Rich Boughen

Rich Boughen

Rich kicked off his knifemaking journey after he retired from a 27-year career with the RCMP, a job that took him from Nanaimo to Whitehorse, and finally to Ottawa. His time in the force was anything but mundane, including a year-long deployment to Afghanistan and stints as a bodyguard for two Prime Ministers. Post-retirement, Rich began with the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, conducting hearings into veterans' compensation cases alongside 24 colleagues.

The pandemic slowed his work-related travels, which took him across Canada for about three weeks each month. Stuck in his home office, Rich began considering knifemaking—a craft he'd been curious about, especially after being let down by the purchase of an expensive set of kitchen knives. In 2020, with travel and work restrictions locking everyone down, he decided to start. He said, "If it weren't for knifemaking, I would've found the pandemic period much tougher."

Rich set up his workshop at home, starting with the basics such as hand files, a disk grinder from Canadian Tire, a drill, and a Workmate bench. The materials for his first knife were very inexpensive—an old piece of ash wood from his backyard for the handle, and an old steel file for the blade.  Rich currently makes around 150 kitchen, hunting, and fillet knives each year. His knife designs are practical and functional.  He has been helped with the design and testing by two friends—one, a hunter from the Calgary area; the other, an excellent home chef from Vancouver.

Rich's knifemaking skills are largely self-taught, improved through a mix of trial and error and many hours spent watching YouTube knifemaking videos. He finds bladesmiths like Kyle Royer, Walter Sorrels, and Jeremy from "Simple Little Life" to be great virtual teachers and draws inspiration and technical tips from their videos.

Rich uses stainless steels like AEB-L and Nitro-V, and is recently experimenting with CPM 154 and Magnacut. For handles, he chooses durable materials like Suretouch for hunting and filleting knives, and layers G-10 and stabilized woods for kitchen knives. He also makes epoxy and wood handles for people who enjoy a colourful handle material.

For anyone wanting to start knifemaking, Rich's advice is "be patient and soak up knowledge from craftsmen on YouTube, including Kyle Royer and Walter Sorrels." He also stresses the importance of workshop safety.  "Workshops become dusty, dirty and filled with hazards—wear a respirator, and protect your eyes and ears so you can make knives for many years."

What would you have done differently?  “I would have purchased better equipment sooner, especially a variable speed grinder.  He advises "start slow and improve your equipment as you grow your skills.” 

See Rich's Instagram:

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