Fuzzy Fletcher is no stranger to tools. He’s been a toolmaker and machinist for the past four decades, and started working in a machine shop at the age of 18.
But the former Snoqualmie mayor has always had an interest in one tool in particular — knives.
“I’ve always enjoyed knives, and I’ve had a pocket knife since I was a kid,” Fletcher said.
But it was only in the last few years that Fletcher began turning that interest into a career. After his time as mayor of Snoqualmie, he went to work for the Snoqualmie Tribe. In 2018, he was planning on retiring soon, and realized he wanted something to do in retirement. So that year, he started up the blade-sharpening business, Buffalo Bladeworks, in Snoqualmie.
Fletcher sharpens everything from kitchen knives to machetes and garden tools. He said it’s easier to list the blades he doesn’t sharpen, which is a short list consisting of saws, straight razors and beauty salon shears.
Most of the blades he sharpens are for kitchen and chef’s knives, he said, and business has been good. He’s booked out for two weeks right now, and only open by appointment.
When he’s not busy sharpening blades, Fletcher is also making prototype knives of his own.
In the world of knives and steel, there’s no shortage of options for materials to fashion a blade from. Fletcher decided on 52100 steel, a carbon steel with some chromium mixed in. The steel will rust if handled improperly or neglected in sinks and dishwashers, but the trade-off is the blade can be highly sharpened.
“I just prefer the older, sharper types of steel,” Fletcher said.
He’s also dabbling in different knife-making traditions. The knives he’s hoping to make are a cross between French and Japanese knives, defined by a straighter blade and the use of push cutting, instead of German-style knives, which rely on rocking a curved blade back and forth.
For now, he’s making three prototypes in all three styles: Japanese, French and German. The next step is finessing the heat treating. He is hoping to have the knives ready to send to friends and trusted customers for test runs by the end of summer.
Once he refines his technique, Fletcher plans on manufacturing and selling knives. While he hasn’t hashed out the pricing details yet, they could range in price from $150 to $175. Fletcher said similar rustic, homemade chef’s knives sell for around that price, and the quality should mean that if taken care of, they’ll be good enough to last a lifetime.
The goal is to eventually make custom knives for people, but that’s likely still years away.
For now, Fletcher said he’s keeping busy, and thanked his customers for supporting him.
“I really appreciate everybody that shops at local businesses and shows … you know you helped keep small businesses alive through the last couple of years,” he said.