Chickamauga man uses artisan skills to craft wood burning portraits, knives, and bowls

Showing his wood burning process. Image by WTVC

David Bolt says he's been a machinist and a teacher all his life constantly staying busy.

"I was always playing with something in my hands, doing things," says David.

Since his retirement, he say's he didn't want that to stop that sense of business.

"From the time my feet hit the floor in the morning to the time my head hits the pillow at night, I have got to be doing something."

So he began creating.

Getting his inspiration from the nature around him, he's mastered skills like knife making and wood burning.

"Well I spend 30 to 40 or 50 hours on one of my burns," says David.

David says staying busy isn't a problem.

With each project he creates, David says he sees the final outcome even before he creates it.

"You have to know exactly what you're going to do and exactly how you're going to fabricate it otherwise you can't start."

A lot of his work involves using wood, like the box pictured below. He took a piece of wood badly eaten by termites, and turned it into this creation of art.

"I put this termite wood around the edges of the box and in the lid and it really is just unusual," says David.

He also uses a lot of mammoth ivory to place different items such as earrings and the handles of his knives.

David says that among the many things he creates from scratch, one of his favorites is knife making.

To start a knife, he finds the right blade. "I only use stainless steel," he says.

Cutting, shaping and sharpening each one to the perfect edge, eventually putting them on display to show their shine.

David says these knives not only give him pride in his work, but also a flashback to when he was a kid.

"When I was just a boy, I got a knife. That was your first kind of treasures," says David.

He's now able to take the thing he's treasured most and turn it something people can keep for a lifetime - creating not only knives like this, but also smiles on customers' faces.

"It's just a thrilling experience to have people get that excited about something that I've made for them," says David.

To order, contact David Bolt at (423)-402-7976 or

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off