A bunch of people are asking, who is Todd Orr? What kind of guy videos his own bear attack and drives himself to the hospital? Well, I don’t think of myself as anyone different than any of you, but the below describes me pretty well, and also talks about my life in Montana and knife making. Enjoy..
Todd Orr. Skyblade Knives. 2009.
Fortunately, I experienced a life of hunting, fishing and exploring the beautiful Madison Valley near Ennis, Montana. Thriving in the country, 12 miles from town and in the foothills of the Gravelly Mountains, one is naturally drawn to the adventure and excitement of the outdoors.
I was fly fishing the Madison River before I could ride a bicycle, and could read elk sign before I could read a book. By age 6, I was as good a shot with a BB gun or a 22 rifle as my Dad.
From day one, Dad focused on sharing with me, the importance of treading lightly on the land, respecting the wildlife, and co-existing with mother nature.
It soon became my life. I was up with the sun seven days a week, dog at my side, seeking an untamed route into the mountains. Rarely did I find my way home before dark, tired and hungry, but jumping at the chance to tell Dad the stories of the days’ adventures and the size of the big buck or bull elk I saw or tracked.
As the years drifted by, I became even more focused on the wildlife and hunting. Every deer or elk I saw was another challenge. If it wasn’t a trophy worth shooting, I had to sneak in as close as possible and get a photograph for proof of my stealthness. It was always that challenge of outsmarting the animal, that I really enjoyed the most.
I had been following my Dad around during bow season for years, and at age 14, I decided it was my time to bow hunt. I was soon addicted to the sounds and smells of a big bull elk moving his herd through the September forests and shattering the stillness with his majestic bugle. Again, that challenge of getting close enough for the shot, but taking only a photo, while waiting on a bigger bull, was so rewarding.
Unfortunately, a ski accident and dislocated shoulders put a damper on pulling a bow for a couple years, so I took up pistol hunting instead. The rifle is still collecting dust in the closet corner.
As an avid outdoorsman and hunter, a knife is an everyday tool you were never without. I always carried one, had a few spares back home, and kept a keen edge on each.
One Christmas morning, I opened a gift from my Mother to find a beautiful knife made by a local knifemaker. This was my first look at a handmade, custom knife. It was a wonderful addition to my small collection of old, rusty blades. Years later, at a holiday dinner party in 1987, this elderly knifemaker and friend of the family, took me aside to discuss the finer points of a quality knife. He drew a custom knife from the sheath on his belt and handed it to me for inspection. Although rough in design and appeal in comparison to the knives I make today, the knife I held was the open door to something bigger to come. It was that evening; I decided I wanted to make a custom knife.
While working towards a degree in Fish and Wildlife Management at Montana State University, I made a few knives for friends or for a buddy to present to his Dad at Fathers Day or on Christmas morning. It wasn’t long, before an art gallery in Ennis, Montana, noticed my work and asked to display my custom knives.
Now the pressure was on and I felt the commitment to create a knife that would be appreciated in both aesthetics and quality, by people from all over the world, not just the kid next door.
The research began. What steel would hold the best edge and not break under heavy use? How do I assure proper heat treating and tempering of the blades? What epoxy would keep the handle attached for a lifetime? Where do I find hardwoods to make an appealing handle? Where do I get quality sheaths to carry and protect the knives? These were the questions I tackled, bound to find the answers.
Years of research and testing finally came together. I had created a knife I was satisfied with. The designs were useable and not just for looks. The quality was there to withstand punishment and use in the field. The edge holding was exceptional. The beauty would impress all who laid eyes upon them.
Now all I needed was a name. Having grown up under the vast skies of Montana, the ‘ Big Sky‘ country was a part of who I was. SKYBLADE KNIVES was created. Art with an edge! Handcrafted for life!
Not long afterwards, Skyblade Knives were being sold at eighteen art galleries and sporting goods stores around the country. The name was known. The quality expected. The price worth every penny.
More recently, demand for Skyblade Knives has increased ten fold. As a one-man-show, I have been unable to keep up with the relentless orders and requests through the retail galleries and sporting stores. I have scaled back my business, pulling knives from all my retail outlets. All orders and sales are directly through me. Word of mouth, return customers and Internet sales and orders, have kept me busy most day and night, outside of my career job as a Trails Engineer with the Forest Service.
Now twenty one years later, I am still continually creating new designs and researching new materials and techniques, to bring you a useable and affordable custom knife of investment quality, simple but unequaled beauty, and handcrafted for life.
Thank you for your support of my passion!