It was hot. Really hot. Mike and I were sitting in the shade of an old oak tree, sipping on some cold water bottles we’d just pulled from the ice chest.
Mike was a cowboy turned bit and spur maker. He’d been a big outfit, bedroll cowboy for almost 30 years. Cowboying and buckarooing all over, he’d worked on some of the big famous ranches like the Padlock and the MC to name just a couple.
Took a sip off my water bottle; “Mike how many calves you think you’ve cut in your lifetime?” He thought about it for a couple minutes, taking a couple sips from his water bottle. “Maybe a million”, he said.
A million? That’s a few hundred thousand more than I’d ever done. “Well draw me out the perfect branding knife”. He did.
About 7 inches in overall length, slim and with a narrow blade from edge to spine. Big enough to hold onto in the branding pen yet thin and compact, easy to carry. The pointy blade pierces an ear easily, while the narrowness of the blade allows you to cut out whatever mark is needed.
I made the first two or three of these knives from different mono steels but after a while I settled on damascus as the right steel for this knife. Damascus holds an edge well but is easy to touch up in the branding pen. Due to its nature it produces a nice toothy edge which is perfect for cutting calves. After a while I modified Mike’s design slightly and dropped the back of the handle, maybe a 1/4”. This modification allows it to fit a wider variety of hands. Thats really the only change I’ve ever made to his design.
So I named this knife after Mike, who has had the nickname “Tapadero” for many years. He got the first one.