BEN WHEELER, TX (KLTV) - Even though Dan Harrison's knives are prized by collectors the world over, he prefers to make and sell his knives in a tiny shop in Ben Wheeler.
Harrison made his first knife when he was 12, and before he was out of his teens, was showing at gun shows and winning prizes for his artistry and craftsmanship.
"I never had a teacher," he explained. "I just picked it up and kind of sophisticated it as we went along."
During his 68 years of knife-making, Harrison's knives have been prized by collectors, movie stars, and even heads of state.
"I've been lucky. My knives were shown in a museum, and when that happened, I got orders from LBJ and I got one from the queen," Harrison said.
That's the Queen of England he's talking about, as well as the royal family of Malaysia, the King and Crown Prince of Saudia Arabia, Sylvester Stallone and numerous other celebrities.
"All that's well and good, but my ego lies in making the average guy one, and he comes in just as happy as a lark," said Harrison.
Harrison says in the classes he teaches, some students can learn to make handles in a weekend, while it can take months to master blade grinding.
Most of his handles are made from ironwoods like East Texas Bois D'Arc, but then there are his exotic handles, like those made from woolly mammoth, dating back to thousands of years.
The artwork on Harrison's commemorative marine knife was done by his wife, Carol. One of the limited editions was owned by the last survivor of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.
Harrison creates his knives from scratch in his little workshop in Ben Wheeler, and whether a knife is as plain as the one Harrison calls "Old Ugly," or a jewel encrusted work of art, a Dan Harrison knife is made to be used, to last a lifetime and to be admired.
One of Harrison's handmade knives will be auctioned at the CASA benefit on Tuesday April 15 at 6 p.m. at the Crosswalk Conference Center of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler.