"This is a knife!"

Perhaps one of the most popular lines in Hollywood's " 'Crocodile Dundee."

However, a brief visit to Victor Odom's vintage blacksmith shop in North will reveal a real knife.

Opening the door to Odom's workroom is liken to entering another time in history.

A forge.

An anvil.

A lightly-lit smoke-filled frame structure.

All the ambiance of a century-old arena, specifying a third generation blacksmith's ship.

Young Odom's father retired in the mid 1970s, but not before teaching his son the tools of the trade.

Using a forge to heat steel, Victor Odom can take an ordinary piece of steel and fabricate it into a not-so-ordinary piece of functional art.

The craftsman uses what he describes as stock removal. He takes a bar stock and scribed a knife pattern. It is then profiled, ground and sent to be heat treated at a facility in Orlando, Fla.

"I could do my own heat-treating, but it would be very expensive," Odom explains.

According to the blacksmith, selecting the right material is important for the process.

"We use a lot of 1095 on our Edisto knife and other alloys such as A9 5160 and 52100, on other blades. I test all the carbine blades. I drop them on concrete to make certain the blades don't break. Then I do a brass rod test."

"With the stainless steel blade, we use a test to see it's strength by placing it into a vise. Because of the way a blade is heat-treated, we can bend the blade ninety degrees. If heat-treated properly, it will not break."

Choosing the desired handle is mostly left to the buyer.

Curly maple, coca bola, muscura birch and Austrian hardwood are some of the more popular materials.

When the knife is completed, Odom will depend on a more modern process using an electrochemical process to etch his initials and serial number on each blade.

"This gives the customer an idea how many knives I have made and an idea how much they maybe worth in the future," Odom explains.

While most people purchase the cutlery to add to their collection, some buy for their functional uses such as skinning.

"The knife business is very competitive," says Odom.

"The blade has to be scratchfree, and you have to stand behind your work," says the member of the S.C. Association of Knife-makers.

Odom is also a member of the American Bladesman Society and the N.C. Knife Makers Guild.

The North resident is not reluctant to give credit to other area knife makers for their assistance. "George and Barbara Herron, Geno Denning and Frank Hamilton have helped me a lot."

The self-proclaimed "perfectionist of sorts" says it takes about one entire day to make one knife.

Many of Odom's blades make their way to the annual Wildlife Expo in Charleston. Others are sold via the Internet. In both avenues, a perspective buyer can anticipate a one-year waiting list.

While Odom explains there are three levels of knife-makers, apprentice, journeyman and master. He claims he is just an apprentice.

"If I get my journeyman's in the next few years, I'll be happy," he adds. "Because anyone who seriously buys knives knows the difference."

Dundee may have A knife, Odom has THE knife.


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