Todd Hunt, T.M. Hunt Custom Knives: The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 473)
Todd Hunt of T.M. Hunt Custom Knives joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 473 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
From a young age in Seymour, Indiana, Todd remembers standing at his dad’s workbench and watching him make a few knives a year for friends and family. It always amazed him that something as useful as a knife could be made with nothing more than a couple of tools and some hard work.
Todd enjoys hobbies like hunting, fishing, camping, martial arts, and metal fabrication, each of which teaches him the many varied uses for knives. But no matter how his interests changed, his abiding love of knives and making them by hand was a constant.
In 2013, Todd officially started T.M. Hunt Custom Knives, making each knife entirely by hand, one at a time. He quit his nearly 20-year career in the machining trade to pursue his love of making knives with a renewed resolve to produce fine handmade knives any collector would be proud to own.
T.M. Hunt Custom Knives have been featured on the Food Network and Discovery Channel, six different magazines, and the collections of celebrities.
Be sure to support The Knife Junkie and get in on the perks of being a Patron — including early access to the podcast and exclusive bonus content. You also can support the Knife Junkie channel with your next knife purchase. Find our affiliate links at theknifejunkie.com/knives.Todd Hunt of T.M. Hunt Custom Knives joins Bob on Episode 473 of The Knife Junkie Podcast. T.M. Hunt Custom Knives have been featured on the Food Network and Discovery Channel, as well as six different magazines. Click To Tweet
The Knife Junkie Podcast is the place for knife newbies and knife junkies to learn about knives and knife collecting. Twice per week Bob DeMarco talks knives. Call the Listener Line at 724-466-4487; Visit https://theknifejunkie.com.
©2023, Bob DeMarco
The Knife Junkie Podcast
Transcribe Your Podcasts and Videos: https://theknifejunkie.com/magic (affiliate link)
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast, your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your host, Bob the knife junkie DeMarco.
Bob DeMarco [00:00:16]:
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast. Asked on Bob DeMarco. On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Todd Hunt of TM Hunt Custom Knives. Todd is a custom knife maker whose work I showed off on the podcast and on the channel here in the form of the brain shovel Based on his Ringpop Nook platform, and this was a collaboration with Ed So, who's also been on the show. Todd is known for his robust And refined field knives and EDC fixed blades. But the knife that really put TM Hunt Custom Knives on the map is the M18, A startlingly cool and unique bush knife capable of doing the work of numerous different woodland tools, all in one knife. We'll talk about the birth of this iconic blade and the man who makes it, but first, be sure to like, comment, subscribe, and hit the notification bell. Download us where you listen to podcasts, and be sure to join us on Patreon if you wanna help support what we do here.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:11]:
It's greatly appreciated by Jim and myself. Best way to do that is to go to the knife junkie.com/patreon and check out what we have. That's the knife junkie.com/patreon.
Subscribe to The Knife Junkie's YouTube channel at theknifejunkie.com/youtube.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:36]:
Todd, welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast, sir.
Todd Hunt [00:01:39]:
Thank you for having me. It's it's nice to, finally, get up with you. I know you and I played tag a bunch here and there, getting back and forth, but, it's nice to finally be here.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:50]:
Yeah. And it's nice to finally meet you too, especially after having, the brain shovel, the last one, In my, hot little hands for quite a long time. Thanks for letting me, borrow that, but that that thing, Very cool. Congratulations on selling that out.
Todd Hunt [00:02:09]:
Oh, thank you. That was, it was, just a a fun project. I'm sure we'll get more into it here in a little while, but, things that Ed and I look forward to doing together to kind of, get our creative juices going, I guess, and, some things, to help him, as far as Being able to repeat stuff. So it was just a fun project as as, we had a lot of fun doing them after We did, we did accidentally, you know, some of those things are always, you know, just kind of, like, playing around. I've made some double edged stuff before, but, Ed really hadn't. So, we got to play when he got to, screw up a little bit of steal and get a little bit of aggravated, so all those things are all good. But, yeah, it was a fun project.
Bob DeMarco [00:03:00]:
Well, what what does that look like collaborating with another maker of, Of tools and physical goods.
Todd Hunt [00:03:07]:
Well, a little bit with Ed. I I just really kind of got lucky with him Because how we do it is, you know, I I just moved into a bigger shop here a couple years ago, and, one of the things that I wanted, with the new shop was I needed to get some help in here, but, you know, in a knife making shop, somebody doesn't really just hit the ground running. So, you know, Ed got with me, and he wasn't very far away. So the cool thing about him is, Ed Ed doesn't really need for, say, a mentor. He just needs more practice. And I've got all the practice in the for him because I've got a lot of stuff for him to do. So, you know, I've got my knives, he's got his knives, and then when we get together, we have, like, our stuff that we do, and I try to, make it to where it's things that he can learn from, you know, the repetitiveness and being able to do Small batch builds. So, I got really lucky with it.
Todd Hunt [00:04:12]:
So, like, when he comes around and when we try to figure out these projects to do, I kind of get to think of, things like I wanted to get him, practicing on double edge, making double you know, the symmetry with double edge grinds and whatnot, so we decided, to do, those. So, to answer your question, to string it out a little bit, it's it's a lot of fun for me, and it's it's, probably more So for me, because I get to make up the projects, it's like, alright, Ed. I think you need to work on this, so I'm going to, think of a project. It's going to incorporate a lot. And, you know, a lot of times, the only way we ever get better at anything is just, You know, repetitive motion, repetitive motion, and then, you know, doing it over and over and over again. That's how I'm trying to instill that in Ed is, You know, get it down to where you've done it so many times, and, you know, it's once it's mastered, And then you kinda sneak up on. I'm I'm probably rambling, but, to to answer your question, what it's like to do with other people, sometimes, you know, egos get in the way. There there's there's nothing like that at all because he's he's such a sponge as far as wanting to To learn how to do things better.
