Quintin Middleton is not kidding when he says it took him twelve years to make a knife. “It’s about the things I needed to learn leading up to this,” he says.
When other 7-year-olds were playing outside on the swing set, Middleton was plotting how to make swords out of it. His passion was sparked by the movie Conan the Barbarian. “I took the tubing and put it on a cinder block and used a hammer to flatten it out,” he says. He still keeps one of his childhood swords in a drawer in his workshop.
In high school, Middleton was working at a knife store in the mall when renowned South Carolina bladesmith Jason Knight walked in and agreed to be his mentor. “He wouldn’t let me touch anything. I would just watch everything he did.” Middleton says it was tough love. Knight would walk out of the studio sometimes and leave him standing there. He might come back, he might not, but Middleton kept showing up. He started buying equipment to try his hand at serious knife-making.
He was working odd jobs when he had a dream came one night to make chef’s knives. He completed a knife and called every chef he could think of. He went straight to the top of Charleston’s culinary royalty, including Sean Brock, Craig Deihl, and Mike Lata. Every last one turned him down.
Divine wisdom intervened again and told him to reach out to Cypress executive chef Craig Deihl one more time. This time, instead of asking him to buy a knife, Middleton asked him to help develop one. He took designs to Deihl and sous chef Bob Cook who made suggestions for new designs.
Cook was the first person to buy a Middleton Made Knife. Now Middleton’s knives are in the hands of chefs and home cooks across the nation.
Middleton Made Knives are forged from stainless or high-carbon steel. They are filed, profiled, heat-treated, and tempered by hand in Quintin’s workshop just steps behind his home in Saint Stephen, South Carolina. He says stainless steel is less maintenance, but high-carbon produces a sharper knife. For the handles, he shapes materials like Hehmaple, maple burls, African blackwood, and ivory. Though the 10” Damascus Chef’s Knife can run upwards of $800, Middleton’s MKD line will offer a lower price point.
Middleton dreams of opening a factory. “I want to build something for my children, and help the generation after me.” He says making knives is his ministry. In the Bible, Paul couldn’t reach everybody, so he prayed over rags. “People were blessed just from those rags. That’s the mindset I’m in while making knives. These knives prepare food for thousands of people.”