Last edited by Dawkind; 01-05-2014 at 07:15 PM.
Rest in Peace my dear friend...you are sorely missed.
Photo by Albion Armorers
NRA LIFE/ENDOWMENT MEMBER
Very interesting and unique piece. Thanks for posting the photos and telling the story.
ETA: For some reason in the early '80s, Rod stopped using the Davis name. My knife was made in 1984 and is stamped "CHAPPEL" on one side and his full name in script on the other. He eventually dropped the CHAPPEL stamp.
Last edited by TAH; 01-05-2014 at 08:36 PM.
I believe "Davis" was Rod's mother's maiden name or his Grandfather's last name.
Spoke to him quite a bit last year, a fascinating gentleman. His father was from Spain, his mother was Native American. He's a very educated man, used to be an engineer before he became a knifemaker in NY city. Always entertaining to talk to and very sincere.
Wanted to learn his grinding technique ... Steven is correct, high speed, high horsepower, 4" wide belts grinding hardened steel (he heat treats the blades right after profiling and before grinding), he buffs the same way full speed, high horsepower, multiple buffs stacked together for increased width. Rod's a madman, he grinds fast, edge down with a 36 grit belt. Makes most of us other makers look like wimps. In my personal opinion, he is and is still one of the "greats" from the golden age of knifemaking based on his work.
I personally have one of his "Hunting Leopard" Bowies, the grinds, fit, finish, and use of all stainless steel fittings are pretty darn impressive considering the timeline (it was made in the 80's). Extremely clean work. Hollow grinds with rolled razor sharp convex edges ... nice and sharp.
Unfortunately, he no longer has his shop, but he should not be forgotten. It's good to see his work on here. A lot of respect for the man.
Thank you for sharing the photos.
To show a little more of Rod's work, here are a few of my favorite photos from the internet...
Rod really can't see anymore. Diabetes has taken its' toll.
Hi Marcus......Rod taught my business partner to grind edge up, finish grind edge down. His name is Pete Stephens, so if you talk to Rod anymore, please clarify.
Hey Dudley, that hole in the blade is to make sure the recipient bleeds out....Rod always has/had a nasty streak, lol.
So now, with this thread I will tell my full story.
I met Rod just after I got out of the U.S. Navy at a shooting range in Mountlake Terrace, Washington where he had a knifemaking shop in 1992. It is very unusual for a shooting range to have a resident knifemaker.
People would frequently stop by to have Rod sharpen a knife in his style for $5.00, which he would do, while you waited.
I commissioned a knife from him, in walrus ivory and ATS-34 the year that I met him called the Day Stalker, which I have traded to my business partner for The Chute Knife.
Rod had a son, Roderick Chappel Junior(who I tattooed as part of the price of my knife), who was the light of his life, and who died, tragically in a rope swing accident around 2001....after that....Rod really lost his passion....it is a heartbreaker....really.
Rod was one of the few makers who lost his Knifemaker's Guild membership due to failure to fulfill obligations....he would take a deposit and not make the knife.
I knew thiis......I wanted to make a difference, so in 1994, at a knife show in Rhode Island, my business partner, Peter Stephens and I flew Rod out to re-introduce him into the knifemaking world.....for the most part, it worked.
I agree with Marcus in many ways, Rod deserves a place in the Golden Age of knifemaking for his work......as to the rest, we are all human, warts and all, and as my good friend Anthony Lombardo says, there is no such thing as a knifemaking emergency.
Last edited by Kohai999; 01-06-2014 at 08:10 AM.
Great story, Steven. Thanks for sharing. It's a pleasure to hear from folks who knew Rod personally. Actually, his son passed in 2001. I spoke with Rod several times on the phone in late '99. In my conversations with him, he seemed to be very apologetic and embarrassed about his poor business ethics of the past. He said he as trying to clean up his act because his son was entering the business. Rod sent me a Christmas card that year. I have seen a few of Rod Jr.'s knives and "someone" had taught him well.
I've admired his work for years if I ever come across one its mine!!!!!!
This beauty is for sale, but it's pricey.
If interested, you can right click on the photo, click "Properties", and see the website. Good luck!
ETA: I have noticed that Rod's knives are becoming harder to find. I haven't even seen any on eBay for a while either.
Last edited by TAH; 01-07-2014 at 09:58 AM.
I wasn't able to reach Rod over the phone these last couple of days, but I did speak to his apprentice to clarify -if other makers are interested... Rod would grind edge down most of the time, but depending on the complexity of the geometry, he would occasionally grind edge up at the start of the sweep (near the handle). The grinder was a 4" x 72" with an 8" wheel.
The photos are fantastic, thank you guys for sharing.
Thank you Steven for sharing your story.
(It's interesting to hear that he sharpened knives for $5, I guess that work was the "bread and butter," it's hard to make a living by just making knives).
Last edited by flatgrinder; 01-08-2014 at 07:19 PM.
Rod had some very nice posters that had been printed up from Weyer photographs on the walls of his shop, and he was not only a talented knifemaker, but his knife drawings and penmanship were informed by drafting skills, so they had a sure and clean look. I still have the order form for "Day Stalker" and the lettering on it was the cleanest and most precise that I have ever seen.
Thing is, at the time(early 90's), Rod had not quite made it back into good graces within the knife world, and there were not that many people that wanted a big honkin' bowie with Walrus ivory for $2,000+. Rod could make a very average kitchen or hunting knife fairly extraordinary with his grinding/sharpening and he did it FAST. Wouldn't be surprised if he made $100.00+ a day sharpening and it didn't take him very long to do it....less than 7 minutes a knife(I timed him a couple different times)...his was a full blown knife shop housed in a a decent sized room at the gun range....the other room was where the gunsmiths were and they SUCKED....and they were grumpy old men, so Rod did pretty well there.
Last edited by Kohai999; 01-08-2014 at 11:14 PM.
I remember going to that range in the mid-90s and bugging out when I noticed that Rod freaking Chapel was sitting there working away on a monster bowie. I was absolutely blown away by his designs when I first saw them in the 80s. You can still find some of his knives at shops in the Seattle area.
[present at the creation: previously incarnated as fishface, since 10/98]
the beatings will continue until morale improves
Rod is the one I apprenticed myself to in Spokane when I decided to take up knifemaking back in the mid 70s. He was very generous with his time and in a short while taught me what it would have taken years to learn otherwise. I'm glad to see that he's still making knives. Bootstrap
Last edited by Bootstrap Bill; 01-11-2014 at 05:14 PM.
Welcome to the forum, Bootstrap. Feel free to share any stories you have regarding Rod or his knives. I would love to hear them.
Thanks for the welcome TAH. I discovered Rod while in the Hospital. My wife bought me Sid Latham's book, 'Knives and Knifemakers' And of all the knives in that book, Rod's really grabbed me so when I got out of the hospital, I called him and ordered an Arctic Fox with a rosewood handle. I was up for two weeks vacation so my wife and I flew to Seattle and drove to his shop and I asked him if he would teach me to make knives as beautiful as his. He agreed and I spent the next two weeks in his shop learning everything I could. When we had to fly home, I quit a perfectly good paying job, spent about $10,000 on equipment and set myself up as a full time knifemaker and never looked back.
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