"Art with an edge, is what I call it," said Skyblade Knives founder Todd Orr, whose business started with a simple dinner with a family friend.
'[In] 1987, I was over in Ennis working for the summer at the fly shop over there and there was a friend of my family over there -- Bob Shoup -- and he was knife maker in his 80's and he was over for dinner one day and said 'hey want to come out to my shop and show you how to make a knife'?" Orr recalled.
"So after work, I'd run out to the shop he showed me how to cut out some blades and do some different things and just over a couple -- you know a few weeks or a month. I just went out there in the evening. and he kind of helped me build this knife and got it all finished up... he's like, 'wow you do pretty good work I could use your help'. Orr said. "And so that fall instead of coming back over to Bozeman for college I just took that quarter off and started making knives for him."
Orr did return to graduate from Montana State University and continued to make knives. Shoup retired, Orr took over, and word got around.
"At one point I had oh, probably 15 art galleries and sporting good stores around the country that were selling my knives. But it was all on consignment. They're taking a 40, 50% cut off the top," Orr explained. "So, after few years of that I finally developed my own website and got that up and my business just started expanding a blowing up from that.
From there Skyblade Knives found that the sky was the limit. It's all online-only sales with word of mouth marketing. There's also no storefront and no middlemen.
"I can just set up a little shop here in my garage kind of thing, and I've got people all over the world that that can find my knives now," Orr said. "I get phone calls or emails -- or texts -- just about daily with questions about the knives or an order. or 'hey my buddy has this great knife and I watched him...gut his elk out with it I just need to get one' kind of thing," Orr said. "So, the word gets around and it doesn't matter where I'm at there's going to be people out there now that are finding me.
Orr makes his knife handles from as varied items as a neighbors tree stump...to imported mammoth tusks from Russia.
And yes, this is the same Todd Orr who survived a grizzly bear attack last year in the Madison Valley.