Todd Hunt [00:05:34]:
So, in this instance, it's a lot of fun because I kinda really get to make all the rules.
Bob DeMarco [00:05:40]:
Well, I I I want to, I wanna go back in time in a minute and and ask you how you got started in all this. But before we do, something that Ed mentioned when I was talking with him And when I had the, brain shovel in my possession well, it's based on, Todd's ring pop Nook, except it's got a double edged blade coming off of it. Anyway, when I had that, we were talking about the Apex, Steel. That special steel that you were using for the
Todd Hunt [00:06:07]:
Well, I got that's It it was something that Ed had, had accumulated from somebody that he was really interested in. And I I to To be honest with you, I'm not the best one to ask. It was something that he wanted to try, and he had, 4 big bars of it. Now that was actually what I was talking about. We had we had ruined 1 bar through, some questionable techniques, I guess, you could say. Like I said, we was we was trying some other things as far as cutting these out, and, we we screwed 1 up. But as far as that particular steel, Ed was intrigued with it because Of the, hardness you can get with it. And he had never tried heat treating it before, nor had I, And it's a carbon steel, so therefore, I had some interest in it.
Todd Hunt [00:07:05]:
And, man, it's just, I can't tell you. Even before we even tried to, to put any heat to it all, just cutting it, it's just, the stuff is just super hard. And from what I understand, it can take, like, mid sixties Rockwell, like, 54, 65. So and, you know, even not have, brittleness problems. But, we made these out of those, and we got these things We got these things hard, very hard to where I don't think that the application that we made these out of like I said, these were all just an experiment. They're something that we was, playing with and something that It was fun, and then the Apex Ultra was something that, it kinda added in at the very last second because it was something that he had that we tried. I don't think that you know, these things are, I believe the brain swivels. I believe those were 3 sixteenths of a inch thick.
Todd Hunt [00:08:13]:
Now usually, I make those out of the, o one, the quarter inch o one. The reason I make those out of quarter inch o one is because those are actually cutoffs. I wanted to get those out cutoffs of my big m a t that he was talking about earlier. And, these were thinner because that was what, he had. And, I just remember it being extremely difficult to cut out, Extremely difficult. It wasn't extremely difficult to heat treat, but it was a little bit more labor intensive. And these things are hard, man. I'm I mean, They're, like, in 64, 65 points.
Todd Hunt [00:08:52]:
And for that application, I mean, this is a I guess you can consider this a, blunt force, tool. You know? So I guess if you're hitting cinder blocks or something with this thing, I you know, You gotta break your hand too probably, but, I I mean, I guess what I'm getting at is this thing is is completely tougher than anything that you can possibly, throw at it and then some probably. It was probably a little bit of overkill doing it with the Apex, but it was what we had, and we wanted to try it at the I
Bob DeMarco [00:09:33]:
I would argue the entire design is overkill, which Yeah. Yeah. Is alright by me. Let's talk about the m eighteen.
Todd Hunt [00:09:41]:
Bob DeMarco [00:09:42]:
I I before I knew your name, I knew that design, which is, which is good. In in my opinion, that's like, that's a good calling card for a designer slash maker, which is what you are. You are a maker. You make these things by hand. Do you have 1 at hand?
Todd Hunt [00:10:03]:
You are gonna laugh at me, because the only one that I have at my hand is actually I've I've made some, limited edition ones. Mhmm. And I'm not at my shop right now if it's not obvious. It's it's, It's across town, and so all my stuff's out there. The only thing I have here is a couple little knickknacks. I've got one that I actually made my daughter that's pink White. Cool. But, yeah, I I do have 1.
Todd Hunt [00:10:32]:
This 1, was a limited edition 1 I made 2 of these, 1 for my wife and 1 for, my daughter. These are, white. They're serial numbered. This one's 2 of 2. And then these handles, this was a limited project that I did with Dan Eastland.
Bob DeMarco [00:10:49]:
Todd Hunt [00:10:51]:
And these actually glow, this Tiffany blue. So
Bob DeMarco [00:10:55]:
Todd Hunt [00:10:56]:
But, anyway, there's only 2 2 of these white ones. This one's my daughter's here, but,
Bob DeMarco [00:11:01]:
I gotta say, to see this in white I mean, when you see it in its in its normal state, which is kinda looks almost Blued or it's like very DeMarco. You can see the different, grinds, the hollow grind where that recurve is and then the the The grind all the way at the front. It looks so much more serious when it's not in white and pink. Yeah. Look at this monster. What tell tell us about this knife and, And and its origin and and how you make it.
Todd Hunt [00:11:31]:
How this all came about, the m eighteen was, Oh, I wasn't even full time. I I went full time in 2013, so, about 10 10 years now. So, a friend of mine by the name of Corey Murphy, who he's a retired marine. He used to go to, the the gatherings that, Ethan Becker had on his property. I'm sure you know who Ethan Becker is. And He invited me to go, and and I wasn't full time knife maker at the time, but, Corey was one of my best friends, still is. And he was big into this Weird knife that I never could get into, designed by a man by the name of Tom Brown called the Tracker. I'm sure everybody's, You know, heard about that knife.
Todd Hunt [00:12:28]:
And, as everybody kinda was back then, Corey was into that movie, The Hunted with, oh, I know I'm gonna say his name wrong. Tommy Lee Jones and what is it?
Bob DeMarco [00:12:41]:
Benicio del Toro.
Todd Hunt [00:12:43]:
Del Toro. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:12:44]:
Todd Hunt [00:12:45]:
So, Corey was real big into that knife, and, he had came back. He was in the green court. He came back from, Iraq, and, he wanted one of those made. And I made the knife, and I basically, what I did was I took a set of, Becker handles off of a knife that he gave me because he was friends with Ethan, And he really liked those handles, and he said, use these on the knife. Well, I made the knife. And to make a long story short, it was absolutely Horrendous. I hated the knife. And a lot of that, I'll be honest with you, is because I didn't really understand it, To be totally honest with you, I didn't understand it at the time.
