NBK Custom Knifemaker Spotlight on Jacob Gaetz

Determined Bladesmith Pushes His Skills and Earns Journeyman Title.

The world’s largest knife show, Blade Show Atlanta , is one place where the American Bladesmith Society performs testing for Journeyman and Mastersmith ratings. The Journeyman presentation knives are a set of five hand-forged carbon steel knives. This year, Jacob Gaetz was one of many who earned Journeyman Bladesmith rank. His work speaks for itself in terms of quality and attention to detail.

A Damascus Hunter designed by Jacob Gaetz.
Hunter, 1084/15n20 mosaic Damascus, 4-1/4” blade, 416SS guard, Damascus spacer, redwood burl handle.

Jacob joined the ABS four years ago as an apprentice. This year, he finished his testing in Atlanta and passed with flying colors! He says, “Overall it was a great experience. It felt great to push myself in pursuit of making some of the most flawless knives I have ever made.”

The most challenging part of this test for Jacob was not fully knowing what exactly was expected of his knives, as he had never seen other passing test knives in person, he didn’t have a baseline to compare to. “Earning this rank to me means every knife I make onward should meet this level of fundamental quality or exceed it.”

A set of Gaetz designed hunting knives is a beautiful thing.
Journeyman Test Set: 52100 steel, 416SS guards

Jacob first became interested in knives in 2015, and started to take things more seriously and make his own knives after he graduated high school in 2019. He saw a lot of swords and variety of historical weapons in his teen years that made him want to start making his own.

Most of his inspiration has come from various makers on Instagram including Nick Wheeler, Ben Breda , Ben Seward and Kyle Royer. These people, and others, encourage him to continue improving and leveling up his work. His motivation is driven by new ideas for builds and thinking of new techniques to test out.

This custom Bowie knife features a maple burl handle and a ladder Damascus steel blade.
Bowie, 1084/15n20 ladder Damascus, maple burl frame handle, wrought iron fittings.

Right now, he has two projects he is excited to start on. A 5-1/2 inch feather Damascus vest bowie just needs a handle, and a large billet of mosaic Damascus for a bowie. Jacob says while his knifemaking process is fairly standardized, there are a couple things he does that are unique from others. “There are a few processes in particular that I have not seen anybody else do the same way. That mainly comes from wanting better results and having to substitute a tool I didn’t have or use it in a different way to get the results I wanted.”

Custom Hunter in 1084 and 15n20 Damascus steel with an Oak handle.
Hunter, 1084/15n20 feather Damascus 1,008 layers, 416SS spacer, 7500 year old bog oak handle.

Jacob’s top three favorite designs are a 4 inch clip point hunter, a 7 to 9 inch bowie and a 12 inch drop point chipper, all very different but very useful knives. He does also save templates from previous builds that he enjoys making, mainly hunters in the 3-1/2” to 4-1/2” range.

His favorite steels to use are 52100 for mono carbon steel blades, 1084/15n20 for Damascus and AEB-L for stainless steel blades. Favorite handle materials include maple or box elder burl, curly mango and koa, and crosscut vintage micarta.

NBK Custom Knifemaker Spotlight on Jacob Gaetz - Image 1: Gaetz 022422 JF
Hunter, 80crv2/15n20 ladder w’s Damascus blade, guard and spacer, curly mango handle

Currently Jacob is a part time bladesmith in Minnesota but is interested in moving into full time as interest in his work increases. For custom orders, he maintains his own particular style and set of proportions while accommodating for the customers preference of materials and needs.

If you want to see more of Jacobs work or get a knife from him, reach out to him through email or text message and follow him on Instagram!

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Jocelyn is a photo editing ninja with a lot of experience in the custom knife maker world. As the daughter of a custom knife maker, Jocelyn has been around the knife community since she was young. But she carved out her own space custom knife photo editor soon after graduating from college, and besides having photos featured in Blade and Knife Magazine, she has clients across the world including South America and New Zealand.

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