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24
SEP
2022

Knife Shows – Make the Most of Your Time and Money

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Knife Shows: Make the Most of Your Time and Money

By Les Robertson

 

There are numerous custom knife shows across America. There are big shows like the Atlanta Blade Show and many smaller regional shows. They all have one thing in common, custom knives. Custom knife makers bring knives featuring different styles, materials, and prices. Whether the show is small or big, you can give yourself an advantage by researching the makers before you attend the show. 

 

Pre-Show:

Today even smaller shows have a website or a social media page providing you with an exhibitor list. Often there is a link to the maker’s website or social media page. Utilizing this list, you will know which makers will attend and possibly which knives they plan to bring. In addition, you can contact the maker and ask questions about their knives before the show. Doing so can help you decide if you are interested in this maker’s work. While this strategy works for smaller shows, I find it essential for larger knife shows. 

 

Who, where, and what:

The exhibitor list will help you identify who will be at the show. Most show websites will also give you their location in the knife show. I go through the exhibitor list and create my list of which makers I want to see. Clicking on the website next to their name allows me more time to look at their work. What I learn about the maker and their knives may move them up or down on my priority list. 

 

There will be some makers that may not be familiar to you. Clicking on their website will introduce you to the maker and their work. You are possibly adding to the list of makers whose work you would like to see. Or removing makers from your list as you have no interest in their style of knives.

 

Possibly as important as who; where will keep you from wandering the show looking for a particular maker. Once you have identified whose knives you want to see, you can list where these makers are in the front and combine this with your list of who you want to see. It can save you hours of wandering the show. 

 

What about the knives? It is the main reason you are at the custom knife show. Knowing what the makers are bringing and hoping to finish for the show is beneficial. This will allow you to move the maker up or down your priority list.  

 

Often makers will post what they plan on bringing to the show on social media and their website. If there is a maker you are particularly interested in, I highly recommend you seek out photos of the knives they will be bringing to Blade. You can locate many of the knives the makers intend to bring on the more popular social media sites. I believe you will find that it is to your benefit. On these social media sites, pricing may be missing. There is nothing wrong with asking the maker the price of the knife. 

 

Time and Money:

Although a show like the Blade show is three days long. You will be amazed at how quickly the time slips away. The same can be said for your money, as that will move quickly from one hand to another. To help you with time and money, I suggest you find pricing before the show from the makers that interests you. Unfortunately, too many makers are guessing at their prices or asking well-intentioned fellow makers for pricing guidance. These pricing methods do not benefit you as a collector. However, doing so may help you prioritize the makers on your list. 

 

Pricing:

Several factors can go into pricing. Doing research ahead of time can give you an insight into a particular market sector and that maker’s position in it. Research can help you to develop a sense of fair pricing for custom knives with certain materials. Having this information can save you time and money. It allows you to focus on makers who provide you with the best price and the potential for your new knife to hold its value. 

 

Opportunities Abound:

Custom knife shows offer opportunities to handle knives from past, present, and future legends. You can also meet makers who reside outside the United States. Whose work you would most likely not have a chance to handle. Please take the opportunity to meet the maker and handle their knives; you don’t usually get the opportunity to do so. It is a great learning tool to see how makers worldwide make their knives. 

 

If you plan to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire a

knife through a lottery. Be sure to know where and what time the lottery is. Generally, a ticket or one-half of a playing card must be in the lottery. Be sure to get there early enough to secure one of these. 

 

A Few More Tips:

Check the exhibitor list before the show opens and plan who you want to see. Have a pen and something to write on. It would help if you planned to take photos of the knives that interest you. This information could help with decision-making during and after the show. Have a map, so you know how to find the maker’s location. Then, get the knife or knife you want. I found doing this increases the enjoyment and decreases the stress of the show. 

 

Learn about us.

 

 

24
AUG
2022

Custom Knives: Collectible, Investments, or Just For Fun (part 2)

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continued from part 1

Mike Malosh forged Scagel style Skinning Knife Stag

Mike Malosh Forged Scagel style Skinning Knife with Stag $375.00

Custom knives are comprised of two large market sectors; fixed blades and folders. These move in cycles as smaller market sectors cycle within the larger market sectors. Before the internet, this could last a decade or more.  Today the cycles are there, but the knives in the smaller market sectors move in and out of favor much quicker. Within those cycles are even smaller sectors. They are the trends that can last anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. As I discussed earlier the matrix gave me insight into the pricing of custom knives. Let’s be honest, if you had the choice between two knives of equal quality and materials from makers of equal skill and reputation; you would more often than not buy the less expensive one.

The issue of buying what you like nagged at me as I knew from my own experience it would cost you money in the long run. This made no sense to me before I created my matrix and even less sense to me after. Given there are thousands of knives available worldwide at any given time, why would you buy a knife for your collection knowing when you sell it you would lose money? Conversely, the question then has to be asked why a maker would price their knives knowing that they won’t sell for that price.  In a business, environment pricing is not arbitrary.  An example of a basic pricing formula would include such costs as (material, shop time, etc.) + Labor + business costs (marketing, printing, etc.) + profit = price.  Other costs can be added or subtracted.  After talking with hundreds of knife makers I found few if any used any kind of formula. More times than not a fellow knifemaker helped them price their knives.   From a maker’s perspective that can make sense.  The advising maker has been around for a few years, makes a similar knife, and has a feel for the market. For you makers reading this, take heed to the lesson in the next paragraph.

Matias Funes forged Koa Hunter custom knife ABS Apprentice Smith Argentina.

Matias Funes forged Koa Hunter ABS Apprentice Smith from Argentina. $350.00

At the 1991 Knifemakers Guild show, I was standing at a very well-known maker’s table.  A new maker approached him and asked him to look at his knife and give him his opinion. The well-known maker looked the knife over and asked the new maker what he sold this for.  The new maker replied, “$210.00.” The well-known maker smiled and said, “you should be asking $325 for a knife this nice.”  The new maker beamed, thanked the well-known maker and went back to his table.  He promptly raised the price of his knife by 55% based on nothing more than his fellow makers’ suggestion.

In a few minutes, a customer approached the well-known maker’s table and asked about the $375 price tag on one of his knives.  The potential customer indicated he felt the price was a little high.  The well-known maker was quick to point out that his knives are a bargain at that price.  Pointing down the row to the new maker he was just talking to.  The well-known maker replied, “See that young man down there, he has only been making knives for 2 years. He has a similar knife to the one in your hand  and his price is $325.00.”

To say I was stunned is putting it mildly.  While you may not feel that your fellow makers are your competitor, the fact is that he or she is. You don’t ask your competitors to price your knives.  A custom knife maker should know their position in any given market.  If they don’t, it is incumbent on the collector to know.  This will keep you from overpaying for a knife.

As we all know or have at least heard, the value of anything is determined by what someone will pay for it.  This concept is exactly what can and often does skew the pricing for one maker or even an entire market.  There are buyers where the retail price does not matter. They will spend what it takes to get the knife often bordering on the absurd.  This is particularly true of the bid-up knives that have become “the show within a show” at knife shows around the world.  As the identity of the individual(s) become known and they buy more of a particular style of knife or maker they are sought out by sellers.  The ‘flips” begin and the “bubble” starts; more on this later.

Stephan Fowler ABS Journeyman Smith Forged 4-Bar Twist Damascus Bowie Rosewood

Stephan Fowler Custom Forged 4 Bar Twist Damascus Bowie with Rosewood ABS Journeyman Smith $899.00

Investing in custom knives does not have to be about getting enough Return On Investment (ROI) to pay for a child’s college education or a beach house.  For those of you who do invest you probably understand that seldom if ever you make enough off of one stock to accomplish the aforementioned goals.  I would suggest you invest in custom knives at an entry level. For this discussion, we shall compare investing in custom knives to the Certificate of Deposit (CD) offered by your bank.  As of this writing, my bank was paying 0.01% APY for a $2,500 minimum opening deposit for six months. Should you cash in that CD after one year you would receive $2,525.00.

Given the cost of a college education today or a beach house; doing the basic math on the equation above shows us that investing in CDs is not the way to go either.  Applying the same 0.01% to a custom knife you purchased for investment purchase  you bought a $500 knife and sold it for $505.00 you would get the same return as you would on a 6-month CD from your bank.  I don’t know about your bank, but mine does not have a 6-month CD with a minimum deposit of $500.00.  No, I am not taking into account shipping costs.  Just as I am not deducting the capital gains tax on your $25 profit from the bank. Being an investor can take a little spontaneity out of your knife buying/collecting.

Scot Matsuoka Viper Custom Titanium Tactical Folder

Scot Matsuoka Viper Titanium Tactical Folder Excellent Lock-up! $499.00

By this point, you understand that the custom knife market moves in cycles.  In the mid-1980s a new knife sector captured the collective imagination of the custom knife market. This knife was called the interframe folder.  Some of you may have never seen one or even heard of this type of knife.  A 440C blade, the frame was two stainless steel scales and generally a lock back.  In the scale or scales, a pocket was milled out and an inlay was put into this pocket.  Generally, Elephant Ivory, Abalone, or some type of Pearl was the inlay. The knives were clean, unique, and filled your hand with some heft and the collectors couldn’t get enough. It wasn’t long before the collectors wanted something a little different so embellishments were offered.  Engraving, gold inlay, and even gemstone inlays became available. This added to the delivery delay and increasing the demand.  The ever-increasing aftermarket prices were being paid by collectors in Japan.  As it happens this country’s economy suffered a significant downturn. The knives found their way back to dealers in the United States. The knives were sold again in the aftermarket with the buyers unaware that the bubble had burst. Leaving the owners with very expensive knives that would never return their initial investment.  The same can be said for the tactical folder of 2010 – 2018.  It was all about the name and the demand.  Many of these knives were poorly made.  They were sold almost entirely by the hype in the aftermarket.

Greg Keith ABS Journeyman Smith forged Ladder pattern Damascus Bowie

Greg Keith Forged Ladder Pattern Damascus Bowie ABS Journeyman Smith $1,250.00

Today in mid-2022 as you read this, many of you have no doubt been watching the upward spiral of forged blades in the custom knife market. This is due to exposure to forged blades on TV and fact that the work is done by one person and primarily by hand.  The forged knives seem more than fairly priced when compared to the tactical folders of 8 to 10 years ago. Unlike the tactical folders, there are no drawings with rabid buyers waiting to own the knife only long enough to flip it. However, most in-demand makers sell out quickly raising prices and the demand for their work. The consistent problem with this market has been in pricing by the mid to lower-level Journeyman Smiths.  Many ask Master Smith prices, for no other reason than they think they can get it. In some cases they do; however, that buyer will regret that decision when the time comes to sell or trade that knife in the aftermarket.  Homework is the key.  You, as the buyer, must know the maker’s position in the custom knife market sector and pay accordingly. My recommendation is that you view the previous two paragraphs as a cautionary tale.

Piotr Gosciniak Custom Explorer Tactical Fighter Survival Knife

Piotr Gosciniak Custom Explorer Tactical Fighter $395.00

Whether you are a collector, investor, or just buy an occasional custom knife.  I would suggest you do your due diligence about where the market cycles are and which way they are moving.  Understanding the makers’ position in a particular market sector will subsequently indicate what their knives should be selling for.  There is nothing that says the mantra can’t be changed to “I buy what I like, but at a value price.”  Who knows, maybe doing a little homework could get you that beach house!

About the author: Les Robertson https://bit.ly/3PySsRO

22
AUG
2022

Custom Knives: Collectible, Investments, or Just For Fun (part 1 of 2)

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Craig Camerer forged damascus lightweight hunting knife ABS Journeyman Smith! Additionally, he is a Forged in Fire (TV show) Champion

Craig Camerer forged Damascus lightweight hunter ABS Journeyman Smith and Forged in Fire Champion $375.00

“I buy what I like.”  This, of course, is the mantra of custom knife buyers around the world. In 1984, while serving as an Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader in the 101st Airborne, I bought my first custom knife.  I bought “what I liked” with the caveat “that I could afford.”  What I wanted was the Sly II by Jimmy Lile.  I ended up with a hollow handle fighter by Robert Parrish, an excellent knife in its own right. My first custom knife was bought to be used. The idea of a collectible or an investment with the purchase of the Robert Parrish knife was not something I even considered. As many of you know buying that first custom knife leads to your second custom knife. A fellow Army Lieutenant and knife collector asked if I had ever been to the Blade Show.  After responding no, planning started for our “assault” on Knoxville, TN to the 1985 Blade Show.  Then; as now, it is three days of heaven for knife aficionados.  It was at that show that the hook was set deep. Over the next two years as a collector, I bought, resold, and traded over $10,000 worth of custom knives. I was purchasing custom knives utilizing the mantra. Part of the joy of buying any collectible is that spontaneous rush you feel when you purchase or trade for that object of desire. However, it did sting a little every time I sold one of my collectible knives and lost money on it.  Something had to change. I had to attain a better working knowledge of the custom knife primary and aftermarkets. I was going to have to do some homework.  

Thad Buchanan Loveless style Custom Boot Knife $900.00

In 1986 I went to the best source for information at the time- Knives 1986. Then; as of now, this book is an invaluable resource.  Utilizing the different categories and numerous photos, the book helped me to focus my search.  Utilizing the index of makers in the back, I was able to get in touch with the makers I was interested in.  Information was gathered; materials, delivery times, and pricing. This allowed me to compare each knife to others in a particular category gaining what I thought to be a substantial level of knowledge regarding the custom knives market. In September of that year, I took the next step and became a custom knife dealer. Nine years later in 1995, I became a full-time custom knife dealer.

In 1993 while working on my Master in Business Administration (MBA), I was fortunate enough to be able to use my business model for many of my course assignments. It was during this time I created my custom knifemaker matrix. Referencing the maker index in the back of Knives ’93, I categorize each maker with the type of knives they made. Pricing for comparable knives was added to the matrix. What became obvious was the pricing was all over the map. To make some sense of this, I started with a base price  giving makers additional points for things such as awards, magazine articles, magazine covers, delivery time, aftermarket prices, etc. 

With no surprise the top makers of the day rose to the top of the list.   However, as we all know each custom knife category can have several hundred makers.  My objective for this matrix was to show the position of each knifemaker in a category based on my criteria.  Let me stress this was my criterion and the bias that came along with it. The matrix showed me which knives were: overpriced, priced correctly, or underpriced. As you can imagine this information would be invaluable to a fledgling custom knife dealer. This was some serious homework!

Gordon Romeis full tapered tangTactical Fighter

Gordon Romeis Tactical Fighter $500.00

Custom knives as investments have generally been received with looks and comments of derision. As I wrote earlier, I was a user who became a collector who embraced the mantra (buy what you liked that you can afford). As I paid for these knives I invested a substantial amount of time and money into them. My introduction to the aftermarket was the investment of $10,000.00.  No single person or group of people conspired to create the loss I encountered. The loss occurred because of the lack of understanding of the custom knife market. Perhaps the next few paragraphs can give you a better insight into the market that is custom knives. (see part 2)

About the author: Les Robertson https://bit.ly/3PySsRO

07
JUL
2022

Master Smith – What You Should Know

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Master Smith – What You Should Know

As you look at some of the custom knife makers’ work on our website, you will notice that some have the designation “Master Smith.”  So often, I’m asked what this means, so I thought I would write a brief synopsis.

