Nearly a half century ago, several prominent figures in the hand made knife community got together and formed The Knifemakers' Guild. They did so with the intentions of not only promoting their craft, but also for the purposes of encouraging ethical business practices within the industry and to assist aspiring knife makers with assistance in the finer points of the craft. In order for one to become a voting member of the Knifemakers' Guild, they have to be recommended for member status by four voting members in good standing, and then go through a probationary period in which they are instructed in the ways of the guild. This can take from two to three years. Afterward, in order to be accepted as a voting member themselves, they have to present knives that represent their work and their skill. Early members include such names as A.G. Russell, Bob Loveless, Jimmy Lile, and Blackie Collins to name just a few. Now the list of voting members also includes Andy Roy of Fiddleback Forge.
I will never forget the day I opened the packaging and saw my first Fiddleback Forge knife five years ago, I was very impressed with the level of craftsmanship. The fit and finish, and the level of detail, were remarkable. I knew then that your style had a presence and a sex appeal all its own, and that it was unlike anything else I had seen in the user-knife market so far. Your passion for the craft was clearly visible and impossible to miss. I found that more than just noteworthy considering you had only been making knives for a couple of years at that time. I would put that knife through the wringer over the next few years, with bushcrafting chores, food prep, fire craft, and game processing. It proved to be every bit as comfortable durable as it was good-looking.
Over the course of the last five years I watched with great interest as you grew into your craft, and your skills advanced. Ever so often I would note subtle changes here and there, small tweaks and the addition of new details. I have very much enjoyed watching the evolution of your knife line as it has grown in models, and as the knives themselves have grown more refined. Through it all you have constantly pushed your boundaries to up your game and produce the finest knives you could create. It is more than just a little noteworthy that the Woodsman model I picked up from you at blade a few years back is not only one of my favorite woods-wandering knives, but also one I love to use in the kitchen.
Then as fate would have it, I would travel 900 miles north to live for a year. There, unbeknownst to me going in, I would have the pleasure of testing your knives in the winter of 2013, a winter that would set new records in Michigan for: low temps, wind chills, number of days below zero, number of days with snow cover, and in overall snow fall accumulation. While most construction work came to a grinding halt, my work kept me outside, and I would use Fiddleback Forge knives in such extreme conditions that I could never even imagine here in the south. Through all of the hard use in subzero temps and the sudden temperature changes from outside to inside, there was never one single issue with the steel or the construction of the knives. They functioned as flawlessly as ever.
Through all of my travels over the last several years, whether it was wandering the woods, out to dinner in a nearby city, or traveling three states away for work, one of your knives has often been my close companion. I really like the fact that regardless of what handle materials you use, or the size of the knife, you always ensure that form follows function. You always come through with a level of comfort and user-friendliness that is not so common in the knife industry these days, and you do so with an air of class that looks right at home, no matter where I need to use the knife.
So, today I drink a toast to you my friend, for everything you have put into this. For all of the long hours you have spent in designing your models and defining their lines. For all of the very long days you have put in, from before daylight till well after dark, toiling away in front of your grinders. For every bit of the heart and soul that you pour into producing the highly functional art in the heirloom quality tools that you create. For all of the time and all that you have given of yourself to the knife community, and for all of the things you have done to help so many others in so many ways. Cheers Andy! Congratulations on your acceptance into The Knifemakers' Guild. I know just how hard you have worked, and this is an honor well earned!