Meet the Maker


slothKyle Ver Steeg is a surgeon and lifelong outdoorsman. That combination of skills and interests had led to a very interesting life. Shortly after starting his medical practice, Dr. Ver Steeg did something he had always wanted to - he joined the international medical relief community. In the days after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Dr. Ver Steeg travelled with another surgeon to Haiti to offer what help he could. While he was able help many of the victims with his surgical skills, the experience quickly exposed some areas of survival expertise that needed improvement.

haitiShortly after returning from Haiti, Dr. Ver Steeg sought out survival training in numerous environments from the best teachers available. The first course was in the Amazon Jungle in Peru. Next it was to the Desert for two weeks with the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. Next, Dr. Ver Steeg travelled to Canada to get winter training in the Boreal Forest with Mors Kochanski. Numerous other courses followed, including a 2 week course at The American Alpine Institute in Washington. While very enjoyable, mountaineering was very challenging for someone who grew up on the plains.

a5k-2In the years following the training period, it was time to test the skills. Although Dr. Ver Steeg spends months every year living outdoors, a real highlight was when he joined his friend Mickey Grosman on the Amazon 5000 Expedition. Numerous magazine and newspaper articles detail the adventures.

taclobanDr. Ver Steeg continues his humanitarian and international medical relief efforts as a member of Team Rubicon. Although he has been on numerous domestic deployments including the Moore, Oklahoma tornado disaster, a highlight has been helping the people of the Philippine Islands in the first few days following the Typhoon Haiyan disaster.

Throughout his time in the outdoors and in the disaster relief community, Dr. Ver Steeg has developed a few opinions and some experience in what makes a knife useful. It all starts with the handle. Your knife must have a handle that fits your hand and allows you to work without developing hot spots or other problems. For handle design, Dr. Ver Steeg relies heavily on his knowledge of hand anatomy and function that he learned while training in hand surgery at Kleinert and Kutz in Louisville, Kentucky.

The blade of your knife must have the right shape, length, cutting geometry and other characteristics to perform well. The more specific the task, the more important each of those characteristics becomes. There isn't really a perfect knife for every task. You can have a knife that is good at a wide variety of activities, but compromises in design must be made in order to be a decent knife at many tasks. Finding the right balance between characteristics and tuning the knife to the individual is what makes knife making fun.

mountain1If you wish, you can explore some of Dr. Ver Steeg's other interests and see videos of adventure, cooking, and knife making on his YouTube channel. You can see the results of Dr. Ver Steeg's research into the fields of Microbiology and Transplant Immunology in the scientific literature. You can also read numerous articles written by Dr. Ver Steeg on a wide range of outdoors, knife design and medical topics in magazines such as S.W.A.T., Self Reliance Illustrated and The Knife Journal.

Now go outside and play!