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A Legacy of Excellence
by George Nolen

It may be said that Nolen Knives dates back to the 1940's when R.D. Nolen watched his father, Marcus Nolen, fashion a knife from an old file.  R.D.'s first knives were made in 1943 of similar materials and they still exist...and still cut.

In his spare time, R. D. continued his hobby into the 60's when his younger brother Jim Nolen became interested in the craft.  He learned from R.D. and in 1968 gave up his career in insurance and investment counseling to become a full-time knife maker.  Jim ultimately became president of the American Knife Makers Guild.



Brothers Jim Nolen and R.D. Nolen in the workshop.


R.D. Nolen and brother George Nolen

By the early 1970's the two brothers were considered to be among the nation's elite cutlery craftsmen.  A few years after Jim's death in 1980, R.D. invited another brother, George Nolen, to join him in his Colorado knife shop.  After a forty-year career in radio and television in Dallas - Fort Worth, and Los Angeles, George Nolen became a full-time partner in Nolen Knives.

Most recently, R.D.'s son, Steve Nolen, has become the third generation Nolen knife maker.

R.D. Nolen and son Steve Nolen


R. D. Nolen
Knife Maker

*Article reprinted by permission. 1999 Broadhead Magazine, Volume 1 Number 1 Fall 1999.
The Magazine of the  National Bowhunter Education Foundation  (NBEF). All rights reserved.


R. D. Nolen is widely regarded as the father of modern custom knife making in the U.S.  'R.D.', as he prefers to be known, is a fascinating character.  In his early 80's, he still works every day in his workshop attached to his home, which sits on the edge of a small town high in the Colorado Rockies.

Originally from Texas, R.D. was brought up on the banks of the Rio Grande and started his working life flying aircraft.  Indeed, R.D., and his brother Lloyd, were two of the founders of the famous Confederate Airforce, the world's largest collection of Second World War aircraft.

To hear R.D. tell in his own words how he started making knives is to have a glimpse into the charm and humor of the man.  "I started out my early working life as a crop-duster and when I wasn't busy, I used to amuse myself making knives in my workshop.  In the early 1950's a fella asked me if I would make him a knife.  When it was finished, I put a big price on the knife - I thought no-one would ever pay me $50, but that's what I charged him!  The fella was delighted.  He took one look at it, paid me my fifty bucks and then asked me to make another one for his buddy."

"Well, I thought, if someone is prepared to pay me fifty dollars for a knife, I'm in the wrong business.  So I stopped flying and became a knife maker.  After a while, I began to get quiet good at it, so I moved up here to Colorado and that's what I've done ever since.  I still work every day to keep my hand in, though, the business is now run by my son Steve.  But when it comes to special presentation knives like this NBEF one, I like to have my own input."

Photo Weyer of Toledo

Any knife bearing the Nolen logo is guaranteed for its lifetime.  Each blade is individually tempered.  Nolen knives can be found in some of the most exclusive collections throughout the world.

A lifelong enthusiastic hunter and fisherman, R.D. has indulged his passions throughout the world.  He has been on several African safaris, successfully harvesting some superb trophies.  Now R.D. reluctantly admits that he is getting to an age when hunting no longer has quite the thrill.  He prefers to put his energies into fishing, enjoying annual trips to his native Texas where he insists the bass are true Texans - Bigger, tougher, and better fighters than anywhere else!

It is truly fitting for an organization as prominent as the NBEF that they commemorate their 20th anniversary with a special item that will last far into the millennium, some no doubt becoming heirlooms.  It is a great pleasure for the NBEF to be able to offer a customized Nolen knife.

The Magazine of the  National Bowhunter Education Foundation  (NBEF)

Visit the NBEF Website

Visit the NBEF website at:



Nolen Knives
Voice (903) 786-2454



Danny Nolen, Keller, TX
PH 817-431-6955


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