10 year old Leila Haddad makes knives for the knife show. Photo: Elesa Lee
LEILA Haddad likes reading and wearing dresses but she also makes a mean hunting knife.
While other 10-year-olds are playing with skipping ropes, this petite girl drives a 30-tonne hydraulic steel press, and makes it look as easy as shutting the door on a dollhouse.
''All my knives are like me, small and useful,'' she said. ''Good things come in small packages.''
The primary schoolgirl's knives, some with 190 layers of steel she forged herself, come with butterfly and raindrop patterns. Buy a blade from Leila, a third-generation knife maker, and it may set you back $250.
''Leila's been making knives since she was five,'' said her father, Karim, 42. ''She's keen - she wants to run the 8000 degree torch but she's not old enough.''
There's a saying that knife makers don't make mistakes, only smaller knives, and Leila has her own collection of tiny knives where the steel has come away at the wrong moment.
But she has learnt fast and enjoys making something useful other people appreciate.
Often her handles, made from New Guinea ebony or brass, are made to fit the hand of the customer.
One man who bought a knife from the Haddads needed a knife he could use with his hand that had only three fingers.
A knife show on Sunday at Tharwa Community Hall from 10am to 3pm will showcase work from numerous craftsmen, most of whom have day jobs.
Among the exhibits will be mediaeval armour from Canberra's David Clarke.