Bob Loveless is cited everywhere in the maker environment, by knife manufacturers and collectors as one of the most innovative custom knife manufacturers in the world.
Known as Bob Loveless but his first name is Robert Waldorf Loveless (January 2, 1929 – September 2, 2010), aka Bob Loveless or RW Loveless, and was an American knife manufacturer who designed and spread the empty drop point blade and the use of tapered tabs and a Screw type called Loveless as fasteners, etc. really creating a great innovation in the art of knife making.
A hunting knife on the table of almost every American knife manufacturer today will show the influence of knife manufacturer Bob Loveless.
At first it revolutionized the knife industry and made possible the modern artisanal production of knives.
For his many influences in designing custom knives and promoting the art of handmade knives, Loveless was inducted into the Blade Cutlery Hall of Fame magazine at the 1985 Blade Show in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Bob Loveless was honored and entered the history of cutlery of the
Blade Cutlery Hall of Fame
He was at the beginning of cutlery as we know it today:
The Knifemaker’s Guild, drop point hunters, high-quality steels, custom designs, How to Make Knives books, the Japanese Knifemakers Guild, the rise of Japanese cutlery manufacturers using handmade designs for American manufacturers, the birth of the first knife maker workshops, etc.
Whatever you call it and Loveless put a hand in it.
Bob Loveless is really a legend in the world of cutlery, when it comes to knives you can not fail to mention or talk about Bob Loveless.
There are parts of this world where handmade knives are not known and people don’t even know about their existence, but the name Loveless yes, it is present everywhere and even if you do not know it you will surely have seen one of his knives or a reproduction of one of his famous designs!
Bob Loveless’s most famous knives
- Drop Point
- Hide Out
- New York
- Sub Hilt
I created for each of these knives the templates doing a real reverse engeenering because I want in the coming months to make a journey on the blog to tell in detail each of these knives to give in some way my thanks to this maker for the inspiration he gave to the world of cutlery.
Loveless began making knives in 1954 after he was told by Abercombie and Fitch that it would take a long time, months, to get a Randall knife.
So the history of knives changed forever for the twenty-five-year-old Loveless.
You can see how the knife design of the beginning of this legend of cutlery is very different from what we know now.
These all have the leather handle some with the brass butt cup and engraved the name with an engraving not precise but effective at that time.
The fighter at the bottom has a 7.5-inch blade and is dated 1955.
Many of these sold for less than $40, some around $25. Today the “hunters” are valued above $ 12,000 and the fighter around $ 15,000.
Loveless’s knives in real everyday use were very light, comfortable in hand and well balanced: since then Loveless was on another planet in terms of effectiveness of use and balance.
They were usable blades, made to really work and if you feel an original Loveless you can understand the feeling they give when held.
This perceptual aspect is also felt when you try to hold in an exhibition the same reproduction of knife as the Loveless drop point built by different makers and already so you feel the profound difference on the ability of the maker to perform the same knife. They are similar knives but not the same.
The scabbards of Loveless’s first knives were made by a cobbler down the street.
At first Loveless did not make them scabbards.
Then he started and undoubtedly made the most beautiful scabbards in the world where he inserted an insert inside the scabbard so that the knife remained stuck, did not fall out; shake it and stay there!
Many makers still today can not even get close to the “high tech” scabbards that he designed.
In his scabbards the knife slipped inside and there it remained!
If you can hold one of these knives from the early years, do it and hear what Loveless did 60 years ago.
The history of cutlery by Bob Loveless
In December 1953, Loveless returned to the Merchant Navy on an oil tanker based in New York. Loveless visited Abercrombie & Fitch in New York City to buy a Randall Made knife.
After learning that there was a nine-month wait for the knife he wanted, he decided to make it himself.
He rectified his first blade from a 1937 Packard Automobile spring found in a Newark, New Jersey landfill and forged it on the oil cooker stove of the ship he was serving on.
After showing this homemade knife to the head of the Abercrombie & Fitch cutlery department, he formed a relationship with the dealer to sell his knives. Loveless sold his knives to Abercrombie & Fitch for $14 USD a piece at the time.