Todd Hunt [00:13:26]:
I I saw something that I thought was it looked like a knife that was made to chop, but And it was made to be, compact, which I didn't understand, and it just confused me and I thought it was horrible. So when you take a concept that you think is horrible and you try to do something better with it, it just really totally screws it up even more, and that's what happened of that knife and I just I never did like it, so I thought you know? And the thing of it was when he when I got that knife done, he took it shave it to everybody. And I hated it because I thought, man, that is not a good representation of my work. I don't like that knife. I don't like the design. I don't understand the concept. I thought it all sucked. So I thought, well, if he's gonna take a round, run his mouth, and show everybody this, at least I could think I could do something that, You know, with I I wanted to make my version of what I thought that knife should be.
Todd Hunt [00:14:26]:
And like I said, out of all honestness, A lot of what I thought that knife should be out of at that time was ignorance. I didn't understand that knife. So I made a bigger, version of it with, things that I had in mind as far as what I would do with it. I you know, I'm old, Indiana boy and, you know, hunting, fishing, camping, you know, being outdoors, that's what people, You know, around here do. And, I just made it with, something in mind to have, you know, Every every place, everything has a function. Basically, not a 1 1 knife does everything that, or not 1 knife replaces everything, but It's 1 tool that you can do. It's not the 1 tool that you want to replace everything, but it's 1 tool that you can get by with if you've got it.
Bob DeMarco [00:15:28]:
Let's, let's start from the pommel and work forward because I look at this knife, and I see something that's really cool. And looking at it through my lens, it would be a, well, let let's just find out. What what are all the what do you do with this thing?
Todd Hunt [00:15:44]:
Well, this one isn't set up anymore because it's been robbed of all the stuff. But, okay. So so just to Start. And like I said, when I when I go through these, there's gonna be people that are gonna say, well, it wouldn't be very good for that. It wouldn't be very good for that. It wouldn't be good for skinning the deer. No. It wouldn't be the exact thing that I would take, but if it was the only thing I had, you know, it can be done.
Todd Hunt [00:16:07]:
So Yes. With that with that in mind, you know, the handles, people say if you remember me saying, the very first one that I ever made Right before I went, I wanted to have a new knife. So the the very first one that I ever made was, the one that I made The very first time I went to, Ethan Becker's, gathering. And so I had, Becker handle scales on the 1st 16, I think, of these that I made. And then, of course, After that, I changed the design a little bit and then, got into where I was waterbed and used, and that all changed whatnot, but these aren't the same as as Becker's scales now that they used to be. So anyway, starting back here, it's just an exposed pommel. You know, if you had to, you know, crash something, I always think of not that We have a lot of coconuts in Indiana that, I mean, if you, you know, you had to. And then, you know, just basically from starting back from there, usually, these have lanyards on them with a bead that is adjustable.
Todd Hunt [00:17:22]:
And the reason I put those on there is the so, like, if you have this in your sheath. And these these are all set up for, like MOLLE attachments or belt attachments or, Teklocks? Teklocks. Yeah. So you can carry this many many different ways. I don't put these on my belt, but I put them on my pack. Or I got 1 in the truck actually that if it's on me, it's on my pad. So anyway, then those lanyard tube those lanyard holes will, lay freely down, and then you can also then you can pull that, and then you can Put the lanyard around here. Again, it's hard for me to show this without there actually being 1.
Todd Hunt [00:18:09]:
And you can support the weight, and then that's what The this up here is for you can actually, choke up on it and you can use this and find, like, For example, like we hang our deer. Uh-huh. And Okay. What a stand Yeah. It can be and, you know, you can you can skin out that way, And this holds the, the, the weight of the blade,
Bob DeMarco [00:18:34]:
and that's what that jimping is for at the very end of the blade too.
Todd Hunt [00:18:37]:
Exactly. Yeah. Alright.
Bob DeMarco [00:18:38]:
So if you're if you're listening and and not looking and you're wondering how the m eighteen, the the big, TM Hunt Custom Knives M18 Bush Tool, which you've probably seen, how you can actually skin a deer with this. He's saying that you actually attached the lanyard around your forearm almost near your elbow and used that little hole at the At the tip, and you have fine control over the tip of this huge knife.
Todd Hunt [00:19:05]:
Bob DeMarco [00:19:06]:
Todd Hunt [00:19:06]:
And, another way you can do, like, for, bone joints, Like, like the elbows, you can put this it's kinda shaped kinda like a guillotine right on elbow joints and then you got this Back here, you can bat and ride the el elbow joints. And it's just really easy to and that that's just like for cleaning a deer then, you know, like, Got the, the hollow ground area. This is rounded, so I mean, it it works really nice as a spoke shave as well. This, I actually put there to take pots off of the fire for the cooking. So I tried to iterate something in every Little corner. I wanted there to be something useful everywhere you look at the knife.
Bob DeMarco [00:19:52]:
So I I I don't I don't I'm I'm not here to dish on the Thom Browne tracker. I'm not a fan, but I am not a tracker, and I'm not an outdoorsman. I do remember taking exception The knife be used as a fighting knife in the hunting? Because I wanna disease something else. But how how in what ways does Does the m eighteen improve on the tracker, and what were the things about the tracker that you liked, that you that you tried to bring into this design?
Todd Hunt [00:20:22]:
Well, again, like I said, when I very first kinda got into into, this and fooling around with this, I was basing it on what I thought the Tom Brown tracker knife was. Like, to your point, in the movie, The Hunted, it was used, It was used as a utilitarian type knife, but it was also used primarily, as a fighting weapon, which, This isn't designed as a fighting knife. I I, you know, designed it around, you know, what we discussed as far as, versatility and being able to use it in outdoor activities as Far as, you know, a a fighting knife, this ain't this isn't it. As far as, Like, compared to the Tom Brown tracker, I have held a Tom Brown tracker a few times, and then like I said, once I really understood, what it was about and how it How it, worked, I immediately realized then that I may be an 18 too big. Which is what I thought was because like I said, I thought you know, when I very first saw the the the Tom Brown tracker, I thought that it was too I I thought that it was a chopper made to be compact, which that actually isn't the truth. That's not what that knife was for. And so when I improved on that version of the tracker, I just made bigger to give it more mechanical advantage. This thing chops like an ax Because it has the mechanical advantage of this 4 inch section, here, Now are you gonna put this in your pocket and butter your biscuit? No.
