One minute you are a Captain in the Royal Signals, the next you are producing props for big budget film productions. It is quite the leap … but how does a soldier make such a transition?
That is precisely what one former LE Captain of the Royal Signals did when his almost 30-year service came to an end in 2015.
Instead of getting a what might be considered a 'normal job' like so many others, Mic Taylor realised his ambition of knife-making and in the space of just five years, he has nurtured that ambition and interest into a major business called Brechfa Knives.
Brechfa Knives not only produces some of the finest hand-crafted blades on the planet but also cinema props including swords which are seen by millions of people in Hollywood movies.
Mic, 45, became aware of the intricacies of knife craft during his career in the military. Speaking to BFBS, he described a frustration over the lack of quality knives available to him during his time in the army. He said:
“I was never issued a descent knife in my career.
“When I left the Army, I was frequently using YouTube to unwind a little at the end of a busy day and I saw a video of a guy in Russia making a knife and it really sparked my interest.
“And that was it really, it grew my interest in knife making and here we are now.”
Mic produces his tailor-made knives in his garden-based workshop which he is fast outgrowing, as orders for his work continue to flow in.
His business can boast counting high-end clients including chefs from around the world which Mic says is due to mass produced knives not coming close to the quality found in the unique products made by his company.
“You can buy a knife from a shop, but you pay for what you get and you may have to buy a knife three times, you might also be unsure if it is dishwasher friendly or even how to sharpen it.
“High-end chefs are buying knives from me from all over the world.
"We have a map on the wall that we stick a pin in every time we sell a knife in a different country. So far, we have done places as far afield as Nova Scotia in the north and the Antarctic Exploration Centre in the south.
"We have even sent knives to The Yukon.”
But why are professionals buying knives from Mic and not from the local supermarket? Mic says it’s all about the quality his blades offer the end user.
“I think when something is mass produced, there are thousands and thousands of it on the market. Our knives are an aspirational item.
“They are individual, customisable to a high degree. If the client wants a particular handle, shape, liner colour or leather shade, we can do that to order. It is completely customisable. And that’s what stands us apart.
Mic finished his long career with a commission and a posting to Bath as the Regional recruiter for the South West. He joined the British Army in 1991, initially as a Junior Leader in Harrogate before cap-badging to the Royal Signals. During his career he held several roles at different postings deploying to Northern Ireland and the Balkans.
Mic discussed with BFBS that he is now making props for film production companies to use in their movies. One such film, which Mic was unable to name due to confidentiality agreements, comes out later this year. Mic said:
“It takes me three weeks to turn a sword around for a film.
"There are two types of swords made by me used in the film, long-shot swords and close-scrutiny swords. The close-scrutiny props are very detailed and realistic.”
Integrity forms a core part of the service Mic has established through Brechfa Knives. Part of that is taking a great deal of care in the products produced, but part of it is remaining vigilant to the fact that sometimes knives can fall into the wrong hands.
When asked about ensuring safety with his blade sales, Mic stated that because the starting price for a blade by Brechfa Knives is £300.00, it is unlikely a criminal is going to order one to then go on to commit a crime, however that does not stop him conducting a thorough security check. On security, Mic said:
“You can commit a crime with any edged item. If you are going to cause harm, I don’t think you are going to go out and spend upwards of £300 on a knife.
“But, as a cause of action I do a full ID check on everybody who buys a knife from me. There is also going to be an extra ID check at the post office where people generally collect an item from.
“But ultimately, I don’t think they will buy a knife from me when they can go down to a high street shop and buy one for £10.”
Mic, who in 2019 raised funds for the Royal British Legion by producing poppy sculptures in the same forge that he uses for knife-making, has plans to grow and in doing so has identified a further ambition to provide employment to other veterans of the armed forces. He said:
“I am currently working out of a small workshop in the garden. So, I am actively looking for a small industrial unit near my home.
“I would like to employ a veteran, or somebody who needs an opportunity. I would like to give somebody a leg up by coming here and being part of Brechfa Knives.”
The range of products available at Brechfa includes the Chopper – a custom made chopping blade, the WW2 Smachet – a working replica of the first officially issued British Army fighting knife, the Butchers Knife – Mic’s own take on the classic butchers knife and the BK Skinner – a great all-round utility knife with a Scandinavian feel to it. There are also options to buy kitchen knives for professional chefs.
Watch Mic craft Poppy Sculptures in the Brechfa Knives forge - of which £5 from each sale was donated to the Poppy Appeal.
For more information on Brechfa Knives and Mic, visit their website at www.brechfa-knives.co.uk