This spike hawk and rifleman’s knife from the forge at Swamp Fox Knives represent period cutlery at their finest. Just as yesterday’s long hunters, rangers and frontier scouts depended on such weapons for their survival, Tim’s forgings serve the modern backwoodsman and soldier just as well.
It seems that every knife I pick up inspires a sense of self-reliance, independence or the freedom of the hills. However, none do it quite like those period pieces. Put a frontier-style knife in my hand and I’m right there, deep in the dark and bloody ground of Can-tuk-ee with Boone and Kenton, or maybe I’m up in the high lonesome with Ol’ Gabe himself. The knives of the long hunter, frontier scout or mountain man just speak to me.
A little over 15 years ago I was strolling the tables at a gun show when I spotted a table displaying such period wares. I made a beeline for it and there stood a young man in a long hunter’s frock who introduced himself as Tim Ridge, knifesmith at Swamp Fox Knives. We spoke of history, steel and forging and I left with several of his knives. Over the years I have kept up with Tim, seeing him at rendezvous or speaking on the phone, and in the process I have accumulated quite a collection of his forgings.
You might say that Tim was born into a life of historical appreciation and period knifemaking. His father was a Civil War re-enactor who ran an antique store called Swamp Fox Antiques. He made period knives as a hobby to give as gifts to his buddies. He taught Tim the basics of knifemaking in his workshop on the family farm. Tim took to the craft, and in his spare time he worked at the forge and built upon what his dad had taught him. Prior to the 125th anniversary of the Civil War, Tim joined the 12th/25th South Carolina re-enacting company. It wasn’t long until his “comrades in arms” in the company were placing orders with Tim for historically correct knives and accouterments. Tim and his family moved to Tennessee in 1996, and shortly after the move Tim began forging full-time.