Todd Hunt [00:22:16]:
You're not. But, You know, it is what it is. It's not an entry level tool. This I I have people that actually, customers that carry these, And, you know, they'll go on hikes and carry them on their belts and stuff. I don't see how they do it. I put them on a pack or I put mine in my vehicle, and that's where they're at. But, they you know, they it's a it's a considerable piece of, equipment. It's almost 2 pounds.
Todd Hunt [00:22:43]:
It's 16 inches long. It's quarter inch, thick. It's a big piece of, It's a big piece of gear, but, for what it's made for, I haven't been able to find anything that that has rivaled it. But, So I had people ask me for years to make a smaller version of it. I didn't really want to do it because, Again, I kinda thought that I hit all the things with this by basically making it on a design that I didn't understand. But once I understood it, I thought, oh, I'll make a small one. So, that's that's what we're getting to now with the n fourteen, which I don't have any here. I've just now got, yeah, started to make some of those, so that's a it's a smaller version, it is.
Bob DeMarco [00:23:29]:
That's exciting. That's actually really cool. What what what's the process? How do you make these?
Todd Hunt [00:23:36]:
Well, believe it or not, when I very first Started these just like everything else. I I used a quarter inch piece of steel that I cut out every 1 of them on a band saw. And that's not knife making, folks. That is That is, hating life. So, and how I deal with most all of my knives anymore, except for my smaller ones. I cut everything out, by hand. But, these m eighteens, since they are so big, I do have them water jetted. Now When I have them water jotted, that does a few things for me.
Todd Hunt [00:24:10]:
1, now that the water now that they are water jotted, they're all exactly the same. So What I can do for that is now I can start making molds to where I don't have to have, the knife to make the kydex sheets. So now we can make, a mold knife or a couple mold knives, and then we can just make cuttock sheaths all day. And we know that when they get to the knife, they're gonna fit because they're all the same. The same thing with my handles. I got a little c and c, gantry, c and c That, so I'll make the handles and then we'll turn that into a CAD program. And, so now these are what I call, these would be my, standard versions to where I have, the cutout, the c and c handles. So what happens is I get my blank, I stamp the blank with my name, the model number, and the serial number on these, and then they go through a 1st grind pass.
Todd Hunt [00:25:25]:
So, the hollow ground is ground, the front convex is ground, All of the, everything is I know you can't see this stuff, but all this stuff is, chamfered And, then it's heat treated. And then after it's heat treated, it goes through that, process all again because I take all of the grinder marks out of it, even though this one is, painted, you can't see it. But if it wasn't painted, You can see that there's no grinder DeMarco. I mean, these these things are actually all taken down to 400 grit, I ever did of them. And then most of them, to what you said, they look like they're gray. They're actually acid etched to help with the, With the, corrosive resistance of the o of the o one. And then the handles are put on, and then they are fitted. So The handles aren't just bolted on and forgotten about.
Todd Hunt [00:26:27]:
They are they are fitted. So I make them all just a little bit oversized, and then I come back and Sand all the edges, so there's absolutely no hot spots whatsoever on any of these. And then, so that's the m eighteen. And then, so I make everything in batches since I do that. I get what, you know, like I said, with the repeatability. So therefore, Instead of just making 1 knife, I usually make them in batches of 6 or a dozen. So everything I make goes in a batch of about 6 to advise you.
Bob DeMarco [00:27:01]:
Was was this the knife that was on naked and afraid and a couple of, other shows?
Todd Hunt [00:27:07]:
It was. Yeah. EJ Snyder, who, he now is a consultant for the show, him and I, got to be friends. He ended up making a He was designing a knife for his adventures that, top snakes called the, the, Skullcrafter, right after. And, before he had designed that knife, he was using, his m nineteen, And he had taken it on the show, but they had, not let him take it on the show. I guess, how that works is, They give you 3 things, and then it's up to the producer on what to take to consider, based on what the other person's taking. So, he didn't get to take it, but when he ended up being a consultant for the show, there were some other people. They, asked him about some knives, and, he suggested being 18.
Todd Hunt [00:28:10]:
So a guy by the name of Zach Buck, took it to Guyana and, lopped off the head of a Iguana was pretty neat. So, yeah, so I got a picture in my office of a naked man standing with a with a headless 1 in one hand and m 18 in the other.
Bob DeMarco [00:28:32]:
Oh, you too,
Todd Hunt [00:28:33]:
Yeah. Yeah. So so everybody's like, you got a naked bee in the office. I was like
Bob DeMarco [00:28:37]:
That's not even look at the knife. So how did you get into this? How'd where where did your love for knives come from, and have you always been a handy person able to build stuff?
Todd Hunt [00:28:48]:
Yeah. I, when I was growing up, my, my dad was always, well, he still is. He's still around. Always a real handy guy. Always the type to wear, why buy it when you can do it yourself? I would like to say, for lack of better term, my dad was resourceful. Some people would call that cheap, but, so what ended up happening, I guess, was, years years ago, My dad and my uncle used to, shoot traditional muzzleloader. And, so my uncle had a patch knife that you cut the patch off the top of and somehow, I don't know how, but my dad broke that knife. And my dad, again, being resourceful, told my uncle that he would replace that knife for him, but he didn't wanna he sure as hell wasn't gonna go out and spend money on it, so he was gonna make him one.
