Merlin aka Don Hall
by, 02-22-2012 at 02:23 AM (4583 Views)
First some of his work. These pictures are from http://www.merlins.8k.com/. If you have a few minutes take a look at his amazing knives!
I stumbled onto Merlin (Don Hall) shortly after I found Burn (Paul Panak). Paul credits Don with helping him learn to make Italian style stiletto's (http://www.burnknives1.com/TheSTILETTO.html).:
The other 2 Italian stiletto style makers I know were helped and taught by Don are Lee Reynolds and Arlin Walker aka SloJoe. I found the connection with Lee Reynolds online (http://customknifegallery.com/reynolds_bio.html).:My Italian skills were fathered, developed and honed by Don Hall (Merlin). I learned the art of hollow grinding under the tutoring of maker George Cameron. I owe a lot of gratitude and respect to the above mentioned and appreciate the time they've taken to spend and share with me.
I spoke with Don before buying my first Merlin stiletto (a customized, swivel bolster). I asked him about Burn and SloJoe and that is when he mentioned helping SloJoe get started modifying and making stiletto's. Thanks to Don we have some amazing custom makers to chose from. Burn and SloJoe are still active. Lee is not making knives currently so his stuff is only available in the secondary market.Lee became very interested in old style Italian picklocks and stilettos and started making knives in 2001 when he developed a friendship with Knifemaker Don Hall. He was invited to his shop and after a few sessions with instruction, Lee was off and running on his own. From there, Lee went full time and to this day continues to produce some great automatic picklock stiletto folders.
Don still has a website: http://merlincustomknives.blademakers.com/. I think the email address is wrong but the phone number is good. As mentioned above there is a gallery of his work available: http://www.merlins.8k.com/. Don is retired so his work is only available on the secondary market. Arizona Custom knives has a great selection here: http://www.arizonacustomknives.com/a...ex.php?id=1463.
A couple more pictures.
Don's first knife, an actual working wooden switchblade:
I'm writing about the makers I've discovered and admire. A guy like Don is especially important, in my opinion, to those of us who collect custom automatics. He started making knives in the 80's and continued until a few years ago. He helped some of today's top custom switchblade guys and probably influenced many others. I own 2 of his knives, excellent fit and finish, top materials, solid work.
The other comment I'd make is that Don is one of the good guys in the knife world. I found many comments and opinions of him and his work and all were positive. When I spoke with him he encouraged me to give knifemaking a try, was very generous with his time and the information he provided. He invited me to his shop if I'm ever in Mississippi. Just a nice genuine guy.
Comments about Merlin and his work or my writing are always appreciated!