Lynn Thompson Interviewed by Rezat
You can find the full Russian interview Here
The English version of the article can be found below:
RR: Could you tell me if your decision to become a knife maker was circumspect, logical or spontaneous (partly circumstantial)?
LCT: In truth, it grew out of necessity. I’ve always been a Martial Artist. I’ve been training since I was a teenager. Well, one day I was training with a knife and it broke. I went into the house, grabbed another and carried on training. Guess what? That one broke too! I called the company to complain, and the owner said “Lynn, it happens all the time. Send it back and I’ll replace it”. That was not acceptable to me! I thought, there must be a market for knives that are tougher than this, and the rest is history!
RR: Do you find your creative way difficult or mostly easy?
LCT: Designing a knife can take years or it can take days. If inspiration strikes just right, it’s a wonderful thing. I often find myself constantly revisiting the design. Trying to make it better. Prototyping and re-working until I get something I like. I work a lot with custom knife makers and that initial process is always a joy. Then mass-producing that design is ALWAYS a challenge! Bringing a design to a large audience is never easy.
RR: Where do you get inspiration for designing of new models?
LCT: A lot of my influences come from historical sources. I’m an avid reader and something of an amateur historian. I have a HUGE library of books and a vast collection of antique blades as well as modern reproductions. My passion for Martial Arts and my training also informs my design. After 30 years of training and of testing knives I have a pretty good idea of what works and why. I also work closely with different custom knife makers who I admire. Collaborating with them is a pleasure.
RR: Do you have authority of knifemaking (an expert whose works you find perfect, imitation worthy)?
LCT: There are many great historical inspirations to me. Too many to count. I’m always interested in why a knife or a sword was designed the way it was. The truth is almost always function, performance and necessity based on circumstances and conditions of combat. That’s an endless source of fascination to me.
RR: Whose works would you put in the same range with yours?
LCT: There are a lot of people I admire, and whenever possible I try to work with them! Andrew Demko from Demko Knives has been an incredibly positive force for my brand and he’s a pleasure to work with. He and I have worked together for many years now. He shares many of my interests and sensibilities. Many of his designs and innovations have revolutionized the folding knife world. I don’t think he gets enough credit for the impact he has had! Mike Wallace of Wallace Edged Tools is a knife-maker to watch. He’s known for his hard use outdoor bushcraft and survival fixed blades.
RR: What kind of steel do you personally think is ideal material for blades?
LCT: I’m not sure there is an ideal steel. Every material is a compromise. It’s all about finding the best steel for a specific design.
RR: To continue the previous question:in your opinion,what material is the best for a handle of a Every Day`s Knife (EDC)?
LCT: I have always loved American G10. It’s very strong, and when properly CNC machined it gets this beautiful almost “wood grain” finish. It’s pretty stable and it gives good traction even if your hands are cold or wet, or if you are wearing gloves. It’s versatile, available in a variety of textures and colors. I love it!
RR: What qualities of your models do you think main, the most important are?
LCT: Performance, functionality, durability. I like knives that serve a purpose. Art knives are beautiful, and a great way of showcasing a bladesmiths talent and skill, but I have no interest in carrying one. My knives work.
RR: Do you believe you have already made your best knife or its appearance to come yet?
LCT: The Tai-Pan is one of my all-time favorite designs. I tried so hard to make the best double edged dagger that I could. Even after all these years, I’m still not sure it can be improved upon. I’m very proud of it. BUT, hear me well. I’ll never stop trying!
RR: If you could to return in the beginning of your career of a knifemaker would you change anything or do anything in another way, if yes, just what?
LCT: Everyone has those “what if” moments. I am sure we would all do some things differently if we could. I’m proud of the knives I’ve designed and of the products I’ve been able to bring to the market. But of course I wish I knew then the things I know now! (laughs)
RR: As a craftsman- knifemaker do you have any creative plans for the nearest future, if yes, just what?
LCT: I’m always working on something! But I like to keep some things secret. You never know who’s listening! (laughs)
RR: Do you know anyone of Russian knifemakers? How do you find their creative work?
LCT: Y’know, I haven’t seen many designs out of Russia, but I’m always interested in seeing new work you’re your readers have any favorite designers, have them write me at Cold Steel with their info. I’d love to check them out!
RR: Have customers and their demand to the knife production changed since you are in knifemaking business if yes, what is that?
