Jay Fisher - World Class Knifemaker

Quality Without Compromise

Maker's Mark:
Knife Maker's Mark for Jay Fisher Knives

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"Magdalena Magnum" obverse side view in D2 extremely high carbon die steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Pilbara Picasso Jasper gemstone handle, hand-carved, hand-tooled leather sheat
"Magdalena Magnum"

Funny and interesting knife emails, stories, scams, and comments, page six, for advanced discussion!

Page One Here
Page Two Here
Page Three Here
Page Four Here
Page Five Here

No! Not another one! And advanced? What's that mean?

jay i am looking for a custom sword to spark fire in my eyes every time I look at it.
Suzanne E.

--actual complete email received, 2007

Having a large and active web site since 1996 has, thankfully, brought me a lot of interest, business, partnership with patrons, and knife orders and purchases. Truly, I would not be able to do what I do without the support and contact of new and existing knife clients and people who are interested in fine custom and handmade knives. I am honored, humbled, and grateful to those people who contact me, start a conversation about their knife, and may ultimately become regular clients. That is what this web site is about, pure and simple: my knives, my clients, and my career.

As the web site traffic has grown, people have sent emails about everything related to knives in any way. I suppose that's because they see a large and meaty web site, so the answer or project they seek will be there, and all that has to happen is an email, so they send. During that time, the site has grown, developed, been refined, has had some areas restricted, and evolved. A great deal of that evolution has had to happen to limit the huge onslaught of incoming emails and inquiries.

They sent so many emails that were not related to this site (which is about my knives, knife clients, and career), I became overwhelmed, spending four or more hours a day answering their inquiries. I realized that this was time I was taking away from my clients who had ordered custom knives and clients who were watching the site waiting for new inventory knives to come up for sale. In order to limit the flood of email, I created the "What I do and don't do" page.

The "What I do and don't do" page was a hit. It made clear that I would not answer emails unless they were about ordering or purchasing a knife from me. I added some dry humor to it. I added topics as new emails were sent asking for more services. I added links to sites that would help those in need. Although the page reduced the amount of incoming emails tremendously, they still came in because people either ignored the page or didn't believe it applied to them. You can't miss the page; before you email me I specifically link it on the singular email link page on this site. Nowadays, if email still comes in that does not pertain to the knives or my clients, I simply ignore it. Some of it is priceless, and is viable educational material for those interested in making knives, in having knives made, or learning more  about knifemaking perspective, so I've chosen to share it here, on the sixth page of funny emails and stories. Don't forget to look at the other funny pages linked at the top of this page.

Please keep your sense of humor when reading through this page. If you don't have a sense of humor, or don't understand satirical, hyperbolic, anecdotal, ironic, juvenile, mordant, or farcical humor, please feel free to browse to another site. Don't feel compelled to email me and tell me how awful I am for having a site that is just about my knives, my clients, and my career. If you do write to complain, I might post your comment here, and others can enjoy it, too!

For all of you who have written to thank me for posting this page and who have enjoyed the emails, letters, and comments, thank you. You are who I've built this for!

Some points about the page:
  • No full names have been used, only the initials of the senders
  • No addresses or email addresses have been included
  • No web site links have been included
  • I've removed all wild formatting, strange fonts, bizarre colors, because you don't need that in your computer any more than I want it in mine!
  • Removed data has been replaced by asterisks*.
  • I haven't corrected the spelling (if they don't care, why should I?)
  • I have removed all the extraneous non-breaking spaces, and cleaned up the XHTML coding. What a job!
  • Most of the comments are in an email text box format. You'll see my responses where applied, and my thoughts will be in bold italics.
  • If you don't like or don't understand my humor, please don't write and tell me how awful I am. Instead, write the president, and insist he shut down the whole internet because it's just a bad idea.
  • Super important! This is the advanced page, so the topics may get into deep technical discussion with links to pertinent sections of informative topics on the site, so have your browser skills honed to a high degree! Please note that the writing I've included is my opinion, based on the over 35 years of experience I have making knives. Please consider that when reading about knife types, styles, geometry, and materials. If you are agitated easily and have a different opinion, please don't write me; build your own website instead. That way, you can share what you know based on your own experience.

Please enjoy, and thanks for being here!

