At Belle Isle Craft Spirits, we understand and uphold the value of locally sourced, individually crafted, and handmade goods. While our craft takes the form of premium moonshine, we're lucky enough to cross paths with plenty of other talented folks crafting up their own exceptional pieces and products.
Not too far from us lies Join or Die Knives' workshop, another prime example of handcrafted goods coming out of Richmond, VA. We made the short trek over to hang out with Brent Stubblefield, founder of Join or Die Knives, to learn more about the process behind his one-of-a-kind knives. Quick disclaimer: No moonshine was consumed while operating any heavy machinery.
Tell us a bit about your company…
I founded Join or Die Knives in Richmond last year. We produce a range of different handcrafted knives and similar tools. I handcraft each and every knife, but I get to seasonally employ shop helpers who are great and bring a lot to the workshop.
We take our name from Benjamin Franklin's original woodcut published in his Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754. The message was simple: unite against a common foe or fail. Our goal is to bring back traditional skill, lore, and craft as the foundation for a new economy.
What do you do and why?
Join or Die Knives exists to provide useful, beautiful and meaningful items. We work with clients to produce knives that can be family heirlooms and gifts worthy of life events. We often use materials provided by clients because of their significance, such as wood from a family property, hunting trophies or any meaningful item. We have been able to create some truly one-of-a-kind pieces thanks to the fantastic materials provided to us.
Tell us about your space.
Our space is a shared warehouse in the Shockoe Valley of Richmond. The community environment here fosters an atmosphere of creativity and cooperation. There’s a lot of great creators here doing a wide range of things. We regularly engage with other tenants here by hosting events such as pop up shops and concerts. Although it is a world shop, we have put some personal touches to make it feel like a creative and inviting space.
If your company was a cocktail, what would its ingredients be?
If Join or Die Knives were a cocktail, the ingredients would be equal parts tradition and modern performance with a garnish of subtle embellishment - just to make it a bit fancy.
What does your company do “off the clock?”
We are pretty involved in the Richmond music scene, ride motorcycles and are connected with our local faith community. We’ve met some great people through our community that help fuel our creativity.
The whole point of working as an independent craftsman is to fulfill this need for something more than can be found in a factory or big box store. Community is the difference between life and death for small makers, and I’m grateful to have supportive people around me.
What’s on your bar?
The small shop bar consists of the mini-fridge under the counter, which usually contains beer for after hours work and play. When we can get it, we go for a sipping bourbon and a nice pipe tobacco.
Photos by Alex Kreher