Idaho Man Still Making Knives
by M. Cork

Ron Saunders of Nampa has crafted knife blades for 25 years.

His distinctive style of chipping away pieces of stone to shape a blade has given the 63-year-old former road construction worker a reputation as a uniquely-skilled “flint knapper.”

Nebraska resident Randy Porter has used Saunders’ blades in his hand-crafted knives. Porter wrote on his website that blades created by Saunders “are prized by knife makers and collectors. … His blades are flawless with precise edges.”

Saunders uses an upward motion with copper tools to break off small pieces of obsidian to form it into a blade. “Pressure flaking” is more typically done with downward strokes.

“I couldn’t see what I was doing, so I turned it around,” said Saunders, explaining that he taught himself flint knapping after watching a man make an arrowhead and blade. “You can tell the difference between mine and some other guys’.”

Saunders still makes blades, but doesn’t get out to his shop as often as he’d like. In October 2010, at age 60, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The diagnosis forced him to retire from his job at Boise Cascade and scale back his flint knapping.

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