The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Saturday Night Blade Porn: American Kami

One of the makers who will be in attendance at the Seventh Annual Gathering of the Usual Suspects Network is DJ Urbanovsky of American Kami.

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DJ got his start as a regular member of the USN in 2004. He had collected knives previously but always wanted to make his own. From youth to early adulthood he tried his hand at modifying kitchen knives with a stone benchtop tool grinder and read everything he could find about knife making. He actually got his start making Kubotans and impact devices, but really wanted to make edged tools and choppers.

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He was a student in search of a mentor.

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Says Urbanovsky,

“Through the Usual Suspects Network in early 2005 I discovered that there was a local maker in Omaha, by the name of Charles Marlowe, and he was having a get together for USNers at his home. I jumped at the opportunity and after everybody had left, I asked Charles if he would show me his shop.”

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“He took me down to the basement, and that is where my life changed forever. My head practically exploded. I looked Charles in the eye and said ‘Teach me your ways, sir.’ He must have seen some special kind of crazy in there, because he said ‘Ok. When do you want to make your first knife?’

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“I showed up on time with my ear and eye protection and a respirator, Charles gave me his safety briefing, and asked “What kind of knife do you want to build?”

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“I pulled out my sketch paper and showed him something so ridiculous that he laughed and said “How about we start you out with something a little more reasonable, like this,” and then drew what was basically as simple a kiridashi as one can make – a rectangle with a rounded pommel and a blade angle of something like 30 degrees. As it would turn out, we met somewhere in the middle, although much closer to his design than my drawing.

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“At the end of that day, I was tired, sweaty, and dirty. But I walked out of Charles’ shop that night with my first real 100% sole authorship knife that I had done everything on, from cutting the blank, to grinding, to heat treat, and finally finishing, sharpening and sheathing. It was a lot more work than I thought I was going to be, and I realized that my book knowledge on the craft amounted to two things – jack and shit! But I knew I could learn. And I wanted to learn. And I was totally, totally hooked.”

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Over the next 6 months, DJ built five more knives in Charles’ shop and began tooling up his own shop to go full time when his life hit a major turning point.

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“On August 23, the day after my first professional grinder arrived, a single speed Wilton Square Wheel, I got fired from my regular day job. I had just gotten divorced, and I was in probably the darkest place I’d ever been in my life. I realized that I can have another telephony tech job tomorrow, and keep doing the same things, and keep being just as miserable, or I can give the knife making thing a try six months ahead of schedule. I went home to my parent’s house, sat down at the grinder, ground out my first six blades and prepped them for heat treat. I posted pictures on the USN that evening, and those first six knives were all sold before they were even cool from the third tempering cycle. Nobody was more shocked than I was, because looking back, each of those knives were as ugly as a mud rail fence. But I was encouraged, and I kept doing it, and the next thing I know, here we are and it’s ten years later!”

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A true success story, DJ’s knives, axes and other edged tools are now in demand by collectors and even the big factories like Boker want a piece of his action. He has several production models with them including the Colubris and GITFO. His titanium tools have been produced for Noveske, TAD Gear, EatingTools, and Rainier Arms.

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The sky may not be the limit for this maker!

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For more info check out his website at www.americankami.com.

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You can also stop by his table at the USN Gathering if you happen to be in Las Vegas for Labor Day weekend.

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