At the entrance of The Blade Show there are tables as far as the eye can see – each one occupied by a skilled craftsman – a “maker” as they’re called at the show. The “Handmade” signs that hang above this section are an understatement. These knife-makers from around the world are showing their exquisite work, from custom shears and miniature knives to custom tactical knives and of course, pocketknives. This is where we found Gregory Dashevsky. The Ukrainian born maker’s card says Greg Dash, but his friends just know him as Dash. He can see I’m tired (it’s been a long day when I meet him), and he’s not afraid to wave me around his table and ask me to sit down for a while.
Dash has been in the United States since 1990. He lives in New York, and he tells me he doesn’t remember when he caught the knife bug. “It feels like I was born with it,” he says. “I’ve always loved knives.”
Dash’s accent is still heavy and distinct, but his English is far better than any of my secondary languages. He grabs a magazine from his table. It’s in Russian, but he shows me an article that bears his photograph and shows his work.
“When I first came to the US, there were a lot of unusual things for me,” Dash tells me. The existence of Knife clubs, well-organized shows and specialized magazines. These things didn’t exist for him in his native country, but he tells me he couldn’t get enough of them. “I read them [knife magazines] from cover to cover. It was hard to digest such an amount of information.”
“Pick it up! Hold it!,” he says gregariously to an older gentleman who is looking at his knives. “Pick it up!” he says with a smile.
Dash tells us that he could not believe the openness of the American knife-making community – the American masters – and their willingness to help. “Once I made a knife,” he says, “and I went to a knife show where I showed it to a well-known dealer, Reid Sditham. He looked at my knife. Looked at me, asked my name, and then he got up from the table. He literally took me by the sleeve and dragged me across the room to Bob Dozier. He said ‘Here is the knife Gregory made. He needs some help.”
Bob Dozier looked at Dash’s knife and told Dash to come to his shop in Arkansas to learn, and he did – for a week. “For a week,” Dash says, “he was breathing on my neck, teaching me, screaming at me, supporting and encouraging me.”
He was hooked at that point, starting a career in knife-making. What was a hobby, became a full-time hobby.
Dash prefers to work with D2, S30V, and CPM 154 steels, as well as Damascus from several masters. While the steel and handle depend greatly on the overall concept of the knife, he likes micarta, stabilized or very dense wood, antler, and bone. His selection are always based on the knife’s intended use. He makes mostly hunting and outdoor knives, and tries to make them “comfortable, reliable, and good looking.”
Dash shows me the Stag Hunter from the middle of his table that I can’t stop eye-balling. It’s 4” blade is Damascus steel and has gorgeous lines. Dash tells me it’s Bob Eggerling Damascus – one of his favorites. The handle is gorgeous Sambar Stag with stabilized ambrosia maple spacers. The guard, butt plate and lanyard holder are polished 416 stainless steel, and he points out that the lanyard holder is actually a female bolt that screws to the tang making the knife very sturdy.
Holding this knife, I can feel the care and painstaking effort he’s put into making it. Dash smiles at me over his reading glasses. I take a moment to look around and note that this scenario is playing out over and over at the multitudes of custom maker tables throughout this section of The Blade Show.
There’s nothing quite like it.