Knife making is a painstaking business. It takes patience and passion to persevere – more than most adults can muster, let alone a 13-year old boy. But ambitious 7th grader Will Freeman is already making and selling blades under his brand Will Freeman Knives.
“There’s a lot of things a young person can do that give instant gratification. Knife making is not really one of those things.” says Will’s mentor, knife maker Charlie Edmondson. Edmondson owns Edmondson Elite, and sells knives made out of his shop in Alexander City, Alabama, only a short drive away from Will’s home. Will’s passion for knife making was sparked by a visit he and his father Doug Freeman paid to the Edmondson shop.
“Most of the budding knife makers who have come to my shop have spent 3-4 hours there and decided ‘this is ridiculous, I think I’ve changed my mind,'” says Edmondson. “Will has done the exact opposite.” Recognizing Will’s hard work and potential, Edmondson helped kick-start his home shop with some of the equipment he needed to get started. A new belt grinder and small forge now occupy a corner of his father’s woodworking shop. “It’s just about his favorite place to be,” says Will’s father Doug Freeman. “We ask him if he wants to go out, and his answer is always ‘no, I want to stay home and grind knives.’ ”
Will started posting his work on Instagram, where he encountered a worldwide network of fellow knife makers and collectors. “The support he’s had from the knife community is just amazing,” says Shannon Freeman, Will’s mother. “A number of knife makers have reached out to him to provide free materials or just to give advice. Because of his age, they’re intrigued with his work and want to encourage him.” Will has even received a few orders. “I’ve sold a couple knives on Instagram so far, and a few more through Boy Scouts and family friends,” Will says.
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“It’s fun, seeing it all come together – watching a piece of 1″ stock become a hunter with wood handles,” Will tells us. What does the future hold for Will Freeman Knives? Edmondson knows firsthand that the road to becoming a professional knife maker isn’t easy, but Will has a head start. “It takes a tremendous amount of dedication,” says Edmondson. “But, he has the time ahead of him to become a great knife maker, if he so chooses.”