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Come hell or high water: Montana bladesmiths join forces for flood relief

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-04 10:11:11-04

FRENCHTOWN - From start to finish, master bladesmith Josh Smith approaches each step with precision.

“I’m grinding the bevels down, getting ride of the hammer marks,” he explained from his workshop in Frenchtown.

From the moment he was named the world's youngest Master Smith in 2000 — to when he launched Montana Knife Company 20 years later — Smith learned perfection means patience until it's time to seize the moment.

“I quit my job in January of 2021 and we started hiring employees and just building and reinvesting the money that we made back into the company, and now we're one of the largest hunting knife brands in the world,” said Smith.

With over 55,000 knives in production right now, keeping up with demand is a race against the clock, "we've become Frenchtown’s largest postal customer in a year and a half,” he joked.

But when flooding ravaged southwest Montana last month, there was no time to waste, only time to help.

“Sometimes things are more important in business or you just have to shift priorities,” explained Smith. “When people are having so much struggle in your own state like that, there was never a second, like everything moves to the side.”

Amid the state’s disaster, Smith got a call from Bozeman bladesmith Will Stelter. “And he's like, ‘Hey, let's do a collaboration on a knife, just you and I.’”

In no time at all, the duo had designs drawn up for a hand forged Damascus knife valued at $3,000.

Then another idea sparked, "he actually came up with the theme “Come Hell or High Water,’” said Smith.

With that theme came t-shirts. All proceeds from the shirt sales go to Montana flooding victims, plus a chance to win the knife and other prizes.

“Yesterday alone we shipped almost 1,000 packages, so we've raised almost $70,000 on this so far,” Smith told MTN News.

Montana Knife Company may be booming, but to withstand the test of time, Smith knows it will take more than sales. It will take a company forged in community.

“I think it's the backbone of our country, you know, Americans help each other, neighbors help each other, and especially being Montanans. I really feel like as much as Montana is growing, it's still a small community of people, and our farmers, our ranchers, the people in those small communities, you know, they're hurting and I think it's a really cool part of having a big brand to be able to use that for good.”

You can learn more about Montana Knife Company’s fundraising efforts here.

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