At work, Glenn Klecker is an award-winning knife and tool designer whose work is known world wide. At home, however, Klecker is the dad that carves wooden toy knives that make his 6-year-old son, Nathan, the envy of every little boy in their Silverton neighborhood.
Klecker, who has spent his professional life designing new and less expensive ways of doing things for the automotive industry as well as the knife and tool industry, draws on his childhood experiences when working with his son.
“I have fond memories of playing in the woods with my knives and I enjoy watching Nathan playing now with his wooden ones,” Klecker said. “The two of us drew up the plans, cut them out and put them together. They fold and you can even hear the lock engage. He is fascinated by my knife and tool collection but he just isn’t big enough yet to use real knives.”
Klecker, who moved to Silverton in 1997, was born and raised in Michigan. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and though his engineer father was a career U.S. Air Force test pilot, Klecker joined the Marines. As a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps during Operation Desert Storm, he received the Navy Achievement Medal for Superior Service.
During his professional career, his knife and tool designs for manufacturers have resulted in more than 22 patents and have received numerous awards including the prestigious IWA, International Multi-tool of the Year for 2006 and 2004. His designs have also won the “IF” Product Design Award for 2006, Blade Magazine’s Best American Design of 2008 for the Leatherman Skeletool, and received recognition from National Geographic, Best Gear of 2008; Men’s Journal, Best Gear for 2008. Most recently, he is the designer of Columbia River Knife and Tool’s NIRK Knife, an innovative knife he named for his son (NIRK standing for Nathan’s Irreducible Complexity Knife).
Klecker considers himself among the guys who like gadgets.
“There’s no denying it, I like knives and tools,” Klecker said, thinking back to his first Leatherman Tool that he got for Christmas many years ago. “But, I also love to design things that will more than satisfy the requirements that I’m given.
“First I see what’s out there and then without setting any mental boundaries for myself I look for a simple creative design that meets or exceeds those requirements. I may find 100 ways that don’t work – I’m looking for the one way that does.”
While currently working in Newberg designing dental equipment for DCI International, Glenn Klecker and Nathan have plans based around their mutual love for knives.
“We’re gonna write a book,” Nathan said. “It’s gonna be a book that has pictures in it and it will show people how to make knives.”
To learn more about the book or Nathan’s wooden knife you can follow them on Twitter “@skeletool” or facebook “Nathan Thomas Knives.”