Objective Achieved

In 2004, Hoback achieved his dream of becoming a knifemaker. His motto is “I can break a steel ball in a rubber room. I make my knives according to that.” His lifetime of tough jobs and rough living in the outdoors set the tone for the knives he makes — and his reputation for making hard-use knives endears his customers to him.

There’s nothing Jake enjoys more than holing up in his machine shop and getting down to the nitty gritty of building his knives. Asked what he likes the most about being a custom knifemaker, the artisan responds, “Machining first!!! Then design.” This is telling of Hoback’s personal demands and dedication because all the design in the world is worth nothing if the end result is not 100 percent dependable and reliable under stringent demands. Quality over quantity is the law in Hoback’s world.

There are many more custom knifemakers than there were 10 years ago, and technology has been both a boon and a bust. Some are more designers than actual knifemakers, jobbing their parts out to manufacturers at both home and abroad and assembling them for knife users’ consumption — and make a good living doing it.

Hoback’s customers like the fact his hands are all over the knives he makes from guts to feathers. Such authenticity has propelled Jake to the upper echelon of custom knifedom and garnered the maker a strong customer base.