In the late 1980s, I was introduced to forged blades. What drew my attention were the custom Damascus knives made by the ABS Master Smiths. The top makers were asking $100 an inch (including paying for the tang) for their knives, handle material, and a sheath. For example, Master Smiths would routinely price a  10″ Bowie with a 5″ handle at $1600 – $1800 (depending on handle material.) Remember, this was the 1988 price!

This led me to look for less expensive options, which at that time primarily meant carbon steel. Not knowing what I was looking for, I became an ABS Associate Member in 1988. Then I started to be educated on what the MS designation meant and why it was important to me.

Requirements for the performance test to become a Master Smith (MS):

  1. Eligibility:The candidate for MS must be a Journey Smith member for at least one year. At this point, they can take their performance test with an ABS Master Smith; however, they must have been a Journeyman Smith for at least two years before testing for MS.
  2. Performance Test:MS candidates can only test with a pattern-welded Damascus blade per the test knife specifications. There are guidelines for the knife to be used. A test is a 4-part event. The MS candidate must pass all four parts of the test to become eligible to test for Master Smith.
    1. Rope Cutting: This aims to test the edge geometry and sharpness.
    2. Wood Chopping:This test demonstrates the edges’ toughness. A construction grade 2X4 is used for this test.
    3. Shaving Hair: This is to demonstrate the edge retention of the blade.
    4. Bending: This test demonstrates the applicant can heat treat a knife with a soft spine and hard edge. This process is known as “differential heat treat.”   This type of heat treat could be an advantage on a hard-use knife.

Having met the time and performance test requirements, the MS candidate may now test for their MS Stamp (the MS in script you will see on their blades.)

The candidate will submit five knives. This testing occurs at the Blade Show and several other locations during the year. At least one of these knives must be an art knife meeting the ABS requirement of a traditional pattern welded Damascus European Quillion type dagger with at least three hundred (300) or more forge welded layers. The rest of the knives must be of different designs, varieties, and varying steel types to demonstrate the applicant’s ability to make a wide range of classic blades. While not required, a folding knife with a Damascus blade can be submitted as one of the candidates’ test knives for their MS stamp.

In addition to the performance test, most ABS makers will spend time learning this craft with other JS or MS makers.  Some will attend the Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing at Texarkana College in Texarkana, Texas. Additionally, there are hammer-ins set up across the country. These are usually done over the weekend and enhance the attendee’s skills and abilities in making forged custom blades.

As you can see, makers with the MS designation have put a lot of time and effort into becoming Master Smith.  The knowledge they have gained can be seen in their knives.  As with any endeavor, some MS makers will be better than others.

Over the past 28 years, I have had the opportunity to visit several custom knife makers’ shops. It is always interesting to watch their “process.” In addition, I have attended classes on making and judging forged blades. And have had the opportunity to evaluate finished knives at several shows in the US and Canada.

I have developed a good eye for quality work at all three levels: AS, JS, and MS knives.  In addition to the current work and potential, the price the makers charge for their MS-designated custom knives is also significant to me. Once a maker earns the MS stamp, there is no further testing required. Unfortunately, several MS makers are resting on their laurels. Many of these makers would have difficulty earning the MS stamp if they were to test today. With the prices asked for by some of the Master Smith knives. Collectors must know what to look for in an MS maker’s work.  Collectors should be more critical of mistakes on an MS knife than on a JS maker’s knife.

What I look for is:

  1. Quality: Their fit, finish, and flow are commensurate with the rating in the ABS and their time-making knives. Example: Several JS makers are better custom knife makers than some MS makers.
  2. Position in the market: Where is the maker compared to its competitors in the current market? This is especially true in the MS knife market. Considering there are only, according to the ABS website, 113 active Master Smiths worldwide, understanding each of these makers’ position in the market is the best way to get the best quality knife for your money.
  3. Price:This should be influenced by #2. The materials used, the demand for their knives, and how their retail prices hold up in the aftermarket. Right now, too many makers’ prices are not commensurate with the position in the market.
  4. Improving Skill Set: Master Smiths should be able to move comfortably between carbon steel and Damascus and all other forms of forged blades. Their fit, finish, and flow should be excellent. In addition, all should be able to incorporate a vast array of handle materials, including Stag and Ivories.
  5. Communication:Do they answer emails or return phone calls on time? Do they make sure (to the best of their abilities) you are receiving the knife you want? Point: Communication is a two-way street. Both the customer and custom knife maker must communicate clearly and concisely.

When you see a custom knife maker with the MS designation on my website, you can be sure I have vetted their knives. Over thirty-five years, I have developed the skills on what to look for in all aspects of the knife. As a result, I feel I am working with some of the best Master Smiths in the world. I would encourage you to look at their knives on my website and continually develop your knowledge base regarding forged blades.

For additional information on what it takes to become a Master Smith I would recommend you follow this link the ABS website: http://www.americanbladesmith.com/index.php?section=pages&id=172

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

15
JUN
2022

BROADWELL/VANGUARD TACTICAL SUB-HILT FIGHTER

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Currently, there is a lack of custom, tactical sub-hilt fighters being made. For various reasons, knifemakers like Walter Brend, Bill Luckett, Jim Siska, and Schuyler Lovestrand, (just to name a few) are no longer making their much sought after classic sub-hilt fighters.

With this in mind, RCC commissioned David Broadwell to make 5 Limited-Edition tactical sub-hilt fighters exclusively for their Vanguard line of knives.  Les has mentioned David’s abilities in several articles over the last 20+ years in regards to sub-hilts. Broadwell has created knives in the past for both the LDC and Vanguard series. Les will tell you he thinks Dave builds some of the best sub-hilt knives in the world! 

Broadwell Sentinel II Vanguard Sub-hilt Fighter Tactical Exclusive limited-edition

SENTINEL II CUSTOM KNIFE

Blade Length: 8″
Overall Length: 13″
Blade Steel: PM-154
Blade Finish: Hand Rubbed Satin Finish Guard and Sub-Hilt Material: Stainless steel
Handle Material: Black Micarta with black canvas micarta, stainless-steel spacers, stainless steel lined thong holes.
Sheath: Custom-made leather sheath by Kenny Rowe

When Les came to David with this project, he was excited to be apart of it. This knife amplifies the 4Fs- Fit, Finish, Flow and Function. With its excellent balance and handle ergonomics, it is the epitome of what a tactical sub-hilt fighter should be.  Act now to get on the waiting list!!

Price: $2,350.00

Place Future Order

27
APR
2022

What Defines the Best Custom Utility Hunting Knife? Part 1

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If you are a knife maker wanting to enter a utility hunter for judging at the 2022 Blade Show, you should read this first…

 

Very popular in his home country of Slovakia, Jan Hafinec outfits his custom utility hunter (shown above) with a 5-inch blade of forged C105 carbon steel sporting a flashy double Hamon. The handle is made of Presentation Desert Ironwood.  Guard and sub hilt: stainless steel  Overall length: 10″  A custom leather sheath by the maker completes the package. Fisher’s price for a similar knife is $699.00 (Impress by design image)

When it comes to custom knives, the best utility hunters have many of the features outlined herein. (Note: There are two parts to this blog.)

Countless articles have been written about hunting knives. Primarily, the stories discussed which knife is best for which game.  The two main features that get the most coverage are the blade style/shape and the length. The knife referred to commonly as the hunter is more than likely a utility hunting knife.
No matter where you are if you are using a guide—hunting or fishing—more than likely your guide is the one doing the dressing of the game. Chances are, he is using a utility hunting knife with some of the following features.

Blade Steel
If you ask 100 people what the best steel is for a hard-use field knife, you probably will get at least 50 different answers. Why? End users are very loyal to steel that has proved itself in the field.

The two primary choices for blade steel are carbon and stainless. Each has its pros and cons. Stainless steel’s biggest advantage is that it is rust-resistant, meaning it will require less maintenance. Stainless is not code for “no maintenance.” Yes, stainless steel will rust.

Carbon steel requires maintenance. Many things will make carbon steel rust, several examples being the blood from the game that is being processed and some types of vegetation, including vegetables. However, the rust can be held to a minimum or eliminated simply by cleaning and oiling the knife after use. Keep in mind that storing your carbon steel knife in a leather sheath can also cause rust, especially on a wet blade, as the tannic acid used to process the leather can cause rust spots.

The winner of Best Utility Hunter at Blade Show 2018, ABS Master Smith Josh Fisher’s hunter (above) has a 4.25″ blade of 1084 carbon steel, a Ringed Gidgee handle, and a guard of brushed Stainless Steel. Overall length: 8.75″ The knife comes with a custom-made leather sheath. Josh’s price for a similar knife is $685.00. At that show, he earned both his ABS Master Smith (MS) stamp and the B.R. Hughes Award for the best knife submitted by an MS applicant.  (Eric Eggly/PointSeven image)

Karis Fisher (above knife photo) is the daughter of ABS Master Smith Josh Fisher. Karis not only earned her ABS journeyman smith (JS) stamp in March, she also won the Joe Keeslar Award for the best knife submitted by a JS applicant. The 4-inch blade is 1084 carbon steel and the handle is Vintage Micarta®. Guard: 416 stainless steel. Overall length: 8.5″ Sheath: custom-made leather.  Karis’ price for a similar hunting knife is $375.00.

While carbon steel can rust, it does have two advantages over stainless steel if the blade is forged. First, several blade smiths forge distal taper into their carbon steel blades. The taper removes weight from the blade, thereby making the knife lighter in weight and thus easier to carry and manipulate. Second, carbon steel blades can be differentially heat treated to give them a hard edge for sharpness and a softer back for malleability. The latter results in a blade with greater flexibility that is much more likely to bend rather than break under high stress.

The steel you choose for your utility hunting knife should be one that can be sharpened in the field and fit the requirements for what you want your knife to accomplish. Remember—it is always best to resharpen your knife before it gets dull!

Ideal Sizes

Having judged custom utility hunters at the Blade Show for over two decades, I can tell you there is no one ideal size. That said, most of the judging competition winners feature a blade between 3 7/8 and 5 inches in length. (For the makers reading this, please do not submit your 10-inch bowie or 2-inch miniature in this category for judging.) Among the accompanying images for this story are three past winners of the category at the Blade Show. Note the differences and similarities of these knives. In addition to dimensions, the importance of handle ergonomics cannot be overstated! Most handles will feature some kind of contouring and generally will be between 4.5 and 5 inches long.

The 5-inch blade of W2 tool steel with Hamon headlines a utility hunter by Jim Crowell. (pictured above) The handle is black canvas Micarta® and the guard is stainless steel. Jim made the leather sheath. Overall length: 10″ This knife was made for the author. Jim’s price for a similar knife is $850.00. (Impress by design image)

Circle back around to our blog for the rest of this 2 part article. Thanks!

12
SEP
2021

JUST WHAT THE MARKET IS ASKING FOR…

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The custom knife market is cyclical. You can find articles I’ve written on this topic in Blade Magazine, Knives Illustrated, Knife Annual and; of course, my Custom Knife Buying Guide over the last 20 years. Basically, either folders or fixed blades dominate the market, but only for a relatively short time. Right now the market is being dominated by fixed blades. Why? There are two main reasons.

First, the tactical folder dominated for 7-8 years; however, bid-up knives and “flipping” became the reason to buy. Most buyers could not tell you why a knife they were looking at was worth the money they were paying. What they did know was that if they got the knife, they could immediately flip it and make money. However, as we all know, bubbles are not meant to last.

The second reason is overpricing. The maker’s position in the market is key. The better you know the maker’s position in a particular market, the better you will be able to determine if the prices they are asking for their knives are accurate. Makers who chase the aftermarket prices will drive up their prices to an unsustainable level. This drives many collectors from that market to another market. Why?  The one rule many makers don’t understand or ignore; collectors collect. Most makers do not understand what their position in a particular market is. Case in point: At least 80% of American Bladesmith Society Journeyman Smith members overprice their knives. This is why they take home so many of their knives from shows. Most price their knives utilizing guidance from Master Smiths. While they may know the MS market very well, they are not as well versed on the market for 200 (give or take) JS makers.

Within the larger cycles of folders and fixed blades are smaller cycles in either larger market. A case in point: The return of the tactical fixed blade. While most categories of knives never completely go away. Often they are overshadowed by the dominant knife category within that cycle. While doing my research for the 2021 Blade Show, I noticed a trend of several makers with basic tactical fixed blades. By basic I mean a blade, integral single or double guard, and synthetic material scales. Most are designed to be worn on your belt and are more utilitarian than anything else. I like these knives primarily because of their price point. Many are between $250 and $350, which is where they should be priced.

The maker whose work caught my eye while doing my research for this year’s Blade show was Brian Selby. His work is solid and clean and at a price point that is at the entry-level price for a custom knife.  “Great value” comes to mind.

Another maker I recently discovered is Piotr Gosciniak from Poland.  Piotr offers several models, some offering very distinct grids.  I like the fuller he puts incorporated into some of his blade designs. His knives are a little larger than Brian’s, but they too are rock solid with excellent fit and finish.  The texturing he does on the Micarta scales add to the handle ergonomics.

We continue to discover new knifemakers/knives to meet you needs. Please browse our website www.robertsonscustomcutlery.com where we strive to offer just what the market (you) is asking for.  If you don’t see it, let us know what custom knife you are looking for via this link.

 

05
JUL
2021

FEATURED FORGED BOWIES

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Shop Our Forged Bowies

Greg Keith Forged Damascus Custom Bowie Amber Stag Knife ABS Journeyman Smith Ladder Pattern

Greg Keith Forged Damascus Bowie $1,200.00

Taylor Mosaic Damascus Bowie w/ Ivory $2,400.00

Lin Rhea Forged ABS Competition Cutter Custom Bowie World Champion Blade Show Master Smith

Lin Rhea ABS Competition Cutter $1,200.00

Brion Tomberlin Forged ST-24 Bowie Custom Knife with Hamon Mammoth Ivory Moran ABS Master Smith

Tomberlin Forged ST-24 Bowie $1,500.00

Hancock Arkansas Toothpick Damascus

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

28
JUN
2021

BLADE SHOW 2021 – Les’ Take

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The 2021 Blade Show was the 35th Blade Show I have attended. There is no doubt that Covid had a substantial impact on the show. Most of the international makers and collectors were not there. It appeared that several US-based collectors and makers chose not to attend for reasons that were their own. That said, the show had plenty to offer, with comradery being at the top of the list.

It was great to once again visit face to face with old friends and meet new acquaintances. While the attendance and table numbers may have been down from previous years, there was still enough to see to fill your days at the show. Having been a judge this year for the custom knife competition, I found I could have used those two hours back to walk the rooms. That said, being a judge does have its merits as you get to look at some of the very best knives that the Blade Show has to offer, side by side.

Mike Malosh Forged Hunter Copper liners Custom Knife Great Value
One of my goals each year for the show is to find new makers to work with. This year I found two such makers; Mike Malosh and Brian Selby. Mike specializes in William Scagle type knives. However, this year he offered handles that were a little more conventional. I bought a hunter with black Micarta and a camp knife with an Elk handle. I purchased both of these early on Friday. It was a good thing I did. Mike sold all 28 of the knives he brought before the end of the day. Apparently, others saw the same things I did. Quality work at a value price.


I purchased 3 knives from a maker new to me, Brian Selby. He specializes in EDC tactical fixed blades. His Folsom Necker has a 2.1″ blade with a Kydex sheath that offers multiple carry options. His Full-Size Folsom features a 4″ blade. All have Black DLC coating and textured G-10 scales. I particularly liked his Kydex sheaths as they locked up great and secured the knife. Once again, these knives featured quality work at a value price.

