Fourth Annual Made in the South Awards
From heirloom-quality banjos to alligator-charred furniture to an ingenious twist on the old-fashioned, Southern artisans continue to raise the bar on craftsmanship
Outdoors Category Winner:
Reed Moore's handwrought fillet knives are a sportsman's dream
To make each indestructible blade, Reed Moore first forges a blank of Damascus steel from more than four hundred layers of metal. Then, he freezes the steel cryogenically and tempers it three separate times. He shapes the blade with a Scandinavian-inspired single-bevel flat grind to give it spring as it moves along the spine of a fish. He carves a handle—Pacific yew, in this case—and rivets the material to the full-length blade tang to create a permanent bond, so that one day its owner will think of the grandfather who owned the knife before him.
It's a fine tool for a morning’s work of trout or a brace of fresh-shot teal. Moore figures, modestly, that this just might be the best bream fillet knife on the planet. The very fact that he would dub such a work of knife-making art a bluegill blade speaks volumes of his Southern bona fides. Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, Moore started smithing while studying chemistry at Warren Wilson College. He also produces stunning hog splitters and meat cleavers, steel furniture, and architectural ironwork, all with his particular alchemy of minimally worked raw materials married to polished design. Happily, his one-at-a-time fillet knives are also available in a larger redfish-and-Canada-goose size.