Todd Hunt [00:29:49]:
And He, got a few things together at work, made him made my uncle a knife, and, I'm sure as as you have heard many knife makers say, you know, once it started, you know, I just got the bug, and He, made that one and just kinda like me to this day. I, you know, I've made thousands of knives. I still think I can do the next one better. So about 3 years ago now that was, I'm 49 years old, My dad made that very first knife way before I was born, and, my uncle gave me that knife about 4 years ago, so I have it. This is my dad's very first knife he ever made. But, yeah, I remember being a small kid, and, I just remember, You know, it's like my dad made this, workbench in the corner of the garage, and it wasn't it wasn't a big deal. You know, maybe 6 inches, 6 foot long, 3 foot wide, you know, just something to, hammer nails on in the garage, but I remember he built that with just a a hand saw and, some nails, and I just thought I always paid attention when my dad made stuff. And, my mom was one of 7, kids, and they were all hunters.
Todd Hunt [00:31:08]:
So, once my dad Made that first knife, he got to the point to where, you know, he would make my uncle's knives out of antlers or Something they killed from the deer or something like that every once in a while. And, it just got to the point where, You know, the coolest things that my dad ever gave everybody was always wrapped up in shop towels. You know? Dad would give me a knife. Best presents came that we're always wrapping shop towels. So, I mean, that that resonated with me at a at a young age. It just It it just really inspired me that how somebody could just take their own 2 hands and a little bit of ingenuity and A little bit of dedication and come out with a a tool that was so useful and and something that everybody else admired, and it just Stuck with me and just never let go of me.
Bob DeMarco [00:32:04]:
Does your dad still make knives?
Todd Hunt [00:32:06]:
Yes. He does. He, he is, He's retired now and he makes about I think last year he made about 42 knives, which is a record for him. That's that's most he's made in a year, which is doing pretty good, which he doesn't, he doesn't have a whole lot In it, he doesn't make any sheets. He doesn't, like, fool around with leather work. I do all of his heat treating for him, and He, he likes, scrounging through my materials. You know? Or since I'm since I'm making a lot of batches, you know, And dad just makes 1 knife here and there. A lot of times, he can kinda go through my scrap bin and pick out some stuff.
Todd Hunt [00:32:47]:
You know, he he does it as a hobby, you know, and, yeah, he still does it. I do his heat treat for him. He'll come out. Mom doesn't like any of the mess out at Out at their house, so he makes it out at my shop and she's happy and
Bob DeMarco [00:33:04]:
yeah. Yeah. Everything's coming full circle. So but how did you actually learn the art? It sounds like your dad kind of, Kind of made picked it up as he went and learned from that 1st knife that he made your uncle. But how did you get to really know how to do this? Like
Todd Hunt [00:33:25]:
Believe it or not, even though it was my dad that got me started on it, As crazy as this is gonna sound, it's pretty much self taught. I worked at Cummins Diesel, For the majority of my adult life, and I had a job, where I worked for the salvage department for the b series engine. That's the, the Cummins engine that's in the Dodge pickup trucks. And, I worked for their salvage shop. They had a transfer line on, the block line. So anytime they had a problem, machining the blocks, they sometimes they would screw up 4 or 5, sometimes 4 or 500, Sometimes 4 or 5 blocks. So depending on how many they had screwed up, they couldn't, you know, they couldn't afford to scrap all that, so they'd take them offline and I would fix them by hand. So like if they had, like, I don't know, like a lug where one of the holes was bust out or something, I would machine that out of the block And then machine another piece and put it back in the block and do it all by hand.
Todd Hunt [00:34:36]:
It was an awesome job. But, anyway, I had I had a it was just me and 2 other people. And I had that job for 12 years, and we had Every piece of equipment known to man and, you know, it was all during You know, I learned from card carrying, tool and die makers. People you you know, I learned from the people that have to read the dials and turn And, you know, now that it's all everything's c and c, and what had happened was this equipment that I was working on, a lot of it was, It was old stuff. I had a Pratt and Whitney piece of, equipment, if you're familiar with Pratt and Whitney.
Bob DeMarco [00:35:21]:
They make plane engines. Right?
Todd Hunt [00:35:23]:
Yeah. Yeah. It was actually a piece of equipment. It was a horizontal, jig bore made by Pratt and Whitney to do their radio, aircraft engines. We had 1 in there that we did, cylinder bores on. And, so, I I got to learn from the people that really knew how to do stuff. And then they got into the age to where everything is pushed button and CNC numerically controlled. They took all of that old equipment and did away with it, and then they brought all these, machining centers, these Mazak centers.
Todd Hunt [00:35:55]:
They wanted to be able to they didn't want That job to be a, a skilled trades Bob. So They did away with all of the card carrying, tool and die people, and then brought in all these machine centers to where, any booger Taking person off of the street, come just, you know, load the machine, press a button. That's how they wanted everything. So they did away with all my stuff, so I ended up, Transferring to another company or another plant. Same company, another plant. It was Absolute hell, and that's why I ended up quitting and going full time. That's a whole another story. But, to get back to your question, So I was running mills and lathes, my whole adult life.
Todd Hunt [00:36:48]:
When I very first went to college, I went to college for Aircraft maintenance and engineering, and then got out of college, got that job at Cummins and worked there to, that salvage shop and their metallurgy shop and just I have just always been around I've always had access to the tools, I guess, and, that's what I've always just been able to do. Now as far as the o one goes, Everybody, I'm kinda known for, my o one treatment, which I'm not trying to sound too smart. I like that. It's kinda like saying you're the,
Bob DeMarco [00:37:35]:
I I don't I
Todd Hunt [00:37:36]:
don't know how how to say it without being too prerogative, but it's like being the smartest dumbass. You know? Yeah. But, actually, what we use the o one for and how I got to learn, the toughness of o one is that's actually what they we use these, o one for these, indicator pads to where these blocks would come and sit down on, and they would come and sit down on these pads hundreds of times a day. So, of course, they had to be, you know, repeat. So they needed this really strong, stuff, so they had a special little treatment for some o one that they used on this on that stuff, miss. So, it was really some some fascinating little secrets and tidbits you can take from Other walks of, life, and you can kind of incorporate it into other things and, works out pretty well.
