Custom and Handmade Knives March 10 2015, 0 Comments

There is a lot of confusion about the quality and cost of a custom made or handmade knife.

Custom made means the knife has been designed and built according to the individual wishes of the customer. Normally it will be unique and handmade. For further information about custom made knives, look at our article, "10 tips for ordering your custom made knife". A custom made knife will cost more due to the design process and time required to deliver a unique design. 

If a knife is advertised just as handmade then this normally means the knife has been made in small numbers. They are usually known as small series or small edition knives and are designed by the knife maker. Handmade is usually more affordable because the knife maker will make a small series of knives.  

Mass produced knives are made by machine. Suppliers have the advantage of stronger buying power for all the materials required. Exotic steels like Damasteel or hand forged Damascus and good quality fossil mammoth ivory scales command a premium price. 

So, how do you work out whether you can afford a handmade knife?

A rule of thumb with a lot of knife makers is that you will spend (for a knife made out of quality stainless steel) ~ $ 60 – $70 for materials and ~ $ 20 – $40 for tools, belts etc.

The individual shop rate is hard to judge as this depends on the knife maker, but $40 – $55 per hour is a reasonable estimate. This covers machinery maintenance, power and a little for the knife maker himself. I would assume 7 to 8 hours for each knife and $80 for materials. You are quickly up to over $325.

If you compare the cost to a limited edition knife from Buck or Boker with sheep horn handle and some fancy mosaic pins, mirror polished blade etc. in the price range of $ 290 – $390 then you are not far off from a handmade knife. And these big outfits won’t make you a custom made knife.

Is a handmade knife better?

Normally a handmade knife will have a better finish than a mass production knife. Overall the knife will be higher quality and it is sometimes nice to know you own something handmade and unusual. For many knife owners it shows an appreciation for the knife maker’s art and his workmanship.