Hi Jay,
I've never made a knife, held a job, graduated high school, or moved out of my parent's house. However, there are some things about knife making on your website that I don't agree with and think you should change..........Ha Ha, Just kidding of course. I spent an hour reading through some of the emails you posted and couldn't stop shaking my head. I'm scared there are a lot more of these people than we realize. Not only do they vote, as you mentioned, but I'm also scared they continue to breed!

--M. R.

Hi Jay;
Thank you for most amazing and informative article about the knives. I also salute you for great work and gift that you have.

Another one that starts out great! Hope springs eternal-

I have been fascinated with knives since 2nd grade, am armature by all standards, made many and as you see in my websites, making a living working with inventors and pioneers. Main reason of this e mail is mass producing an amazing knife that is taken me nearly 50 years to develop!

Okay, I'm already lost. An armature? Do you mean your a rotating coil in a motor, or perhaps a frame for sculpture and artwork? "My websites?" What websites? And you're emailing me about mass production of knives? I guess that showing so many knives on my website can confuse some people into thinking I'm a "mass producer," but I'm not. And 50 years to design one knife? I'll let you know right up front that the design process of a knife is a small portion of the actual creation and completion of the piece, so am I to understand that the actual knife construction may take 100, 200, or 300 years? I'm gettin' old here. He continues:

I invented a multi functional sport tool named M*** (Machete & Ax), in a hunting trip in East Texas then made several working prototypes, sheaths and accessories. We finalized the engineering and development of M*** to a very diversified and multi functional tool and filed for a patent. Just to give you a rough idea, given a chance, M*** is the only tool you want to have with you to survive in the roughest terrains, make fire, cut through everything as well as making yourself a full log cabin!

Okay, this is just ridiculous. I looked this thing over. It's a bolo-shaped blade of uncertain size (he never specifies any dimension, much less how long it is, which is rather important in the knifemaking world), and it has a section of saw teeth on the spine. Like that's never ever been done before in the history of man. The knife is a plastic handled, shallow ground piece of machete-ish styling, kind of reminding me of a game hatchet I designed and made back in my early years, perhaps 1981. He's attempted to put everything in the sheath, a diamond file, a firesteel and magnesium source, and a chisel (though I don't know what you would use a chisel for since the knife blade is shaped like a chisel). The entire affair is held together in a plastic sheath that is strangely open on the front, and the knife is secured in the sheath with two long, offensive looking pins striking horizontally out from the sheath back and through the plastic guard. Falling on this rig would surely cause injury. In any case, there is no actual knife, just a drawing, and years later, it's still a drawing as I guess the guy never got one of them produced.

We are creating another legendary, all American Made product to create jobs in our country. I would like to ask your help for either sub contract manufacturing the blades or direct me to suitable manufacturer.

You don't "create" a legend. I don't know what this guy is talking about; I'm obviously not a manufacturer and don't have a lot of warm feelings for manufactured knives... ahem.

Please sign and return enclosed NDA for more details.

Ahhh... the big red hot flag: the NDA. I write more about Non-Disclosure Agreements on this special section on my Business of Knifemaking page at this bookmark. Go ahead and review that and I'll wait here for your return.

Thanks for all your help in advance.
In Gratitude,
A. M.

Okay, I looked this guy up. This is from his main website where he claims: "I am a designer, master engraver, master machinist, tool and die maker, and industrial engineer. I have made high precision aircraft parts, designed and made a wide assortment of new products including tools, patterns and molds for: Rotational Molding, Injection Molding, Investment Casting, Reaction Injection Molding, Die Casting, Spin Casting, Boating and Thermo-Forming Industry."

Okay, simple question: what in the hell does he need me for? Good grief, make and market your own knife! Oh, wait. He said in his very first line of his email that he was an "armature." Hmmm, seems like we have a discrepancy here...

Here is an actual knife used in counterterrorism that has useful and plentiful sheath features:
"Ghroth" Tactical, combat, counterterrorism knife, obverse side view in ATS-34 high molybenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, coyote brown, black G10 composite handle, hybrid tension-locking sheath with full accessory package
More about this "Ghroth"

Please read this email carefully.

