I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Andy Waller, local blacksmith, maker of beautiful knives

I mentioned that I got a knife for Christmas made by a local blacksmith that I was going to have to learn to use.  The knife was made by Andy Waller, a blacksmith here in Oxford.  There had been a blacksmith here in Oxford named Mr. Hall, who’d had a shop on Tyler Avenue, the alley running down from South Lamar, in a space behind both what was once the Gin and what was once Murfs.  He opened the shop after returning from shoeing horses for the Army in Texas during WWI; he’d been a blacksmith since before that, learning where he’d grown up in Ripley.  When I was in high school and college, I would go and hang out in his shop, where Mr. Hall welcomed any visitors.  Andy bought Mr. Hall’s anvil and other tools when Mr. Hall finally retired in the late 70s, and has them in his blacksmith’s shop out where he lives on an old section line road near College Hill.  The anvil is pictured below in Andy’s shop.

Sometime in the Fall at a local craft show, I saw a beautiful knife that Andy had made.  As did Mr. Hall, Andy begins with automobile spring steel.  The knife looked to me to be a great kitchen tool, and just simply a beautiful thing.  I didn’t buy it, but instead asked Andy to make me a pairing knife.  And, on Christmas, my wife gave me the knife I’d admired.

Here’s the pair.  Andy made a sheath for the knife I’d originally seen, which I didn’t initially think I’d need, but my knife block is full in my knife drawer, and it turns out to be a handy way to take care of it.

Here’s a closer picture of the deer bone handle he made (the handle on the paring knife is Osage orange or bois d’arc wood, which I liked getting because Mr. Hall favored that for knife handles) .  These pictures do not do justice to the knives.

Both knives have thicker blades than I’m accustomed.  What that means at least with the larger one is that it’s just a different tool to be used in a slightly different way.  It slices extremely steadily and straight– it’s ideal for anything that needs a long cut in a straight line.  It’s nice and sharp and makes quick work of chopping vegetables.  The blade is too thick for it to be a carving knife.  I’ve used the paring knife slightly less but like it a great deal, too.

9 comments to Andy Waller, local blacksmith, maker of beautiful knives

  • Ben

    Welcome to the world of handmade, custom, superbly crafted knives. I’ll start looking for you at the gun & knife shows in the region. You need to add a few Randall-Made knives to your holdings. I have one of Andy’s knives Thai I’m duly proud of.

  • Observer

    ANDY WALLER is as fine a person as anyone would ever want to meet. They don’t make ‘em like Andy anymore.

  • Robert

    Ben would you know if the manufacture coldsteal ever displays at these shows? For a time they were the number one maker. A lot of hand made knifes from around here are made from the wore out blades from saw mills. Are these those type?

  • LocalGal

    Ben, tell us more about these “Randall-Made” knives, I am not sure I am familiar with them, but know Mr. Waller well.

  • Andy Waller

    Thanks everybody for the comments about my work. Randall-made knives are available from the maker’s family in Orlando FL. Sometimes they’re hard to get because of the collector value. The shop works at full shift 5 days a week and can’t keep up with the demand. Thanks again.

  • JoeInnaKeys

    Loaf through Randall’s site. Pretty amazing.

  • rogerwilco

    Guy Clark has a great song about a Randall knife.

  • I worked for Mr. Hall for three years in the early 70′s. I still use the knives we made. I also photographed and recorded him. Let me know if you’d like to see some photos. When I visited Oxford a few years ago there wasn’t a trace of his shop.

  • NMC

    I would love to see (and post) photos of Mr Hall and his shop.

    At some point, Irelands (Murf’s) and the Gin encroached and the spot where the shop had been was no longer visible.

    I have one of Mr. Hall’s knife, and immense (and not really practical) one with an osage orange handle.

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