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Boating knife maker hits show circuit

David Boye started his boat show tour at the Newport International Boat Show

David Boye started his boat show tour at the Newport International Boat Show

At a recent boat show, one man at the Boye Knives booth tried out the product demonstration, cutting a piece of line. Unconvinced, he complained that the knife could be sharper. Rather than protest that this same pocketknife had already cut the line hundreds of times, David Boye came out from behind the booth for a demonstration.

“I took the knife and went like that,” says Boye, whisking the 3-inch blade across the whetstone four times. “That’s how easy it is to sharpen.” This time when the customer went to cut through the line, he was impressed.

It’s this hands-on aspect of boat shows that has prompted Boye and his assistant, Lisa Embry, to take on the 2,600-mile voyage from Dolan Springs, Ariz., to the East Coast boat shows. “People like to see it, feel it, touch it. They can’t do that on the Web,” explains Embry, 38. “We have just been doing advertising and the Web site, and we thought we’d try this out. Meet people. Get direct feedback.”

Boye Cobalt Lockbacks are the only knives of their kind, says Boye. Since leaving northwest Arizona at the beginning of September, they’ve taken in the Newport International Boat Show and gone through about 250 feet of demonstration line. After Norwalk they wound their way back down the East Coast, hitting an Annapolis, Md., show in October, and the November Strictly Sail show in St. Petersburg, Fla. They hoped to also display at some shows in January. Traveling in a camper van, the pair says the voyage has been part work, part vacation.

Boye, 63, is a veteran knife-maker. He started making cutlery in 1971, and over the years has done craft and knife shows. But he got off the show circuit when he began to develop this knife for boaters, not touring for about 10 years.

What makes this particular knife ideal for the nautical set, says Boye, is the carbide crystal network throughout the cast blade. This means it is better at holding an edge and easier to sharpen, while the blade won’t rust or throw off a compass. The 2.2-ounce pocketknife is also designed to open or close with one hand.

Boaters can choose a pointed blade, or a serrated “sheepsfoot” design with a blunted end.

While sailors are one obvious market, powerboaters have shown an interest, too, says Boye. “It cuts whatever’s out in the ocean,” he explains.

The Northeast shows have been pretty good to Boye. Total knife sales have been about a few hundred, he says from his booth at the Norwalk show. Not bad for an operation that makes between 100 and 200 knives in a month.

The standard Boye Knife sells for $129 on Boye’s Web site, www.boyeknives. com. Phone: (800) 853-1617.