Welcome to our brand-new series, in which we highlight the talented creators and makers who share their original vision with the world. We are thrilled to start this exploration and tell the tales of these skilled knifemakers, artisans, fabricators, builders, and artists who have dedicated their lives to perfecting their craft. Our objective is to aid in the popularization of these creators and increase awareness of their incredible work. Through interviews, profiles, and showcases, we aim to provide insight into the thoughts and processes of some of the most innovative and passionate creatives out there.
In our first episode, we are thrilled to introduce you to Todor Todorov, the man behind TDR Knives. Through our interview with him, we delve into his journey as a knifemaker, his inspirations, his favorite techniques and tools, and his advice for newcomers to the craft. Here´s how our interview went:
1. Can you tell us about your background and how you got started in knifemaking?
My name is Todor, 28 years old. Always been interested in blades, started buying and collecting various knives since I was 12. Whenever we used to go on school camping trips, I would buy a knife and bring it home (parents took it quite well surprisingly).
I’m a land surveyor by profession, but always loved to do things with my hands, be it cars, bikes, any mechanical stuff, machines and tools always fascinated me and felt good to work with!
Long story short, with my knife passion kinda long forgotten, a year ago I actually found out you can buy knife blanks and put handles on them. Bought two, made handles, turned out decent. Then I started reading about knife steels, got into the loophole, and my next thought was – why would I pay so much money when I can get steel and find someone to HT it?
So as I was making knife handles and posting stories on my IG, a friend of mine asked me if I had started making knives and wanted two similar knives for his dad’s birthday, one for him and one for his dad. Told him I’m just using knife blanks but he’s gonna be my ground zero for knifemaking from scratch, he agreed and that’s how it all happened. Just with a file and a homemade bevel jig.Soon after I realised I can’t be bothered doing this without any machinery, sold almost all of my personal belongings, got a cheap belt grinder, a meter long D2 stock and just went with it.
3 months later I had around 10 blades sold (except the first one I ever made, that one was for me), decided to quit my job as I had health issues in the family and couldn’t really go to work anyway, and decided I’m gonna pursue the full time knifemaking career.
2. How would you describe your artistic style and the inspirations behind it?
Tactical is my primary focus. A quick look at most knifemakers in Bulgaria will show you that there’s a lot of REALLY good bladesmiths, but not much diversity, so I wanted to go with a style that only a handful of people here do. But primarily doing cool stuff that I like. №1 rule is to always look cool! Same with my blades, but also functional!
3. What is your favourite type of blade to make?
My hook handled drop-points. They look absolutely vicious and fit like a glove in the hand.
4. What is your favourite technique?
Texturing handles, I love the look and the randomness to it. There are never two same knives with a textured handle.
5. What is your preferred type of steel and materials to work with, and why?
I always lean to high carbon and semi-stainless powdered steels, there’s a particular feel I have with them. Also they require a bit of thought and care about the blade you’re using, which kinda makes it a part of you, despite of do you want it or not. You don’t get that with stainless, you can just tuck it in the sheath and forget about it. About handles, synthetics are king for most blades I do. I love working with G10 and micarta, but on a chef’s knife I mostly have to use stabilized wood. You can’t just slap burlap micarta on a high carbon bunka, it just doesn’t fit.
6. What is one project or piece of work that you are particularly proud of?
As I’ve been making knives for about 7 months, every next one I do is my favourite!
I’m proudest of my first freehand dagger, which was the most challenging because I just took a piece of steel and started cutting and grinding. Man, symmetry is a bitch without a sketch. And of course I had to do my first brass liners on that one. Fucks sake. Also tomahawks, I’m not as proud with them, but I just love making tomahawks.
7. What advice do you have for Knifemaking newbies ?
Research, read, get as much information as you can. Ask a lot of questions,
watch a lot of videos. Figure out what you like, create a style, make cool stuff!
Always have the knowledge to explain what are you making/selling – steel, handle material, construction, heat treatment.
Challenge yourself constantly! If something frustrates you, do it again and again until you make it perfect. Then never do it again. But be sure, one day you will have to do it again, and now you know how to.
Knifemakers are the only craftsmen that work with all the materials, all the tools and all the machinery! It’s an amazing opportunity!
Address: Burgas, Bulgaria