History of Don Hanson III’s Custom Knives


Sunfish Forge

A little history about my knives...

I started making knives as a hobby back in the 1980s.

One of the first knives I made was a fighter with a desert ironwood handle.

Among some of the first knives were filet knives and kitchen knives like paring, butchering, and slicing knives.

I began making knives full-time around 1991. These knives were mainly hunting-style knives, along with a few custom bowies. In the beginning, my tang stamp was my initials DH, but in 1996 I changed it to a sunfish stamp designed by my wife.

In 1994, I began making slip-joint folding knives in the old traditional patterns. This is where the classic traditional sunfish pattern comes in.

The sunfish was one of the first knife patterns I made. At the knife shows, I became known as 'The Sunfish Man'; from that, I came up with my forge name and, later, my website, "Sunfish Forge".

With each order for a folder, I began to evolve into my own designs, moving into making more art knives, automatics, and a few solid 18K Gold knives.

I began making my own Damascus in 1994, starting out with trips to the National Ornamental Metals Museum in Memphis, TN.

With help from my Memphis friends, I was able to make my first Damascus.

In 1999, I built my current shop. It houses 2 Little Giant power hammers - a 25 lb. and a 100 lb.; a forging area with 2 gas forges and a 24-ton press.

With this equipment, I am able to forge traditional Damascus along with mosaic Damascus for all of my knives.

Around 2004, I started making forged bowies and fixed blades again with both traditional Damascus blades and also W2 carbon steel blades with vivid hamons - temper lines.

In 2007, I passed the tests for becoming an ABS MasterSmith, American Bladesmith Society.

'Knives' Annual Books have published my work from 2000 to 2023; also in several knife magazines like Garden & Gun; Blade; The Knife Magazine. Knife Show awards that I have been honored to win throughout the years start back in 1997 in Kansas City, MO.

My knives are in private collections all over the world. Each knife is made one at a time,
which causes my knife orders to be backlogged for 3-5 years. I'm currently not able to take on new orders.

My main focus for the past few years has been traditional slip-jointed folders, Scary Tacs, and the occasional bowie.

Thanks once again for visiting my website.

I hope to see you at the custom knife shows.