Dear Sir / Madam,
Please allow me to take this opportunity to introduce our company to you:
Our firm is a professional manufacturer and exporter of Knives & Tools.
We have been making high quality knives and tools with many famous brands all over the world.
Such as: Kersaw, Boker, Taylor Brands (Smith & Wesson, Schrade), Puma knives, Browning, Remington, Master Cutlery(Mtech), Frost Cutlery, Cabelas, Colt,  B & F, Rite Edge, Budk, Wuujau, Dakota, Ruko, Eickhorn (Germany), C.Jul.Herbertz, Due Buoi, Marttiini, Rapala, Albainox, Viking Knives, etc.
For more information, please take a look at our website: *URL Deleted* / *URL Deleted*
If you find any of the items interesting, please feel free to contact us.
Thanks and best regards,
Vincent F.
******** Road, Yangdong, Yangjiang, Guangdong, China.
*Telephone and email addresses deleted

On the surface, this looks like just another foreign vendor. But look carefully at the names this mass Chinese manufacturer lists as "making knives with." This is extremely important. Does this Chinese manufacturing firm make knives? You bet they do and they make thousands and thousands of them; they are a very big player in the industry. Do they make knives or perhaps just parts for knives that are then assembled in these "American" knife manufacturing plants, firms, and businesses? I'll leave that to you to figure out. It's fascinating, too, to see the photos posted on their website of well-known individual knifemakers posing with the company's founder at knife shows in Las Vegas and Atlanta. Now, when you buy your next knife, and have one of these American knife brands or makers in mind, you might just remember this actual email I received and posted for your interest and education. Something serious to think about.

While I do believe in international trade and commerce, and ship and acquire goods from foreign firms, I will soundly declare that every part of my knives, sheaths, stands and accessories is made right here in my studio in Clovis, New Mexico, USA. Yes, New Mexico is a state, and not part of some foreign country. Look it up!

Below: a group of "Ari B' Lilah" counterterrorism knives being handmade by Jay Fisher for one of the world's top counterterrorism teams
Group of Counterterrorism knives handmade by Jay Fisher in his studio in Clovis, New Mexico, USA
More about these fine handmade Counterterrorism Knives

Mr. Fisher
I wanted to tell you what a great source of information your site intails. I am a below the knee amputee living in Tennessee, I was one of 3 frontline amputee firefighters in the US for 7 years, sence then I have had to leave the department on medical in 2008 and have been searching for that " thing" I can do and still make a differnce and have an income to support my family. I have a small welding business that sorta pays the bills. Recently I have been making a few knives for my self and friends I find it very enjoyable and offten buddies complain about how long it takes( guessing you hear this offten) , I do pride myself on attention to details and have learned alot in the past few months. Finding your site lastnight I was captivated and stayed up till 4 am just reading and admiring your craftmanship. You are truly an artis and an insperation to me. Not sure if you will ever get this as I'm sure you get hundreds of emails a day if you do by chance get it and have a few min I would greatly appreciate a little direction on how to proceed in this endevor.

These are tough emails. It doesn't matter who you are, making knives for a living is extremely hard physical work. You might be able to scrape by, but with a serious disability, production and movement is going to be drastically impaired. I wouldn't recommend knifemaking as a living for anyone unless they are completely mobile, active, and robust. Just for an example, in a typical day, I easily take 10,000 steps and travel 5-8 miles just within the studio. Every day! We have a technology that measures this, and it's an extremely active profession requiring great endurance. You are constantly moving between machines, workstations, storage and supplies, while pushing, controlling and manipulating refractory materials, and I won't even mention the constant activity of MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations).
My sober suggestion is make some knives if you love doing it, but try something a lot less physically demanding for earning a living and supporting yourself and your family. There really is no way to make it easy; no tips, tricks or suggestions that will make it so. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it, and everybody would be successful at it, and they are not.
God bless you in your endeavors.

Below: intricate forms and endless details abound in knifemaking
"Mercurius Magnum" Tactical Art Knife, obverse side view: 440C high chromium stainless tool steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Australian Snakeskin Jasper gemstone handle, red stingray skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this Mercurius Magnum

I came across your website for knives and I thought you would be a great resource for my project. I own a metal service center and I would like to build a website that would sell metal directed at knife makers. I stock over 8000 sku's of metal in my store but I would like to get more specific and narrow down the types of metal I should be listing on my ecommerce site.
If you could spare some time I would be interested in getting your feedback as to what types of metal I should be stocking and listing on this site.
Thanks and have a great day!
J. C.

