Focus on the Maker: Chet Cochrane
Unlike some of the other interviews I didn’t have the chance to get all of Chet’s story since we kept missing each other every time we tried to get together but I will do my best to do it justice from the email he sent me.
I suppose you could say that Chet was born into blades or that he was just gifted enough to be inspired directly by a name that is widely recognized if not, I daresay, famous. For Chet it all started for him when his family moved to Kentucky. There in the land of horse racing, bourbon, moonshine and coal (amongst amazing scenery) Chet was introduced to the craft of blade making, or as he says “the hook was set”.
Chet would spend hours sitting in his uncles shop watching him grind and shape steel into art. The experience of watching this magical transformation from plain to amazing impacted him deeper than he could know in his youth but as these things often do, life happened. Chet went to serve in the army in 2007 without being able to dive into the art he had become fascinated with.
In 2012 Chet was medically discharged after serving for 6 years as a 19 delta (Cav scout for the uninitiated or those that just can’t remember because that was 20 years ago) but then had to contend with the VA and all the other things that life seems to throw in your way along your path. In 2021 Chet felt that hook set so many years ago tugging at his consciousness.
Starting out with a harbor freight special ( you know which one, I don’t even have to say it) Chet set to work with an idea. Using an angle grinder Chet picked up he set to work cutting a pattern out of some flat stock and cleaned it up with his 1x30. He had no jigs of any kind but he had memories. Trying to duplicate the motions of what he had seen so many times in his uncles shop, Chet began crafting his first blade.
Using a modified additional 1x30 he expanded his grinding into hollow grinds. The typical belt progression that Chet uses is starting with an 80 grit, then working through the progressions all the way to 1000 on the grinder. (Side note, if using a machine with high speed make sure if you’re using a high grit belt that you are paying REAL close attention to your heat). After hitting the 1000 mark, Chet moves onto the thing that I personally hate that absolute most. Hand sanding.
The blade on display is named the 19 delta as a tribute to his time serving (Thank you for your service) and is one of his first created. He has since gone on to make several more blades, a couple of which are shown below here include “The Raven Belt Buckle” which was a twist on one of his uncles designs, and the Sub-zero Fighter which he is shown below holding.
Now I teased it at the top but if you’ve read this far I suppose I’ll let the cat out of the bag. Chet tells me that his moms brothers are a couple of fellas named Scott and Gil. That makes them his uncles in most states. Last name …wait for it.. Hibben. Yes. That guy. The blades you’ve seen in movies and sold everywhere. I know when I was a kid I drooled over a Hibben blade in a magazine I couldn’t afford. I could say that he’s partly responsible for inspiring 12 year old me to make blades and I didn’t pick it up till 30 years later but I never forgot the feeling.
Chet, thank you for your story and forge ahead brother!
You can Find Chet on FaceBook at Chet Cochrane Custom Knives and currently resides in El Paso Texas.