RJ Martin Q36 LSCF Tactical Folding Knife Signature model Orange peel Finish Titanium
RJ Martin fresh off his exceptional Tactical Knife Invitational Show the weekend before Blade, he brought 6 knives to Blade and of course, sold out. RJ was nice enough to bring me a Q36 with Lightning Strike Carbon Fiber scales and an S110V blade.

I stopped by Stephen Fowler’s table and there was a Bowie he brought that looked great. Not surprisingly he had sold the knife before I got to his table. He did; however, have a smaller knife featuring his exception Fire Starter Turkish Twist Damascus. I ordered the Bowie that was on his table with this steel and Desert Ironwood. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. Check back…

As it is with most shows, some sell out, some sell at least a few and others sell nothing. Too many makers still do not understand their position in the market that they are competing in. Subsequently, their knives are overpriced and they continue to not understand why. No, it is not the crowd, the promoters, or the medical circumstances surrounding the show. Today’s buyers are very educated on what knives should sell for. Consequently, when they see overpriced knives; many, not all, will walk away from the table. I have been encouraged by the Editor of Blade Magazine to write yet another article on this very subject.

I’m sure the Blade Show will be back in 2022 in all its glory. The showroom will be packed with knives and collectors. Have to say, I did enjoy being able to move about the show freely this year, a plus for fewer attendance.

05
MAY
2021

Shawn McIntyre

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Shawn McIntyre offers his clients around the world a selection of handle materials that rival anyone in custom knives. Shawn is an ABS Master Smith! Hardwoods, Stag, Horn and Ivory make up the majority of his handle materials. I have also received some knives with handles that were made for the roots of trees which were stunning. Shawn uses most of the same high carbon steels that most of the ABS makers uses. His favorite seems to be 1070. It is in Shawn’s Damascus where you really see his ability with steel. His standard pattern Damascus is beautiful; however, it is his Mosaic Damascus blades that are really something to behold. As for guards and other hardware, Shawn primarily uses Stainless Steel and Damascus.

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

25
APR
2021

CONGRATS TO JOSH FISHER, MS

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Congratulations to Josh Fisher for achieving his Master Smith rating from the American Bladesmith Society.  Additionally, he was awarded the Dr. Carl Nelson Award for the best knife submitted by a Master Smith Candidate.

Nelson Award Winner 2021

Josh Fisher ABS Master Smith Forged Custom Damascus Fighter Best Award Winner

Also, congratulations to his daughter, Karis Fisher, for being awarded her Journeyman Smith rating from the American Blade Smith Society.  She also won the Joe Keeslar Award for the best knife submitted by a Journeyman Smith Candidate.

A very special achievement for both of them!!

Click here to learn more about the custom knife maker, Josh Fisher.

Josh Fisher Master Smith ABS Mosiac Damascus

Josh Fisher ABS Journeyman Smith Forged Custom San Mai Stag Hunter

Josh Fisher, ABS Master Smith Twist Damascus

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

06
APR
2021

Tools for Serious Work- Tactical Fixed Blades

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WC Johnson Recurve Bowie Tactical Custom Knife Hefty Bead Blasted Survival

WC Johnson Recurve Tactical Custom Bowie In Stock $555.00

I have written over the years about my theory on custom knives trends moving cyclically with smaller cycles moving within. Today we are seeing the reemergence of the tactical fixed blade cycle.  No, this is not the first time this has happened but it has been a couple of decades.   Routinely at shows I attend, I am asked for my opinion on new or even established maker’s tactical fixed blades.  There are, of course, the questions of quality, but over the past several years the question asked of me most often has become; “Is this knife worth the money?”  

With so much information available today it can be difficult to differentiate the honesty from the hype.  Whether you are building a collection or looking for that knife that will be utilized as the tool it was designed to be.   Many of today’s collectors are looking for value in the knives they are buying.  Not so much with an eye towards investment but will the knife hold its value. Those looking for a tool want the very best they can get for their money.   

Dwyer Cave Bear Tactical Fighter

Duane Dwyer Cave Bear Tactical Fighter In Stock $750.00

Thirty-seven years ago, I arrived at the 101st Airborne as an Infantry officer.  It was there I was introduced to what would be called today’s tactical fixed blades.  Back then there were often called combat or fighting knives.  When I purchased my first custom knife it was bought as a tool, not a combat or fighting knife.  The US Army was kind enough to issue me both an M16 rifle and a .45 pistol.  I was on my own to buy a quality custom knife.  That first knife was the 8” Robert Parrish hollow handle survival knife; great field knife.  I feel this knife has the finest serrations ever put on a fixed blade. However, it was those very serrations that made the knife non-deployable so I had to find a replacement.  The replacement knife was the 8 ½” Model 2 by Walter Brend.  

Walter Brend Model 1 Tactical Fighter Custom Knife Survival

Brend Model 1 Tactical Fighter             In Stock $2,450.00

That is not to say that other custom knives were not purchased.  I rapidly went from user to a collector who used most of his knives.  I was fortunate enough to have attended the US Army’s Jungle and Northern Warfare Schools.  Additional training areas included the desert and other more friendly environments. These locations provided numerous opportunities to try out different styles of knives. I gained a wealth of knowledge of what styles and materials worked and what did not. 

There were then and are now many basic entry-level tactical fixed blades.  In most cases, these knives are lighter and slenderer for easier carry.  They come in two types: no guard or an integral guard.  Guards are on the knives not to aid you in defense of assailant with another knife.  They are primarily there to protect your hand from slipping onto the blade.  A secondary feature of a guard, especially a double guard will give better control of the knife. 

Neill Schutte Custom Knife Loveless Style Tactical Dagger South Africa

Neill Schutte Custom Loveless Style Tactical Dagger In Stock $875.00

The problem with an integral guard is the damage it can and will cause to the area of hand between your thumb and forefinger.  Authors note: I would highly recommend wearing a good quality leather glove while using one of these knives. Yes, this is the voice of experience and several field-expedient butterfly bandages to take care of the wound caused by just such a fixed blade. Today many of the knives come with an integral guard covered with the handle material making it more comfortable in the hand.  If that area is nothing more than a square or rectangle without the edges being rounded; well, you have been warned. 

These styles of knives and hunters are more times than not a maker’s first attempt at making a knife due to their limited budget and ease of building.   Many of these knives will fill the bill for exactly what you are looking for a knife to do. But understand that this style of knife lends itself to waterjet or other types of outsourced cutting of both blade blanks and scales. As long as the maker acknowledges this as part of the knife making and their pricing reflects this, there is nothing wrong with this.  It helps the maker produce a quality knife faster, make more of them and keep the price down.  This benefits the user/collector, as well.

By now, you have come to surmise that I am a fan of guards on my tactical fixed blades; in particular, double guards. Both for the safety and control, they offer the user. An issue for a collector or user can be finding tactical fixed blades with double or even single guards.  The market for these knives may be limited, but the sense of control you feel in your hand while holding one makes the hunt worthwhile. Between a 6 and a 9-inch blade is the sweet spot for these knives.  My experience in the field taught me that a big knife can do a smaller knife chore, but not the other way around.  

Having one of these knives in your hand gives you a feeling that you can accomplish whatever task lay before you.  Do some research and, if possible, handle some of these knives at the next show you attend. Appreciate the craftsmanship and skill level that goes into these custom knives. 

There is a reason that these particular tactical fixed blades are not mass-produced. Check out our collection of fixed blades here.

03
MAR
2021

Rod Chappel History

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Rod Chappel was published in the very 1st Blade Magazine back in 1973…

Rod Chappel Blade Magazine 1st Edition 1973 American Blade History

The 1st Blade Magazine! The American Blade Vol. 1, No. 1 May – June, 1973

Many of us are lead into custom knives because of the failure of a factory-made knife we were using.  That was the case for me and was also the case for Rod Chappel.  In 1967, a factory knife failed on a hunt that lead him to explore making custom knives.  His first stop on this journey was to the legendary Bill Moran for more information on how to forge blades.   The next stop was to spend time in the shop of legendary maker, Gil Hibben.  Then with the help and guidance of legendary knifemaker, Harvey Draper, he started making knives. 

Rod Chappel 1st Custom Knife Harvey Draper History

Rod Chappel holding the first knife he ever built in Harvey Drapers shop. (photo: The American Blade)

In 1970, Rod started making custom knives full time in his Grandfather Roderick Davis’ boat shop in Spokane, Washington.  This is why the knives from the 1970s’ have the mark “Davis Knives” instead of his CHAPPEL logo. As a former architect and civil engineer, he felt comfortable first putting knife designs on paper like a blueprint, if you will. He had a deep appreciation for perfection. He had many designs, but note the Lewis & Clark, Mini Mag Bowie, Coeur D’Alene Fish Knife and Woodsman Bowie (Combat Bowie). They may look familiar since they are currently on our site. 

Rod Chappel Original Knife Drawings *

Rod Chappel Custom Knives Blue Prints Combat Bowie

Rod Chappel Original Knife Drawings *

Each Christmas Rod would build one knife to be sold to buy his children Christmas gifts.  These knives are all marked Christmas, followed by the name of the knife.

In 1984, my wife and I were headed to Chicago returning from our honeymoon, I was reading the Inflight Magazine.  In this magazine was an article on knife photographer, Jim Weyer.  One of the featured knives in that article was the Rod Chappel Hunting Leopard Combat Bowie with an Ivory handle.  At that time, it was the most incredible knife I had ever seen!  Instantly I became a huge fan of his knives.

Over the next 20 years, the search for a Chappel Hunting Leopard Combat Bowie with an Ivory handle began. I had bought a couple of smaller Chappels, but it wasn’t until 2004, (ironically I was flying out of Chicago) when I had purchased my first Ivory-handled Chappel Hunting Leopard Combat Bowie at a show there. 

Rod Chappel Hunting Leopard Combat Bowie Walrus Ivory Collectible Custom Knife Number 001

Due to his Alaskan Native American lineage, Rod was able to legally utilize supreme handle materials such as walrus tusk ivory or whales teeth for some of his knives. Rod’s knives are instantly recognizable with their sweeping grinds and carved handles.  His knives are very collectible and difficult to find.  He achieved what most makers/artists strive for; a unique look and/or style.  Rod Chappel passed away in 2017, but his artwork remains ever alive and inspiring for collectors and sportsmen alike.

 

*photo from the original American Blade magazine article about Chappel.

01
FEB
2021

Investing in Custom Knives: Part 1 of 5

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Most custom knives are both made and bought with little or no thought given toward being something with investment potential. Collectors collect. Collectors buy what they like, and for many of them, there is no such thing as “investment-grade” knives.

Several years ago, on an internet knife forum, someone asked if custom knives are good investments. The answer from the majority was no. Most of those belonged to the IBWIL (I Buy What I Like) Club. They were quick to point out that mutual funds, stocks, bonds, etc. were better investments. Given their performance in the past couple of years, perhaps an argument can be made for having some investment-grade custom knives in one’s portfolio.  Fast forward to today and the market is doing much better.  However, so are custom knives.  Had you bought with an eye towards investment several years ago.  Many of those knives, if sold today would “beat the street.”

I know this will sound obvious, but dealers are not collectors. Dealers are professionals who, in theory, do not get emotional about a purchase. Truth is, that is not 100-percent accurate, as my collection will attest. As someone who has bought and sold custom knives for a living for the last 23 years, I feel I have been an investor for some time now. Regarding any type of investment, the phrase that pays (literally) is: Return On Investment (ROI). This is your net profit…that is to say what you made on the investment after all the expenses have been accounted for. There are five keys to investing with and in custom knives.

1. Due Diligence

Do your homework; learn everything you can before you buy. There is no excuse for not knowing about a maker and his or her knives before you buy. Knife Magazines, Annuals and the Internet are a wealth of information. Perhaps the greatest ally of the collector today is the internet. Searches can provide you with an insight to makers and their knives that can give you a competitive edge with your investing. One caution: A majority of people who participate in online forums do not use their real names. Subsequently, any and all information they offer should be subject to extensive scrutiny. Always check your sources for accuracy.

This is a 5-part blog that will continue on Wed. 6/27 so come by to keep learning about collecting custom knives for investments.

Read:

Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net.com or (706) 650-0252.

 

29
JAN
2021

Custom Fixed Blades for All

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FIGHTERS, HUNTERS AND BOWIES

We continue to try to add more knives to meet your custom knife needs.  If you have something specific in mind, please contact us and we will try to help or order it for you. 

 
Walter Brend Model 1 Tactical Fighting Custom Knife

WALTER BREND MODEL 1 FIGHTING KNIFE

Billy Mace Imel integral Custom Hunting Knife

BILLY MACE IMEL INTEGRAL DROP POINT HUNTER

Loyd McConnel Drop Point Hunter Custom Knife Desert Ironwood engraved handle pins Great value full tapered tang

LOYD MCCONNELL DROP POINT HUNTER

Mark Terrell Modern Scalpel neck Knife skeletonized handle Sharp Custom Knife

MARK TERRELL MODERN SCALPEL NECK KNIFE

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

11
JAN
2021

Investing in Custom Knives: Part 3 of 5

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3. Value Pricing  

Many people mistakenly think this means the best price or cheapest price. In fact, a value price is one that, given the maker’s position in the custom knife market, provides the buyer a value, regardless of the price tag. Basically, this price offers the potential for the knife to hold its value. In some cases, the purchase price will enable the owner to sell the knife for a profit.

Custom knifemakers are considered to be the primary market.  That is to say buying from them directly will eliminate any previous owner.   Whereas the aftermarket is specifically comprised of previously owned knives.  This ranges from a used/carried/sharpened knife to those who have never been used/carried/sharpened.   The custom knives in the latter category dominates the sector of the aftermarket where those who buy and resell or  “flip” operate.  You have probably seen videos or photos of the owners showing off their knives while wearing some type of glove on their hands.  This is especially true if something like Timascus is used.

The custom knife market moves in cycles.  From 2000 to 2010 forged blades seemed to dominate the market.  Starting in 2009 as interest waned in forged blades, tactical folders became popular again. Over the last 9 years, the tactical folder market saw buyers with the ability to “flip” a knife for almost an instant profit in the aftermarket. Starting in late 2016, the aftermarket started to cool.  Today for many that market has become stagnant.  The reason for this is and the waning market for forged blades in the early part of the 21st Century is the same.

Increased demand lead to escalating prices.  This led to more collectors being shut out of that particular market sector.  I have always stated that “collectors want to collect.”   Meaning simply collectors want to add to their collections.  If they can’t participate in a particular style or type of knife, they will turn their collector’s eye to another style or type of knife leaving the bloated (prices) behind for knives that are priced on the makers position in the market and not the hyped up aftermarket.   Unfortunately for many who either didn’t read my article about tactical folders in Blade in March 2016 (or ignored it), they now have knives in their possession that they will never get even close to what they paid for it.   While this may not be an issue for collectors.  It is an issue for investors!

There is short term investing and long-term investing.  With regards to custom knives, the best is probably short term collecting.   That can be anywhere from immediate re-sale to 2-3 years.   A mistake often made by investors/collectors is that they think the particular market they are in will keep going up.  In 2000 to 2007 flipping houses became all the rage.   Multiple TV shows,  books, magazines and commercials talked about professionals coming to your town to teach you the secrets.   Most of us were familiar with what happened in 2008.   Ten years later there are some people still underwater in their mortgage.  Generally, this is why short term investing is the way to go.

