OUR HISTORY

The IRBI knife shop opened in July 1971 under the name “Kenai Lake Tourist Trap,” after founder Irvin Campbell taught himself how to make knives while working on the Discovery oil well in Prudhoe Bay. He crafted his first knives from worn-out hand tools and copper tubing.

 

Not long after opening the shop, Irvin’s knives started selling better than the knick-knacks he stocked, and he began making knives on a full-time basis.  It wasn’t long before Irvin and his wife, Clara Campbell, ran out of reliable craftsmen to make their knife sheaths. So Clara had to learn the craft herself, making thousands of sheaths in the following years.

 

In November 1990, Virgil and Dawn bought the business from Irvin and Clara after learning the knife and sheath making trades during the previous three years.  Hunter, the third generation of IRBI Knife makers, started learning the trade in 2005. 

 

Sadly, Clara passed away in 1990, and Irvin passed away in 2006. However, their legacy lives on through their works and the works of Virgil, Dawn, and Hunter.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Three generations of knife makers

Three generations of knife makers

First generation IRBI Knife

First generation IRBI Knife

Irvin Campbell, 1919-2006

Irvin Campbell, 1919-2006

Clara Campbell circa 1987

Clara Campbell circa 1987

Irvin and Clara Campbell 1980

Irvin and Clara Campbell 1980

Sheathes by Clara Campbell, Engraving by Clara Elge

Sheathes by Clara Campbell, Engraving by Clara Elge

Photo by Schultz 1981 13 - show room

Photo by Schultz 1981 13 - show room

Photo by Schultz 1981 12 bowie knives

Photo by Schultz 1981 12 bowie knives

Photo by Schultz 1981 12 - novelty knife

Photo by Schultz 1981 12 - novelty knife

Photo by Schultz 1981 11 - three beauties

Photo by Schultz 1981 11 - three beauties

Photo by Schultz 1981 10 - finished knives

Photo by Schultz 1981 10 - finished knives

Photo by Schultz 1981 9 - sharpening

Photo by Schultz 1981 9 - sharpening

Photo by Schultz 1981 8 - buffing and polishing

Photo by Schultz 1981 8 - buffing and polishing

Photo by Schultz 1981 7 grinding the blade

Photo by Schultz 1981 7 grinding the blade

Photo by Schultz 1981 6 tempering in seal oil

Photo by Schultz 1981 6 tempering in seal oil

Photo by Schultz 1981 5 braising

Photo by Schultz 1981 5 braising

Photo by Schultz 1981 4 making the butt cap

Photo by Schultz 1981 4 making the butt cap

Photo by Schultz 1981 3

Photo by Schultz 1981 3

Photo by Schultz 1981 2

Photo by Schultz 1981 2

Photo by Schultz 1981

Photo by Schultz 1981

Photo by Beam - grinding 1989

Photo by Beam - grinding 1989

Irvin Campbell & his youngest son, Virgil. Photo by L. Beam 1989

Irvin Campbell & his youngest son, Virgil. Photo by L. Beam 1989

In March 2015, we were featured in a video called "I Run a Custom Knife Shop" in Alaska Public Media's INDIE ALASKA web series.

We've been the focus of several articles in the Seward Phoenix Log: over the years too:

IRBI Knives

27546 Seward Hwy
Seward, AK 99664 USA
(907) 288-3616
irbiknife@gmail.com
I'd Rather Be Independent

HOURS

Usually
7 days a week
10 am - 5 pm
Alaska Time