Kentucky Tourism

Schirmer, Mike

Berea, KY



Mike Schirmer grew up on a dairy farm in northern Illinois. He has been a hunter all his life and got his first knife when he was five years old. Mike is essentially a self-taught knife maker. His interest was kindled when he bought a custom made knife and became intrigued with the difference between commercial and handmade knives.


In 1982, he met Illinois knife maker Ralph Turnbull. When Turnbull refused to teach him how to make knives, Mike made several on his own and had Turnbull critique them. He continued this process over a period of two years to perfect his techniques.


In 1992 Mike moved to Montana and lived on a ranch where he worked as a guide on Elk hunt tours. Here he learned hunting skills including how to use a knife to skin animals by hand. Mike focuses on making knives that are for actual real use and he strives to design them to inspire, using unique materials such as woolly mammoth ivory, brass, and quality tempered steel with intricately designed pins.


Mike is a member of the national organization - the Knifemakers Guild.


Works by this artisan can be found at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.