More on Short-Term Investing in this 5-part blog on Investing in Custom Knives.

Read:

Part 1    Part 2    Part 4    Part 5

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

11
JAN
2021

New Year – New Knives

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021!
These TEN NEW ARRIVALS show the variety of custom knives we carry and we continue to add more to meet your interests.  If you are looking for something in particular, please contact us and we will try to find or order it for you. Thank you to all our loyal customers in 2020.

 
Lin Rhea Forged Competition Cutter Walnut Custom Bowie #2 ABS Journeyman Smith World Cutting Championship Blade Show

Lin Rhea Forged Competition Cutter #2 World Cutting Championship Blade Show

Wess Barnhill Custom Forged Feather Pattern Damascus Frame Handle Hunter Mammoth Ivory Museum Fit handleABS Journeyman Smith Winner George Peck Award

Wess Barnhill Forged Feather Damascus Frame Handle Hunter

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

09
JAN
2021

Investing in Custom Knives: Part 4 of 5

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4. Aftermarket Demand and Performance 

Selling for a profit has its own set of nuances. As a custom knife collector, you need to first and foremost buy the knife at the right price. This is vital. Just as important is to know when it is time to sell the knife.  The primary market is when you purchased directly from the maker. Where as, the aftermarket is when you purchase a previously owned custom knife. The aftermarket is also where you will sell your knife. This is why it is essential to utilize the information available in the aftermarket. This information is most readily available on the internet.

In the beginning of the century, knife forums started to appear on the internet. Primarily a place to discuss custom knives and their makers, bandwidth was made available to members to sell their custom knives. Visiting those sales forums many times each day I was able to start tracking not just trends, but which knives sold quickly and which ones did not.

In the past a sale was more of a private matter, now the particulars of the transactions were public. Today the internet is an excellent place for anyone to track trends and identify strong performers. Internet sites are best used to identify knives and makers for a short-term ROI (return on investment); however, searches allow you to go back for years. You can track how makers did with previous styles of knives over the years helping you analyze not only the demand for particular knives, but which of their knives sold the best. This is the type of knowledge that can literally pay off big when working in niche markets.

What you will have to determine is what percentage you want as your ROI? There is room for both short term and long-term gains among your knives. What we witnessed over the last 8 years were people buying knives from makers knowing they had the knife already sold. That is referred to as an arbitrage – good work if you can get it. With the help of the forums and social media many were inclined to post the photo on their favorite forum or sub-forum and let the bidding begin. Today, a popular outlet for this is Instagram.

Short term investing is an easier proposition. As trends of the day move it can be easier to “cherry pick” the more in demand makers or knives. Buy them at what you feel is a good price and flip the knife for a profit. A friend of mine introduced me to the phrase, “a quick nickel or a slow dime.”  In investment circles this is referred to as the “time value of money.” Getting your initial investment and a smaller profit, allows you to reinvest quickly and hopefully with the same results.

Long term investment is usually what you hear about.  The stories are out there for all to see or read about.   The person who bought the “famous maker’s knife” when he was new. The maker became a legend and their custom knives now sell for X amount of times over what they paid for it. Generally, these custom knives have been held for 30 or 40 years. (talk about a slow dime) Having set your ROI percentage, could you have sold these knives and continued to buy more as the opportunity presented itself? Over those 30 – 40 years would you have made more money?   It is interesting to contemplate which would have been the better investment strategy.

Read:

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 5


Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

07
JAN
2021

Investing in Custom Knives: Part 5 of 5

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5. The Truth Changes 

Over the course of custom knife makers’ careers, some will emerge as the market leaders. As demand increases, so does the delivery time; and deservedly so, the price of the custom knife. Collectors, by their very nature, collect. If they cannot collect a maker or their work, they will look for a suitable substitute. While getting a custom knife directly from the market leader will provide the buyer with an opportunity to sell the knife for a profit in a very short period of time. This demand by so many buyers will decrease your opportunity to obtain one of these knives.

As one door closes, another opens.  The truth of this statement is evident today in the tactical folder market. Custom knives were purchased by many who were late to the game. Others just bought anything figuring there would be demand for this relatively unknown maker in the very near future creating for them a profit when they sold the knife. The lesson to be learned here is to do your homework before you buy the knife. While it is easier to listen to the forum “expert” or dealers, it is incumbent upon you to determine if they have the actual expertise they claim.  Failing to do so may cost you money in the short or long run.

As some of the pioneers of tactical folders reach a position of a prolonged delivery time, makers like RJ Martin are moving to the forefront of that market. If you want to talk precision tactical folders, then you are talking RJ Martin. With RJ, the opportunity to purchase an investment grade knife from him presents itself every year as he adds a new model every year!

In the financial world there is a saying: “Never fall in love with a stock.” Doing so can cause you to miss an opportunity to sell. This happens routinely in the custom knife market. We all know someone who has bought a knife and now cannot get anywhere near what they paid for it, should they choose to sell it. Often the blame is put on the economy or the “so and so” who sold me the knife, etc.  It is best to sell the knife and then; hopefully, not make the same mistake.  You pay to go to school.  Sell the knife, take the loss, and learn the lesson moving forward to the next knife.

What many call volatility, I call a “fluid” market; or if you like, the truth changes.  If you pay attention to the totality of the market, it is easier to know which knives to buy and more importantly when to sell to maximize your ROI (return on investment.)  Makers can get hot seemingly overnight.  I have seen makers show one of their knives on the internet and within a few days they have 50, 60 even 70 orders for that knife!   What the maker and the collectors forgot to take into account is that the maker does this part time.  Once they take into account the orders already on the books, and the knives they need to make for shows, they will be lucky to build 20 of these knives each year.  While the maker is happy to take the 60 orders, as the months turn into years, collectors start to forget they ordered the knife.  Even worse, with yet another 30 to build, number 27 shows up on the internet being sold for under retail.  One of those waiting in line decides that a pre-owned condition isn’t going to hurt anything and buys the knife.   As other collectors see this many cancel their orders.  The once hot knife and maker are no longer hot or in demand.  The truth as everyone knew it 16 months ago has changed.

Investing and collecting custom knives are not mutually exclusive.  They can work hand in hand to develop a collection that becomes an investment when the collection is sold. Even if you do not consider yourself an investor, following these five guidelines will enhance your collection and; ultimately, your enjoyment of custom knives, in general. If you are a collector in it to just enjoy the knives, it is much less complicated. Simply forget everything you’ve read so far. But remember, if you do decide to sell a knife down the road, forgetting what I have written here will cost you.

Read:

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4

 

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

28
OCT
2020

Great Selection Available

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BLADE STEEL & HANDLE MATERIAL OPTIONS

These three new arrivals show a unique contrast in blade steel, finish and handle material.

MIKE CRADDOCK FORGED FEATHER PATTERN DAMASCUS FIGHTER The Mike Craddock Feather Pattern Damascus Fighter features a very popular pattern right now. This pattern is made by creating a 1” block, stacking Damascus several inches high, then cutting the steel with a dull wedge from top to bottom. This dull wedge stretches the layers as it splits, rather than a clean cut. The two pieces are then forge-welded back together stretching the bar out to expose a new seam and stretching the “feathers” even farther. Creating this pattern is very labor-intensive! On average 33% of the billets end up being thrown away. Because of this, Feather Pattern Damascus is one of the more expensive patterns. The guard on this knife is 416 Stainless Steel. Without a doubt, this handle material, Desert Ironwood, is the more popular wood used on custom knives today.  Its burls and grains combined with its natural stability, are what makes it so desirable. Excellent, tight Feather Pattern Damascus! Great balance; the contoured handle provides excellent handle ergonomics. The knife moves effortlessly in your hand. 

CLAUDIO AND ARIEL SOBRAL (CAS) FORGED SAN MAI FIGHTER This Claudio and Ariel Sobral (CAS) knife features a 420/1095 blade. The steel is produced by combining 3 layers which is the literal translation of the Japanese word, San Mai. The core of this particular knife is 1095 carbon steel and the outside layers are 420 stainless steel. The rough part at the top of the blade is called Brute de Forge, which are hammer marks made on the blade during forging. Most custom knife buyers are familiar with 416 stainless steel, which is primarily used for guards. 420 stainless is a higher carbon version of 416 that can be hardened by heat-treating it. The guard is 420 Stainless steel and the handle material is a synthetic, black micarta. Excellent example of a San Mai blade with a Brute de Forge (Hammer marks) finish. The knife has great balance and fantastic handle ergonomics. 

SCHUYLER LOVESTRAND IVORY F-1 SUB-HILT FIGHTER  The Schuyler Lovestrand’s F-1 Sub-Hilt Fighter features 154CM steel. This is high carbon steel features 14% Chromium. This gives the steel the ability to be polished to a mirror finish, should the client want that. Additionally, the steel features 4% Molybdenum which adds to the steels ability to hold its edge. The guard and sub-hilt are 416 stainless steel. The handle material is Mammoth Ivory. This Ivory is legal to work, sell, and own. Double hollow ground, double-edged, full tapered tang with red fiber liners. Schuyler is one of the very few makers who has mastered the full tapered tang sub-hilt fighter. $

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

14
OCT
2020

Collecting Custom Hunting Knives

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 In the recent 3-part article in Blade Magazine, HOW TO COLLECT CUSTOM HUNTERS, Les discusses 1. Sept. issue) Collectible Users 2. Oct. issue) Investment Users 3. Nov. issue) Collectible Influencers. Often, the first custom knife someone buys is a hunting model.  Perhaps a skinner, semi-skinner, caper, bird & trout, or even a filet knife. These knives are purchased primarily to be used on a hunting or fishing trip where they might end up helping to produce a trophy mount or even dinner! 

Blade Magazine September 2020 Part 1 Collectible Users

The most popular custom knife style is the hunting knife.For decades knife makers and collectors have invested in these knives. Bill Moran even sold his family farm to become a full-time maker and we’re all glad he did. He is credited with the revival of the forged blade in the USA. Buster Warenski, who is considered the finest maker of the 20th century, started out primarily building hunters and skinners while working with Harvey Draper for three years. If the buyers of those knives could have only known how valuable they would become today.

Blade Magazine October 2020 Part 2 Investment Users

There are many influencers persuading us to choose one product over another. In the case of custom hunters, style, materials, technique and reputation of the maker may be considered. If the knives were created by a legend of the custom knife world, all the better. Some makers who are lesser-known to the newer collectors influenced todays makers and their knives; therefore, contributing to the knife value. Please check out the complete 3-part series in Blade Magazine.

Blade Magazine November 2020 Part 3 Collectible Influencers

COLLECTIBLE INFLUENCERS & LEGENDS

The W.E. Bill Ankrom Hunter was featured in the third part of the Blade Magazine article “Collectible Influencers” (November 2020 pages 34-38.) He is best known for the precision of his knives. Today, the majority of his work is high-end art knives.

W.C. Bill Davis Drop Point Hunter Bill studied directly with Bob Loveless. Bill was one of my favorite Loveless style knife makers. I lost count how many knives I bought from him over 25 years. His work was a true replica of Loveless’s work.

W.C. Bill Davis Duplex Drop Point Hunter (above) The knife shows the unique duplex blade grind.  The tip is designed for tasks that require more precision.  While the secondary grind offers extra strength for cutting harder materials. Full tapered tang with red liners, stainless steel lined thong hole. Bill passed away in 2015.

Schuyler Lovestrand H-2 Hunter  In my opinion, Schuyler is one of the top 5 stock removal makers in the world. His work always approaches perfection. In the 30 years, I have been working with him, his knives have never disappointed. SOLD

Fred Carter Integral Drop Point Hunting Knife Fred Carter began making knives in the mid-1970’s in Wichita Falls TX.  He was one of the pioneer’s in custom knives to build full integral knives.Today, he builds primarily high-end art knives. Additionally, he originally trained knife maker, David Broadwell.

Tim Hancock Forged Damascus Hunter  Tim was well-respected, awarded many awards and considered one of the finest Mastersmith’s in the world. He was a legend among his fellow Master Smiths. A gifted artisan, who incorporated several design elements into his work. He unfortunately passed away in 2019.

17
SEP
2020

Hand Forged Knives: What To Look For

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The forged blade conjures up both real and surreal images in the minds of both makers and collectors.  Makers let their minds eye see the blade take shape by their hand in their shop.  Every detail is considered until the knife or sword is complete.   Collectors envision how the maker got a piece of steel to the finished product as they hold it in their hand, delighted with the combination of materials, the quick/light feel and the balance sought after in all fixed blades. 

Larry Cox Forged Damascus Fighting Knife

Today the majority of makers who forge blades belong to the American Bladesmith Society (ABS).  This is not to say that a maker cannot produce an exceptional forged blade if they do not belong to this organization.   The ABS offers three rating levels.  First is the Apprentice Smith; this is the entry level for makers who want to learn what forging a blade and making a knife is about.   The next two ratings require testing.   Journeyman Smith requires the maker to be a member of the ABS for at least two years.   The maker must complete the Introduction to Bladesmithing course providing them with the basics for making a forged blade.   There are additional requirements for those wanting to be a Journeyman Smith.   After successfully attaining the JS rating, a maker will have to wait a minimum of two years before testing for Master Smith. All the testing requirements can be found on their website at www.americanbladesmith.com.  

Will Morrison Forged Bowie with Hamon SOLD

Early on I found what attracted me most to forged blades were how light the larger knives were, particularly the Bowies.  The forged blades feature what is called distal tapering.  The blades are forged in almost a wedge type shape, thick at the top and very thin on the edge.   This technique will reduce the weight on any forged blade.   The other feature that has really garnered attention is the Hamon or temper line.   This is created by differential heat treat of the blade.   Part of the aforementioned JS Test is for the maker to put a blade into a vice and bend it 90 degrees without the blade breaking.  The temper line is visible on all forged blades although you may have to look close as some will be camouflaged by a very good satin finish. Many of the knives today will feature W2 steel which if tempered properly will have a very distinct and unique temper line. 

Scott McGhee Forged Damascus Zulu Fighter

When looking at a forged blade it is not so different from looking at a knife that has been made through the stock removal method.   First does the knife appeal to me.   Let’s be honest here, there are knives out there that primarily will appeal only to the maker.  I like to see a proper blade to handle ratio.   Most handles will be 4 ½” to 5” depending on the type and style of knife.   I have seen knives that feature a 3 ½” blade and 5” handle.   Perhaps there was a specific purpose for that knife.  However, it just doesn’t look right.   Obviously a smaller or larger hand may require an adjustment to the handle length and possibly the blade length.   Part of the reason for a proper blade to handle ratio is to insure the proper balance for the knife.  Generally, about where the guard would be is where the blade should balance.  Some knives depending on the blade length and/or stock may balance a little in front of the guard.  Some knives with a bigger handle may balance a little behind the guard area.  As you hold the knife in your hands you will find the handle is an ergonomic fit or it is not.   Some knives just seem to become one with your hand and others can be uncomfortable to hold.  

Forged Blade: Handles

Handles on forged blades will basically come in 3 styles: Mortise Tang, Stick Tang, Frame.

Mortise Tang

A piece of handle material is split down the center.  Then the a pocket is created for the tang on each side.  Only enough material is removed so as to have the scales match back up when they are glued together.  On a very good job you will have difficulty finding the line where the two pieces of material come back together. On others it will be very apparent that the knife features a mortise tang configuration.

