By GINA CLEAR, The News-Enterprise
RADCLIFF, Ky. (AP) — It was no small feat and now a local landmark is part of the Guinness Book of World Records.
What started as a sharp idea in 2017 has turned into a crowning moment for Red Hill Cutlery and its owners, Lonnie, Jason and Josh Basham.
The company has received confirmation that it does indeed own the world’s largest pocketknife at 34 feet, 6 inches. The business will hold a formal celebration next week.
“It means a lot for us,” Jason said. “It gives us an identity that sets us apart from any other knife store of its kind. No other knife store can boast that they have something like this.”
“It puts Radcliff on the map,” Josh said.
The idea started when the family began building a new location for Red Hill Cutlery and its American Pocketknife Museum off Joe Prather Highway in Radcliff.
“It started with just talking,” Lonnie said. “Jason was thinking of a way to bring people into the Radcliff area and into our store.”
Lonnie said ideas were tossed around, but then moved to a discussion about the world’s largest rocking chair until Jason suggested something more in line with their products.
“Jason said, ‘Why don’t we do the world’s largest pocketknife?’ ” Lonnie said. “I said, ‘Yeah, right. Sure, we can do that. Do you know how much that would cost?’ ”
Jason got the OK if he could find organizations to invest in the project.
With help from Radcliff/Fort Knox Tourism Commission and W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co., the $40,000 project soon was underway.
“It was a pretty big job doing it. It was quite a challenge,” Lonnie said. “I didn’t think it would be that much of a big deal until we got into it.”
Gathering inspiration from a Barlow pattern pocketknife in Lonnie’s personal collection, the Bashams were given permission by Case to use the classic design and enlarge it to scale for the project.
Josh said the pattern has been interwoven with American history dating back to the 1600s.
“The Barlow goes back to Huckleberry Finn,” he said. “You can go back in history and the Barlow was one of the most notorious knives carried by U.S. presidents.”
The world’s largest pocketknife, which can be found on tourism apps including Roadside Attractions, is held open by a single pin, Lonnie said.
“We could pull out that one pin and it would close, but it would take a crane to do it because it’s so heavy,” Lonnie said.
The family worked with Modern Welding in Elizabethtown to construct the 1,500-pound blade, Lonnie said.
While they thought about making the handle from wood, Lonnie said he had concerns about weathering and the family opted to use steel that was custom painted.
The handle’s paint job was modeled after Lonnie’s knife that is on display in the museum.
The family recently received official certification from Guinness verifying the massive working pocketknife which sits upon a 20-foot long pedestal is the world’s largest. A community event acknowledging the Guinness recognition is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 13 with officials from Case on hand.
The acknowledgement was years in the making, Jason said.
“It took a couple years to raise the money to be able to fund it and get it built,” he said. “Then it took another year and a half for Guinness to come down and do the measurements and check all the boxes they needed to approve it. It was a three- or four-year ordeal to finally get it done.”
The certificate acknowledges Red Hill Cutlery and Jason for the accomplishment.
“He deserves to be on it,” Josh said. “We all had a part in it, but he was the spearhead of it. He wouldn’t back down or give up on it.”
Since the day it was installed, the knife has been a tourist draw.
“For the knife collector, it gives them a destination to come to,” Jason said. “For the city of Radcliff and their shift to tourism … it gives people a reason to come visit Radcliff and pull off Interstate 65.”
Josh said the knife continues to show up on social media and he believes tourists from all 50 states have been identified.
“It’s been tremendous,” Lonnie said. “You wouldn’t believe the sales and just people coming to take pictures. I’ve been up there at night sometimes working inside when the store is closed and people pull in to take a picture with their family in front of it.”
Lonnie said he continues to be amazed at what his sons develop from knife designs to the world’s largest pocketknife.
“I didn’t think they could get it done, that’s why I said just go ahead and get the money and we’ll do it,” he said. “I thought, ‘They’ll never do that.’ ”
Lonnie said he never has been more proud to be made a fool.
“I just wonder what they’re coming up with next,” he said. “That’s what I’m worried about.”