Atlas Obscura claims to be “An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders”. It lists 8 fairly odd attractions in Orlando, Florida, but includes a 9th that isn’t numbered. You will probably be arrested if you try to visit one of the 8. The unnumbered Randall Knife Museum that Atlas Obscura adds is anything but odd. It’s a thriving and “Wondrous” (Atlas Obscura’s word) business that began making knives in 1937. They are the best in the world and Randall today has no real competition. As Ruth & I toured this museum full of knives and information about them and talked to Michael, the grandson of the man who created the Randall Knife Company, we wondered how it could still be in existence. A lesser company would have been sold long ago with its knives now being manufactured in China or some other less-exacting place. Randall knives are collectors’ items and there’s a long waiting list to get a new one.
Randall’s first knife is on display in this museum. W.D. “Bo” Randall, this company’s founder who looked like a combo of Clark Gable and Howard Hughes, saw a man scraping paint off a boat in 1937 in Michigan. Bo thought this man was using a fine tool that he really liked recklessly. Bo bought it, learned that it had been made by W.W. Scagel, and, as a hobby, began making the best knives he could create. They caught on and began selling well in sporting goods stores. According to its current catalog, by the time humans made it to the moon, “The first seven astronauts carried specially designed (Model 17) Randall Made knives.”
Bo continued to make excellent knives as a personal challenge and died in 1989. His company continued. Today it creates only 120 to 140 knives per week. Fifty steps go into making each one. Michael didn’t know Ruth and me at all but told us how to care for Randall knives, the proper sheath to store one in or not, how to tell the difference between a real Randall and an imitation, lesser knife, etc. Randall’s 28 basic models and all others are 100% hand-made from the finest materials. The company catalog has sections on knife care and choosing an appropriate model. It lists and often pictures its military style, survival, Bowie, etc, knives. There’s a section on special use knives, like its Model 6 steak knife.
The museum is truly unique. It was moved from the shop to the Randall home 3 years ago. Not all of the knives and related artifacts on display were made by Randall. For example, Michael told me that the pocket knives I was photographing were not made by his dad’s company. Atlas Obscura rightly praises the product “that has been carried by president, generals, hunters, and herpetologists”. See this 5 Compass museum in a beautiful Orlando setting before it goes away forever.