With attention to detail always priority number one, U.S. Army veteran Shane Magnussen and his wife, Katie, combine art and functionality in tools that will last for generations to come.
SM: Almost every male member on both sides of my family served, so it was a familiar avenue I wanted to investigate when I was looking toward the future. After looking at the benefits provided by the Army (including paying for my college tuition), I felt it would give me the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life while I did something almost any 18-year-old boy would want to do. I joined in September of 1999, during my senior year in high school, and I left for basic training shortly after graduation.
SM: As most combat veterans experience, I tumbled through the civilian sector after I exited the military. I worked everything from automotive to aviation to construction to retail, and I was even in the finance industry. I never found a place where I fit in or felt comfortable in my own skin. After looking through Craigslist while I was selling cars, I saw an ad for a veteran-owned and veteran-employing business seeking a knife-making apprentice. That is when it became very clear that I had found my calling.
SM: (Laughs.) I never thought of it like that, but you are right. I can see the sleeveless leather vest and black-striped face camouflage right now. As everyone knows, the military is all about call signs. After the call sign in the infantry, they assign a number so you know the person you are talking to—i.e., Scorpion 33 Bravo is the 3rd Platoon, 3rd Squad, Bravo team leader in Scorpion Company. The number “6” signifies the commander of the element. I served in Blackhawk Company and lost several good friends in Scorpion Company, so I went with Scorpion 6 in honor of those we lost and because Blackhawk 6 just didn’t have the same weight.
SM: I think that anyone can be a knifemaker. There is no black magic or special skill you need to craft knives with your hands. We have been doing it as a species for thousands of years. I think the biggest thing that sets us apart is that we are genuine about what we do and how we do it. We are 100-percent U.S. handmade, and, other than having a local waterjet company cut out our materials, we do everything in house. We try to share as much as possible about the process on our social media, so our customers and fans can be a part of the process, our growth and the overall experience. There is so much negativity on the internet, so we just try to present our story about a couple growing a small business in the USA who make collectable, yet functional art.
SM: Katie was a preschool teacher for the majority of her professional career. When Scorpion 6 Knives grew to a size that I could no longer manage alone, she jumped in without question or hesitation. I am extremely lucky that she is beyond organized and enjoys machining, since both of those things are key elements in making handmade custom folders. She has the skills to do every step in the process, so we play off our individual strengths to balance our workflow and produce an output that I am very proud of. Our entire family is involved in the business, as our daughter drew the logo on the napkin when she was one year old.
SM: There are many fulfilling parts of the process of making a folding knife, but I would have to say it is the actual art of grinding out the stock in the steel to make it a knife that I like best. During the grinding process I put in my ear buds, dim all but the grinding machine lights, strap on my respirator and disappear from the world. Sculpting steel is more therapeutic for me than any PTSD therapy appointment I have ever attended.
SM: There is. The delivery time fluctuates based on demand, material availability and production-related constraints, but an order for our custom knives can take anywhere from six months to two years. We are always striving to keep up with demand, but we will not compromise our quality to decrease our lead time.
SM: In the military, there is an often-used term: “mission dependent.” Based on the area of operation, terrain, mission, enemy forces and timeframe allowed, you pack accordingly. If you get down to ultimate user EDC items, I think it is necessary to carry a light source, fire source, multi-tool, proper watch, firearm (if applicable in your state) and, of course … a well-made knife.