Mason’s Glenn Marshall first inductee into Texas Knifemaker’s Hall of Fame

PRESTIGIOUS HONOR’Glenn and Francis Marshall show off the plaque presented to him recently at a knifemaker’s convention. The inscription denotes Marshall as the first inductee into the Texas Knifemaker’s Hall of Fame for his lifelong contributions to the art of making knives. Making a tool into a beautiful and useful work of art is a talent that is at best, difficult to find. Making that tool into something that gives its owner a sense of pride because he or she owns a unique piece of art is an accomplishment that custom knife-maker Glenn Marshall takes to heart. As one of the nation’s most highly respected knifemakers, Marshall comes by his reputation not by his own accord, but by the thousands of people he has exposed to the world of custom handmade knives and by the quality of the product he creates. At a convention of the Texas Knifemakers and Collectors Guild held Jan. 19-20 in San Marcos, Marshall was recognized for his contributions to the art of knifemaking and was named as the first inductee into the Texas Knifemaker’s Hall of Fame. Honored with a plaque and honorary knife, the recognition is one of Marshall’s greatest accomplishments. “To me, this is a better honor than being elected governor,” said Marshall. “This award was given to me by the votes of my peers and fellow knifemakers and it is based upon what you have done and nothing else.” A former blacksmith that grew up in a coal mining town in southern Illinois, Marshall made his first knife 70 years ago and still has it in his collection today. With 70 years of knifemaking under his belt, Marshall now spends most of his time teaching understudies and passing down his wealth of information to a select number of fellow knifemakers. His works of useful art are made now mostly for charitable contributions and custom orders. “I am making about 150 knives a year,” Marshall said. “I spend most of my time teaching others how to make a quality handmade knife. I usually make them 10 at a time depending on the order and the type of knife I am making.” When Marshall makes a knife, he instills his philosophy in his customers that knives are meant to be used, but they should also be a thing of beauty. Even to the untrained eye or hand, the first glance or feel of a Glenn Marshall creation is noticeably different from other knives. The look is unique, the feel is something likened to a good pair of boots’it just feels good. Marshall’s style for his knifemaking stems from his love for hunting and fishing that he acquired as a boy. Hunters across the nation and even around the world have heard of the infamous YO Ranch Guide knife Marshall designed. During the development and design phase of the knife, Marshall would give a prototype of the knife to a guide with explicit instructions to use it and use it but not sharpen it. The guides at the legendary YO Ranch loved the knife so much they coined the name of the design. Although hunting and ranching knives are some of his most popular works, a quick glance through his gallery of creations shows many influences on his work. During World War II, he built special combat knives for U.S. Marines and other comrades in arms. Modifications to the Marine K-Bar to make it more effective in probing for land mines proved popular. During the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, he developed a style favored by combat engineers and British Commandos: a short, heavy, clip-point knife good for chopping and general heavy field use. Being a master knifemaker for a better portion of the past century, Marshall is quick to tell how knives are tools designed with a purpose, and that a dull knife is almost worse than no knife at all. “There is a lot of negative publicity about knives and how they are misused,” explained Marshall. “One of the jobs I and members of the Texas Knifemakers and Collectors Guild do is to present knives for what they are’useful tools of civilization.” Not one to sit around wasting time, Marshall can still be found working in his shop just about every day. Once, while killing time on an island in the South Pacific during his military service, he even fashioned a knife out of the blade of a Japanese bayonet and made the handle out of concentric rings cut from the rear windshield of a downed Japanese Zero. “I do this more for fun than for anything else,” Marshall said. He and his wife, Francis, make an inseparable pair who enjoy each other’s company. The pair can usually easily be talked into breaking for a bite to eat at a local restaurant or sitting down to enjoy a cup of coffee. “I would continue to make knives even if the market for them dried up, said Marshall. “Knifemaking goes deeper than the material and the money. It goes to the heart. When you make a knife for someone, you make a friend for life.”

1 Comment

  1. Mark Connelly Wilson on May 23, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Glenn and his wife Fran were family friends. I grew up with them always bringing me a present every time they would visit! My grandfather had several of his knives of course. Sadly I was not able to recover them quick enough, and they were taken before I could get to them after his death. I always remember Glenn and Fran fondly and am glad to know they both lived a long fruitful life.

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