The steel blade that Nate Bonner forged at his Maplewood knife workshop cut into his hand with such force and speed that he did not have time to record what had happened.
He did not even have pain. Such a serious injury fails to register the usual “Av, it hurts” you get when you cut your finger with a bread knife. His was the kind of trauma that was so intense that the body shuts down as a form of protection. His only knowledge that something so terrible had happened was the way the blood spread over the work glove that covered his wounded hand after he pulled the blade out. Bonner remembers thinking how dark it was; the red was not the shade one would normally expect from a cut, but a dark, almost black color that made him realize that he had cut something too deep to bleed like an ordinary wound. Disconnected from his body and feeling like he was having a heart attack, Bonner somehow managed to call 911 before staggering to the front of his studio and collapsing in slow motion toward the window, his head resting on the frame while he waited. on help to arrive.
Bonner does not know exactly how long it took for the ambulance to reach the Maplewood storefront in his company, NHB Knifeworks, but it looked like they were there within seconds. In and out of consciousness as they laid him on a stretcher and then loaded him into the ambulance, he came to enough to fight the two EMTs who tried to remove his glove because he was afraid of what was under the broken cloth. Eventually, Bonner gave in and looked up at one of the emergency personnel and asked him to tell him how bad it was.
“No, man, it’s actually not that bad,” the EMT said. Relieved, Bonner briefly closed his eyes, only to open them in time to see the EMT mouth the words “Oh shit” to his partner. That was when Bonner started screaming.
Bonner thinks DNA carries memory. Although he can not fully explain the phenomenon, the experiences he has had, beginning with his earliest memories, tell him that something deep within him points to a visceral connection to leaves that goes far beyond a fascination. Whether he uses a stick as a sword to wage war on the great ocean cliffs near his childhood home in Santa Barbara, California, or always heads toward the knife section of his local department store when he was very young, Bonner has not known a moment where there was not an indescribable force that pulled him in the direction of sharp steel.
“Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve been fascinated by blades, swords and knives,” Bonner says. “Every time I saw a knife, it was a magnet. Something about them – about finding the biggest stick I could find and going to war on these rocks, the sand and rocks flew everywhere while I attacked them, all bleached and sand-colored. – it just spoke to my soul. ”
For the past nine years, Bonner has taken advantage of this passion through his artisan knife manufacturing business, producing custom kitchen knives and tools for some of the biggest names in St. Louis. Louis culinary scene, as well as home cooks and knife enthusiasts around the Country. Bonner was originally founded as an online store selling knives that he and his small team collected from parts across the United States and Japan. He ran it for three years before closing the store and recalibrating his business, after the hand injury in the summer of 2017 threatened everything he had built.
Forty years old and tattooed as one would expect a former chef to be, Bonner is not pale for the ups, downs, doubts about himself, seizures and beginnings that characterize his path to NHB Knives (originally called NHB Knifeworks) – one that is clearly seen in hindsight, but not quite straight. As a child, his fascination with every knife he was able to buy or trade for grew, and eventually he began to frolic in crafts and make ninjas to throw stars at the wood shop of a friend’s father. Knowing he had an ability to craft, he shifted his focus to art and photography and eventually discovered a passion for food and cooking that led him to the New England Culinary Institute. Bonner excelled in his studies and was invited to stay as an instructor, where he enjoyed the opportunity to learn from good chefs and share his knowledge with his students. But just as much as he loved the food component of his craft, Bonner was just as excited that his work involved knives.
“During that time, I really started collecting knives and realized that part of the reason I loved cooking so much was that I got to play with all those cool knives,” Bonner says. “My collection started to grow, but also this really weird OCD page came out of me that I had never seen before. I’ve always been this ‘off the ground’ kind of person, but I found myself polishing my knives religiously. with a piece of jewelery, and when a scratch would not come out, it was not greasy. ”