An hour and a half North East of Phoenix, nestled between the Tonto National Forrest and Roosevelt lake, in the shadow of the Sierra Ancha range with part of the Mogollon Rim on the the northeast and the Mazatzal Mountains westward, you’ll find Tonto Basin and Rick Genovese, master knife maker.
(According to an NPR story on the Lone Ranger, Tonto Basin is the inspiration for Tonto, the native American companion to the Lone Ranger.)
I took the hour and half drive up to Tonto Basin to meet Rick in person and to see his work. Rick was a very gracious host, inviting me into his home and giving me a tour of his shop as well as showing me some of the knives he had recently completed.
I first met Rick on Facebook after seeing a post of one of his outstanding knives which was engraved by Mitch Moschetti
I thought, “Wow! Who is this guy?” After a little research, I became his Facebook friend which lead me to today’s travels. I arrived at his home a little after 10am and we spent the next two hours talking.
Rick grew up in Phoenix and worked in his dad’s business as a machinist. Of course working with tools led him to begin making knives in 1975. His first knives where in the style of Bob Loveless, (who doesn’t start there?). It wasn’t long after he began his hand at making folders. From there he stepped up his game and began working his framed folders with gem stone materials such as fossilized Mammoth, Jade, petrified woods and his favorite (as well as mine) Mother of Pearl.
“Dolores Dagger” Featuring Kevin Casey Feather Damascus blade and Picture Jasper inlays.
Pearl & Opal inlays each side, 18k Gold toothpick, engraving by Mitch Moschetti in leaf pattern with 24k Gold border
White Pearl with Lapis Lazuli ovals
His own favorite knife model is the “Sleek Dagger” style folder
Rick holding his “Sleek Dagger” folder
“Sleek Dagger” folder
“Sleek Dagger” folder
His most popular knife style is his Gent’s folder which he makes in three different sizes
Rick still makes a fixed blade now and then. Here’s one he is currently working on
Rick’s shop is currently in a storage unit until he moves to his new home
The first thing you notice about his shop is how immaculately clean he keeps it, every tool has it’s place. A bit crowded, it still has plenty of room for Rick to produce the fine art knives he makes. Though his knives sell in the thousands of dollars with buyers all over the world he is far from pretentious.
His knife making mentors include makers such as Ron Lake, Steve Hoel and his Japanese Sensei, Kuzan Oda whom he met in Colorado. The story he told was Kuzan Oda had recently left working with Bob Loveless and was looking for a place to make knives. Rick had a shop he allowed him to use in trade for knife making lessons and tips.
For this lover of knives it was a good trip.
If you’re interested in acquiring one of Rick’s beautiful knives, you can simply email him at genoveseknives (at) hotmail (dot) com.
On the road north
View from Rick’s back yard
Tonto National Forest