Scott McGhee Cottonmouth Fighting Knife

Stick Tang

The handle material will be drilled down the center and depending on the set up of the handle the tang may or may not go all the way to the other end.  Often wood handles with a hidden tang will feature a couple of pins to help hold the tang in place. This is done primarily as a back up and often the pins feature a mosaic pattern.   The other style generally found on Stag often referred to as “carver” handles.  As the piece of stag looks like one found on the older type carver sets used to carve meat at the dinner table.  Often these will feature a spacer of stainless steel or Damascus file worked to match the Stag.  The tang will come all the way through the handle and spacer and screw into a finial at the end of the handle.  You will find this often with Ivory with or without the spacer and finial.   Note that on both Ancient Walrus Ivory and Stag there may be a curve to the left or right which can add or detract from the handle ergonomics. 

Frame Handle

The third type of handle is the frame handle; which is exactly what it sounds like.  A separate frame which will also feature the guard is built with the handle material (and often liners of sometime) fitted into the sides of the frame. The tang is then put into the frame and is secured by pins and bolts that are under the handle material or they can be showing.   It can be deceptive as it appears to be a full tang knife.   That is your first clue that it is more than likely a frame handle.  This type of handle is the most expensive because of the amount of work it takes to create it. 

Forged Blade Steel

Depending on the intended use, the environment of use and any other unusual parameters the type of steel used can make a big difference.   That said while looking at a forge blade three things to look for are: 1) is the edge sharp.  Often people want to run their finger along the edge or across their thumb nail.   I would caution you about this.   I would suggest brining paper or a magazine with you.  Test the edge on something other than your body parts.   2) The blade finish.   What you are looking for here is straight lines from the front of the guard to the point.   Everything should be going horizontally on the blade. I find pointing the tip towards the lights overhead and looking along the blade a great way to see the finish.  3) Symmetry.  That is to say are any grinds equal on both sides.  Points where the grinds come together are the best place to look.  Example: the choil area, where you can often tell if the maker is left or right handed.  

Damascus while difficult to create has become more abundant.  Comprised not only of a combination of carbon steels and nickel, stainless steel Damascus is now an option. Damascus will go from the basic Ladder and Twist pattern to more exotic patterns and finally to mosaic patterns.  Literally your name, a flag, Santa and his reindeer, etc. can be put into Damascus steel.  Two things you will want to look for are an even acid etch on the Damascus. The other would be separations between the layers within the Damascus. 

I feel sheaths are a must for hunting knives, especially carbon steel hunting knives.   Often these knives are bought with the idea that they will be used and as such you will need something to carry the knife in.   If you are just putting the knife into your collection you may or may not want a sheath.  

The problem with sheaths for carbon steel and Damascus bladed knives is that it gives the impression to some that the knife can be stored in the sheath.  In the case of carbon steel and Damascus bladed knives they should never be stored in the sheath.  It is not will the blades rust it is how soon they will rust.

The good news for those who like sheaths is that there are several very talented sheath makers who can create whatever your budget can afford! 

Quandaries with Forged Blades, Rating Systems and Business Practices  

In the mid 1980’s when Damascus was making its first appearance at knife shows.  I ran into two well known Master Smiths who were touting their “secret steel and techniques” made their steel special.  It turned out that their steel and/or techniques were far from special.   I would caution you to be leery of any forged blade maker who would use the “secret” word.   

The forged blade makers out there do an excellent job in sharing their knowledge with their fellow makers.   The teaching at the Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing in Texarkana Texas is done by Master Smiths.  Additionally there are other schools and hammer ins across the United States that allow the knowledge of the forged blade to be passed from maker to maker.  

While the ABS has excellent guidelines and testing procedures that makers must meet in order for their knives to pass the tests to attain their JS or MS stamp.   This does not mean that every knife build will maintain that high standard set for their test knives.   Today you will find some makers with a JS stamp are better than some of the makers with an MS stamp. This is primarily because of better equipment and better dissemination of information.  It is up to you to be able to compare apples to apples when it comes to materials and techniques that are used on similar knives.  

Purchasing Tips

Before you purchase or order a knife it is always best to talk with the maker.   Ask them about why they use particular materials for the knives on their table, etc.  While some may be slow to talk about their knives (as many makers feel this is bragging) once they understand you interested in their decision making process.  They should be more than happy to answer any and all questions.   If for some reason the maker won’t or can’t answer question(s) about their work.  You may want to consider finding another maker for your project or your collection.  However, understand that at a show they do have other people to talk with as well.   The more you as a collector know the better more specific questions you can ask.  

You should understand that most knife makers are part time makers.  As such their level of business expertise will vary.  This is why communication is so important between the maker and the buyer.   Two issues that can arise here are the delivery time and deposits.   With very few exceptions should you put a deposit down on a order.  An example would be if you are asking for very expensive materials to be used, i.e. gold, ivory, gem stones, etc.   You can expect the maker to ask you for money up front to purchase those.  Make sure to work out the money details at the time you place the order.  Makers who insist on a 50% deposit should be avoided.  For those makers who insist on payment in full up front.   Run don’t walk away from them. 

Delivery times are going to vary.  More than likely the maker will be late.  Understand this is not done intentionally.  Makers will give you their very best estimate of when your knife will be completed.   As you can imagine once you go more than 6 months out it can be difficult to give you an exact delivery date.   So plan on being a little patient and stay in contact with the maker.   Once again good communication is the key.

Just like the forged blade makers the forged blade buyers have a wide variety of resources they can use to educate themselves on what to look for with regards to knives in this category.   The ABS website is a wealth of information regarding what is expected of makers with a particular rating.   Given the amount of Hammer In’s and knife shows that are in the US there is probably one close to you.   A basic understanding of how a knife is made can go a long way to give you an appreciation/education on how easy or difficult some aspect of knife making can be.  The Internet can be mined for a treasure trove of aftermarket potential of particular a particular makers work.  

Knowing what a maker’s position in a particular market is allows you determine what you should pay for a given knife.   This will get you the best bang for your buck. 

Forged blades seem to offer almost a limitless variety of styles and materials. Making this aspect of the custom knife market something every collector should explore. 

Interested in purchasing a forged blade? Look at our selection here.

06
SEP
2020

RESPECT “SWEAT LABOR”

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SOME LIKE IT HOT!

These New Damascus Custom Bowies & Camp Knives are just that… HOT!
These Bladesmiths put a lot of “Sweat Labor” into forging the Damascus steel prior to making the Bowies/Camp Knives. And this is no easy task!
This Labor Day, we pay respect to all the custom knife makers for their creativity, talent, determination and; of course, hard work that goes into each custom made knife.


Steve Randall Forged Mosaic Damascus Bowie ABS Master Smith custom knife Rare Fossil Walrus Ivory

Steve Randall Mosaic Damascus Bowie

Josh Fisher ABS Journeyman Smith Forged Custom Damascus Twist Pattern Camp Knife Frame Handle

Josh Fisher Twist Damascus Camp Knife

Stephan Fowler Forged Ladder Pattern Damascus Bowie Custom Knife Stag ABS Journeyman Smith

Stephan Fowler Forged Damascus Bowie

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

26
AUG
2020

Daggers: A Brief History

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TIM HANCOCK FRAME HANDLED FORGED ARIZONA TOOTHPICK DAMASCUS DAGGER
Neill Schutte Loveless Style Tactical Dagger II Custom Knife South Africa
NEILL SCHUTTE LOVELESS STYLE TACTICAL DAGGER
Neill Schutte Loveless Style Tactical Dagger II Custom Knife South Africa
NEILL SCHUTTE LOVELESS STYLE TACTICAL DAGGER II

The dagger. Unlike the blade designs that carry the names; hunter, fighter, Bowie or even sword, daggers almost always conjure up a singular image in the mind. Primarily, a blade evenly ground on either side of a center line to a point and sharpened on both sides. Now the steel or the guard (or lack thereof) or handle may differ from knife to knife, but the blade remains the same.

My First Custom Tactical Dagger

My entry into the world of custom knives in 1984 saw the emergence of the golden age of art daggers. Buster Warenski left no doubt that he was the Master Craftsman of that era. Other makers doing exceptional work during that time included Willie Rigney, Fred Carter, and Billy Mace Imel. For those of you unfamiliar with any of the previous names I would encourage you to utilize your “Google-Fu” and search these makers and their work out. Having been a fan of the F-S Dagger, I was forced to stop at the table of Billy Imel at the Guild show in the early 1990’s. On his table was his version of the F-S dagger; beautiful, sleek and deadly. I’m sure other makers had done this before, but this is the first Fairbairn Sykes custom tactical dagger I remember seeing. 

Dagger History

ROD CHAPPEL (DAVIS KNIVES) BOOT KNIFE

Daggers have been around as long as man. Early daggers were made of flint, ivory or bone either as a stand alone blade or attached to a piece of wood. As war and its weapons evolved, daggers were made from bronze and then later from iron ore. As armor, such as steel chain mail and plate armor were resistant to slashes and cuts, the need for a weapon to penetrate was created. The dagger was the ideal weapon for this using the reverse grip. The dagger was employed in a downward technique to increase the thrust and penetrative force. As armor fell out of favor the dagger became more of a weapon of choice. During the Renaissance era the dagger became popular as a secondary weapon to the sword; then to be used in concert with a sword. During this time the dagger became part of everyday dress and they were the only weapon the common man could carry without drawing attention to himself. During this time the dagger in the form of a bayonet attached to the end of the rifle was also implemented.   

Perhaps the most familiar daggers to us were the ones that started to show up during WWI. Trench warfare demanded weapons for close-in work to be developed. Given the close quarters in the trenches, officers moved from carrying sabers/swords to wearing daggers. This trend for the officers continued after WW1 and into WW2. WW2 will be remembered for many thing; however, it may be the golden age of tactical dagger designs. Even though the Fairbairn-Sykes (F-S) and Case V-42 weren’t developed until seventy-five years later, they still captured the imagination of knife users, collectors and knife makers. 

Fuller or Blood Groove

The fuller, or as some call it, the blood groove, is an additional step to this process. As it adds both time and an additional skill set to put this into the blade. A common misnomer is that the blood groove is added to allow blood to flow from a wound allowing the blade to be more easily removed. The other misnomer is that suction is created by the entry of the knife. The blood groove allows air to be introduced to the wound allowing for easier retrieval. The actual reason for the fuller is to remove weight from the blade while maintaining the strength. The act of twisting the knife would aid in retrieval much better than any groove in the blade.   

Today’s Daggers

The custom fixed blade market is seeing a resurgence of tactical daggers. The tried and true variants of the F-S and Case V42 are making their appearance again.  

A classic design will always find those who want to either own or make a knife based on a classic design. Other makers are providing their take on one of man’s oldest blade designs. 

At first glance, the dagger blade seems to be a basic knife to grind. However, it is the symmetry of the blade that makes it very difficult to keep all four grinds symmetrical. It is the centerline from the front of the guard to the end of the tip that makes or breaks the symmetry. Failure to achieve that straight grind will eliminate the possibility of achieving that symmetry. Even for very well-known knife makers achieving the symmetry is not a given. While judging the custom knife competition at the Blade Show I have seen two knives; both with an asking price of at least $15,000.00 with a crooked centerline. Why the knife maker would knowingly let that knife out of his shop with that obvious mistake one can only guess.   

As was shown by the soldiers of WWII the dagger can and will be used for a myriad of purposes. However, the blade did not always lend itself to the job at hand. Many FS daggers were ruined as their owners broke the tips trying to open ration cans. While today most will find their way into collections. The lethality of the dagger has not changed and most will be able to accomplish the chore they were designed for all those thousands of years ago.

Interested in purchasing your own Sykes Fairbairn or tactical dagger? Place an order for one by Walter Brend here.

02
AUG
2020

Blade Magazine Custom Hunters Part 1

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“How to Collect Custom Hunters”

Blade Magazine Custom Hunting Knives Article Les Robertson September 2020 Skinner

With the Blade Show cancelled for this year, and hunting season upon us, check out Les’ 3-part article on collecting hunting knives in the current issue (Sept) of Blade Magazine. Les begins discussing collectible users on page 30.

A knife that is a collectible user may sound odd at first. Often, the first custom knife that someone buys is a hunting type knife. This includes a Skinner, semi-Skinner, caper, bird and trout, and even a filet knife.

These knives are primarily bought to be used on the next hunting or fishing trip. While they may end up helping to produce a trophy mount or dinner. This time shared with family and friends creates memories that last a lifetime. The stories are retold repeatedly and passing through generations, connecting people to past and future activities to come.

What memories do your knives hold?  

Part two will discuss investment hunting knives considered “users.”

Sign up for our Newsletter for previews of sales and arrivals of new knives.

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

Dietmar Kressler Integral Tactical Boot Fighter Custom Knife Stainless Steel
19
MAY
2020

Collectors Collect

Dietmar Kressler Integral Tactical Boot Fighter Custom Knife Stainless Steel

Knife Collectors collect. At the outset, it seems a simple statement. The real question is what does the knife collector collect and, and why? The best thing about a collection is that it is yours. You decide what knives enter and which ones leave. Often it is a combination of the design/style, material(s) and maker. Then again it can be knives with a singular attribute that makes up the collection. For the last 35 years, I have watched with more than idle curiosity the custom knife market. Most products move through what is called in the business world the Product Life Cycle. These stages consist of the introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Some products move past this by repackaging the product so its life cycle starts over.

Televisions are an excellent example of this.

Cycles

Custom knives do participate in the product life cycle to a degree. Usually, this is found in the materials area; steel of the day, Wild Woods, Giraffe bone, Camel bone, etc. These and others are examples of materials that have gone through the product life cycle. Primarily custom knives are a cyclical commodity. The cycle is composed of two parts, folders, and fixed blades. Within the cycle are many smaller cycles. Most are moving separately but intersect with one of the two primary markets. Often, these smaller cycles are indicators of hot trends that will cool and more times than not disappear. An example of a solo cycle would be swords. While they are fixed blades, swords circle generally moves at its own pace. When I arrived on the custom knife scene in 1984 as a knife collector, I was oblivious to the cycles and circles. I needed a knife to use in the field. What I soon learned was that fixed blades were in their glory days. Makers like Buster Warenski, Jim Ence, Willie Rigney, Fred Carter, and Billy Mace Imel, to name a few were taking the custom fixed blade to new heights. At the same time, those who preferred folders were becoming aware of the interframe folders. The combination of extended delivery times and cost were slowing the movement of the fixed blade part of the cycle. This slowing of fixed blades provided the opportunity for the interfame folder. These folders moved the cycle to the folder part of the circle, and by the end of the decade would rule the custom knife world. These folders from Joe Kious, Jack Busfield, W.D. Pease, Steve Hoel, and many other world-class makers; combined their expertise with that of world-class engravers to create one of a kind art pieces.

These knives were so popular that a company named Barrett Smythe was created and specialized in these knives. The price ranges were $12,000 to $20,000 in the late 1980s.

