“I wanted to make knives for sailors,” said Mudd Sharrigan, 94, a former member of the Merchant Marine, this afternoon on the final day of the 33rd Maine Boatbuilders Show. He and his wife Esther, 84, were sitting at their booth inside one of the massive red buildings that housed many of the 80 vendors selling equipment, services, ideas and food to the nautical world that turned out for this traditional event in Portland, 100 West Commercial Street.
Mudd wanted to make rigging knives for sailors. So, in 1990, he approached the crew of the celebrated Gaff Rigged Schooner Harvey Gamage. He asked them what kind of knives they needed. “Anything that cuts lines,” was the answer. Mudd told them he’d return in two weeks. If they liked the knives he designed for them, he’d make more. He returned then. The Gamage crew liked them “a lot.” That was the beginning. “The rest is history,” he said laughing.
Knife blades are made from a variety of metals. Mudd buys some new steel from an Illinois company that caters to knife makers. Other metal sources are automobile parts such as tail springs, leaf springs, and old saw blades from logging equipment. These parts can be found at dumps.
The handles are made of hardwood such as: birds eye maple, tiger maple, oak, and blond walnut, Some handles are made of deer antlers. Mudd makes about 200 knives a year.
Since that first batch, Mudd has tweaked them considerably – improving the shape, handle material and creating more choices of sizes. They are now available in three sizes.
Back in April of 2011 ” Woodenboat” magazine published an extensive article on Mudd and his rigging knives. He was overwhelmed with orders following that publicity. It took him about a year to catch up on all 300 to 400 orders he received.
Mudd’s parents, who were Armenian, escaped from Turkey around 1912-1918. That’s when the Turkish rulers massacred the Armenians. His parents settled in Massachusetts where he was born. His original name is: Macdouni, but his nickname became: “Mudd.” He and a business partner built homes in Massachusetts before he relocated to Wiscasset.
“The secret to my longevity is Esther. She keeps me active. She mows the lawn and keeps a flower garden. She spins and weaves using thread she gets mostly from Massachusetts,” said Mudd. “We’ve been very fortunate at this Show It’s been good to us over the many years,” said Esther. They were exhibitors when the Show was previously located at 58 Fore Street, on the Munjoy Hill waterfront.
For more information on Mudd Knives, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. He does not sell on-line.
Please visit previous post herein for more background information on the resumption of the Maine Boatbuilders Show after a hiatus.