Trace Rinaldi’s Custom Blades: Standing The Test Of Time.
When we first featured custom knifemaker Trace Rinaldi in these pages 10 years ago he was just a young upstart trying to break into an already crowded field of artisans. Most were riding the tactical wave jumpstarted by the first Gulf War. Back then we used these words to sum up the young knifemaker’s wares: “Straight and simple, Trace makes knives meant to be used. These are edged implements that can turn the average Walter Mitty into a human thresher.” Since our last visit Trace’s career has gone through some major changes, so we thought it would be interesting to go back and give our readers an update.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the “no bull” style you’ll find in every one of Trace’s knives. His knives don’t mince words, just everything that gets in their path. Like most successful knifemakers Trace has continued to improve the quality of his craftsmanship and take advantage of new cutting edge technology, but his penchant for building no-nonsense knives is rooted in his past. “I grew up on a farm in rural southern California,” says Trace, “and knives were always tools and prized possessions to me. My love for firearms actually sparked my interest in making knives. Reading American Handgunner since I was a teen, I always wanted to build custom pistols, but given the restrictive climate for firearms in California, and all that goes along with that, building guns just wasn’t in the cards.
“After meeting a custom knifemaker named Norm Levine at a gun show,” Trace continued, “I decided custom knives were the next best thing, and the rest is history. Norm died shortly after I met him, so I never really had someone to teach me to make knives. I read some books, bought some machinery, and through trial and error eventually was making useable tools.”
Over the years, Trace built up a faithful following of serious knife users and perfected his work at the same time. Then in 2008, tragedy struck when a fire wiped out his entire So-Cal shop, forcing him to make some hard decisions.
“After the shop burned down in 2009, my family and I moved, lock stock and barrel, to North Idaho near Lake Coeur d’Alene. I had been working on a new shop there for a couple of years, but the fire pushed the move, and we haven’t looked back since. It was quite a character-building period of my life and we had a lot of challenges to overcome to get to where I could make knives again. In retrospect, I wouldn’t go back to California for all the tea in China!”
By Pat Covert
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