Bob DeMarco [00:38:36]:
Yeah. Yeah. That that's what I, that's what I tell younger people and, in this case, my daughter, when she thinks about what she's gonna wanna do, and and a lot of people, a lot of kids these days, I hate to say I'm that guy saying kids these days, But, think that they can skip a whole bunch of steps, but, really, every every meaningless job you have along the way, every little job that You think you're not getting anything out of is teaching you something for the big show. Hopefully, you have something that you're aiming for, whether it's knife making or something else, But every little job you do helps you get there. For you going pro, so to speak, going full time knifemaker, what was that like?
Todd Hunt [00:39:23]:
Well, it was odd because, I will say I got I got because everybody's like, well well, what what was that like? And it's not anything what I expected because I I kicked this around, because where I was at, My job at Cummins, I was where I was at in seniority, I was pretty much untouchable. I could've wrote it out. I could've been, you know, I could've, You know, been okay, but it just got to the point to where I knew that someday down the line, I knew that, I always had people say, what are you doing here? You know, you got this talent, You got this skill. You and people really get in your head, and they did me. And I'll I'll be honest with you, and and I hope people, listen to this. It might be thinking about going full time. I got coffee. I'm like, yeah.
Todd Hunt [00:40:19]:
Well, I, you know, I know I can do this, which I knew I could. And, I knew that there'd be some struggles, and I knew that I would do whatever I could to, get through them because that's just the way that I am, and that's the way that I do things. And, I was right. There's a lot of things that are that are a little bit more difficult, than I thought, like, You know, the whole business aspect of it, the easiest thing I do all day is make knives. That's the easiest thing I do. If you ask me, the easiest thing I do Let's go to a grinder and make a knife. That's the easiest thing I do all day. Everything else, Running around worried about your materials, your shipping keeping people happy, and everybody, it's it's difficult.
Todd Hunt [00:41:18]:
I I wish I had hours and hours and hours to tell you guys, you know, what The good thing is and what the bad thing is. I I just knew that my age that I knew that someday down the road that I'd be sitting somewhere on something I would always regret, and I would think, you know, if I didn't do this, I'm gonna sit someday and think what would happen if I did if I would've. So I know I won't have that problem now because, You know, I did it, but do your homework, is all I've got to say. I I I love to see people, Do things that they wanna do. I love people I love to see people be successful. I love people to, you know, I I love the metaphorical, hey. This sucks. I'm gonna do better.
Todd Hunt [00:42:15]:
But when you do that, Be sure you're all in, and be sure that all your t's are crossed and your i's are dotted because there's it's, it's, It's an adventure. That's for sure.
Bob DeMarco [00:42:28]:
It's a serious commitment. You were talking about cocky, and when you first said I was cocky, It made me think like,
Todd Hunt [00:42:37]:
oh my god. Look at that Bowie. That's gorgeous.
Bob DeMarco [00:42:40]:
But when you said when you said cocky, it made me think at first, like, really, you sometimes you need that cockiness to to to get you to where you need to go because, like, if you it can be very daunting to, to fully research everything you don't know, And, a lot of people put barriers in their way by doing that. So I think that cockiness can sometimes be good not knowing what you're getting into, because you may have stayed with Cummins.
Todd Hunt [00:43:15]:
And, you know, if I if I could've, I would I'd still be at Cummins if I was, if they hadn't done away with that one job that I was doing. And what ended up happening was, I worked on their blog line, and, it it was a it was a seniority shop, and that company had a, a freeze on hiring 30 years. And after that 30 years of, hiring for these, I was the 3rd group to come back in from from their 3rd hiring group after a 30 year freeze. So I was, like, Untouchable in seniority because the only people that was above me in seniority were the ones that had hired in, you know, after they got out of. So, and the thing of it was but once they did away with that job, they also turned on, where you could transfer from other to other plants. And they had another plant 2 miles from my house. I was driving 20, 25 miles to the southern place. So the thought was that I could transfer and be 2 miles from the house.
Todd Hunt [00:44:26]:
And since I had higher seniority, I could get me a A really easy job and live out the rest of my years there. But how that ended up happening was, It will it'd be at a union Bob. And since I came in there, there was 600 people in that plant, and I had more seniority than every one of So therefore, I can walk right in there and be eligible for the better jobs than they were. And, They didn't like that. So how that works was I had 600 union brothers and sisters that hated my guts every day I walked in there. And then, management. You know, like I said, I had worked with the old card carrier, Tool and Die Makers, and that was a union shop. And, it worked very well as a union shop.
Todd Hunt [00:45:17]:
They weren't harassed, and They were valued and they did a good job. And, this other plant, since it was filled with younger generation, they didn't understand this and they just walked all over, those employees. They just walked all over. And they tried to do that with me, and then I understood that they that they couldn't do that. So, I mean, I walked in a plant every day, 800 people just absolutely hated my bats. And You do that every day for 3 years, and it just turns you into a different person. And my wife my wife's like, man, this quote, If you think you can do this knife gig, then you can do it. And that that's been one of the one of the coolest things I ever remember.
Todd Hunt [00:45:58]:
I I can't remember who said it, but, You know, if you think you can or you can't, you're probably right. You're right. And I've always been that way. If I can figure out a way to do something in my mind, I know I Even if I haven't done it. And like I said, I knew I could do this, but I knew that there was gonna be some struggles and some strifes, and and there are. But, yeah, it's, it took me 2 years, to get to the point to where I finally, was on the fence, and I'll tell you what ended up, what ended up, really Making me decide, to go ahead and do it was, my son. One day, I used to coach his baseball, team. And, we were talking one time and I asked him, so what do you think you're gonna do when you get big, little buddy? And he said, well, goes, daddy, I'd like to be a baseball player.
