Mark Landry-Doran

Mark Landry-Doran

Mark, from Raven Custom Knives, lives in Sherwood Park on the outskirts of Edmonton. His interest in making knives started about 15 years ago. He loves cooking and being in the kitchen, and when he wanted to buy a custom hand-made knife from Bob Kramer that would cost a small fortune and have a minimum six-month wait, his wife (who is always supportive of his lunacy) suggested he try to find someone who teaches a class and learn how to make knives.

At that time, the Internet did not have many how-to videos; there were no Forged in Fire episodes, and custom knife making or purchasing a custom knife for home use was relatively new. He searched what was 'the Internet' then, found Ed Storch from Manville, and took his first stock removal knifemaking class from him. Over the next few years, Mark took additional courses from Ed and eventually tried to use homemade forges and repurposed grinders to make knives at home. After some injuries and frustration, he realized very quickly that if he was to get serious about knifemaking, he needed the right equipment. He bought a Chili forge, a NWG 2x72 grinder, an EvenHeat heat-treat oven, and a few years later, a hydraulic press to start making Damascus in-house.

Now, Mark divides his time between making knives, teaching knife-making classes, making Damascus, engraving, and leather work, and learning advanced skills from other skilled craftsmen, engravers, and Master Smith knife makers whenever he can. Knifemaking occurs mainly in the evenings and on weekends because Mark has a full-time 'day' job running his consulting business, Raven Accounting Software.

When making knives, he likes the creativity of turning raw materials into functional pieces of art that will last generations. He makes fixed-blade kitchen, hunting and fishing knives (including Integral knives), and art folding knives. Mark prefers to do 'on demand' knife making, where an order starts with a clean slate, and then he works with a customer throughout the process, allowing them to pick the kind of steel, knife shape and style, handle material, and hardware. If possible, customers are invited to his shop to be part of the process and help grind the blade, make the Damascus, or be hands-on in any way they want, so there is additional value in the knife, and it is not merely an exchange of cash for a finished product, anything to make that knife more special once they take it home.

You can go to his website or call to order, but most of his sales started from farmers' markets and now mostly by word-of-mouth. His knives have found homes in South Africa, the UK, most Canadian provinces, and even a few in the US. He mainly uses CPM-154CM for stainless blades but also uses AEBL, NitroV, and other super steels. He uses 1084, 1095, 52100, and CruForgeV for carbon mono-steel blades and for making Damascus, mainly a combination of 1084, 1070, and 15N20. He tries to incorporate high-end, unique, and ethically harvested natural handle materials such as burl woods and ancient bog wood, mammoth tooth, ancient bone, narwhal, and mammoth tusk. He also incorporates manufactured handle materials from local suppliers like micarta, phenolics, hybrid blanks, etc.. When he finds that perfect piece of wood, he can do both casting and stabilizing in his shop.

Mark believes in giving back to the knifemakers' community through teaching and supporting each other. He says, "I just want to be known as someone who is trying to contribute to the craft. I want to help other makers be better and learn from them so I can be better." He gives regular classes in his shop, and last July, he co-led Ed Storch's Hammer In.

Mark is an avid learner and continuously pushes himself to develop new skills and expertise. He recently returned from a five-day engraving course with Ray Cover in Missouri. He has several good friends in the US who are full-time knifemakers, some of whom are Master Bladesmiths. He says, "When you have peers who are better than you, it pushes you to learn more to keep up with them. Not feeling good enough is a great motivator."

On the 3rd anniversary of his joining the American Bladesmith Society (ABS) in January 2024, he took the first part of his Journeyman Smith Designation. The first part of the Journeyman test is to make a knife with an overall Length of 15" with a blade length of no more than 10", and the blade must be forged and mono steel; he used 1084. The blade goes through a series of four tests. First, cut a 1" manilla rope;  second, cut a pine 2X4 in half twice; third, shave the hair on your arm using the area where you chopped the 2x4 most on the blade; and fourth, bend the knife and put in a vice and bent 90 degrees to test the heat treat.

Mark's knife was tested in Idaho in January 2024 by Master Bladesmith Bill Burke. He passed with flying colours. Now, he has three years to make five knives within the testing specifications. If he passes the panel of five judges, he receives the Journeyman Smith rating, and then he can apply to become a Master Smith and go through a similar but more intense testing process. There are only about 8 Journeyman and Master Smiths in Canada.

When asked what advice he could pass along to other Knifemakers, he said:

"Take classes, go slow, use the right steel, take classes, invest in your workshop, use the right equipment, and take classes. If I were to do it again, I would start taking classes sooner."

He recommends determining the customer's budget and expectations and then confirming the price for the knife they want. "Define the scope of the build, the customer expectations, and the budget/price in advance. It is much better than telling customers after the knife is made and them being shocked. You're better to say, "no" than do a knife for free."

Finally, "Join an association, attend some functions, find knife buddies, collaborate with them, share knowledge, find someone better or has different skills and build on each other's expertise, and always keep learning."

Contact Mark at:



Share this post...

Previous post Next post


Leave a comment