Pipo resumes former hobby
Gabe Pipo of Garfield made his first knife 20 years ago.
The interest developed from watching his father, a blacksmith in Barrett, make knives from the leaf springs of cars.
"My dad didn't have the equipment that I have now. It was quite a process back then," he explained.
Pipo began making knives the way his father had made them. It was a long process of heating up the metal and hammering it out on an anvil. Once the metal was to the desired thickness, it had to be shaped and sharpened.
Pipo made knives like that for a while and gave them away as gifts before putting his hobby aside for nearly 10 years.
It wasn't until he met a man who made band saw blades that he developed a new idea. The saw blade metal was just the right width and thickness to make fillet knives.
"And if it could hold an edge for cutting lumber, it definitely should hold an edge for cutting fish and meat," he said.
The process of making the fillet knife was quicker, since he did not have to hammer out the metal.
Pipo donated the first fillet knife he created out of the band saw blade material to a family reunion, to be raffled off to pay for the facilities and other expenses.
"The darn thing brought over 400 bucks," Pipo said with a laugh.
Throughout the years, he has donated knives to several organizations for fundraising efforts.
In November, a member of the Minnesota Darkhouse Association asked him to make a knife as a raffle item for the 8th Annual Rudy Zwieg Decoy Show in Alexandria.
To make this knife, the craftsman cut and shaped the band saw blade with a hand grinder and belt sander. It was further shaped, sharpened and polished by hand using various grits of sandpaper.
The blade was designed with an extended tab toward the butt end of the blade and was welded to a threaded rod so a handle could be attached.
The finger guard and butt of the knife handle were made of aluminum, designed by Pipo. A machinist provided further shaping.
More hand-shaping was completed before the knife received its handle, which is made of bloodwood, a dark red wood from Africa that Pipo likes to work with.
The handle spacers include rings from a brass door plate. The spacers, finger grip and butt of the handle were affixed to the threaded rod and sealed. The entire handle was sanded and polished before being sealed with a lacquer finish.
Pipo finished the commemorative knife and display case after about 10 hours of work.
A notarized certificate of authenticity explains how the knife was made and certifies its originality.
The knife Pipo is donating to the Rudy Zwieg Decoy Show has a commemorative inscription lasered on the blade and includes a lasered picture of a northern pike.