Tony over at Everydaycommentary.com poses the question.
I think there will be a number of reasons and they will vary slightly from maker to maker, but I’ll throw a few guesses out there:
Personal Interest – A production knife is made by machines that don’t worry about getting bored. Creative custom knife makers want to stay interested in the work that they do. Maybe they want to change up their work while still keeping with the overall design they like.
Market – Makers will make what people are buying and what will make them money. Whether or not people want to admit it, money is a huge motivator. When you know people collect and buy art knives, it’s easy to head in that direction. It’s a safer route than completely new designs.
Any other ideas?
I recently received a set of reground Spyderco knives from Tom Krein. The Delica is a ZDP-189 blade and started out as a full-flat ground blade. I then had Tom regrind it to an even thinner full-flat grind. My first question before all of this was what is the difference between a factory FFG and Tom Krein’s aftermarket FFG? Tom grinds the blades so that the thickness directly behind the sharpened area is about a quarter of the thickness of the factory blade.
According to Tom:
Most of the FFG’s from spyderco are still between .020″-.030″ just behind the sharpened area. I take them down to around .008″ plus or minus .003″. It does make a difference.
Here are a few pics:
While technically a custom presentation tomahawk and not a “Tactical Tomahawk”, I’ll throw it into the same category because it comes from the amazing guys at RMJ Forge:
This tomahawk was also the result of a commission by 5.11 Tactical for Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics.
According to Military Times Gearscout, this amazing work of art was made from 400 layers of 1095 and A203E steels and has a fire hardened white oak shaft.
Feast your eyes, but don’t expect to get one of your own any time soon. This was a one-off custom tomahawk.
The amazing photos are from Steve Bell
The RMJ Forge Berserker is a custom(non-production) tomahawk made by RMJ Forge for 5.11 Tactical. It was commissioned by 5.11 for Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics.
According to Military Times Gearscout:
The Berserker is made from differentially heat treated 4140 steel. The handles are 3D machined micarta, laced with 2mm accessory cord and laser engraved with Viking runes. RMJ plans on adding the Berserker to their product lineup, though the specs may change a bit.
I love Tactical Tomahawks because of the amazing fusion of things both old and new and the Berserker is a perfect example!
If you want to see it in production soon, be sure to let the guys at RMJ Forge know…
The awesome photos were taken by Steve Bell
Apparently this is a prototype Warhammer from RMJ Forge. I love the simple destructive brutality of the “War Hammer.” I’ll try to get some photos up of the Marsh Titanium WarHammers later.All I have to offer you is this extremely cool photo from the Military Times GearScout Blog.
For my first project, I decided to use a Kabar TDI(Small) Training knife. Nothing I would cry over if just ended up with ugly gouges.
First, I measured and marked off the sides with a pencil:
Then I carefully marked a small notch on each pencil mark with a file:
Then I made the notches bigger:
I slowly enlarged the notches and smoothed them out until I ended up with this:
Here are the tools of the trade:
Of the six files, I only ended up using three. I started and opened each notch with the triangular shaped file, I rounded it up with the circular file, and I widened and smoothed it up further with the half-circle file.
To say that I was pleased with the results would be an understatement, but it was definitely a learning experience. Marking properly and starting each notch slowly and evenly is very important. It’s no fun trying to shift the notch once you have already started.
This took about an hour, but I’m sure I could cut down the time with fewer mistakes.
Next time, I’ll leave a little more space between the notches and try some more little embellishments.
Thanks for looking!
There are times when a knife or a camp axe is just inadequate for field use or defense. I have been searching for a tool that could be used as a camp axe and as a defensive weapon for quite sometime and I decided to go with the SOG Fusion Tactical Tomahawk.
- Blade Length – 2.75″ x .26″
- Overall Length – 15.75″
- Weight – 24 oz.
- Edge – Straight
- Steel – 420
- HRC – 51-53
- Handle – Fiberglass/Nylon
- Finish – Hardcased Black
- Sheath – Nylon
- Country of Origin – China
The SOG Tomahawk incorporates the best of both worlds from a multi purpose tool in the field to an effective weapon for self defense. When I ordered it I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I had no idea that it would be perfect for nearly any task I could call upon it to do.
Once the box arrived and I unboxed it I was impresed at it’s size and weight for something relatively inexpensive…and when I say this I do not mean cheap. It’s made for hard use from top to bottom. The blade of the cutting side is very sharp out of the box but not sharp enough for my taste. I used my Spyderco Sharpmaker to put a wicked razors edge on it. This thing will shave with ease.
