10 Tips When Buying a Custom Made Knife April 25 2014, 0 Comments

So, you are going to fulfil yourself a dream, you’re getting the knife of your dreams. It has to be custom built, so it will be a one of a kind and handmade. Handmade is not always custom made as for your custom made knife you will tell the maker what you want as in handmade mostly the maker makes a small series of knives which are his design.

What to consider before contracting the custom made knife you dream of.

Get to know the maker.
  • This can easily be done via email communication, phone, etc. you so do not have to make a trip of several 1000’s on km to visit him. Facebook, webpage, forum, etc. will give you a lot of information whom to choose. Make sure the maker is not one who is buying the pre-made blades from some suppliers, ask him about his heat treatment of the blades, how he designs the knife, what steel he uses etc.
Decide what you want
  • Know what you want, in general. Have an idea how your knife shall look, its desired features, how you intend to use it. Make a sketch, drawing, design, etc. find a similar model, get pictures of similar knives, get some idea about your handle material, your intended way to carry your knife. The WWW is full of information and ideas. It is your knife and so it shall be built as you like it! Do you want a Hamon on your CS knife?
Decide on the knife details
  • Decide the details of your knife, the kind of bevel you want, hollow grind, flat grind, scandi grind etc. What kind of blade you want, skinner, drop point, straight back, false edge, dagger style, Bowie style etc. Decide if you want file-work or ornamentation on the back of the blade. Do you want a hidden tang, full tang, tapered tang, hidden pins/rivets, bolts or Mosaic pins? All this is important to the maker and he will be able to give your advise there and again the do’s and do not’s. You have to tell him what you want, if not he will decide and you have to life with it. check out http://www.terrierblades.com/blogs/custom-made-knives/16013383-custom-knife-knife-design
Select your steel
  • Choosing the steel; ask for help and information as you probably are not a metallurgist. Your maker should be able to answer your questions!!! and give you advise what kind of steel not to choose according to your intended use. He might also have some ideas & experience on what not or what to design into your knife to make it functional and safe.
What handle material do you require
  • Choose your handle material. This can be very important if you go for exotics like fossil Mammoth Ivory, Oosik, tooth, corral, pearl etc. Ask about the need for stabilizing the handle material. Decide if you want different materials for the guard and/or pommel like brass, nickel silver, Mokume etc. Here you should also discuss the kind of sheath or carrying method if any and finalize it.
Request a design
  • Ask your maker to present you with a design. This can be a handmade sketch to dimension, but the modern maker should be able to present you a CAD drawing so you get a good idea how it looks. This is the step where you should give your final input after all questions about steel, handle material, etc. are discussed and determined.
Overview the offer and fix the price
  • Now is the time to get the final offer and decide on a fixed price for the order you are placing. If you want very expensive materials like Damascus steel and ivory, ask for details in the pricing. Ask for an estimated time frame, some makers have a huge back-lock. You should be able to ask specifics about the steel and manufacturers certificates in case of exotic materials.
Perhaps get a model first
  • If you are not sure about the design ask the maker to make a model, wood or some plastic will do fine for that. You will have to pay for this, but that is minor compared to have a knife of several 100’s of $$$ made and you are not happy, it does not fit your hand, is top heavy, unwieldy, etc.
Get involved
  • Be involved in the making, ask for pictures about the progress and the different steps in the making, the adhesive/glue he uses (only high grade 2 component epoxy for proper bonding, no Gorilla Glue etc). Follow the process and do not be surprised if it takes a couple/few weeks.
What personalisation do you want
  • Decide how you want to have your custom knife personalized, crest, name, scrimshaw, engraving etc. These are usually done by somebody else (apply the same kind of screening process you did for the maker!) than the maker as this usually is not his field of expertise, he makes knives but is not an engraver or scrimshaw master. This will usually take some time too, expect several weeks for ornamental engraving, silver or gold inlays, gem stones, etc. And after you went through all this trouble, do not expect the knife to be cheap. Quality Damascus steel can easily cost $ 100 – 300 for a knife; this is not the cheap $20 Damascus steel from Pakistan etc. Even high grade powder metallurgical steel, Elmax, VG 10, ZDP, Cowry, etc. can cost as much as a factory made production knife, + $50 and more. If the maker tells you he can’t make this kind of a special knife in a couple of hours he is just honest. Some knives might take up to 20h of real making time spread over 3-4 weeks, very special knives even lots more than that, special inlays and engravings come on top. And finally you will hold the ‘Knife of Dreams’ in your hands and you can proudly say that you were part of it.

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