It's hard to believe that anything good could have come from either last year's terrible bushfires or the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But, 16-year-old Rainbow Flat secondary school student, Tyler Budden owes much of these two devastating events with the emergence of his growing home business, Kustom Knives & Knick Knacks.
Along with his Great Lakes College Tuncurry school mate, Rourke Hudson from Tallwoods, Tyler has discovered the ancient skill of forging custom-made kitchen and bush knives.
The hobby, which has now evolved into a thriving domestic business, began when the two Year 10 students fashioned a small furnace from a metal bucket and a packet of plaster to melt their scrap collection of copper, bronze and aluminium.
Initially the metals, either scavenged from council pick-up days or from the Tuncurry tip, were forged into bricks and ingots.
Bored with fashioning oblong shapes, the young self-taught cutler then crafted a couple of hacksaw blades into knives.
"It was way more fun and you got something (useful) at the end and not just a block of metal," Tyler said.
"I really enjoy getting a massive block of steel and turning it into a usable knife and then seeing the customer get enjoyment."
I like designing things, making things and sketching things.Tyler Budden
The fledgling business got a kick-along when a teacher, after seeing a photograph of the collection of kitchen knives, ordered one for his wife as a Christmas present.
Unlike traditional kitchen or chef's knives, the blades of Tyler's knives are etched with a unique rustic-looking decorative pattern.
Patterns give the knives character and a rustic look, Tyler said.
Custom made knives, fashioned in Tyler's backyard shed, can take up to one week to craft from forging, grinding the blade and shaping the wooden handle.
Handles are made from wood scraps from school, fallen trees - such as timber from a swamp mahogany tree which fell victim to the horrific 2019 Rainbow Flat bushfires which licked at the back of the family's backyard - or purchased from Trend Timbers and #buyfromthe bush.
Tyler's sales began to grow after summer fire bans were lifted - enabling him to fire up the furnace - and gathered momentum during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Posts on Spend With Us and Buy from the Bush websites also boosted sales.
Tyler's first of just two posts came with orders for more than 20 knives, while since establishing his Kustom Knives and Knick Knacks Facebook page he has amassed more than 1300 followers.
Orders have been received from customers throughout Australia and overseas.
Profits have been channeled back into upgrading equipment and purchasing stock.
While Tyler spends much of his spare time making knives - and racing go-karts - he is adamant it is purely a hobby.
His future plans are to attend university and study engineering.
"I like designing things, making things and sketching things."
Eager to learn and refine his skills, Tyler continues to view YouTube clips and is attending a two-day workshop in Wauchope.
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