Rise of the tactical folder

The 1990s found the combinations of the most desirable fixed blades being out of reach for most and the crash of the interframe folder market created a reset of the circles within the cycle. This gave rise to the new word and that word was Tactical! A group of makers led by Kit Carson, Bob Terzuola, Chris Reeve, Mel Pardue, and Pat Crawford introduced us to the tactical folder utilizing Titanium and bead blasting. These knives were the beginning of what was to become a trend that would never really go away. Automatic and Double Automatic folders were finding a niche with Butch Vallotton leading the way. This slowly gave way to the introduction of the Speed Safe by Ken Onion. The “gray turds” lead the way to put the tactical folders on top of the custom knife world. This was not for lack of trying as both makers and organizations alike tried to drive the metaphorical stake through the tactical folder heart. Not to be pigeonholed tactical fixed blades emerged with the introduction of the Tanto style blade by Bob Lum, the Japanese tactical introduced by Phil Hartsfield, the combat-oriented fixed blade with the new Kydex sheaths from Bob Terzuola and the continuation of the legendary grinds of Walter Brend.

Y2K

As we survived the crash of Y2K, the tactical folders did not. Their grip was relinquished and gave way to a group of knives that had been around for 30 years but was finally going to move the circle back in favor of fixed blades. The forged blade was going to rule the custom knife market for the next decade. This cycle began with carbon steel hunters which gave way to carbon steel Bowies. The cycle moved again and the focus shifted to Damascus hunters and then Damascus Bowies. Pattern Damascus beyond Ladder, Twist and Rain Drop started to appear. West Texas Wind, Dog Star patterns became knife collector favorites along with Mosaic patterns. The ranks of the American Bladesmith Society swelled due in no small part to the popularity of forged blades. Coupled with numerous Hammer-Ins and the opening of the Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing at the end of the decade. As the decade came to a close the demand for forged fixed blades so many bladesmiths decided to join in on a smaller cycle that had was enjoying a resurgence. Slip joints and multi-blades had become HOT. This was due directly to the efforts of Tony Bose. Many ABS makers moved away from the slowing forged blades to the slip joints. Unfortunately, the migration of numerous makers without enough knife collectors to support their work; brought about the end of these cycle(s).

Return of the tactical folders 

Starting in 2010 with the migration from forged blades the new materials and designs lead the way for the circle to return to folders. Flipper openers, bearing systems, Lightning Strike Carbon Fiber, Superconductor, Zirconium, Timascus, and Mokuti became the materials of the day. Tactical folders melded to become presentation/art knife folders trying hard to not overpower their roots. The demand and subsequent pricing in the aftermarket akin to the interfame folders of the late 1980’s have given many knife collectors pause to rethink their collecting. Pricing in both the primary and aftermarket prices have eliminated many of the former knife collectors from moving forward with their collections. The flipping of many of these folders has been replaced by trading.

As we entered 2017 the cycle is once again moved back to fixed blades.

What does all this mean for knife collectors? 

Generally, the end of a market cycle occurs to primary for two reasons; lack of availability of in-demand knives and aftermarket prices. This was true of the high-end fixed blades in the 1980s and the tactical folders of this decade. What does this mean? Lack of availability or price will cause a reset of the custom knife market. This does not mean that all other types of knives will be excluded. There will always be demand for folders. As the highly inflated aftermarket prices of folders come down. There will be buying opportunities here as well. But first knife collectors and dealers will have to come to terms with the loss before moving on. My point is that this reset will give rise to knife collectors looking for new takes on established designs, styles and materials used to create custom knives; in this case, fixed blades. There will also be new designs and materials that come out of this reset.

I find these to be exciting times for custom knives. New ideas, new makers, new materials and the confluence that will result will take custom knives to new places. Want to learn more about adding knives to your collection? Purchase my Custom Knife Buying Guide.

19
MAY
2020

The Custom Knife Cycle

Charles Carpenter Forged Damascus San Mai Bowie Custom Knife ABS Journeyman Smith Bronze spacer

When I arrived on the custom knife scene in 1984 as a collector, I was oblivious to the cyclical nature of custom knives.  Primarily because what I needed was a knife for the field. What I soon discovered was that the custom knife cycle is composed of two main components: folders and fixed blades. 

Custom Knife Cycle

Imagine a circle with a horizontal line through the middle above the line the word fixed.  Below the line folders. In the empty space surrounding the word fixed are other words; hunters, swords, tactical, forged, etc. In the space surrounding the word folders are words like; butterfly, slip joint, tactical, automatic, Damascus, etc. Often, within these words are another subset of words, usually identifying trends or styles. Most are moving separately but are part of the main cycle. An example of a solo cycle would be swords.  While they are fixed blades, the sword cycle generally moves at its own pace. 

While most collectors and custom knife makers do not view they create or collect as commodities or products.  For the most part they are governed by the rules of business. In this case the product life cycle. This consists of 4 stages; introduction, growth, maturity and decline. Examples of introduction are a new maker, design, material, etc. Growth refers to the previous gaining popularity with makers and collectors.  Maturity refers to the market starting to be filled with knives that look similar and/or feature the same materials.  Finally, decline, the market has been saturated.  

My introduction to the product life cycle started in 1985.  The interframe folder was introduced.  Basically, a lock back folder with a 440C steel frame, that had a pocket milled into the frame.  In the beginning the material that filled that pocket was either Stag or wood.   As demand picked up this type of knife entered the growth stage.   New materials were introduced to fill the pocket, such as Mother of Pearl and Ivory.  Then engraving was added to the knives followed by Gold inlay.   As the market entered the maturity stage, semi-precious and precious gem stones were utilized to fill the pocket in the frame.   The prices for these knives had reached epic prices, $14,000 to $18,000 were not uncommon for these folders. Then in 1990 the final phase started, and the decline was rapid.  Seemingly overnight the demand for these knives had disappeared.  As well many of the collectors who drove this market seemingly disappeared as well. 

Rise of the tactical folder

The 1990’s saw the introduction of several things that had a huge impact on the custom knife market.  The main 4 influences were Titanium, the liner lock, the frame lock and the word Tactical!  A group of makers led by Kit Carson, Bob Terzuola, Chris Reeve, Mel Pardue and Pat Crawford introduced us to the tactical folder. Utilizing Titanium for the frame and providing the entire knife with a bead blast finish. These knives were the antithesis of the interframe folder. They were meant to be used and sold in the $250 range.   These knives were the beginning of what was to become a trend that would never really go away.  Without a doubt the most important innovation during this time frame goes to Michael Walker.  He is credited with the introduction of the Titanium liner lock. 

Not to be pigeonholed, tactical fixed blades emerged with the introduction of the Tanto style blade by Bob Lum. Phil Hartsfield introduced the Japanese Tactical, Bob Terzuola created the combat oriented fixed blade with the new Kydex sheaths, and Walter Brend discovered many legendary grinds.   

Y2K

As we survived the crash of Y2K, the tactical folders did not.  Their grip was relinquished and gave way to a group of knives that had been around for 30 years. The knife cycle was once again moving in favor of fixed blades.     

Helped by the opening of the Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing and numerous Hammer-Ins, the forged blade was going to rule the custom knife market for the 8 years.   

This cycle began with carbon steel hunters which gave way to carbon steel Bowies.  The cycle moved again and the focus shifted to Damascus hunters and then Damascus Bowies.  Pattern Damascus beyond Ladder, Twist and Rain Drop started to appear.  West Texas Wind, Dog Star patterns became collector favorites along with Mosaic patterns.  The cycle ended in 2009 with the knife cycle moving towards folders again. 

Return of the tactical folders 

Starting in 2010 the migration from fixed blades began. The knife cycle started to move again, away from fixed blades back to folders.  While Titanium, carbon fiber, liner locks and frame locks were left over from the 1990’s.  The introduction of the flipper opener and roller were going to be added to most tactical folders. Giving the knife a super smooth opening and solid lock up. 

The demand and subsequent pricing in the aftermarket akin to the interfame folders of the late 1980’s.  Too many collectors either did not know about the rise and fall of this particular market or chose to ignore it.  

The correlation of these two knife cycles were uncanny.  

Both started with a basic knife. Then as the market matured, new materials and other work were added to the knives, raising their prices. In fairness to the makers, this is what the collectors wanted.  In the case of the interfame folders it was engraving, semi-precious and precious stone inlays in the frame and Gold inlay.  The new tactical folders added Timascus and Moku-Ti for the frames, Damascus blades, and pricy natural handle materials such as Mastodon Ivory.  These knives dominated the tactical folder market.  An interesting consequence of this was the name and the number of add-ons became more important than the quality of the knife.   As the name of the game in the tactical folder market from 2012 to 2017 was flipping the folder for a profit.   

In 2016 tactical folders were the king of the custom knife market.  However, the hot and volatile aftermarket started to change.  To most it was imperceptible, as most were still caught up in what would become the tactical folder aftermarket bubble.  Today, many tactical folder owners have knives that are overvalued.  Giving them three choices, to hold and hope things reverse, sell at a loss or trade.   In 2018 heading into 2019 the hold and/or trade are the two strategies being employed. 

2019 The Knife Cycle Moves Towards Fixed Blades

Perhaps the best lesson that can be learned from the last 8 years is; more collectors should have done their homework.  Concentrating only on materials, name and the ability to flip the knife did not bode well for many of the current owners.   Many seem to have overlooked quality construction, value for the money and not buying into the hype. Buying any custom knife, one should do their due diligence.  When buying a multi-thousand-dollar custom knife it should be mandatory. 

There is a saying “a high tide raises all boats.”  In the case of custom knives tactical folders were the “tide” that raised prices.  This directly influenced the prices makers can ask and collectors are willing to pay. The demand for tactical folders is waning. Consequently, the custom knife cycle is once again moving towards fixed blades. The cycle moves slow, look for fixed blades to be the dominate knife style over the next 2-3 years. 

Basic Fixed Blades

Quietly, for the last 3 years, Bush craft fixed blades have been gaining traction among both end users and collectors.  These knives feature simple construction of a blade and two pieces of handle material.  They are designed and built to be used.  Consequently, these custom fixed blades feature a price that appeals to all custom knife buyers.   Some makers have already moved towards using single guards and tapering the tang.  This added work makes the knife more expensive and perhaps less likely to be used.  Modification and improvement follow the natural flow of custom knives. 

Some makers who started out as tactical fixed blade makers made the move to tactical folders.  As the demand for their folders starts to recede, many have started to move back to their roots.  There is no doubt that some of these makers have improved their knife making skills.  Consequently, their new fixed blades will be superior to their older fixed blades.  One should however be cautious as to how these knives are constructed.  The lesson many tactical folder makers learned is that the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines are your friends.   The ability for a maker to own one or more of these machines, to know how to program and run them.  Is a skill that should not be looked down on.  There is a down side to this, as was first evidenced in most recent iteration of the tactical folders.  That is having the work outsourced.  

These machines can do incredible work on and in metal.  Which is where the caution comes into play.  Blade blanks and scales can be outsourced and done in great numbers.  On the plus side this does allow the knife maker the time to focus on what they do best; the fit and finish.  These tactical fixed blades will generally feature no guard or a single or double integral guard.  The handle material is generally two pieces of Micarta or G-10. You should be cognizant of how the knife was built and subsequently priced accordingly.

Forged Fixed Blades

The main benefactor of this movement of the knife cycle will be the forged blade. In my opinion the main advantage the makers of forged blades have is their ability to produce knives with guards.  Once you move out of the hunter category, stock removal makers seem to prefer either integral guards (with or without material over them) or bolsters.

The bladesmiths around the world have done an excellent job of sharing information and helping one and other allowing newer bladesmiths to not have to reinvent the wheel while learning the intricacies of forging blades.  While forged blades with basic carbon steel are still available worldwide,  The trend heading into the next decade will focus more on carbon steel blades with incredible Hamons (temper lines) and San Mai blades which feature a carbon steel core sandwiched between stainless steel. Damascus is more popular than it has ever been.  Even newer smiths are building knives with Damascus. Fossil Ivories, once the domain of the tope blades smiths, have become a go to material for many smiths. Collectors are now aware of the materials cost and are willing to pay it, no doubt this is a direct response to the price of quality Stag. The raising of the price point with which collectors are comfortable paying, is directly responsible for this.

2019 and Beyond 

As stated previously, each major component of the overall cycle has smaller components within.  This is important to understand as while some materials may disappear, styles probably won’t.  While fixed blades will move into a position of prominence over the next 8 – 10 years.  Folders will still be in demand. Example, slip joint and multi-blade folders are having a resurgence in popularity. 

While it is your collection, I would suggest you takeaway key lessons of this article.  First and foremost, do your homework.   Second, try and stay away from the “hype” of a particular knife or material(s).  Lastly, do your homework.  I know I wrote that twice…as it is that important. 

Food for Thought

In the year 2000 I attended a custom knife auction in Texas. I purchased a knife at this show for $660, that included the buyers fee.  This particular knife was made in 1989, it was an interframe folder that sold that year for $14,000.00.  One of the two buyers did their research.

Want to learn more about buying custom knives? Order The Custom Knife Buying Guide here.

16
MAR
2020

FORGED SUB-HILTS FLOURISH- MARCH BLADE MAG.

Don’t miss the latest Blade Magazine article March 2020, “FORGED SUB-HILTS FLOURISH”  by Les Robertson

The article, starting on page 12 through page 18, discusses the pros and cons of building one of the most challenging fixed blades; the SUB-HILT-FIGHTER.
Some featured world-class knife makers in the article: Bob Loveless, David Lisch; along with expert input on making a sub-hilt from David Broadwell, Samuel Lurquin, Steve Randall and Josh Fisher.

HERE ARE A FEW SUB-HILTS WE HAVE AVAILABLE IN STOCK BELOW: (click on the photos to link to the specs.)
TIM HANCOCK DAMASCUS FORGED SUB-HILT FIGHTER
Tim Hancock Unique Forged Damascus SubHilt Fighter D'Holder ABS Master Smith Custom Knife

SCHUYLER LOVESTRAND JR. BEAR SUB-HILT FIGHTER
Lovestrand Jr Bear Custom Sub-Hilt Fighting Knife Handmade Stag

JIM SISKA M-16 SUB-HILT FIGHTER

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

23
FEB
2020

7 Tips for Buying Custom Knives

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We thought you might enjoy a recent article written by Mike Haskew in January 2020 on BladeMagazine.com, “7 Tips for Buying Custom Knives.” 

Les Robertson said many custom knife buyers/collectors make the mistake of overlooking a maker’s skill level, quality, customer service, and/or delivery issues because the knife can be sold immediately for a profit. The presentation Bastion Dagger by Tim Steingass features an armor-piercing tip. (SharpByCoop knife image)

1) Know the Trends

“This has got to be through the old way of human contact,” Bob Loveless knife specialist John Denton observed, “sort of like the lunchroom in school. You hang out, listen, see what is moving, what dealers are buying and, of course, now with the ‘inter-web,’ we have so much more information within seconds, while in the ’70s or ’80s we had to wait for BLADE® Magazine or the gun magazines to run stories on Loveless.

“Shows are still important to attend, but nowhere like they were years ago. Face to face is still part of the knife world.”

2) Maker Charisma

A lot depends on whether the maker has the kind of personality that appeals to the knife enthusiast. At Blade Gallery, Daniel O’Malley specializes in one-of-a-kind custom knives. The answer includes multiple factors.

“There are a lot of things that go into making a knifemaker’s knives ‘hot,’” he reasoned. “Part of it is the personality of the maker. When a collector meets a maker for the first time, the collector often has a picture in his head of what the maker will be like. If the maker falls short [of the collector’s expectations], it can be quite disillusioning.”

