Afonso, Rick

Cape Town, South Africa

          Cell.         083 616 6188



I was born in 1967 and grew up in Johannesburg. As a young boy I learned how useful it was to always carry a pocketknife, especially towards the end of my primary school years when I started spending a lot of time on a friend’s family farm in the Northern Transvaal, having a knife there was a necessity, it was also there where I learned how to shoot, something I enjoy to this day. It seemed to me that guns and knives were complimentary as all of the gun owners and hunters I met also carried a knife.

My first exposure to handmade knives began on a trip to a Gun show early in my high school years. For the first time, the knives I saw were not generic factory knives but handmade. These knives were works of art, compared to the factory made knives I was used to seeing and I thought to myself “That’s something I would like to try one day”.

During the 1990’s after my National Service in the Army I started participating in IPSC, a practical pistol shooting sport. Checking out the fancy holsters and mag pouches available in the US which i couldn’t seem to find locally, I bought myself a set of leather tools, and some books on holster making and started to work with leather, making my own holsters, mag pouches, belts etc. skills that would come in very handy when i started knifemaking years later.

In 1996 we moved to Cape Town and at a local gun shop I spotted and bought my first knifemaking book: Step by Step Knifemaking – by David Boye. I read that book cover to cover, however it would still be many years till I actually took my first step into knifemaking, when in 2010 I came across a simple tutorial on the Internet “ The absolute cheapskate way to make a knife” and thought to myself “so i dont actually need belt grinders and all sorts of machines to try this, I suppose now is as good a time as ever.  I found out where to buy some “knife steel”(N690 from Bohler), and with an old drill press, hacksaw, files and sandpaper I made my first knife, and that was it, the knifemaking bug had bitten.

Since then I have tried to balance a full time day job with my hobbies – Knifemaking, sport shooting, reloading, mountaing biking and photography. Sadly I don’t have nearly as much time for knifemaking as I would like but I have managed to make around 70 knives, have built three grinders, refurbished several machine tools and other workshop equipment, and gotten thoroughly involved with the craft.

In October 2014 I applied to and was proud to be accepted as a member of the Cape Knifemakers Guild. I am proud to currently serve as Chairman of the guild and coincidentally Chairman of the Cape Knife Club too. In 2016 I attended the  “ABS Introduction to Bladesmithing” course and since then have made most of my knives by the forging method, although i still occasionally make stock removed blades. 

So far I have made only fixed blade knives, hunters, camp knives, bowies, a couple of boot knives, a puukko and a quillon dagger or two. Most recently have spent much of my time making kitchen knives. I use predominantly 10XX, 5160, and 80CRV2 carbon steels as well as San Mai and 1075/15N20 pattern welded damascus, for handle material I prefer stabilised natural hardwood handles and older canvas micarta, for bolsters and guards I like Bronze and steel.  For stock removed blades I use mostly N690 and AEB-L. 

In 2019 I passed the Cut and Bend Performance test as the first step to entry into the Knifemakers guild of South Africa (KGSA) as a bladesmith. I am currently working on my submission knives which I hope to submit before the end of this year (2022) after having procrastinated on it for the past couple of years.