The opposite side of the blade is a spike. This is great for breaking glass or to breach doors or as a weapon. The whole thing is very well designed from the composite handle to the reinforcing near the head to prevent breakage under extreme use. I plan to use it mainly as a multi use tool in the field but also as a weapon. It’s perfect for throwing and is light enough to move lightning fast and yet have enough mass to get a good bite on anything it may encounter. I am still evaluating the SOG Fusion Tactical Tomahawk. and plan to torture test it to it’s limit. For under $50 delivered it’s a deal that can’t be beat.
Thanks to James White of Ammosmith.com for this guest post.
Strider knives are know for bulletproof knives that can handle insane abuse. The Strider Hatchet was built in the same vein as their other tools: Sturdy and bombproof. This heavy-duty hatchet is more of a breaching tool than a fighting tomahawk style weapon.
Here are the specs on the Strider Hatchet XL(pictured above)according to the Strider website:
- .250″ Black Oxide Coated S7
- 550 Cord Wrapped Handle
- 16.65″ OAL
- 5.86″ Head
- 4″ Edge
- 2lb 3oz
- Kydex Edge Guard
The more common Strider Hatched (non-XL) is shorter and doesn’t seem to be in production currently. Here are some specs from the Regular Strider Hatchet:
- Blade Head Width: 5 1/2″
- Cutting Edge: 2 1/2″ Serrated bevel
- Overall Length: 12 5/8″
- Blade Steel: Crucible S-7- Black Coated
- Handle Material: Tan Paracord
- Sheath Description: Kydex Head Cover
All the Strider Hatchets were made from S7 tool steel and feature a Chisel ground primary cutting edge and a sharpened beard.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find an inexpensive way to store and protect your knives in an organized fashion.
I have found that pistol magazine storage pouches work extremely well. The storage pouch you see in these photos was purchased from MidwayUSA for ~$23 and has 8 pouches.
In these photos, you are looking at a Kershaw Blur, a SanRenMu 763, a Benchmade Mini Griptilian, a Spyderco Catcherman, and a Spyderco Endura 4. These should give you an idea of what will fit and what won’t. The storage pouch was designed for double-stack pistol magazines up to 5.5″ long.
There are other models for longer knives(or magazines). For fat knives, I would recommend a pouch designed for AR magazines.
Yes, there are other magazine pouches that may work, but I recommend the California Competiton Works pouches. The stitching has held up to my carrying them on road trips across the country, numerous range visits, and general rough handling. These pouches are often carried with a full load of full magazines. With my XDm9 mags, that means >150 rounds. Not an insignificant load.
California Competition Works has a website, but it is extremely difficult to navigate and doesn’t have as many photos as the MidwayUSA site. The prices are pretty much the same in either place.
Here is a link to the specific model photographed here.
The Jeremy Krammes Shortcut is another highly regarded small custom folding knife with numerous options. The Shortcut has four distinctive pinholes at the top of the blade following the spine. The blade is a simple drop-point with a spine swedge. Here are the general specificatons:
- Overall Length(Open): 4 5/8″
- Length Closed: 2 5/8″
- Blade Length: 2″
- Liners: Titanium
- Handle: Carbon Fiber, G10, Titanium, ask
- Opening Device: Thumbhole
- Weight: ~2.3 oz.
- Clip: Tip Up Carry
Here are some photos of the Shortcut from his website:
Visit http://jkknives-shortcut.blogspot.com for contact and ordering information for the Jeremy Krammes Shortcut.
The Eric Ochs Otter Folder fits right in the size range that we are looking at. As you will see in the photos, the options are limitless, but here are the general specifications:
- Blade Length: 2 5/8″
- Blade Thickness: 5/32″
- Blade Grind: Flat ground with swedge
- Length While Closed: 3 7/8″
- Overall Length(Open): 6 1/2″
- Blade Steel: S30V
- Handle: Green, G10, Wood, Titanium, Carbon Fiber
- Weight: ~4.2 oz.
- Opening Device: Spyderco Hole or Hinderer Lockbar Stabilizer
- Clip: Tip Up Carry
- Locking Mechanism: Liner or Framelock with all lock faces carbidized
So lets see what it looks like:
According to his webpage for the Eric Ochs Otter Folder, the base price is $385.
