Buster Warenski (1942-2005)

Click image for a gallery of Buster's knives

In 1966, after seeing a brief mention of custom knives in a gun magazine, Buster decided to try his hand at making a knife for himself. Having acquired some metal and wood working skills building fishing lures guns for friends, Buster had enough basic knowledge to begin crafting a knife.  It went slowly but finally he did complete the knife, enjoying it much more than any of his many other hobbies. It soon consumed all of his spare time. For the next 6 years it was an obsession taking up every spare moment. Then in 1972, Buster was asked by Harvey Draper to come and work for him making knives.  This lasted until December of 1972 when Draper Knives went into bankruptcy. Buster moved back to Richfield and began putting together his own knife shop.  By early spring 1973, Buster had completed his first batch of knives and headed off to a small gun show in Carson City, Nevada. There he sold a couple of his knives and received an award for best art knife. The following July, he made the trip to Kansas City, Missouri and joined the Knifemakers Guild. Buster's first guild show was a sell out and his career as a knifemaker was launched.

Buster feels lucky that he started making knives when he did. Born in 1942 in Kimberly Nevada, he was only 30 years old and the Knifemakers Guild had only 47 members, including the 17 makers that joined with him. The time was right and Buster was soon voted onto the board of directors of the Knifemakers Guild. The next 10 years were quite productive in both his knifemaking and his involvement with the Knifemakers Guild. He served 2 terms as vice president and was a director for the remaining time.

In 1984 his personal life began to suffer with the loss of his father to cancer and a marriage was not going well. In 1986 after a rather messy divorce, he met and married Julie. This was a marriage made in heaven. Julie had taken an engraving class Buster taught in the local adult education program. Julie excelled in the art of engraving and Buster had found his soul mate. Julie and Buster have enjoyed a beautiful marriage and have taken numerous awards for their combined skills. Julie and Buster are one of the most successful team in the knifemaking business.

Buster Warenski passed away on July 31, 2005. He was one of the greatest knife makers of the last century. Among his papers, his wife Julie found this hand written note on what he felt his legacy might be. In his own words:

The Warenski Legacy
This year (1998) we are celebrating our 25th anniversary of knife making. Throughout this time, quality and integrity have been the tempering agents for the hard work it has taken. We know as we complete each knife, that it's the best we can produce. Using only the highest quality materials and workmanship, we know our knives will stand the test of time. However, our desire is to build our legacy in solid gold. Knives that incorporate the techniques and skills those 25 years of learning have made possible.

First of our "Legacy Series" was the "King Tut Dagger." This knife was a faithful reproduction of the solid gold knife that was unearthed with the mummy of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen. This knife required several skills that had been all but lost. Many hours of research and experimentation made reproduction of this knife possible. The skills developed in making the "King Tut" knife and other skills learned later were employed in the construction of the second knife in the "Legacy Series," "The Gem of the Orient."  It was designed for a Japanese customer. This knife incorporated emeralds and diamonds to accent the gold filigree overlaid jade handle. Using 28 ounces of 18K gold, 153 emeralds totaling 10 karats and 9 diamonds totaling 5 karats, along with the forest green jade handle, "The Gem of the Orient" was the second step in our legacy.

The third knife in our "Legacy Series" was designed with the use of rubies and diamonds, thus the title" Fire and Ice," a phrase used to describe this combination of rubies and diamonds. To take this one step farther we chose rutilated quartz for the handle. It was believed by early Romans (who used quartz crystals) that quartz was simply ice, frozen so cold that it became permanently frozen into crystals. The knife contains 28 ounces of 18K gold, 22 rubies totaling 4.25 karats and 75 diamonds totaling 7 karats. The knife design incorporates red, guilloche' enamel on the pommel and sheath adding yet another technique to the "Legacy Series."

The fourth knife in the "Legacy Series" has been designed and will be incorporating platinum and gold as well as diamonds.

Each of the Legacy knives is a unique design and will never be duplicated. By combining techniques, materials and workmanship that go beyond the norm for contemporary knife making,
we are truly creating a "Solid Gold Legacy."

Buster Warenski