Andre’ Thorburn, Pretoria, South Africa

“Man Of The Cloth” Creates

Exquisite Works of Knife Art


Bob Glassman, Custom Knife Gallery of Colorado


Ever since his early years, Andre’ was raised to work with his hands.  He developed this great skill and as with his entire family has dedicated  himself to glorifying God with his creations.


Early Years

Born in 1956, Andre was raised on a farm near Warmbaths, South Africa.  There he was always working with his hands.  Since his family owned a game farm, his father introduced him to hunting at an early age.  Later, as with most South African men, he received military training and served in the military guarding the South African Borders.

After his time in the military, Andre’ attended seminary training to become a pastor.  He also married his high school friend, Marietjie in 1978.

After his training, Andre’ went on to pastor a church in Newcastle and later lectured at a Bible College in Cato Ridge.  In 1989, he met a gentleman named Rolf Swanepoel in Newcastle and was introduced to knifemaking..

 Soon after moving to Cato Ridge, South Africa, as a knifemaking hobbyist, Andre’ attended two classes with well known knifemaker Owen Wood which gave him a good start.  He was also inspired to build his first grinder on his own.  After pursuing this interest on his own for several years, he finally sold his first knife in 1990.

Andre’ Gets Serious About Knifemaking

While lecturing at Bible College full-time, Andre’ spent much of his spare time between 1990 and 1995 improving his knifemaking on his own and then in 1995 joined the South African Knifemaker’s Guild.  Andre’ was well influenced by many talented makers through the Guild such as Des Horn, Owen Wood and Buzz Bezuidenhout (Andre’ was inspired by Buzz and began making linerlock folders).

 In 1996, Andre’ went full-time as a knifemaker and is full-time to this day.  His pieces are marketed directly to local and overseas customers as well as resold by several high profile dealers.

Knifemaking Priorities & Materials

Andre’ is very serious about the quality of the knives he produces and believes that “custom knives must be excellent in both form and function”.  Andre’ rigorously tests his own work to insure that they can stand up to hard use.  He also provides pieces to members of his family for use and abuse to test the limits of the pieces that he creates.

Along with using knives, Andre’ specializes in highly embellished folding and hunting knives with African flair.  Embellishments include fileworked blades, spacers, liners as well as full engraving (usually by other local artists).  Andre’ prides himself on producing finely crafted high precision mechanisms in his folding knives and will not settle for second best.

 For blade steel, Andre’ uses Damasteel from Sweden, 12C27 Sandvik from Sweden, 440C (N690) Bohler from Austria, BG42 and high quality damascus made by Darryl Meier and Etttoré Gianferrari.  For liners on his folders, Andre’ uses only titanium which can be anodized or plain.  Andre’ will also color his 304 bolster steel using a chemical process.

 Handle material on Andre’s knives include:  mother of pearl, mammoth , Desert Ironwood, other stabilized woods, giraffe bone, warthog tusk, hippo and buffalo horn.

Special Projects / Future Endeavors

Once a year at Christmas time, Andre’ builds a special project to get away from the regular knifemaking grind.

 Since Andre’ recently attended the GRS engraving class in Emporia, Kansas, he plans on adding additional embellishments to his work based on the knowledge and skill he has obtained from this additional training.

Organizational Affiliation

Along with being a voting member of the South African Knifemakers Guild, Andre’ is also a member of the German Knifemakers Guild and the Italian Knifemakers Guild.  Recently, Andre’ has also received status as a probationary member of the American Knifemakers Guild.  He will be exhibiting at the upcoming show in 2005.  Andre’ is also a member of the local Sharp Shapes Knife Club in South Africa,

 Knifemaking Awards

Andre’ Thorburn has won numerous knifemaking awards for his impressive work.  These include the following:

Best Working Folder – Durban Easter Knife Show 2002

Best Folder – Bushveld Knife Show 2003

Best Folder – International Munich Knife Show 2003

Best Gentlemans Folder – Knifemakers Guild of South Africa Show 2004

Best Hunter – Blade Show West 2004

 Show Schedule

Andre attends many shows around the world including the following:

  • Blade Show & International Cutlery Show – Atlanta, GA

  • Blades West Show – Ontario, CA

  • OKCA Knife Show – Eugene, OR

  • Las Vegas Custom Knife Makers Show – Las Vegas, NV

  • Paris Knife Show – Paris, France

  • South African Knifemakers Guild Show – Johannesburg, SA

  • Durban Easter Knife Show – Durban, SA

  • Bern & Lugano – Switzerland

  • Solingen, Sindelfingen and International Munich  Knife Shows – Germany

 For more information regarding Andre’ Thorburn, please contact:

 Bob Glassman

Custom Knife Gallery of Colorado