Gordon Romeis made and sold his first knife—a filet knife, specifically—in 1977. Since then, he’s sold thousands. “Everyone’s got a hobby. This one got a little more serious,” he says.
The Fort Myers native is a self-taught knife maker under the name Romeis Knives. After retiring from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection about five years ago, the side job has taken up more of his time. When he’s not in his shed/workshop, he’s selling via his website or traveling frequently to knife shows around the country.
His knives range from skinner knives for hunters to kitchen cutlery for chefs. Many of his blades start as bars of Damascus steel he imports from Alabama— noted for its unique, wavy pattern and one-of-a-kind strength. He’ll fashion the knife by hand, then send it off to a shop in Pennsylvania for heat-treating. Once he gets it back, he’ll shape it a bit more and then create the custom handle. All in all, a basic knife will require about six hours of work on his part.
The years of handcrafting have paid off. He’s now a member of the prestigious Knifemakers’ Guild—a veritable stamp of approval that knives he makes are of the highest quality.
His creations range from around $140 to $400. He knows that they’re a bit underpriced, but it’s intentional. “I make something the working man can afford,” he says.
The money was always a bonus, something extra so he could take the family on vacation or pay a few bills. “The challenge is what I love. It’s like creating a sculpture. It’s a creative outlet for me.”