Knife maker Roger Totten buffs up a blade at his Nikiski shop.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Roger Stanley Totten and Clara, his wife of 32 years, retired from the Army in 2005 and decided to come north to Alaska. “Each time I reenlisted I requested to be assigned to Alaska, but never got it. So when I retired after returning from Bosnia and 22 years in the Army, my wife and I sold the farm in Texas, ordered a new five-wheeler from the factory and came to Alaska,” Totten told the Dispatch. Roger and Clara found a nice place to settle in Nikiski and soon were working for Laidlaw Transit, “I’m a diesel tech by trade and Clara works with the special needs buses, but my passion is making knives,” said Roger.
Totten has set up a custom knife making shop next to his home in Nikiski called RST Custom Knives and has already started production. “I’ve made about 25 knives so far and there are no two alike, each knife is a completely unique piece and design,” said Totten. “It all started about two years ago when I met a master knife maker in Texas who ended up becoming a good friend. I had started making a knife for my grandson and didn’t know where to go with it so I was put in touch with Bill Smith in Salado, Texas and he showed me how to get started and the passion just blossomed from there,” said Totten.
After researching in a lot of “Blade” magazines and working with Bill Smith, Totten has developed his own techniques and designs, “I start with a hand drawing and build the design from scratch. I may incorporate ideas I’ve seen, but everything I make is original and made with unique materials using exotic bones and antlers and natural materials that work well together, I’m experimenting all the time and anything I sell comes with a lifetime guarantee, my lifetime,” explained Totten.
Other members of Roger’s family are also migrating to Alaska, “Our son lives in Anchorage and my twin sister is planning on moving up soon, so we’ve definitely found our new home and are happy to be here,” said Roger. Totten says he hopes to totally retire in a couple of years and ramp up his knife production, “I want to get a furnace and some more tools, but this is what I plan on doing as long as I can do it,” he said. Totten’s knives are currently available at Odie’s Bead-It in Soldotna next to Sourdough Sal’s and he will also do custom orders or repairs anytime and may be contacted at 776-2146 or 394-4802, “Or if you see a red dodge pick-up running around town with RST Knives on the side, that would be me, or come by the shop we’re just down the road from Kassik’s Brew Stop.”
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