Ennis man’s knives are a cut above the rest
Blake Hodges, a 1998 graduate of Ennis High School, has taken one of favorite former “elective” courses to a whole new level.
This Ennis native found that he loved working in the area of fabrication, and in particularly in metal fabrication. What started out as a hobby quickly became a small business in 2016 when orders from his friends started rolling in for his custom knives.
Hodges says, “My business officially began in early 2016, when my enjoyed past time evolved into a successful small business. I started posting knives I had made on social media. Word spread like wildfire, and in my first year, I made over 70 knives for friends and family. By the end of the year in 2016, I was sending knives to other states. In actuality, the sales from my first year allowed me to grow and buy additional equipment I needed to further ‘Blades by Blake’.”
When asked if he had any real formal training, Hodges replies, “Yes and no. When I started I learned a lot on my own, but quickly had many mentors when I joined the Texas Knifemakers’ Guild. Joining the guild was one of the best things I did as a young knifemaker. I have since become a certified maker in the state of Texas, which is an honor, as it means my knives have been judged and certified by other makers.”
According to the Guild’s Facebook page, “The Texas Knifemakers’ Guild is a nonprofit
organization dedicated to bringing knifemakers together to learn, to encourage, and to promote integrity and high standards of workmanship among members. This Facebook group is the social media extension of the Guild. It’s our intention to talk knives, talk knife events, and show your workmanship and finished products in pictures.”
Hodges does have a regular job. He has worked for Union Pacific Railroad for the past 15 years. He confesses, “I am very lucky, because after many years with the railroad, I am now on an ‘on call’ basis – which affords me time off to pursue my side business of
The Ennisite is in the midst of realizing his long-term vision of having his new house built to his own specifications – and, in addition, has recently completed his dream work shop adjacent to his home.
He shares, “When my wife Stacy and I bought our land just east of Ennis and decided we would build our home on it, I knew that I would finally be getting my dream shop I’ve envisioned for many years. I have always wanted a homestead where I could fabricate, work, and enjoy a place where we could hang out together and that’s exactly what I’ve built. My shop is 1,250 square feet (25’ x 50’) and it was completely designed by me – just the way I wanted it – from full shop dust collection to custom-built work benches. I am so thrilled, yet humbled, with what I have constructed with my own two hands. We are in the final stages of finishing-up our new home and workshop, too. It feels like we have built and designed our own private paradise.”
He continues, “While my shop is ‘new’, my business is not. From my inaugural year in 2016, I have gone from making 40-50 knives a year for local people, to making 170-180 a year – and sending them all over the country. I am truly blessed in being able to do something I love, and it has miraculously now afforded me the opportunity to build my dream shop to continue and better my knife business.”
The new “Blades by Blake” shop is technically open to the public, but an appointment is
required. Hodges plans on having some “knife classes” available soon, where people can learn the art of knife-making – to be held inside of his new building. He admits that approximately 95 percent of his business comes through social media customers. His Instagram site is listed as BladesByBlake, but he also takes orders from inquiries on his personal Facebook page – Blake Hodges.
Hodges graduated from EHS as part of the Class of 1999. He was a star single and doubles tennis player for Coach Keith Howard in his first early years in leading the Ennis Tennis program. In addition to playing years of tennis for his school, he was involved in welding, metal fabrication, a member of the National Honor Society, and a part of the mentor program for younger kids called P.A.L.S. He graduated from Cameron University, where he also played tennis on a sports scholarship.
Hodges says he has in Ennis since he was 11 months old. Now at age 39, he has been married to "my wife and best friend" Stacy Hodges for 10 years, and they have three children: Daylee, 16, Landon, 12, and Cameron, 9.
The happy Hodges’ new home, workshop, and farm are located on 7.5 acres of land, just east of Ennis. In addition to the Hodges family taking up their new residency, the group also has 10 chickens they are raising, as well as a chocolate lab named Honey and a rescue mutt named Harper.