LCT: Of course! Fashions change, technology changes, materials change. All of that has an impact on what I do. Remember, my main focus is mass-production knives for an international audience. My knives are unashamedly tactical in nature; I find that what I do attracts a certain type of customer. Perhaps military or law enforcement, people who are interested in self-defense and protection. They are my people! (laughs)
RR: What personal quality for a knifemaker is the most important in your opinion?
LCT: The ability to be critical of your own work. To take that step back and appraise your work with a critical eye. You have to always want to be better!
RR: Are you interested in anything else besides knifemaking?
LCT: I’m a Martial Arts addict! (laughs) I’ve been training in a bunch of different arts ever since I was a young man, and if anything, I am becoming more obsessed. I still try to train at least 16 hours a week. It’s my lifelong obsession and it doesn’t leave time for much else in my life. I like to read and write. I’d love to write a book one day!
RR: Do you think you are a happy man? What is happiness for you personally?
LCT: I am more interested in the feeling of “a job well done” I can’t say I go home every day feeling happy, but I always try to end each day knowing I worked hard and accomplished something.
RR: What profession would you choose if you didn`t become a knifemaker?
LCT: When I was a young man I wanted to box. I would have given anything to be a professional boxer! That was my dream, but my arms are 3” too short for my height. I come from a military family, with many relatives in the military or law enforcement. Maybe I would have followed that path? I think I could also have been very happy as a writer. I’m a bookworm! (laughs)
RR: Do you have any favorite character (in films, books ets)?
LCT: Hmm, that’s a tough one! Like I said, I’m a voracious reader. I still love nothing more than to lose myself in a good book. I don’t think I have a favorite character but I can sure recommend some good books! I always tell people to read the “Change” series by S.M.Stirling. Stirling builds some great worlds and wonderful characters, and he describes action better than pretty much anyone else I’ve read.
RR: Do you have any favorite personality in a real life? Who are they?
LCT: Lots of people influence and inspire me! I’ve always had a lot of admiration for Jerry Miculek. His skill with firearms is just breathtaking, but he’s an incredibly friendly and humble guy. I admire that about him. I have also always admired the Gracie Family. I loved the machismo of their approach to mixed martial arts! They stood on the mountain and said “we’re the best and we’ll fight anyone to prove it!” You can’t help but be impressed by that. Guro Ron Balicki has influenced me a lot. He’s my Martial Arts Instructor and my training partner. He pushes me hard and never lets me have an easy day. He’s been my primary Martial Arts influence for almost 18 years. I’ve also become good friends with UFC fighter Josh Barnett in recent years. I really like that guy! He has the showmanship of a pro-wrestler, the heart of a Viking and the brain of College Professor (laughs) He’s a really smart guy and he’s very well-read. He’s also in my opinion one of the most knowledgeable grapplers on the planet. He knows so much!
RR: Which human sins would you never make up mind to?
LCT: I’m a little confused by this question. I think it got lost in translation. I think you are asking me if I sin? I try not to, but I’m only human. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a humble guy. I spend my life testing my products. I have a tendency to brag, but that comes from pride in what my team and I have accomplished. We work hard to be able to back up that brag! (laughs)
RR: Which human weaknesses do you have indulgence for?
LCT: Again, this question is a little confusing. Apologies. I think we have a little bit of a language barrier here.
RR: Do you have your life motto or a favorite quotation?
LCT: (laughs) My employees tell me I have lots of “Lynn-isms” I suppose my favorite is simply “Never Unarmed”! It means a lot to me. It partly refers to my deep love of the Second Amendment and of our inalienable right to defend ourselves, our families and loved ones and our nation. It also, for me, means “be prepared” – never do anything blindly or rashly. Commit to preparation, the pursuit of knowledge and acquiring skills. Be useful. Make things happen! I’d like to think that’s a good rallying cry whoever you are.
RR: Who of world leaders (in the present or past) do you find the most authoritative?
LCT: I don’t talk politics, with the exception of our Second Amendment Rights. Heck, they should just put me in charge! King Lynn has a nice sound to it! (laughs)
RR: Is there anything in your life or creative work you feel the lack of?
LCT: Time! There aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week!
RR: Do you collect knives (of your or anybody`s production)?
LCT: Yes, obsessively. I have rooms and rooms FULL of knives, swords, spears, edged weapons and tools. I’ve been collecting them my whole life. I love going to gun shows and knife conventions and seeing what’s there. There’s always something new and exciting and there’s always something to learn if you look hard enough!
RR: Thank you!
LCT: Thanks for the opportunity to talk about what I do. This was fun!