Into the Wild
By Jeanni Brosius. Photograohy courtesy of knifenewsroom.com
A near-death experience lead Tom Dexter to open what would become the largest retail knife store in Arkansas. The 1,200-square-foot showroom of The Mountain’s Edge, located at 406 Central Ave. in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is home to a huge variety of knives.
In 2012, his woodworking career with Dexter Woodworks came to a screeching halt when he developed a potentially life-threatening allergy to the wood that he had used to create custom ink pens and game calls.
“It was a little bitty pocket knife that saved my life,” Dexter said.
A customer brought the pocket knife to the register and noticed Dexter’s rash.
“He grabbed my hand,” Dexter said with a laugh. After the initial shock of having someone grab his hand, Dexter said he listened to what the man said. “I’m a doctor, and you’re not far from going into anaphylactic shock,” Dexter said the dermatologist from Houston, Texas told him.
Dexter said that the exotic woods he was working with were oily and toxic. The oils built up in his body, and over time became very toxic to his system.
With the realization that he would have to stop producing the pens and game calls, Dexter and his wife Tonya put their heads together and came up with the concept of expanding their knife inventory to the store they had opened in 2010.
“We carry approximately 25 different brands,” Dexter said, “and as many American-made brands as possible.” Dexter said Case brand knives are the most collected knives in the world, and Mountain’s Edge is the largest Case dealer in Arkansas with more than 500 different Case knives in stock in addition to thousands of other types and brands to try to catch anything a customer could want. Knives for hunting, camping, and survival to machetes for clearing brush, can all be found on the shelves of the store.
“Explaining what a good multi-purpose knife would be is kind of like asking, ‘Ford or Chevy?’ It’s just a matter of opinion. That’s why we carry a variety.” Because of varying state laws, Dexter is limited on some of the knives he can ship in certain states.
“Some states have strict knife laws,” he said. “The Buck 119 fixed blade knife is a hunting knife, but it’s been used for nefarious purposes, and in Iowa, the Buck knives are illegal. In Massachusetts, a folding pocket knife that locks while it is open is considered an illegal weapon…. A knife is only as dangerous as the person holding it.”
The way to care for a knife is about as individual as the variety of knives that Mountain’s Edge sells. “It depends on the type of steel it’s made of,” Dexter said. “There are 50 to 100 different types of steel.” According to Buck Knives website, cleaning and caring for knives will help them maintain performance and enhance the life.
Here are some tips from Buck:
• Keep your knife dry; that means the entire knife, not just the blade.
• Keep your knife clean, particularly moving parts and locking devices.
• Keep your knife oiled; especially pivot points and the blade.
Oil at least twice a year.
• Keep your knife sharp; a sharp blade is safer than a dull one.
• Don’t try to repair a damaged knife yourself.
• Store your knife in a dry place.
Even though the store offers such a variety of knives, including throwing knives and a 22-and-a-half-inch blade for wild boar hunting, buyers will also find a variety of shaving and grooming tools and whetstones. Dexter said one of the whetstone brands he carries is manufactured in nearby Pearcy, Arkansas. Dan’s Whetstones is the only complete producer and supplier of all natural Arkansas whetstone grades, and has been overseeing the process from quarry to finished whetstone since 1976.
Not only did an ordinary pocket knife likely contribute to saving Dexter’s life, it’s also The Mountain’s Edge’s best-selling knife.