Scott Stout has been a knife maker with New West KnifeWorks since the summer of 2019. A notoriously early riser, Scott arrives at the factory most mornings around 4am. He is a friendly character, warm and relaxed. When asked about his first job, an eavesdropping colleague called out “he was carving stone tablets.”
The joke was well received and revealed more about the youth of Scott's coworkers than about Scott himself. Though he couldn’t really remember what his first job had been, he said it was “probably shoveling snow or chopping wood.”
Scott grew up in Leadville, Colorado, and admits that he bounced around the US and briefly resided in the midwest. He was never satisfied without the mountains. Scott explained, like so many others who live in the Jackson Hole area, he is a skier. He's “here for the turns.” He spent more than 15 years as a homebuilder who specialized in detailed tasks like laying tile and finish-carpentry. He liked “making things just right.”
(pictured above: Victor Idaho, factory floor)
The transition to knife making was a welcome one. He is delighted that he gets to work inside all year. Note: if you don't live in the Jackson Hole area, what you may not know, is that it snowed at least one day every month during the year 2020. So "inside all year” is a good thing.
Scott was excited to talk about the culture of the factory. He said he felt like he “had a real freedom to explore, be creative, and try different things.” And he has. Scott has developed a method for making chopsticks from scraps of leftover G10 and Ironwood knife handle material. This is perhaps the company's most playful solution to eliminating waste and diminishing our carbon footprint. (pictured above, a 6" Petty knife being sharpened)
Scott was asked which part of knife making is most enjoyable. He did not hesitate. “Sharpening. I enjoy sharpening.” He'd previously preferred the mechanical aspect of assembly, the part of knife making that employs an old hand press to fasten the brass rivets to handles. Scott waxed philosophical and explained that the sharpening process was relaxing, it was zen, it was “the art of doing - not doing,” he said.