My name is Zander Nichols, and I am a 15-year-old bladesmith. I live in California’s Central Valley on a four-acre ranch with my family and our four horses.
My passion for knife making began with a love for medieval weapons. I began my journey of making knives practically since I could whittle a stick. I cannot leave out my dad, as I remember the days in his shop as five-year-old me would watch with intensity as he would help me cut out little wood knives. I believe that my love for making things with my hands came from him. My mom, on the other hand, would always be so encouraging, and it brought—and still brings me—great joy to show her my creations.
I can remember distinctly the first time I made a knife. My dad had not quite allowed me to use power tools yet, so I whittled down steel into my first knife blade with nothing but a file. It took hours and hours, but I persisted. I think it was the joy I received from that hard work is what really spurred me to take the first step into the world of knife making.
It was not until the age of eleven that I really began to make real heat-treated, functional knives. I read hundreds of books on the art of knife making, and on my 12th birthday, I received a forge. I was hooked! As I began to acquire more and more tools, I took over the entire breezeway of our barn. It was then that my parents decided to build me my very own workspace in which I could continue the pursuit of knife making.
I now work in a shop dedicated to the production of ZNK Knives, continuing to hone my skills on the journey to my ultimate goal—becoming a Master Smith.