As a carpenter, David Root has always been interested in hand tools. Originally from Santa Fe, he wanted to move to a smaller rural community and have a product he could sell locally.
Root ran across a book by Murray Carter who spent decades forging in Japan and was the first Westerner to receive the Yoshimoto bladesmith distinction. A Yoshimoto bladesmith is a person who can trace their work and techniques back to one of the traditional bladesmithing families of Japan.
After reading Carter’s book, Root was hooked. Lucky for him, Carter eventually moved back to the states and Root had the opportunity to train with him. His interest in blacksmithing and toolmaking was refined and Root started making knives.
For five years, Root has been making knives with business in mind. He moved to Mancos with his family three years ago, and now sells knives at the Durango and Telluride farmers markets.
His knives are traditional Japanese style. It takes Root about six to eight hours to forge a knife.
“I use laminated steels, primarily, when making a knife. The harder you make a knife the more brittle it becomes,” he said. “So, in using laminated steels you can have softer steel on the side and just have the harder steel core come out right near the cutting edge.
“What that does is it allows me to keep the cutting edge thinner and harder, which is better for cutting performance,” he said. “So, that really thin, fine geometry of the Japanese knife and that hardness is what gives it such legendary cutting ability.”
Wild Mountain Forge mostly sells kitchen knives, but Root also dabbles in foraging everyday carry and hunting knives. Recently, Tanto knives have peaked his interest. He compares the Tanto knife to a Samurai sword.
“They have interesting polishing methods and ornamental work on the handle that has a lot of appeal,” he said.
Eventually, Root hopes to start selling his knives online.
He currently has chef and paring knives in stock at the Durango Farmers Market. In addition, he offers a popular knife sharpening service at his booth.
Wild Mountain Forge will be at the Durango Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday of the season.