From the first brochure for Nolen Knives - the following was how RD Nolen made his introduction in the world of Custom Knife Makers.
A life long interest in hunting has given us an approach to knife making that comes from years of practical experience. My brothers and I were raised on squirrel dumplings in the piney woods of East Texas and we hunted from there to the Tundra of Alaska to the jungles of Mexico and the Rockies in between. In fact, our serious efforts in the field of knife making was started as a means to finance our hunts.
Our father actually made the first "Nolen Knife" back in the 1930's, however, it wasn't called that. He just needed a good knife, so he made one. RD made the first knife in 1946 and over the next 20 years made a few more just to satisfy the desire to use a knife that was the result of his own handiwork. It wasn't until the late 1960's that we met Clyde Fischer and were introduced to the art of "Custom Knife Making". What an experience that was - to realize that there were still craftsmen in this world, like Clyde, who were making knives by hand and actually getting PAID for them! Since we were not machinist, or metallurgist, or even blacksmiths, we took our basic knowlede of knife construction and our many years of knife use in the field and went to work. After many trials and many errors and with the help of Clyde Fischer, Jimmy Lile and others, we have reached a point that we feel assures our customers of a quality product. However, we do not feel like we have made our best knife, YET. At least we hope we haven't. To stop improving would be a terrible thing. To give you a little insight into our knife making philosophy, we feel we should tell you our main objective of art, believe me, it is strictly secondary. We make our knives, first and foremost, to be used and abused by the American Sportsmen. We direct our efforts towards a blade that is functional, or a handle that really fits your hand and a sheath that protects you and your knife. Why? Because that is what really counts in that field. Not how shiny the blade is or how fancy the handle might be.
Sadley we lost RD on March 4, 2010. Steve is carrying on the family business. He started working full time with his father in 1986, and has the same philosophy as RD. Steve has the same passion to achieve the high quality that Nolen Knives has always been known for his past.