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

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 8: Midnight Sun Grizzlies

Kevin Steele and CZ-USA's Jason Morton return to Alaska's arctic tundra for Kevin's second and Jason's third attempt on the legendary species. Things are looking up on day one but time will tell if the boys will get a shot a the king of the tundra.

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 9: Aloha Axis Deer

Host Mike Schoby joins his buddies Jon Dubin and Jeff Johnston on the island of Lanai for a deer hunt Hawaiian style!

Trending Articles

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians. News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you. Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these guns. Survival

Which Firearm Is Best for Bear Defense?

Larry Case - July 11, 2018

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these...

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted positions in the outdoors. Stories

17 Dream Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Kali Parmley

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted...

See More Trending Articles

More Knives

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
Each year the outdoor industry gathers at the annual SHOT Show to'introduce its most cutting-edge Knives

Best New Hunting Knives & Tools for 2015

PH Online Editors - February 09, 2015

Each year the outdoor industry gathers at the annual SHOT Show to'introduce its most...

Some things are just easier to accomplish with a hammer and an anvil. It's a simple notion for Knives

Blades of Steel: Nate Runals' Custom Knives

Ben OBrien - April 11, 2014

Some things are just easier to accomplish with a hammer and an anvil. It's a simple notion for

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.