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Knife work keeps Hernando man sharp

Howard Krebs first started making knives during World War II. The70-year-old Krebs is still at the grinding wheel, crafting specialty knives out of materials he only dreamed of having in earlier days.

"I thoroughly enjoy making knives. I have so much more time to spend on the knives now than I had back then," Krebs said.

In the past two years, Krebs has crafted 128 knives. He didn't keep count of the knives he made before 1988.

Krebs makes his blades from old circular saw blades, the handles from ivory and wood such as wild cherry, oak and walnut. He makes the sheaths from leather, using leather-working skills learned from his father, a blacksmith.

Each of Krebs' knives is unique. Some have hearts, spades, diamonds or clubs carved into the blades. Each handle is a work of art. One of his favorites is the ivory and wild cherry combination.

It takes about three days to complete a knife, after which Krebs hand-sews and decorates a customized leather sheath.

Although the finished product is something an avid outdoorsman would cherish forever, Krebs doesn't boast of his work.

"I just do the best job I can do. Most everyone I seem to show my knives to compliments me on my work, so I guess I am doing okay," he said.

One of his most treasured knives, a 28-inch shoal knife, took 40 hours to make and sold for $300. "She was a beauty," he said while gazing at a picture of the knife.

Some of the most popular styles Krebs makes are skinner, fillet and survival knives. "I'm into custom work, so I will make any kind of knife you want. Customizing is the challenging part of this hobby," he said.

Krebs' knives cost from $75 to $300. The materials for each knife cost nearly $25. But Krebs said it doesn't bother him if he doesn't make a hearty wage handcrafting the knives.

"I am not in this for the money," he said. "I get a lot of joy out of making these knives. That's why I am in this business."