The following options are listed with instructions to call about other options:
- Framelock $20 or Full TI $35
- Bolsters $35 & up
- Wood, bone or Carbon Fiber handles $20 & up
- Hand rub blade finish $20
Since the Brad Southard Downing is a custom knife, there are no real constraints for materials. Here are some general specifications:
- Blade Length: 2 1/8″
- Clip: Tip Up Carry
- Length while Closed: 3 1/8″
- Handle: Titanium / G10 / Carbon Fiber
- Overall Length (Open): 5 1/4″
- Opening Device: Thumb Hole
- Titanium Framelock
- Weight: ~2 oz
- Backspacer: Optional Glow in the Dark
- Blade Steels: Cryo-treated CPM-154, CPM-S30V
- Blade Finishes: Satin/Stonewash Combo, Bead-blasted, Hand-Rubbed
- Blade Shapes: Drop-Point, Hawkbill
Now, let’s get to everyone’s favorite part. The photos:
According to Brad Southard’s page on the Arizona Custom Knives website:
“Since my grandfather first gave me a knife at the age of 8 I’ve been hooked. The love grew from there and I’ve constantly searched for and sought after the best. When my love of woodworking led me to make my own chisels and hand planes, the step to knives was an obvious choice.
While studying Industrial Design in college I learned to machine, and quickly learned all I could about metal working and tried my hand at knives. What started as a hobby and pastime quickly began to pay for my tuition, and before I knew it, it was my main source of income. I made knives part time for quite a while but in 2009 was forced to go full time. I say forced, but it was a welcome move, although a hard one.
Every day I go to my shop and spend a few minutes sketching and drawing, hoping to see if a great new design appears. For every couple hundred sketches I get one or two worth developing farther. My constant goal with design and knives is the age old adage “Form follows function”. The comfort and usability of the blade comes long before how the knife looks, but when a good design comes together you can end up with a beautiful knife that functions well, and you just cant put it down. That’s what I strive for.”
Brad Southard is a relatively new knife maker out of Tucson, Arizona who is building a stellar reputation in the custom knife community. Brad’s order book is currently closed, but you can still find his work through custom knife dealers and collaboration projects(i.e. Triple Aught Design, Liong Mah, etc.)
Special Thanks for the photos to:
I received an email from a friend with a heartwarming story about the kindness of Cold Steel Knives:
Our daughter, Kristen, already has her first knife. I took a picture of her in my cold steel hat and put it on twitter. The media guy of cold steel showed it to the CEO of cold steel and the picture made him laugh. He told them to get my address and they sent her a knife with her name engraved upon it.
Good on Cold Steel Knives!
Here is some amazing work that was done on the scales of two Rick Hinderer XM Series Knives. These titanium scales were machined, then blasted for a beautiful finish:
The work was done by Barry H. You can see more of his work here:
After hearing about all the gadget trade-in programs with major retailers, I wonder if there are any similar programs in the knife world?
I’m sure there are tons of lightly used knives that people would love to trade for quick cash. Not everyone feels like doing price research and taking the time to post them on ebay or various forums. Is anyone doing this already?
This time we have some beautiful wood scales on a smaller knife: The Spyderco Dragonfly
The wood is Hawaiian Koa:
The work was done by the Custom Scale Division in Europe.
Good prices on the Spyderco Dragonfly.
More fantastic Spyderco customization work from Roman at CustomSpyderco.com:
Handle: Cocobolo Rosewood
Back Spacer: Titanium
According to their website, work like this would cost ~$370 USD depending on the specific wood.
I’m sure we will be covering more of his work in the future…
Here are some good prices on the Spyderco Endura
I know that the vast majority of knife owners never even contemplate sharpening their knife, much less changing parts, customizing, or modifying it, but there is still a group of passionate knife owners that want to take their production knives to the next level.
Any knife enthusiasts who has been doing this for any length of time is bound to have a drawer or box full of spare parts. Extra scales, screws, blades, etc. from parts knives. For some of us, that pile of parts represents a significant monetary investment.
Maybe this is just a pipe dream, but I would love to see more production knife manufacturers offer individual knife parts for sale. I can’t offer any hard numbers to convince them that they would make any money in this endeavor, but I can say with certainty that it would foster a great deal of goodwill amongst their most passionate customers. Can you really put a price on that?
My wife sketched my Spyderco Endura 4 and I thought I would share:
Good prices on Spyderco Endura line can be found here.
DPx Gear Danger Tag with Breakaway Blade DPX gear is the brainchild of world traveler and über adventurer, Robert Young Pelton. The DPx Danger Cards are in stock and ready for immediate shipment. It’s a pretty simple yet innovative design by the folks at DPx Gear. The card/tag has perforated edges on the back that [...]