Todd Hunt [00:46:56]:
I don't think I'll ever be able to do that. I said, why not? I said, well, I probably won't be able to. You know? You just kinda you know? Just a little kid, you know, kinda down the gun I just don't think that Anthony was good at it. I was like, man. And now I just got to thinking that that one day, I didn't say anything to him, but I thought, man, here I am trying do anything in the world that he wants to, and then his dad ain't got the balls to do it himself. So So I did. I I went in and, turned in my notice, the the next couple days after that. My son just got out of maroon boot camp.
Todd Hunt [00:47:34]:
Bob DeMarco [00:47:36]:
Congratulations on that. And and Well, I think what you described there, you know, I have felt before. I'm sure everyone who's a parent has felt that before. It's like, man, here I am lecturing This kid about doing something that, you know, I I I need to take my own advice on.
Todd Hunt [00:47:55]:
Bob DeMarco [00:47:55]:
So 20 2013 is when TM Hunt Custom Knives officially began. How how have you seen I mean, you've you've hinted at some of the Stryfe of being a small business owner and a maker, what have you seen, on the outside world? How has the knife market, changed. How has the knife world and community changed in that period of time?
Todd Hunt [00:48:19]:
You know, that's a good question, that I would like to hear Somebody else answered because I don't really know because, and I've talked to other makers about this, and I think they know what I mean. But It's like I don't get out of my page to see everybody talks about the knife community And what's out there, and and I'm like, man, I don't what what is this place you're talking about? You know? I I I really it seems like the knife community is, I've had I I've been fortunate enough to have some really good friends in the knife community, And some of them that are people that are very well known in the knife community that have completely told me exactly what to expect in my years of, of what to expect, and they were exactly right. It's like, when I very first got into this, this was the best thing. I mean, I've met friends, and I still got friends that I know that I'll have for the rest of my life. And then it gets to a point to where people realize that you're not gonna go away, and then people stop being some ice, And then people realize that you're competition, and then they really stop being nice. And then it's like You passed a a right of passage because you've been that nuisance for so long, and then you just kinda Everything kinda levels off and exists. But as far as, the knife community and what's happening and what's going on out there, man, I'm just now than I am when I started because it seems like anytime I I've noticed that, a lot of things come, timing. With with the knife community, a lot of things are timing.
Todd Hunt [00:50:22]:
And I've never been able to get my timing right because it's like like, for example, like a blood show. 1 year, something sells. It's hotcakes keep on your table, so the next year, you make more of them and they set. And it's like that every year. And with everybody I talk to, nobody can ever You never get exactly what the next trend is gonna be, what the next thing is gonna be. You know, I I made, You know, just like, I used to make a bunch of these little knives called the little leave it to b leave it to cleavers, the little cleavers. Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Todd Hunt [00:50:59]:
I used to make I made so many of those things, I got sick and tired of making them. And every time I would take those, you know, they would go, in seconds at blade show. And I took a handful of those one time, and they said, and the guy right next to me was selling pocket spinners. Little bear
Bob DeMarco [00:51:16]:
in the coffin.
Todd Hunt [00:51:17]:
Yeah. For $450.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:20]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. Yep. There was a cleaver craze and then, Cleaver crazed. There was well, I mean, people still like cleaver knives, but you know what I mean.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:29]:
When they first came out, every cleaver, cleaver, cleaver, cleaver, cleaver.
Todd Hunt [00:51:32]:
Bob DeMarco [00:51:33]:
same thing with the damn spinners.
Todd Hunt [00:51:35]:
The spinners. But, it's just like, everybody asked me what my opinion is of the next and and what's coming out. And I was like, man, what's out there now? You you know, I don't know. Because I'll talk to people and everybody's, You know, like other knives, like, you know, like, I like but I never can't keep up with the CT numbers. I'm like, oh, well, what do you carry? Oh, well, I got a CT. Oh, what is it? I would I don't it's this one right here. I I like the 609, 536. I'm like, okay.
Todd Hunt [00:52:04]:
Well, that's I'm sure that's great. But I don't People think, well, you know, you make your living with knives. You think you could be a little bit more versed? I'm like, dude, when I get home at nighttime Yeah. I, you know, I take shower and eat my supper. You know, I'm not on the Internet looking at knives. Yeah. I I I see them all day. But, you know, and people even I I I don't I I really don't know what's out there.
Todd Hunt [00:52:31]:
As weird as what it sounds, I'm just not out of my cage that much as far as I tell you what I would like to see come back is more popularity with, like, the stuff that I was into when I the stuff that got me interested, like grandpa's barlow in his pocket. You know? My grandpa used to take me down fishing for Blue gill, and he'd always get out of borrow out of his pocket and got the fishing line out of it. You know? And, you know, after a few times of fishing, you know, grandpa would give you the pocket knife, tell you to put that in your pocket. You know? That those were big things for me when I was a kid. And that's, You know, ultimately, that was why, you know, though those memories and then, you know, being, Just amazed by my dad's talents of being able to do things with his hands And just the memories of, of good tools and the value of them. You know, I just remembered, you know, when I was a little kid watching dad, you know, dad would have, knife magazines around the house. We lived, About quarter mile from a shopping center where mom and dad used to get their groceries. And I'm probably showing my age here.
Todd Hunt [00:53:58]:
Back then, you used to ride the bicep. It was at the hooks. You don't buy a candy bar anymore. You wouldn't be there because you're worried that somebody'd run off with a kid. But We always go up there and we'd always see the blade magazines way back then. And, hell, Ed Fowler was either for a man, which he still is. And I remember being a little kid always seeing those Ed Fowler knives and just saying, my man, I'd always wanted 1, but I knew I'd never be able to afford 1. So that's how I started even, Like, looking at the file work and the new ratings and stuff like that, I thought, man, I knew I'd never be able to afford any of that stuff, so I started looking at, Well, what what do these guys do to to be able to do this stuff and be able to make this stuff? And, you know, just kind of started Figuring out how to do it out of necessity because I knew I wouldn't be able to afford to do it.
