- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

GLENCOE, Ala. (AP) - Though he has only practiced his skill for about two years, Randy Yates knows the tools of the trade when it comes to making antler and bone knives.

Yates, of Glencoe, will take his talent and hand-made merchandise, called Little Cove Creek Knives, to the Rhododendron Festival in Mentone this weekend. He said this is only the second show he’s been to, and he can be seen located in booth #61.

Vendors will be set up at Brow Park Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’ve been to (the Rhododendron Festival) as spectators for years, but I never thought of being a vendor until my family talked me into it,” Yates said. “I expect to have a blast in Mentone.”

While most artists take on their trade as a full-time job, Yates just crafts knives as a hobby in his spare time. He currently works 40 hours a week at Lowes, but he said his whole family is “artsy craftsy.”

“I have to have something to keep me out of trouble,” he said.

“I started a couple of years ago doing this, and I was going to make one for me just for the heck of it. Then my grandson saw it and he wanted one. Then a man at work wanted one for his son for Christmas so I made one for him. That’s the first one that I sold and then it just kind of went from there.”

The handles of Yates’ knives are made from deer antlers that his hunter friends supply to him. The bone he uses for the blade comes from cow legs that are sold in pet stores, usually for dogs to chew on.

“I just take out a tool and cut the cow bone out flat,” he said. “I tell everybody the way God made them is they kind of have one flat side and two sides that are really curved and out of skew. The one flat side I just cut out, grind it down, flatten it out and cut it to shape. Then I smooth it on both sides. That’s it just in a nut shell.”

The last step consists of Yates hand-polishing the knife, but the project is far from over. He also makes sheaths to put his finished products in.

“I do all my leather work myself. It is all hand sewed,” he said. “I punch the holes in the leather one at a time and do all the sewing myself. I have fringe, I’ve got beads, I’ve got tacks. I’ve accumulated a bunch of stuff over time. I get older pennies because they are pure copper, and I go out and beat them flat on my little hammer and anvil to make a medallion to put on some of them.”

Yates said one knife and sheath usually takes him about 35 hours to make and on average costs about $125. A knife by itself costs around $75.

“A lot of time is spent on doing things that people don’t see,” he said. “I don’t want to pat myself on the back, but I do take pride in what I do. I want it to look good. When people don’t see flaws, it’s how I know I’ve done a good job.”

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Information from: Fort Payne Times-Journal, https://www.times-journal.com

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