids play with cheap plastic "Made in China" deathtraps. Hunters are going afield with Duck Dynasty endorsed Walmart knock-off gear. We're a nation losing our grit.

That's why, to me, Nate Runals is a revelation.

Runals is a Michigan-based blacksmith who specializes in hand-forged blades. The kind of kickass craftsmanship that has to be forged, ground, heat-treated, polished, etched, and welded. He's created blades of all shapes and sizes for local butchers, policemen, and clients all over the country.


Last month I commissioned Runals to make a meat cleaver — this is our Meat Eater Issue, after all — from scratch. The result was a straightforward, heavy-duty blade with impeccable balance. The handle is a smooth olive wood with brass pins, and the blade is forged 1075 high carbon steel tempered for toughness. It cuts through bone with absolutely no problem and, for an unintended added value, carries the same oil-rubbed timber smell as my high school wood shop.


"What makes a hand-forged knife unique is that it's hand-forged," Runals said. "I love ancient blades with the subtleties of their form."

This is truly a relational craft. What Runals makes (money, friendships, reputation) is earned with long hours. There's no huge marketing efforts needed, just blades that are truly custom, down to the final sandpaper polish.

"The goal is that every knife be better than the last," he said. "Even if it's just something that I notice, all I want to do is get better, find my voice in this craft, and share it with others."

Our commissioned cleaver with a vegetable tanned cow leather cover.
This damascus blade, Runals' personal knife, is used for skinning and gutting animals.
An example of a beautiful friction folder with a black oak handle.
This blade is an old zoo cage and a file forge welded together.
Runal's custom hand-forging requires careful inspection of the steel to ensure a top quality product.
"I'm a blacksmith that focuses on blades, and tools. I'm enthralled by the process of creating things, anything that gets me closer to the core or creation really inspires me, and that is why I love to make tools€¦ hopefully my work inspires others to create."
"I'm a big fan of simple, well made things, and knives are no exception. I have the utmost respect for bladesmiths who spend so much time with carvings, scrimshaw, and inlays in their work, but for me at this point in time, that's just not how I express my idea of a knife to the world."
"The wood used on this knife was Osage Orange, I chose it because it's natural oils help it remain stable in changing climates. I never would have guessed that it would hold up so well to being in a campfire!"
This blade is made of 1084 high carbon steel. The spine is a little over 3/16 inches, and the length is about 5 inches.
"This blade is made of 1075 with the same heat treatment as my larger cleavers, the handle is diver salvaged black oak with nickel silver pins."

To see more of Nate Runals' custom knives, visit his personal website.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Venison Cheeseburger Bites Recipe

Venison Cheeseburger Bites Recipe

If you're tired of the same old jalapeno and cream cheese poppers, here's a completely different take on the popular party appetizer. Easy to make, and incredibly delicious, these mini cheeseburgers, wrapped in bacon, make the perfect one-bite-fits-all snack for your next tailgate party or hunting camp.

Top Ten Hunts

Top Ten Hunts

Here at Petersen's Hunting we have compiled the 10 best hunts caught on camera from the last 2 years of Petersen's Hunting TV. Enjoy!

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

B&C Typical Mule Deer

B&C Typical Mule Deer

Doug Burris Jr's typical mule deer taken in 1969, could just be one record that will never be broken.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians; learn more about this tick-transmitted problem. News

Ticks Making People Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians; learn more about this...

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the 6.5 PRC. Guns

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC: Rifle Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2020

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the...

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology. Optics

The Best Cellular Trail Cameras for 2020

Tony J. Peterson - July 09, 2020

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology.

Is lever action dead? Not by a long shot. Guns

The Return of Lever Action Rifles

Craig Boddington - May 26, 2020

Is lever action dead? Not by a long shot.

See More Trending Articles

More Knives

Sometimes having the right tool for the job makes all the difference.

That's a truth we understand Knives

9 Top Hunting Tools and Blades for 2012

PH Online Editors - September 26, 2012

Sometimes having the right tool for the job makes all the difference. That's a truth we...

From field dressing wild game to prepping it for the table, a chef is judged by the blade of his knife Knives

Wild Game Processing: Get the Edge

David Draper

From field dressing wild game to prepping it for the table, a chef is judged by the blade of...

Guns may have won the west, but the journey through the Appalachian Mountains, across the Knives

Best Hunting Knives and Tools

David Hart - March 10, 2017

Sponsored By
Outdoor Sportsman Group


Buck's innovative Open Season Series knives are the perfect combination of tools for a successful Knives

Introducing the 2016 Buck Knives Lineup

PH Online Editors - January 29, 2016

Buck's innovative Open Season Series knives are the perfect combination of tools for a...

See More Knives

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now