Bob DeMarco [00:54:54]:
Well, where where do you, You know, as we wrap here, where do you wanna see TM Hunt Custom Knives? What are the things you wanna do with the company or With your work or knives you wanna build, what what's in in store for the future?
Todd Hunt [00:55:12]:
What I would like to do is just basically, what I'm doing now except for just a little bit more of it. I've got a a complete line of knives, that are all of my design. The ones that I sell the most of are my most popular models, my hedgehogs, my Mobas, my new most Tradewaters, m fourteens now and m eighteens. And I just wanna keep on making those. I don't and just sending them to my dealers. I just wanna get more proficient, and better at making those And sending those to my dealers and then just, doing what I really like to do is Stuff that I don't have the time to do anymore. Like, I really like ornate bowies. I like really weird Stuff.
Todd Hunt [00:56:07]:
I like off the wall stuff. I like, I've done some brass back bowels that I haven't done a brass pack in a long time, and I've really got a hankering for another one of those. So I guess What I wanna do is just more of what I'm doing now, just have the the model knives be kinda like my bread and butter, my litter. Here they are. They're available for purchase, from one of my dealers or through my website. You know, here they are, and then just make stuff on the side that I like, and then put some extra time in, set supply, which is another little side hustle that, myself and Ed and, a third person have going on with, handle material and Just kind of, put a little bit of extra time in that. Ed and I would like to Start offering, some classes, to where people can pick out, said model of knife And come on a weekend and leave with that knife that you make.
Bob DeMarco [00:57:23]:
Cool idea. Yep.
Todd Hunt [00:57:24]:
So, I would like to do that. I would like to you know, because I'm I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I'll be 50, this February. And, you know, I've devoted my life to this, so I'm not going anywhere. So I would I would like to, get to the point to where, I would like to pass on some of this knowledge and just Just, see what I can do to add to the community, I guess.
Bob DeMarco [00:57:55]:
Well, Todd, you said, off the wall designs and, And, some some of the things you'd like to be doing in the future. And and, as as I as I close, I would like to say the m eighteen to me, and and soon to be the m fourteen are off the wall designs, but they're so they seem to be, I've never used one, so practical that that off the wall isn't off the wall. It's just unusual, unique, and, very, very cool. So, Todd, thank you so much for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. It's been a pleasure talking with you, sir.
Todd Hunt [00:58:27]:
Well, thank you very much. I'm glad we finally we finally got together.
Bob DeMarco [00:58:31]:
Me too. Alrighty, sir. Thanks. I'm also, glad I got a chance to check out your work in the brains bubble before it went off, far field. Alrighty, sir. You have a good one.
Todd Hunt [00:58:43]:
You as well. Thank you.
The Get Upside app is your way to get cash back on your gas purchases. Get Upside is an app you put on your smartphone. And whenever you need to get gas, Search your area for savings, claim your discount, fill up your tank, and then take a picture of the receipt with your phone. And that's it. You've just got cash back. Visit the knife junkie.comforward/saveongas to get the app and start saving. Again, that's the knife junkie.com/saveongas.
Visit the knife junkie at the knife junkie.com to catch all of our podcast episodes, videos, photos, and more.
Bob DeMarco [00:59:17]:
There he goes, ladies and gentlemen. Todd Hunt of TM Custom Knives. Be sure to check him out on Instagram. You can see some of his work there, but also, on his website and, man, beautiful Stuff. We didn't even talk about his his, his other fixed blade knives. We will, in our little, extra Interview here we have for Patreon, members, so be sure to check that out. For Jim working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying, until next time, Don't take dull for an answer.
Thanks for listening to the Knife Junkie podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and review at review the podcast .com. For show notes for today's episode, additional resources, and to listen to past episodes, visit our website, the knifejunkie.com. You can also watch our latest videos on YouTube at the knifejunkie.com/youtube. Check out some great knife photos on the knifejunkie.com slash Instagram, and join our Facebook group at the knifejunkie.com/facebook. And if you have a question or comment, email them to Bob at the knifejunkie.com or call our 247 listener line at 724-466-4487, and you may hear your comment or question answered on an upcoming episode of the Knife Junkie Podcast.
Share This With a Friend >>>
For early access to The Knife Junkie podcasts and YouTube videos, receive Knife Junkie stickers and be entered into the monthly knife drawing giveaway, join The Knife Junkie’s Patreon group of awesome supporters.
Let us know what you thought about this episode. Please leave a rating and/or a review in whatever podcast player app you’re listening to. Your feedback is much appreciated.
Please call the listener line at 724-466-4487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments, feedback, or suggestions on the show, and let us know who you’d like to hear interviewed on an upcoming edition of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
To listen to past episodes of the podcast, visit theknifejunkie.com/listen.
Shopping for a Knife?
Support The Knife Junkie Podcast and YouTube Channel by Buying Through My Affiliate Links
Angle Pro Knife Sharpener
Jack Wolf Knives
Knives Ship Free
Smoky Mountain Knife Works
Other Products and Services
Dark Age Defense
Groove (Free Account): Replace 17 Apps and Services in Your Business
Groove.ai – All-in-one AI solution
Rakuten (Cash Back for Shopping Purchases)
Shockwave Tactical Torch
Upside App (Cash Back for Gas Purchases)
SOS Emergency Sleeping Bag
Wilderness Survival Skills Course
“The Essential Skills of Wilderness Survival” Book
Follow The Knife Junkie
Visit The Knife Junkie website
The Knife Junkie Listener Line — 724-466-4467
Email The Knife Junkie
Follow The Knife Junkie on YouTube
Follow The Knife Junkie on Instagram
Follow The Knife Junkie on Twitter
Join The Knife Junkie Facebook Group
In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this website contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). If you use these links, I might be rewarded credit or a small commission of the sale. If you don’t want to use these links, no problem. But know that I truly do appreciate your support.