TENNESSEE BUCKET LIST: MAKE YOUR OWN KNIFE IN SEVIERVILLE
For a humble little mountain town, Sevierville has several claims to fame. The Great Smoky Mountains are, of course, right in our backyard, and then there’s the adrenaline-pumping NASCAR Speedpark , the wondrous Forbidden Caverns , and a history deeply rooted (or distilled, rather) in moonshine. And we can’t forget about being the birthplace of country superstar Dolly Parton or home to the world’s largest knife shop, Smoky Mountain Knife Works .
While those are popular attractions for a reason — everyone should experience them at least once — Sevierville has numerous unique, memorable experiences that few people know about (even locals!). For example, did you know you can make your own knife in Sevierville? It’s true! Uncle Hank’s Knives offers one-of-a-kind make your own knife classes, and no prior experience or skills are necessary.
Want to learn more about how you can learn to forge your very own knife, right here in Sevierville? You’re in the right place!
Becoming Uncle Hank: “practice and a lot of prayer”
The couple at the helm of Uncle Hank’s Knives, Louann and Hank, perfected their respective crafts long before they began teaching make your own knife classes. Louann handles most of the business’ administrative tasks and makes the shop’s leather goods, such as knife sheaths, by hand. Hank does all the knife-making, both teaching classes and creating custom, made-to-order knives.
Louann and Hank started out many years ago by selling their knives and leather goods at Sevierville’s Flea Traders Paradise Flea Market. Before long, they were discovered by Dollywood and Man Cave Metal in Pigeon Forge. Both places began selling Uncle Hank’s knives and eventually, it became six local stores and 15 wholesalers. Then in May 2018, Louann and Hank accepted an offer to move into their own storefront — the same one they’re still in today, a unique historical building in the Smoky Mountain Knife Works parking lot.
When asked about those early days and the key to Uncle Hank’s success, Louann says it was, “Just sheer practice. And a lot of prayer.” By all accounts, it seems the practice and prayer were successful; Uncle Hank’s has absolutely perfect reviews and rarely has availability to accommodate walk-ins for the make your own knife classes.
Make your own knife in Sevierville at Uncle Hank’s
If you want to make your own knife at Uncle Hank’s, there are a few things you should know. First of all, the make your own knife classes are fully immersive and hands-on. Whether you choose the Regular or Advanced class, you won’t watch as a spectator; you’ll physically shape steel with a hammer and forge your knife in the kiln. Having said that, you don’t need any prior experience. In fact, Uncle Hank regularly teaches young children!
The next thing to know about making your own knife is that they’re 100% custom. Uncle Hank’s knives start as common objects, such as horseshoes or railroad spikes, and in the course of the class, you’ll transform them into bespoke knives. Even if you’re in a group of four and everyone chooses to make horseshoe knives, all four will come out different. Uncle Hank helps you shape the blade to your liking and custom-fits it to your hand size and grip.
Finally, Uncle Hank does things the old school way — and that’s a wonderful thing. Instead of computerized machines that make precise cuts and polish the metal automatically, Hank uses elbow grease and relies on his senses. At multiple points during the make your own knife class, he’ll eyeball your knife to make sure the blade is perfectly straight. If it isn’t, he’ll have you hammer and re-heat it again and again, until it’s perfect. This is traditional knife-making at its finest, and you can count on having your knife for many, many years.
If this hands-on, unique experience appeals to you, sign up for a make your own knife class today. It should come as no surprise that you can’t book online; instead, call (865) 366-2900 or stop by the shop. Uncle Hank’s Knives offers classes Tuesday through Saturday and they last one to two hours.
Bio/byline: Written by Taryn Shorr
Taryn is an Arizona-based travel writer who visited Sevierville in May 2021. She specializes in finding little-known, off-the-beaten-path experiences and sharing them with the world via writing. Taryn writes for numerous publications and brands, and you can keep up with her adventures on Instagram or her personal travel blog, Chasing Trail.
When the stories start with, "I had the best time ever...," you know you've visited Sevierville, Tennessee.
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