Long-time knifemaker Warren Osborne passed away Jan. 4 after a long illness. His death comes almost 13 months to the day after his good friend and fellow maker Joe Kious was killed in a truck accident.
A native of Australia, Osborne moved to Texas, where he resided in Waxahachie for many years. He was a full-time knifemaker and sold his first custom knife in 1980. In his trademark cowboy hat and cowboy boots, Warren was a fixture at knife shows and BladeSports International (BSI) cutting competitions. Despite failing health, he exhibited at the recent International Custom Cutlery Exposition in Kansas City, the first-ever knife show coordinated by both the Knifemakers’ Guild and the American Bladesmith Society.
He was known for his high-end custom folding knives, many of them interframes ornately engraved by some of the industry’s leading embellishers. He joined the Knifemakers’ Guild as a probationary member in 1985. He later became a voting member and served on the Guild’s board of directors for a number of years. His knife designs may be best known among the largest number of people through his many collaborations with Benchmade Knife Co.
More recently he was instrumental in the founding of BSI, the world’s leading association of those who compete in knife-cutting competitions. He competed successfully on the BSI circuit for several years and designed and made his own competition knives. He was among the first to use CPM M4 carbon steel for the blades of his competition cutters, a steel that takes a great edge and is tough enough so that M4 blades can be ground very thin without damage to the edge or chipping while in use, great traits for competition cutters to have. He was also among the first to use horse-stall-mat rubber for the handle of a competition cutter. The material excels in enhanced purchase and non-slip qualities. His knives were recognized by many BSI observers for high performance in the competitions. The BSI coordinates the BLADE Show World Championship Cutting Competition at the BLADE Show each year. This year’s event will be held during the BLADE Show June 3-5 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
As he noted on his website, Warren was fascinated by “anything with a blade” from early childhood in his native Australia, and made knives from crosscut saws, chainsaw bars and anything else he found “laying around.” “Bladed weapons were a family thing, so between three brothers and myself, we had quite a collection,” he noted. Later on during his work as a ranch hand in Australia and as a horse trainer in the USA, sharpening and making knives became a spare-time endeavor.
In the March 2014 BLADE® he tied for No. 13 with Shane Taylor and Jason Knight among the top custom makers of the years 2001-2012. As Larry Connelley of KnifeArt.com noted in that issue of BLADE, “Warren’s knives exhibit extremely clean workmanship, combined with outstanding design and a solid business ethic.” The story went on to note, “From art knives to utility and higher-end designs to competition cutters, Osborne’s work has covered as many bases as just about any other maker.”
As good friend and fellow award-winning maker Tom Overeynder observed, “What a great friend and craftsman Warren was. He will be missed by all who ever met him.” Added BSI Executive Director Donavon Phillips, “Warren was a friend and mentor to so many. I feel like I should say more but the words won’t come to me right now.”
Funeral services were held Thursday, Jan. 7, at the Wayne Boze Funeral Home on 1826 W. Hwy. 287 in Waxahachie. Instead of flowers, please make any donations to The Wounded Warrior Project.