3) Customer Service

“[The maker] being willing to repair knives when there is a problem is also very important,” O’Malley continued. “It can easily make the difference in a collector continuing to purchase a maker’s work. It can even be the difference in whether a person continues to collect the maker’s knives over time.

“After all, if a collector has spent a large sum of money on their collection, it can be very nerve wracking to find that it’s hard to get a damaged knife repaired. Similarly, it can be comforting if a problem can be relatively painlessly solved.”

4) Do Your Homework

Les Robertson of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery offers custom fixed blade and folding knives, including tacticals and presentation pieces, as well as some exclusives. His take on the delicate topic of a maker’s reliability and the quality of the maker’s work is sage advice for knife enthusiasts in any price range or level of experience.

“I give my client the very best information I have at the time,” Robertson asserted. “This includes issues with a maker or the quality of their work. Often, a maker’s skill level, quality, customer service, and/or delivery issues are overlooked because the knife can be sold immediately for a profit.

“Given the prices of many of the custom knives today, I highly recommend that collectors do their homework before purchasing a knife.

“I realize this takes away from the thrill of instant gratification and removes some of the fun out of the hobby. Long term, though, you will feel great about every knife you have bought, and your wallet will thank you.”

Purveyor John Denton said he turned down $60,000 at the 2014 BLADE Show for this Big Bear in sheep horn and Dan Wilkerson engraving. (Point Seven knife image)

5) Set An Allowance

Everyone, it seems, has spending limits. The role of the dealer often involves assisting clients in determining how much to spend. Recognition of the amount of disposable income available keeps a buyer/collector in the game.

6) Collect With A Purpose

Denton advises customers to acquire some knowledge on prices and to assess their real purpose for buying custom knives in the first place.

“First of all, you want collectors to be educated,” he commented, “and not to be buying just to make money. That is the riskiest way to approach collecting. But then if they buy what they like and in three years can’t get 10 cents on the dollar, it will cut their knife buying down and drive them out of the market.”

Dealer Dave Ellis notes that the investment perspective differs greatly from that of the collector who wants to enjoy, build and retain knives for years to come.

“When I chat with newbies,” he remarked, “a lot of them get into knives from an investment standpoint. They have read in the Wall Street Journal that investing in knives is a good idea, or heard about a knife that was purchased for $800 and then sold for $8,000. I tell them to buy what they like first and to worry about resale later because if it doesn’t pan out, then they won’t have to hold onto something they don’t like.”

Taking a measured approach is key to successful, price-sensitive acquisitions.

“I tell the collector to pace themselves,” Denton said. “Get into a knife that will be easy to turn if you get tired of it down the road. I’ve had several people ask me to build them a $300,000 collection, and I tell them I don’t do that because they will get mad if they don’t make 14 percent growth per year—and they don’t know why they’re buying the knife.

“The true collector has studied the knives and the market, and he will realize what knives are worth and what he can resell them for.”

Those who are new to the custom knife market can tap a great resource in a top dealer. Advice on the market, prevailing prices and hot makers is only part of the relationship. High-end folders by BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member Ron Lake, Warren Osborne and Jim Martin, along with Loveless fixed blades, are among Ellis’s offerings.

When Dave talks with a new buyer/collector, he asks a few basic questions.

“There are more heavy hitters getting in the game with lots of money,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean they are buying the right things. What have their interests been up to now? Did they grow up with knives? Do they carry and use a knife? What is their reason for buying now? Use it? Collect it? Give it to a nephew for college graduation? I don’t want to offer a $7,000 Loveless hunter when a $150 skinner by any smith will do.”

7) Attend Shows That Fit

Though knife shows may be one of many ways to gain information and see what is out there, the individual contact with dealers, makers and other knife enthusiasts is invaluable. Attending shows that mean the most to the individual buyer’s needs and wants helps in the education process and in finding the people and knives that enhance the experience.

Robertson attends the BLADE Show due directly to its diversity of custom knives for sale. He says that the Arkansas Custom Knife Show is also one of the premier forged blade shows and features apprentice, journeyman and master smiths in the American Bladesmith Society.

“The New York Custom Knife Show offers a variety of knives from very well-known custom knifemakers,” Robertson added. “This show in recent years has had more of a tactical knife flavor. The USN Show offers the widest variety of tactical folders you will see at any show in the world.”

These are just a few of Robertson’s picks. Other shows are out there, and many of them are quite beneficial to knife enthusiasts looking for certain styles of knives and/or makers.

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

05
FEB
2020

2 New Knife Videos Added

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery has added some new knife videos to our YouTube page. 

Click on the knife photos below to watch the knife videos and learn inside tips about these one-of-a-kind custom made knives.

TIM HANCOCK FRAME HANDLED FORGED ARIZONA TOOTHPICK DAMASCUS DAGGER KNIFE

Tim Hancock Custom Damascus Dagger One-Of-A-Kind Award Winning ABS Master Smith

 

DAVID BROADWELL CARVED FEATHERED BRONZE DAMASCUS FIGHTER

David Broadwell Carved Damascus Fighting Knife Bronze Fossil Walrus Ivory One-Of-A-Kind

 

Be sure to Subscribe to the Robertson’s Custom Cutlery Youtube page for future knife videos.

We appreciate your support!

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

20
JAN
2020

RCC YouTube Knife Videos

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery has added some new knife videos to our YouTube page. 

Click on the knife photos below to check them out… They may give you an new perspective on a few of our custom collectibles.

GREG KEITH FORGED DAMASCUS BOWIE WITH STAG

Greg Keith Damascus Forged Bowie Stag

Greg is an ABS Journeyman Smith.

BOB TERZUOLA TACTICAL RESPONSE FIXED BLADE KNIFE

Bob Terzuola Tactical Response Fixed Blade

This Limited-Edition run, serial #02, was a private order that ceased after 5 were made.

JOEL CHAMBLIN 3 BLADE STOCKMAN SLIP JOINT FOLDING KNIFE

Joel Chamblin 3 Blade Stockman Slip Joint Folding Knife Stag

Clean precision work is the hallmark of Joel’s work. One of the best slip joint knife makers in the world.

RON GASTON F-14 FIGHTING KNIFE WITH MAMMOTH IVORY

Ron Gaston F17 Presentation Fixed Custom Knife Mammoth Ivory Harpoon grind

Only F-14 I have ever seen with a unique harpoon grind on top, full tapered tang and dovetailed bolsters. Exceptional knife!

Be Sure to Subscribe to the Robertson’s Custom Cutlery Youtube page for future knife videos.

We appreciate your support!

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

31
DEC
2019

NEW MAKERS, NEW KNIVES & HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery welcomes two new custom knife makers and wishes everyone a Happy and Healthy NEW YEAR 2020!

We at Robertson’s Custom Cutlery would like to welcome custom knife makers Greg Keith and Paul DiStefano.

GREG KEITH FORGED DAMASCUS BOWIE WITH STAG

Greg Keith Damascus Forged Bowie Stag

Greg’s Bowie has great balance and excellent handle ergonomics. The curved guard allows the user positive control of this knife.  The fuller in the blade and the angled pommel really adds to the overall look of the knife.
Greg is an ABS Journeyman Smith.

PAUL DISTEFANO FORGED DAMASCUS BOWIE WITH DESERT IRONWOOD

Paul DiStefano forged damascus bowie desert ironwood ABS Journeyman Smith

Paul’s Bowie has great balance, a slight curve in the primary edge gives it exceptional cutting ability.  The handle’s unique flair at the end of the handle, provides the user excellent control of the knife no matter how they hold it.  Paul is an ABS Apprentice Smith.  I expect when he tests in June of 2020, he will become a Journeyman Smith!

Join us in welcoming these two talented custom knife makers to Robertson’s Custom Cutlery!

 

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

09
DEC
2019

GREAT COLLABORATION

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Cheers to David Broadwell & Josh Fisher for a beautiful custom knife collaboration.

David custom made this MLR Sub-Hilt fighter with the Wolf’s Tooth Pattern Damascus forged by a very talented Journeyman Smith, Josh Fisher.

Notice the unique “crushed ice” liners which accent the damascus. Les thinks David makes the finest sub-hilt fighters in the world.

$3,450.00

David Broadwell Forged Damascus Sub-Hilt Ivory

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

16
NOV
2019

NO RESTOCKING FEE

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NO Restocking Fee on Returns

Over the last few months, I have been fortunate enough to acquire several new clients.  I usually try to ask how they learned about us or why they decided to make a custom knife purchase from Robertson’s Custom Cutlery.  This time I received the same interesting reply from a couple of different collectors. They said, “Partly because you don’t have a restocking fee if I want to return something.”

I found it odd that a business selling custom knives would do this. Perhaps, this is more common than I know, but is something I have never done.  I have very few custom knives returned, but when you buy a knife from Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, you have a 5-day inspection period.  Within those 5 days, you may return the knife for any reason.  While you will have to pay return shipping, there is NO restocking fee as long as it is returned in the same condition it was sent to you.

fixed custom knives Gordon Graham damascus cc hunter knife with sheath Robertson's Custom Cutlery damascus hunters fixed blade

What is a restocking fee?  If you buy an item and are not happy with it, you can send it back; however, there will be a 10% – 15% restocking fee deducted from your refund.  Normally, I would associate this return policy with a large retail store that keeps thousands of items in inventory and has to pay the employees to replace the item.  If a business has that many items in stock, you may want to ask, what level of custom knife expertise do they really have with all those knives?

To help insure you will not need to return a custom knife, ask questions. If you’re having a hard time deciding between 2-3 knives on our website and want to discuss the pros and cons. The leading expert on custom knives, especially fixed blades, is happy to help. Les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com At Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, our priority is providing you with the custom knife that best suits your needs and interests so you will love your knife.

11
NOV
2019

HONORING OUR VETERANS!

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Take time today to remember and honor those who have given their time and more

to our country so that we may ALL live free in America.

HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY!

23
OCT
2019

WELCOME 2 NEW CUSTOM KNIFE MAKERS TO RCC

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Robertson’s Custom Cutlery welcomes two new custom knife makers to our website.

We at Robertson’s Custom Cutlery would like to welcome custom knife makers Ricardo Vilar and Michal Komorovsky to our lineup.

Les was introduced to Ricardo by Jerry Fisk at the 2005 Blade Show where he earned his Journeyman Smith stamp.  Jerry spoke very highly of Ricardo and his work.  At the time, Ricardo was living in Brazil.  Today, he lives in Nashville, AR.  If that sounds familiar to some of you, that is the same town in Arkansas that Jerry lives in.

We have been talking for the last few years about working together.  Finally, in October of this year I received my first knife from Ricardo.   The knife was exactly what I expected. It was well balanced, clean craftmanship and excellent handle ergonomics.  All this at a value price of $1,225.00.

If you don’t have one of Ricardo’s knives in your collection, you should.   If you are a Bowie collector, I would heartily recommend this one which is currently available.

Michal Komorovsky began making custom knives in 2011.  He went full time in 2013.  He is a member of the Slovak Association of Knife Makers.  This organization is similar to the US Knifemaker’s Guild.

Les started communicating with Michal Komorovsky from Slovakia in May of this year.  We all know that it can be difficult to judge a knife by only a photo.  Michal sent me several photos of the Thuban.  After several emails, looking at these he felt very confident about his work.  Despite the language barrier, he was able to obtain our first custom knife from Michal called the Thuban.  Upon receiving the knife from him, we were not disappointed. Excellent flow from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle.  The Thuban is very quick for such a large knife.  This due in large part to its balance and great handle ergonomics.

The Thuban sold very quickly; however, more knives will be forth coming from Michal in the near future. Let us know if you’re interested.

Join us in welcoming these two talented custom knife makers to Robertson’s Custom Cutlery!

Sign up for our Newsletter.

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

01
SEP
2019

USER DRIVEN DESIGN – Custom Hunters

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My article, User Driven Design on hunting knives is in the October 2019 issue of Blade Magazine pages 50-53.

There is an overview of different types of knives used by hunters. Specifically, the designs and how they are used. I even discuss the dimensions, steels, guard, and handle material of the styles and  purpose of these blades. Basic maintenance for these knives is also addressed.

Incorporating this knowledge, will allow you to select the right tool for the job. Remember, it isn’t the firearm that creates the trophy, it is the knife.,

Blade Magazine Oct. 2019 Hunters Knives Custom user driven designBlade Magazine Article User Driven Design Oct. 2019

The following knives are featured in the User Driven Design article and are currently available with Robertson’s Custom Cutlery.

Click on the linked photos below for more detailed info:

Gordon Graham Damascus Hunter Forged Custom Knife

Graham Damascus BW Forged Hunter

Milan Mozolic Hunter Custom Knife

Mozolic Custom Forged Stag Hunter

Wess Barnhill Forged DI Hunter Custom Knife

Barnhill Forged Custom DI Hunter

Want to know more about these and other custom knives?

Sign up for our Newsletter.

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

05
JUN
2019

Blade Show Opportunities

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BLADE SHOW INCOMING KNIVES
If you are looking for something specific and can’t make it to the show, let us know. Maybe we can help.
These are just a couple of examples of knives we are planning to pick up at the Blade Show in Atlanta.  Place your order now and we’ll ship it after the show!

Greg Keith Forged Custom Damascus Bowie

GREG KEITH FORGED DAMASCUS BOWIE WITH DESERT IRONWOOD
Blade Length: 9″ OL: 14″
Blade Steel: Ladder Pattern Forged Damascus with fuller
Blade Finish: Acid Etched
Guard: Stainless Steel
Handle: Presentation Desert Ironwood
Sheath: Custom made leather sheath by maker
Comments:  Great balance!  The fuller really adds to the overall look of the knife design.  Excellent handle ergonomics.  Greg is an ABS Journeyman Smith$1,100.00

Oostendorp Orbis 5

TONI OOSTENDORP ORBIS 5 TACTICAL FIXED BLADE
Blade Length: 5″
Overall Length: 9.5″
Blade Steel: O-1
Blade Finish: Black Cera Kote
Guard Material: Stainless Steel
Handle Material: Contoured and grooved black Micarta
Sheath: Kydex with Maxpedition knife pouch.
Comments: All Orbis knives are integral. The blade, guard and tang are all forged from one piece of O-1 steel. The pommel is glued and penned into position giving you the utmost confidence in the performance of this knife.
Toni is an ABS Journeyman Smith.  Click here to learn more about custom knife maker, Toni Oostendorp$800.00

Josh Fisher San Main Damascus Stag Custom Fixed Blade

JOSH FISHER CUSTOM FORGED DAMASCUS SAN MAI FIGHTING KNIFE
Blade Length: 9″ OL: 14″
Blade Steel: Forged San Mai, 416 stainless, Damascus core
Guard, ferrule, pommel material: Hot blued carbon steel guard, ferrule and pommel with stainless steel spacers.
Handle Material: Beautiful Stag
Comments: This knife is very similar to the one featured on the cover of Knives 2019.  It is also in the article Les wrote for Knives 2019. This fixed blade knife is the same knife design as the one which won the “Best Fighter Award” at the 2018 Blade Show. Josh is an ABS Journeyman Smith!  Click here to learn more about the custom knife maker, Josh Fisher.  $1,250.00

If you are attending the show, check out Les’ BLADE UNIVERSITY class. Click for details.

29
MAY
2019

“Collecting the Art of Steel” Blade Magazine

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Blade Magazine Collecting Art of Steel

Don’t miss Les’ latest article, “Collecting: The Art of the Steel,” published on pages 82-87 in the current June issue of Blade Magazine.

