Thank you for visiting! My name is Patrick Brewster; I am the founder and owner of Flying Steel. It’s impossible to tell the story of the company without telling my story, but essentially Flying Steel is the product of my appreciation for knives, my love of martial arts, and my dedication to creativity, independence, integrity, and quality. Watch me throw knives with Chris McDougall and Outside Magazine here.
Reflecting on 15 years of history, I am very proud of the fact that my hands crafted over 15,000 throwing knives and spikes – totaling nearly a million dollars – which have gone all around the world. However, as I grow older and wiser, I recognize that I was simply a lucky person who happened to be in the right place at the right time; the remarkable part of the Flying Steel story isn’t me, but everyone who has supported Flying Steel over the years. What I am most proud of – and thankful for – are the connections I’ve made with the beautiful and amazing people who have made this journey possible.
The start of Flying Steel
I started Flying Steel in 2007 without a business plan, business experience, or startup capital. I was 28 years old, and the one thing I did have was a fervent goal to be self-employed. After studying engineering for two years and working a series of interesting but unrewarding jobs, I felt a burning passion for independence and creativity that needed an outlet.
Like many others, I independently discovered no-spin knife throwing in 2004. It was not a serious hobby or skill – I was throwing steak knives into foam targets at close range. In 2007, I wanted to know if anyone else was throwing knives like this, and I found Ralph Thorn’s website and Houzan Suzuki’s YouTube channel. I sent some messages to them and quickly formed a friendship. Suzuki graciously sent me a throwing spike and I was enthralled with its construction and his skill. Also during this time, I became interested in knife making and spent time researching the topic.
Although I had almost no metalworking experience, I was determined to replicate Suzuki’s spike. I acquired some metalworking tools, made several copies, and sent a few to Suzuki. He approved of my work and invited me to offer his designs to the public. My brother Kevin built the website and flyingsteel.com was launched. Shortly thereafter, Thorn invited me to make and sell his knife design, the Shur-knife. I befriended Jeff Adams, who taught me about traditional weapons, knife making and no-spin throwing. By the fall of 2007, I had found my calling in blade crafting, and I secured a day job in the metalworking field. Flying Steel was simply a hobby with a small revenue stream that offset the cost of tools and materials.
Over the subsequent years, Flying Steel grew into a successful business built on quality and integrity. Eventually I was able to become a full-time knife maker. Although it is my business, it feels like OUR project. I say this because many people have helped along the way; not only Suzuki, Thorn, and Adams, but also my family, friends, knife maker and thrower Joe Darrah, knife maker and thrower Bobby Branton, martial artist Mat Marinas, knife thrower CK, knife thrower Ryan Moomaw, metalworker Dick Burk, and YouTuber Xolette. Most importantly, I owe a tremendous thanks to all those who have put their hard-earned cash and thoughtful feedback into this project.
My appreciation for knives
My mom would often say that I “march to the beat of a different drummer,” and most who know me would probably agree. She tragically passed away in 2009 and this part of the story would be incomplete without an homage to her.
When I was a young boy, ages 4 thru 10, we lived in Midland MI. Between Dow Gardens, the park behind our house, and the property now called Whiting Forest, my brother, friends, and I lived a very outdoorsy lifestyle. We called it “adventure” – some might call it “trespassing.”
I was 7 when mom pulled out the LL Bean catalog and said “Patrick, I think we should get you a knife” or something to that effect. The choices were a red or green handle – I picked green. In several days, the package arrived and we excitedly opened it. As she handed the knife to me, mom gave some important safety instructions that I don’t recall. About 30 seconds later, I gashed my finger open – a scar I still bear. Mom cleaned me up, said “you should probably get stitches …” and wrapped up my wound. She didn’t scold me, and she didn’t take the knife back.
Thus began a lifelong partnership between knives and me – a partnership that would become my livelihood. The green LL Bean knife accompanied me on countless treks into Whiting Forest. My brother and I became obsessed with wilderness survival, with influence from books such as Hatchet. I soon acquired a fanny pack and carried other survival goods along with the knife. The many accidental cuts I gave myself forced me to learn not only knife safety, but also first aid. First aid supplies became regular cargo in the fanny pack.
My first point here isn’t about knives and how great they are. Its about preparedness and independence. When you carry a utility knife, you are carrying more than a sharp piece of metal – you are carrying a readiness and willingness to solve problems. You are also carrying a dangerous item that requires good judgment and responsibility. The deeper point is, of course, about Mom and how thankful I am for her. We now live in such a sheltered, litigious society that the idea of “arming” a child and sending him off unsupervised seems like poor judgement. However, sometimes good judgement means letting people make and learn from their own mistakes. The little bit of trust she put in me grew into a passion and livelihood.
My love of martial arts
I grew up on cheesy 80’s action movies and TV shows, from He-Man to Chuck Norris. Although several years of karate lessons are my only experience, I have always felt an affinity for Eastern martial arts. To me, it is the mystery – the blur between truth and myth – that I find fascinating. The lore of the ninja and Shaolin monks are prime examples. A true master of martial arts, like a master of gymnastics, is capable of feats that border on the supernatural. It is here, where human ability is pushed beyond normal limits, that my love of martial arts is rooted.
No-spin knife throwing fits right in with these ideas; it seems to bend the laws of physics. Indeed, before the advent of YouTube, there were people who thought it was impossible to throw a knife without rotation. Unlike spin throwing, which requires fixed or measured distances, the martial applications of no-spin throwing are obvious.
My dedication to creativity, independence, integrity, and quality
I grew up with a sincere belief that you can do anything you put your mind to, and I owe that belief to the example set by my parents. Whether it was mom remodeling the kitchen, or dad building a laser from scratch, my parents simply researched the topic and got it done. Our house was full of how-to books – how to build a helicopter, how to build a log cabin, how to wire circuits, how to write computer code, how to cook, how to install plumbing, and so on. The library was a frequent family destination.
After high school, my father hitchhiked from upstate New York to Alaska and set out into the wilderness, alone, with an axe, a rifle, and few other belongings. He ventured to build a cabin and acquire land rights under the homestead program. He abandoned the project after a bear ravaged his food and supplies, but he stayed in Alaska, attended college and worked on the pipeline. My mother, also from upstate New York, joined him in Alaska. The two lived for some time in a tiny rustic shack and worked together on the pipeline. They then moved back to the lower 48, married, and started a family. My father earned his PhD in chemistry when I was very young. This Alaskan origin story and its accompanying tales became part of our family identity. It instilled in us a spirit of independence, courage and self-reliance.
As a friend to many and an accomplished seamstress, cook, and craftswoman, my mother was always busy connecting with people or making something useful, beautiful, or delicious. Similarly, as a scientist, adventurer, thinker, and tinkerer, my father was always solving some problem or enjoying nature, friends, and family. Honesty, kindness, integrity and hard work have always been the pillars of our family values.
It is often said that the knife is man’s first tool; to me, the knife is the symbol of self-reliance and survival. I love what I do because I work with my hands, my mind, and my heart. My reward is in knowing that my creations are used and appreciated for their form and function.