Knifemaking is an art form requiring meticulous craftsmanship and a critical eye. Morrison County native and retired Brigadier General, Gary LeBlanc (1944-2016), obviously had those skills. This beautiful fillet knife was made by LeBlanc after he took up the craft as a hobby following his retirement after thirty-seven years of service with the National Guard. LeBlanc created carefully crafted knives that were highly prized. According to his wife, Anita, there was sometimes a two-year waiting list for his high quality handmade knives. “All his knives were totally hand made from the blades and handles to the sheaths that were hand sewn. All blades were ATS 34 steel. Bolsters were SS 416 dovetailed. Handles were secured with hidden bolts and sheaths had convertible danglers.” (Anita LeBlanc to Morrison County Historical Society, 11 June 2016) ATS34 Steel is an imported Hitachi steel known for excellent edge retention. An avid hunter and fisherman, LeBlanc made mostly hunting and fishing knives.
LeBlanc was a member of the Knifemakers’ Guild, an organization established in 1970 that is devoted to superior craftsmanship and a passion for excellence in knifemaking. In order to maintain a high level of quality, the Guild requires a lengthy probationary period before prospective applicants become accepted as full members. LeBlanc was accepted as a probationary member of the Guild in 2004, achieving full membership in 2006, ten years before his death.