Daniel Winkler is a Master Bladesmith, historical enactor, and the owner and founder of Winkler Knives. His work is sought by hunters, lovers of the outdoors, the motion picture industry, and the US Military. I was lucky enough to speak to Winkler about all this and more.
How did you first become interested in making knives?
I started shooting Black Powder weapons back in high school in the mid 1970’s. I wanted to outfit myself with period correct equipment so I made powder horns, shooting pouches, footwear, clothing, knives, and tomahawks. What I made for myself generated a lot of interest, so I made items for sale at gatherings and shooting matches. That grew into a full-time custom knife business in 1988.
How did you become involved in the SOF (Special Operations Forces) Community?
I was contacted by members of Naval Special Warfare, US Army Special Operations and some US Air Force PJ’s to help design and develop some cutlery they needed. They were not satisfied with what was available on the open market. I worked with guys that were assigned to find new equipment and do evaluations. What we made was widely accepted and word of mouth spread within the military community. We have not and do not comment on specific groups we work with.
Tell us about your involvement in the movie The Last of the Mohicans.
My wife Karen who makes exceptional Early American and American Indian influenced sheaths and I were at a craft show at the Biltmore Estate. We learned about the remake of the movie The Last of the Mohicans and searched out the production offices. We showed our period correct knives, tomahawks, and accessories to the props master and director. From that time on we worked outfitting principal characters in the movie.
How did the Winkler Knives Breaching/Combat Axe come about?
Most of our knife and axe designs are developed to fill a need in Military Operations. What works for these operators translates very well to hunters and outdoorsmen.
How long does it take to craft an axe?
It depends on how you calculate time. If you just measure what it takes today to make an axe start to finish, I could get it down to hours and minutes. However, if you calculate the time and effort I have spent over the past 40 plus years learning how to do it right and the time invested in getting the word out and building a reputation you are looking at decades.
How many different axe models do you currently make?
More than I can count. We set up Winkler Knives to serve the needs of specialized small groups. We can change models and design features easily so we make a lot of variations in our products. My guess is we currently have 40 to 60 active models.
What other tools do you offer?
Knives, hatchets, breaching tools and small personal protection items.
What’s the most popular item you craft?
Mid-size knives are always the most popular models we produce.
Visit Winkler Knives at winklerknives.com