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From Disused Decks to Unique Knives

Studio Visit

It’s hard to not be in awe of ‘upcyclers’. While that label may be a bit hackneyed by 2018, Rowland Perry’s take on it is fresh and resourceful.

The nifty creative transforms broken skateboard decks into meticulously crafted one-of-a-kind knives. He recently showed us around his Skate Shank studio in Sydney.

30th April, 2018

A one-of-a-kind blades from Sydney-based maker Rowland Perry. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Rowland started Skate Shank four years ago, transforming his passions into a part-time business. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Rowland is all about the handmade finer details – his Mum sews these bags! Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Inside his Camperdown studio. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

The vibrant knives are customisable, and made-to-order. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Rowland has a stockpile of broken decks from his teens, and uses these and plus others picked up from local skate shops. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Photo – Jacqui Turk.

When he’s not making knives, Rowland works as a production manager at Dinosaur DesignsPhoto – Jacqui Turk.

Elle Murrell
Monday 30th April 2018

‘I like the idea of producing something handmade, in my own time.’ – Rowland Perry.

Rowland Perry is one of those lucky, hardworking people who has combined all of their passions into a sustainable side hustle! With his part-time business Skate Shank, Rowland has linked his loves of skateboarding, woodwork, and recycling to create one-of-a-kind knives.

The New Zealander grew up in the town of Kerikeri (the first colonial settlement in NZ) where he spent his days fishing, surfing, skating, and exploring the outdoors. Studying Fine Arts at university in Auckland set Rowland on a path of design and creativity. After exploring various avenues, he settled on making shanks (homemade knives) – for cooking, camping, and fishing – from old skateboards.

‘I’m influenced by craft, and the attention to detail that is achieved by hand,’ tells Rowland. ‘There is so much mass produced product out there now, I like the idea of producing something handmade, in my own time, and for my customers to purchase as a one-off piece.’

Four years into knife-making, Rowland’s approach and the exclusivity of his wares have proven popular. Today he makes knives part-time in an old warehouse in Camperdown, Sydney – that’s in-between his roles as Dad to a toddler, and full-time production manager at Dinosaur Designs.

Rowland has a stockpile of broken decks from his teens, and uses these alongside others he picks up from local skate shops, like UPS. Once a customer decides on a blade, he selects a skateboard with complementary timber grain and colour, before cutting and shaping it to suit. As for tools, Rowland couldn’t live without his Japanese whetstones, used to hand-sharpen each knife blade before delivery.

Obsessively meticulous, and committed to personal touches throughout the entire production process, Rowland packages his knives in a custom wooden sheath and cloth bag. ‘It wouldn’t seem right sending it off in a manufactured box,’ adds the maker. ‘My mum sews the bags for me, and I stamp the logo in my studio!’

Find out more and order online at Skateshank.com, or view selected knives in-store at Koskela.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.