In the mid 1970's, I heard of Tommy Lee, a custom knife-maker, and read about him in South Carolina Wildlife magazine and other publications. Later, a friend of mine purchased one of his knives and I admired the workmanship.
Several years passed and I was in a knife shop and saw some knives on consignment. A lovely damascus drop point hunter caught my eye and it became one of my treasured possessions.
Many years later, Tommy moved to the upstate and became friends with one of my friends. We met through this common acquaintance and have become good friends.
Tommy was out of production for a while due to health problems, but has resumed making knives and attends several shows a year. I have the good fortune, through his generosity, of owning several of his works of art now and they are very dear to me.
Tommy is an interesting person to talk with as he tells of his adventures in Zimbabwe, Africa, hunting big game. He is modest, but the trophies on his walls tell the tales. He has hunted in the U.S. west and taken mountain lion, mule deer, mountain goats and many other trophies.
Tommy says that knife making opened a lot of doors to hunting adventures and opportunities that he probably would not have had otherwise. He has met many friends through the trade shows and contacts in the course of his career.
Tommy has taken game with bow, handgun and rifle. Many animals fell to his bow, but he tells me that he is only hunting with the rifle now.
I visited with Tommy in early September and made some photos of him with his dog. She keeps him company when he is working in his shop at home and is a constant companion.
It is a privilege for me to call Tommy Lee a friend, and a bonus to own several of his knives as well. If you get a chance to meet this legend of the knife world, you will be privileged as well. He is a great craftsman and a man with strong beliefs in God and country.
If you are interested in purchasing a knife from him, contact me and I will provide contact information to you.
Photos by L. Ross