17 Mar 2011

Dan Dennehy, January 15, 1923 – January 16, 2011

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Dan Dennehy at work

Another of the great men of the golden age of custom knife-making, Daniel John Dennehy, passed away earlier this year in Del Norte, Colorado.

Dan Dennehy began making knives while serving in the Navy in WWII.

Dennehy knives are characterized by original, simple, and practical designs tailored for specific functions. He produced a number of models specially for use by members of the armed forces, including the Pilot/Crewman, a 6″ rugged modern bowie designed to be capable of chopping an exit through a downed aircraft’s plexiglass canopy or aluminum skin; the 8″ Model 11 Green Beret, a large, double-hilted fighting knife; and the remarkable 6 1/2″, 1/4″ thick Model 13 Hoss, designed by a Navy SEAL as an indestructible knife-shaped pry bar and hammer made of surgical stainless steel which actually simultaneously manages to have a usable knife edge.

Dan Dennehy’s most popular productions, though, were simple and elegant hunting and fishing knives of slender and light easy-to-carry design, representative of the philosophy of the late 19th century outdoor writer George Washington Sears, better known as “Nessmuk,” who popularized the concept of ultra-light, minimal-sized sporting and camping equipment.

Dennehy forged all his larger knives, and a Dennehy forged knife exhibits a peculiar and unique glassy surface unlike any other knife.

Dan Dennehy was, along with Bob Loveless and Bill Moran, one of the founders of the Knifemaker’s Guild, and one of the most respected custom knife makers. Dennehy knives were favored by such celebrities as John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Carlos Hathcock, Barry Goldwater, as well as by the controversial Watergate burglar and talk show host G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy’s own preferred model, a more ornate, stag-handled version of the 4 1/4″ Model 4 Pro Scout became a standard catalogued option, known as the “G. Gordon Liddy Special.”

Dan Dennehy stamped “Dan-D” and a shamrock on every knife as his personal trademark. He mentions in his catalogue that he was only able to produce roughly 100 knives per year. He was in business for a little more than 60 years, so his total production must have amounted to only something on the order of 6000 examples.

An obituary appeared on the Knifemaker’s Guild forum back in January.

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A couple of commemorative videos of Dan Dennehy’s assistants at work during the last few few years in the Dennehy shop in Del Norte, accompanied with Johnny Cash songs, have turned up on YouTube.

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Best viewed in full screen mode

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DanD 4″ Utility Knife, probably a variation of his Model 8, Personal Survival Knife

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Dan’s son, John Dennehy, has a custom leather operation in Loveland, Colorado, and makes some knives of his own design. He is currently offering for sale a small number of his father’s knives, and his web-site has more information on Dan Dennehy.

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10 Feedbacks on "Dan Dennehy, January 15, 1923 – January 16, 2011"

David Levri

Dan made a knife for me about 15 years ago. Its awesome! I wore it today and it made me feel good. I want to have one made for my son (customized) with his name from me. Can you guys help? I typed in his name and some woman with about 1000 knife artists came up and I knew it wasn’t Dan D



JDZ

You must not have read the article. Dan Dennehy died, and the company was closed. You could buy a used Dan Dennehy knife on Ebay, but you cannot order a new one.



Esteban Salazar

This message is in response to David Levri’s post. I have had the pleasure and honor of Working for the late great Dan Dennehey from the summer of 1998 till his last order. The former foreman and leading craftsman of the Dan-D shop (Neil Lindsay) is still proudly carrying on the tradition of knife making using the skill and knowledge acquired from Dan. Please follow the link and keep an eye out for the Lindsay brand. I feel that your request for a Dan-D knife for your son can be a filled order by the next best thing. A lindsay knife carries the same tradition and spirit as a Dan-D.
(copy & paste into browser)
http://www.youtube.com/user/COBladesmith80



fred wilson

Dan was a special person.He ate fresh clams in my home on long island and sent me a clam knife and a work knife for the bay and for camping.I still wear it today.I ate elk with Dan at his home in CO,slept in the work shop and in the back of my truck.We laughed and talked military, past adventures, smoked and drank a bit.I stayed for 3 days and moved across the country to reconnect.I will always remember him.I missed his Christmas card this year2011. Neil Lindsay’s knife is in my right front pocket and is a constant reminder of Dan D.



John D Dennehy

I just stumbled accross this and wish to inform everyone that the original Dan-D line of knives going back to his designs in the original 1967 brochure are still be made by me with my father’s hand written permission.
John D Dennehy



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diane eubanks

I have several knives made by Mr. Dan Dennehy for my husband, Charles Eubanks (deceased) in 1970-1971. I was wondering if there was anyone that might be interested in buying these knives or a knife club that be interested in the knives. I would appreciate an email giving me any information or a telephone number I might call to get some information.



Jim Clymer

I have a dan d bowie that he made for me sometime in 1970. It is a bowie knife. The same knife is on display at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. I don’t know how many of them he made. It is a beautiful knife.If someone can give me some information on it I would very much appreciate it. Jim C



Don Clifton

Yes I know he was a great knife maker, but as a young parachute rigger at NAS Oceana in the 60s, I saw the chief as a great patriotic public speaker. We need him now. Chief Dan was a GREAT AMERICAN and God knows I miss his kind. RIP Chief.



John D Dennehy

It is now April of 2018. The DAN-D Trademark is alive and well, however with a new flair. I have substituted the Shamrock with the Rose/Shamrock that I have used for so long. This helps bring things together and indicates the new generation.
All DAN-D Models are being made by myself.
All the DAN-D models are being made along with a few designs of mine. They are being made with the skills my Father taught me over the years from his patterns and with his permission to carry on the family tradition.
http://www.thewildirishrose.com



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