From 1954 to 1960 Loveless produced over a thousand knives called “Delaware Maids” and became Abercrombie & Fitch’s best-selling handmade items, surpassing Randall blades.
Loveless admitted that these knives were copies of Randall’s models, but in 1960 he began to realize his own innovations that distinguished them.
Loveless was a founding member of the Knifemakers’ Guild in 1970 and was the club’s first secretary.
Loveless went on to serve two terms as chairman of the Guild from 1973 to 1976.
Through his study of 19th century techniques, Loveless developed the method of building the fully tapered shank knife.
This technique was previously used to compensate for the weaknesses of steel in use before modern metallurgy.
In Loveless knives the entire piece of steel used to make the knife ran to the end of the butt instead of being cut to half the length of the handle and locked or glued in place.
Loveless tapered the end of the shank to 1/16″ in the same way that he tapered the tip of the blade, placing the knife’s weight balance in the center.
The handles were fastened by means of screw fasteners, creating a stronger knife in general.
Loveless introduced 154CM steel and ATS-34 stainless steel to the world of knife manufacturing in 1972 and pioneered the use of Micarta as a handle material.
Loveless has always considered himself a “BenchTop Creator” as opposed to a “Custom Creator” as he made knives only from models he designed instead of ideas that came from his customers.
The only input Loveless would receive from a customer would be the type of handle material used in the knife’s construction.
He marked his blades by acidically engraving his logo on the blade: “RW LOVELESS, MAKER, RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA”, some of his knives bore the image of a naked woman lying down.
Most of his contemporaries printed their logo on knives using an electric hammer or other device.
Loveless believed that this molding could compromise the strength of the knife causing stress fractures in the steel.
The main style of the knife made by Loveless was the combat knife and it is considered the first manufacturer to produce what is known as a tactical knife.
However, Loveless refused to sell a customer one of his combat knives unless the buyer could provide a police or army identification and could request a knife as a weapon.
Knives made by Loveless for use by the special forces of the US Army and the CIA.
One of these knives had the size and shape of a pocket comb and fit inside a passport case.
When the case was thrown, the blade cut the case and cut everything it hit.
Loveless designed the Gerber Guardian knife model for Gerber Knives and for a time was Gerber’s Lead Designer.
Loveless went on to design knives for other factories such as Lone Wolf Knives, Beretta, Schrade Cutlery and others. Cold Steel reproduces its combat knife “Big Bear Classic” .
Loveless participated from 1993 to 2006 in the Art Knife Invitational Show, a closed association of the 25 most collectible knife makers.
In addition to creating knives, Loveless has written several books on knife production such as 1977’s How to Make Knives with co-author Richard Barney.
Quotes from Bob Loveless
- “Our lives are mired in debris. Objects possess us; they hold us back from our creativity.”
- “Why would anyone pay $3,000 for a hunting knife? They say, because my name is on it. I am bringing a terribly large representative. If I were a gunslinger, I would hide somewhere in a cave. But I wouldn’t want to spend so much money on a knife if it had been autographed by Jesus Christ himself! “
- “What is the purpose of a new knife in a museum or cabinet? That’s what the story has to decide, not the knifemaker.”
- “When a man takes a knife, there is an old memory of the collective unconscious that emerges. A knife is an atavistic experience. It was man’s first tool and weapon. The man was cutting the flint in the cutting edges before inventing the wheel. No matter how sophisticated we become, a knife takes us back to the cave. “
If you are a knife enthusiast or a maker you can not miss the knives of Bob Loveless.
Building Bob Loveless knives is a school for a knife maker because every knife is a challenge and building the knives of this great maker makes you fully understand the quality of this maker and how behind these shapes there are great choices.
You can’t if you’re a knife enthusiast not have a copy of a Loveless drop point knife or an original copy if you’re lucky.
Surely if you are a maker you can not build the drop point of Bob Loveless, because “it is the basis of cutlery”.
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