It would be a gross understatement to say that professional knife-making would not be what it is today without Bill Moran. Bill Moran’s knives are known the world over for their quality, excellence, and craftsmanship, but to credit him only for his artisanal achievements would be a slight to everything he accomplished during his great career. If you’re in the market for an exquisite knife, you should know the basics about one of their greatest craftsmen.
Bill Moran was born William F. Moran Jr. on May 1st, 1925 in the state of Maryland. He grew up on a farm where he taught himself blacksmithing through trial-and-error projects using an old coal forge that he had found on the farm. If you’re already impressed, consider the fact that he made his first knife by the time he was 12 years old, in 1937, and after taking a couple of years to further perfect his craft, Moran began selling his own knives in 1939 at the age of 14. Moran only improved with time and in seeking advice from local blacksmiths and learning to respond to the market that he was already getting into, by the time he started releasing a catalog of his blades in the 1950s he was already a seasoned professional. In the 1960s, he sold his family farm to pursue knife-making full-time.
Though when Moran was instructed it was largely by blacksmiths, that does not mean he was a blacksmith himself. Moran was a bladesmith, and a self-taught bladesmith at that. Though the fact that he was self-taught may lend creed to the idea that he knew how good he was, this did not mean that he didn’t value the techniques of bladesmiths that came before him. The ancient and uniquely effective technique of forging Damascus steel was at risk of being lost by the time that Moran was coming to prominence, so just as he had taught himself to forge a blade initially, he taught himself pattern welding, a technique similar in outcome and effect to the forging of Damascus steel, one of his greatest accomplishments.
Like we said, Moran was not only a master craftsman, but a smart man who was a revered leader in the knife-making community. In 1972, he was elected president of the Knifemakers’ Guild and in 1976 he founded the American Bladesmith Society. The ABS advocated for people not to forget age-old forging techniques and really helped realize Moran’s dreams of being able to educate the public about the beauty of the forged blade.
Bill Moran’s knives are valued not only for their expert workmanship, but for their association with the rich history that Moran has added and been involved in in the knife-making community. For all questions on if a Moran is the right blade for you, contact Exquisite Knives.