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Tenant Talk: Cutlery Shop

Series that features tenants of the Clear Lake Area Community Center

Wood Cutlery

Serviceable Products with an Artisan Touch

By Muriel Nelson

Wood Cutlery is another example of why the Clear Lake Area Community Center (CLACC) rents rooms to small, start-up businesses. Owner Eric Wood started his business from his home in 2015. As his business grew, he needed more space for his machines and supplies, so he moved his young enterprise to CLACC over two years ago. 

When asked how he got started making knives, Eric indicated he’s been doing it for as long as he remembers, perhaps longer because he has a picture of himself, as a toddler, ‘sharpening’ a knife on a wet stone. Eric seems to come by this naturally, or perhaps from ‘environmental factors’ as a child. You see, his grandparents were the late Elsie and Clayton Wood who owned the Sports Shop in Clear Lake from approximately 1950 to 1980. They sold and repaired all types of hunting equipment and accessories. Eric grew up observing and learning in that setting.

Today Eric uses the knowledge he gained from his grandparents when he creates or repairs knives. Eric has a vast inventory of over 50 different types of wood (including petrified), stone, agate, horns, antlers, bone, and other varieties of materials from which he designs and makes knife handles. He also has several steel options for crafting knife blades. Of course, he maintains several patterns for blade and handle shapes too. 

When I visited Eric’s shop, I found it filled with many different types of saws, grinders, polishers, and other machines he needs for his work. He has a huge board of pictures to display some of the knives he’s crafted. He also had some knives that were recently finished. Each is unique, partly based on the materials used to fashion the handle but also in shape, intended use and the artisan touch that Eric lends to his work. One knife that he is very proud of is an impressive Kris knife for which he won First Prize at a recent Polk County Fair. Another is a sportsman’s knife made with a unique blade from a pattern he designed himself, and with a remarkable white oak burl handle. The other was a large knife intended for commercial meat processing.

Oftentimes, a customer knows what they want in style and material and may even bring their own materials. But, if they only know that they want a new knife, Eric will guide them through the many options available. He mentioned that he will pursue alternatives as needed to ensure the customer is satisfied at an agreed upon price. 

Eric also repairs and sharpens any type of knife and most scissors, including ones from the kitchen drawer. I saw a table with well over 75 kitchen knives of various shapes, sizes, and blades recently sharpened and/or repaired. Several had blades that were serrated. The price is worth mentioning: $1 for sharpening small blades; $3 for medium-sized blades and $5 for large blades. Note that his characterization of large blades goes beyond the contents of the kitchen drawer or hunting sheath since that definition includes axes, machetes, splitting mauls, and even swords.

Eric’s business has grown exclusively by word of mouth. His busiest time is from around hunting season through Christmas when he receives many, many orders for new knives as well as repair of hunting knives. 

Wood Cutlery occupies Room 204 in the CLACC building. Eric doesn’t have a Facebook account or website for the business but is readily available by phone. The phone number there is 715-607-4406. Shop hours vary so it’s good to call ahead.

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