Today’s hottest forged knives are boasting flashy San-Mai and Damascus blades. More so than any time over the last 30 years, Damascus and San Mai blades are no longer the purview of just Master Smiths.  Due to improved equipment and the availability of information, Les finds several Apprentice Smiths and Journeyman Smiths creating some exceptional blades.

Some have the skills required to make the blades, but still need improvement on the overall knife.  Other makers, such as the ones featured in the article, have abilities that belie their status in the American Bladesmith Society.  They are few and far between; none the less, they do exist.  The problem is and has been, the price of their knives is not commensurate with their status in the market. That said, each collector will make up their mind with regards to the pricing.

His recommendation to collectors is to do your homework to understand the details of the knife you are looking at and judge them on their own merit.  This is important as there has been a growing trend, particularly among Journeyman Smiths, of pricing their knives more than they are worth in the marketplace.

This publication will be free with your admission into the Blade Show.  See ya in Atlanta at the show!!

 

24
APR
2019

BLADE UNIVERSITY 2019

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Blade Show Blade University Atlanta 2019

BLADE UNIVERSITY

Saturday, June 8th, Les will be teaching a class as part of Blade University at the Blade Show in Atlanta, GA.  This will be conducted in room 109, starting at 9:45 am – 10:45 am.  The subject, “Is a Custom Knife Dealer/Purveyor For You? ” will benefit both knife makers and collectors.

For the purposes of this class, Les (whose focus has been only custom knives for 32 years) will be discussing specifically those dealers/purveyors who buy and sell ONLY custom knives.  Unlike some dealers who sell both factory and custom knives, those with instiutional or specific knowledge of custom knives will benefit both the knife maker or custom knife collector much more.

The following will be discussed in the seminar:
*Maker benefits for working with a custom knife dealer/purveyor
*Collector benefits for working with a custom knife dealer/purveyor
*Potential problems for makers working with custom dealers/purveyors
*Potential problems for collectors working with custom knife dealers/purveyors
This link https://bladeshow.com/education/blade-u/ will take you directly to the Blade University portion of the Blade Show website where you may purchase tickets ahead of time.  Last year both of the classes he taught sold out.  Hope to see you there…

Is a Custom Knife Dealer/Purveyor for You?

Saturday, June 8th 9:45 am – 10:45 am  Room 109

BLADE SHOW 2019   ATLANTA, GA
June 7 – 9
Fri. 2 pm – 7 pm    Cobb Galleria Centre
Sat. 9 am – 6 pm   2450 Galleria Parkway

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

18
FEB
2019

ARKANSAS KNIFE SHOW REVIEW

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The Arkansas Knife Show

Saturday, February 16
Little Rock, AR

Congratulations to Logan Pearce for once again putting on a excellent custom knife show.

The custom knife makers ranged from newer ABS Apprentice Smith makers to World Class ABS Master Smiths.

Master Smith makers attending were Harvey Dean, Jerry Fisk, Jim Crowell, Steve Culver, Kyle Royer, John Horrigan, J.R. Cook, Lin Rhea, Bill Buxton and others.

Journeymen Smiths were well represented with Josh Fisher showing off his first Sub-Hilt Fighter.  Shawn Ellis won the Best Hunter Award and  Scott Gallagher won the Best Folder Award.  Other talented JS makers in attendance were Allen Newberry, Karl Andersen and Larry Cox.

Allen Newberry brought some nice silver wire inlay handled knives. Karl Andersen offered a good selection of take down knives. Larry Cox had some very nice Damascus and Ivory fixed blades.

I had very informative conversations with Apprentice Smiths, Mitch Cargile and Mark Fleming.  Both are doing clean work and attaining their JS Stamps will happen in the very near future.

The Arkansas show is second only to the Blade Show in both variety and quality of forged blades.  This show not only offers knives from a wide variety of makers, it does so in a relaxed environment.

The show will be moving from February to March for 2020.  I highly recommend fitting this into your knife show plans.  You will not be disappointed.

03
FEB
2019

Handmade Knives’ Cyclical Nature

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KNIVES 2019

Be sure to pick up a copy of Knives 2019. In addition to all the incredible photos, you can read my article, “The Cyclical Nature of Handmade Knives.”

Starting on page 8, I discuss my take on the custom knife market from 1984 to now. Oh, the photo is ABS Master Smith Steve Randall’s First Sub-Hilt Fighter!

05
JAN
2019

4 Paths to Collector Glory Blade Mag. 1/2019

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Please check out Les’ article on “4 Paths to the Collector Glory” in the Jan. issue of Blade Magazine pages 22-25.

15
OCT
2018

Custom Knives; Is Your Education Lacking? Part 1

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Information on knife makers, styles, materials, and all things custom knives can be found in publications that are primarily knife related and those that have articles or include them in their stories.  Combine that with the amount of information on the internet and the membership levels of internet forums, one can argue you never have to leave your house to find out all you need to know about a custom knife. You could argue that, but I would submit to you that you are wrong.

BUGGY WHIPS AND BICYCLES

For centuries, buggy whips saw steady sales.  Businesses were built and careers were made crafting this necessary piece of equipment for everyone from the average person to the gentry. Then at the turn of the 20th century many of these stores closed up shop.  Why?   The introduction of the automobile changed the focus of what consumers wanted.   Many gave the public what they wanted and adapted with the times.  Some went into the bicycle business and even that morphed into something else.  A couple of friends changed the idea of the bicycle and their newest ideas can be seen today all over the roads and in their Headquarters in Milwaukee, WI.   A couple of brothers moved from Ohio to North Carolina and today you see their ideas; but you have to look up.

Today, custom knife making and collecting move at a rapid pace.  Techniques, materials, openers, locks from the past are morphed into updated versions of your Grandfather’s, maybe even your Father’s pocket knife. New makers seem to show up weekly if not daily. I routinely receive emails and phone calls inquiring about a new maker.  When I reply that I have not heard of them, I am often met with, “They have been making knives for 3 months and they are awesome.”  No doubt there are some knife makers that show great potential almost immediately with varied backgrounds, many with newly acquired machining skills from their job or a technical school.  While for most the learning curve is a little longer than 3-6 months.  In particular, for tactical folders, with the right machines and the training that curve can be cut in half.  That said, my curiosity is always piqued by the latest knife making savant.

Parts 2 

Part 3

 

 

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

08
OCT
2018

Custom Knives; Is Your Education Lacking? Part 2

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PIQUED CURIOSITY AND THE FIRST ‘V’

Hearing or reading about the latest and greatest begs a couple of questions.

First, who are the collectors who are touting the work of these makers?

A foray onto the knife forums will introduce you to hundreds of experts.  Spending time reading some of the posts can clarify for you that this member actually has extensive experience and speaks with authority on a wide range of subjects.  Then there are experts who have compartmental expertise, such as slip joint and multi-blade folders.   They can answer questions and usually point you in the right direction.  Then, there are the other experts; more commonly referred to as “fan boys.”  While in some circles, this is a derogatory term.  In fact, they can have their own expertise.  However, this is generally limited to only a few makers who in their minds feel that the makers they collect are the best.  Often basing this on their personal relationship with the maker and the amount of said makers’ knives in their collection. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “If it is on the internet it must be true.”

Second, what is it about the maker that has gotten the attention of collectors. The first “V” stands for visual, in the form of photos or in some cases videos. If done well, these can give you a good idea if the knife will appeal to you or not.   The 2-dimensional format of this media limit your ability to truly judge the knife.  Depending on the quality of the photography or video, they may hide essential items when looking at knives.   Example, is the maker left handed or right handed?   Close ups of the choil area and plunge cuts if not clear can obfuscate the collector’s ability to determine with clarity the quality of the maker’s work.  Case in point, while attending a show in Las Vegas in 2014 I was asked by a client to evaluate a new makers work.   The knife featured a blade, with two pieces of Titanium for the handle.  The entire knife had an acid wash finish.  I pointed out an area on the blade, the plunge cut.  This is the area in front of the ricasso where the edge starts.  Often, acid wash is used to disguise the scratches on the blade where the plunge starts and moves towards the start of the edge.  I pointed this area and the scratches that were visible under closer scrutiny.

Part 1

Part 3

 

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

01
OCT
2018

Custom Knives; Is Your Education Lacking? Part 3

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PERIOD OF ENLIGHTENMENT

When I conduct seminars at knife shows I always welcome those in attendance to the period of enlightenment.  What makes a knife show a period of enlightenment?  Let’s face it most of your friends and relatives to understand your fascination with these edged pieces of art.  Explaining it can be difficult, justifying some of the prices more so.  Often you will hear from your friends you could have bought a firearm or something else for that kind of money.  They generally want to refer you to the local store to peruse their $30 – $40 knives; they are not enlightened.

THE ULTIMATE COMBINATION OF RESOURCES

If being able to handle thousands of custom knives isn’t enough.  You can talk with the maker or a dealer and get instant knowledgeable feed back to your questions.  Many of those internet experts may be in attendance and be further utilized as a real-time resource.  Often these shows feature seminars from those who are recognized as experts in their specialty.  Now include the latest in knife magazines and an incredible resource that is the Knife Annual.  Lastly, you can utilize your Google-Fu to check after market prices and other factors that may influence your decision.

KNIFE SHOWS ALL AROUND THE WORLD

Knife shows can be found in Africa, China, Europe, South America and North America. Yes, you may have to do some planning and there will be some monetary outlay for attendance.  The question then becomes what is your education worth?   The reality is that most of us who have bought custom knives have overpaid or didn’t get exactly what you thought you were utilizing the internet only approach.

Knife shows allow you the opportunity to expand your knife education level that will pay benefits moving forward.   Usually these shows feature the work of makers from outside the United States.  South African Andre Thorburn travels outside his South African home to shows in both the US and Europe allowing you to experience his tactical artistry.  Having had the chance to handle and inspect different knives and another makers work.  This will allow you to confirm your desire for a particular knife, perhaps change your mind or even send you in a different direction of a makers work you were unfamiliar with.   This information could save you thousands of dollars moving forward with your collecting or even those who purchase primarily for use.

Part 1

Part 2

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

30
SEP
2018

Custom Knife Deposits Part 1

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Deposits for Custom Knives: Yes, No, Maybe?

The subject of whether to pay a custom knife maker or a custom knife dealer a deposit or not, comes up on a regular basis.  What I have learned (sometimes the hard way) over the last 34 years comes down to these categories.

COMMUNICATION

I cannot over emphasize that when ordering a custom knife, communication is key.  It is imperative that both the maker and the collector are on the same page as to the knife, the materials, estimated (note I wrote estimated) delivery time, price and when payment will be required.  There needs to be clear communication when it comes to a deposit.  Some makers will require one and some won’t.  Often those who require one do so because they have been burned by a client in the past. The main reason for this is poor or no communication.  My recommendation to both makers and collectors with regards to orders are pretty straight forward.   The maker should contact the collector PRIOR TO STARTING the knife (not after it is built.)  This allows both the maker and collector to discuss the knife one more time, especially if several months or years have passed.   This lets the collector know the knife will be ready in a few weeks and payment will be do upon completion.   This allows the maker to insure the email or phone number is still working and the shipping address is still accurate.  This communication allows both parties to know exactly which knife is being built, when it will be completed and when payment will be due.  While this sounds simple enough, you would be amazed at how many knives are built not knowing if the client still wants the knife, the email still works, etc.

Read

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

23
SEP
2018

Custom Knife Deposits Part 2

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Deposits for Custom Knives: Yes, No, Maybe?

Deposits, why?

What about makers who ask for a deposit?  Generally, there is no reason for a deposit; however, there are exceptions. Look at the 3 guidelines listed below to help you determine if the deposit is necessary.  These are my 3 guidelines for knife maker deposits:

1) No Deposit: More times than not you will be ordering a knife that is a standard model; often with your particular material(s) requested.  This knife should never require any kind of deposit.  There is one exception, see number 2.

2) Partial Deposit: May be required if you are requesting material upgrades to a standard model.  These can come in the form of blade steel such as Damascus or San Mai.  Bolster materials such as Damascus or Ti-mascus and frame materials such as Moku-Ti, Zirconium or Damascus are examples. You can expect to pay a deposit for additional materials such as precious gem stones or metals. be given if you are requesting things such as semi-precious gem stones, precious gem stones or precious metals. Given the prices of fossil Ivory today, don’t be surprised if you are asked for a deposit to cover the cost of this.

3) Full Payment:  This is something that should never be done with one exception. You order a knife that is so hideous or has such a horrible design that should you decide to back out the maker would not be able to sell this knife.  If it hasn’t happened to you already it is only a matter of time before you find yourself looking at a knife and thinking or even saying out loud “What the heck was the maker thinking.”  Occasionally a maker will push the design/material envelope on their own.  More often not though there is a collector behind this creation.

Read

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at customknives@comcast.net or (706) 650-0252.

16
SEP
2018

Custom Knife Deposits Part 3

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Deposits for Custom Knives: Yes, No, Maybe?

I have witnessed a change over the last 30 years with makers attitude towards deposits.   This change seemed to coincide with the advent of the Internet.   Prior to that long distance phone calls were expensive and generally not made to check up on makers.   Today, those makers who take deposits have given (whether they realize it or not) permission to their client to check with them on the progress of their knife.   Sometimes this comes in the form of daily emails.  Often starting within a week of the order, even though the knife will not be ready for 6 months.  Unfortunately, many collectors become a nuisance wanting to know about every step of their knife build along the way.  Collectors, remember the more time the maker takes to answer phone calls and emails, the less time they are in the shop working on your knife.

Dude, where is my knife?

I just want to touch briefly on the shipping and paying for your knife.   You should ALWAYS pay for insurance.  The only thing worse than your shipping service of choice losing your knife, is losing the knife and not getting reimbursed for it.  Check with those who have been collecting for a while, no matter the service people have horror stories.   When paying for your knife, especially with a money order send the envelope signature required.  Should payment go “missing” you will have a date and name to start the investigation with.   Should you pay with a credit card you can file a charge back with merchant bank.  Time frames will differ with the bank the merchant uses.

Read

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

09
SEP
2018

Custom Knife Deposits Part 4

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Deposits for Custom Knives: Yes, No, Maybe?

Possible Help

Because issues can arise it is imperative for both maker and collector to keep their communications (particularly emails).   Should something go wrong, if the maker belongs to a professional organization such as the US Knifemakers Guild or the American Bladesmith Society (as examples) and file a complaint against a member in good standing.  You will need communication records lest it turn into a he said/she said situation.

Ordering a custom knife should be a pleasurable experience! Open and direct communication between the maker and collector will insure the makers builds the knife you order.  I don’t know a knife maker who does not want to do their best to get you the knife you want. Remember, it is best not to pay for the knife upon ordering it. Many knife makers have told me, “The hardest knife to build is the one that has been paid for.”

Read

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Robertson’s Custom Cutlery is your source for custom knives from today’s leading custom knife makers. We only feature the highest quality knives at value prices. Our custom fixed and folding knife selection includes tactical fixed and folding knives, presentation fixed and folding knives, bowies, hunters and skinners, and a large selection of forged blades. Les Robertson, author and owner of Robertson’s Custom Cutlery, is also a Field Editor for Blade Magazine and an instructor at Blade University. If you have questions about the content in this article or about any knife or maker on our website, you can contact Les directly at les@robertsonscustomcutlery.com or (706) 650-0252.

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