MANTI — Steve Johnson is a knife maker from Manti, Utah whose work is known around the world. His knives are so in demand that there is a two- to three-year waiting list to get one.
Johnson is finishing up work on a one-of-a-kind knife.
I love the handwork, I love the detail work, I love striving for perfection, even though it is unattainable.
He's heading to a knife show in New Jersey where his customers hope they draw out for the right to purchase one of them. Most sell on average for $3,000 - $5,000 each.
Johnson makes just 60 knives a year — a career that began in 1966 as a teenager, when he says he learned from some of the best.
"I love the handwork, I love the detail work, I love striving for perfection, even though it is unattainable," Johnson said.
What Johnson won't tell you is that he's considered one of the best knife makers in the world — the demand for his knives says it all.
Most of the knives will likely never be used to cut anything since they're sold to collectors around the world, but Johnson knows of one that was used by a high-end client.
I'm lucky to be able to do something I don't dread. Knifemakers say 'I have never worked a day in my life'. I go out there and have fun.
"I had a customer in Detroit who would dig dandelions with my knives," Johnson said. "In fact, he sent one back that was broken in half because he was prying on a rock or something."
But for most, the knives he crafts by hand are considered works of art.
"Art is in the eye of the beholder, and some people would say, 'That is a beautiful piece of art,' " Johnson said. "And others would say, 'What would you do with that? You can't slice bread, it is not good for anything.' "
For Johnson, knife making is about the fine details.
"I'm lucky to be able to do something I don't dread. Knife makers say, 'I have never worked a day in my life, I go out there and have fun,' " Johnson said.
But it is his precision and talent that has made knife making a long-lasting career.