To be fair, just how would your selling of metal differ from all of the existing sources out there? I mean, seriously, man, you would have to come up with a tremendously good deal to make most makers shift their sourcing. So you would be living on the margins, unless you have a foundry owned by your Uncle Rasthalian who cuts corners by firing his furnaces with yak dung... and trying to do the market speak (SKU=stockeeping unit) does not inspire the personal touch so many of us have learned to appreciate in our acquisitions. You don't even identify the metal, and in our business, that's pretty damn important!
But worse, much worse is your ability to process numbers, which are extremely critical for successful businesses. Knifemakers use very little steel; in truth, a microscopic amount when you consider tool, die, and specialty steels in the vast world economy. Blade steels account for less than one percent of specialty steel transactions; just call some of the steel foundries and ask. Why cater to an incredibly small world market, why not aim a little higher?

Beautiful Jade gemstone handle and clean metalwork:
"Mercator" obverse side view: 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Nephrite Jade gemstone handle, black stingray skin inlaid in leather sheath
More about this "Mercator"
Please remember that the opinions expressed here are my own, based on my experience in this field. If you disagree, you are fully entitled to build your own knives, and your own website, and stake your claim the way you see fit. My employers are the thousands of kind men and women who have ordered and purchased my knives in the last three decades, and to them I owe my loyalty, and no others. Except, of course, my family. And my dogs. Don't forget a couple cats, too, though at times they are intolerable. I'm fond of a couple trees, also, but they don't complain.

I have read a lot into your web site (spent hours) and love your work. im planning on buying a b****made 580 folding knife (not the low quality knives mentioned in your gemstone page or for $160 not in my mind) and am wondering if i where o send you the handles and purpleheart wood if it would be possible for you to make a set of grips for it? i have not purchased it yet but its a knife i have wanted for a while. And I am wondering if you where to do this what would you charge if you could give me an estimate? (*URL of cheap factory knife models deleted) -I think im going to get the 5**-SBK. For a example of the texture of the wood: (URL of terrible, blurry photo of thin planks of purpleheart wood deleted)

Since this is the advanced page, I'll go into some detail here. He claims he loves my work, but is plainly interested in a a factory knife. The knife mentioned sells for $127.00 on Amazon, so I don't really know what he's talking about with the $160.00 number thrown out. And to claim he's not interested in the "low quality knives mentioned in your gemstone page" doesn't make any sense at all. Clearly, I don't put handles on any factory knife, this is stated over and over on this site, and if he had really spent hours reading he might know this. Then in a final attempt at specificity, he mentions the other cheap factory knife model, which sells for $140.00 on Amazon to lure me in.

Beyond the ridiculous basis of this email, let's look over the knife he's fascinated with, since he seems to somehow compare my work with this factory stuff. Granted it's a cheap knife, made cheaply, made by the thousands.

Blade: It has a 154CM blade, which is fine; this is a good steel, as most are. Look a little closer. No where on the ad for this knife is the hardness specified which is, after all, rather important! The blade is not even finished, even though 154CM can look absolutely beautiful when finished. Instead, it's sprayed with paint. What kind of paint? Why "Cerakote®," which is really just spray paint with some ceramic dust in it. It's not even a powder coat (which excels in adhesion bonding, durability, longevity, and heat and wear resistance). You spray Cerakote® on; you don't even have to bake it; it's just a little bit better than spray paint from a hardware store, but that's really all there is. It's paint, it can be scratched, it does not offer any additional protection to the surface of the stainless steel because this stainless steel is already quite durable and resistant to corrosion and scratching by itself. In fact, it's my contention that this paint will accelerate corrosion, because any moisture or fluids can be trapped beneath the paint, and then corrosion goes and grows on uninhibited, unnoticed, and unstopped. The reason manufacturers paint blades? It's fast and easy, and they don't have to finish the metal at all, just spray it. How crappy is that? More about painted blades on my FAQ page at this bookmark.

It's a short, squarish blade, with some shallow serrations that are rounded over and washed out, typical of serration machine grinders. The blade has a swage on top, but it's profoundly mis-ground; it's deep at the ricasso and disappears before the top tanto point. What this means is that it's ground completely backwards, and since this is the technical discussion, I'll illustrate why. The purpose of the swage is to reduce POINT profile thickness without sacrificing strength of the spine. So, if done right, the swage offers a narrowing of the top of the spine, so that the point is more aggressive for piercing. In a correctly made swage, the geometry is thinner at the point and gets thicker towards the ricasso (or handle), in a gradual way, so that stresses are not created or amplified at the ricasso. This one is ground completely backwards! The swage is ground deeply at the ricasso, carving away a significant portion of the spine, thus weakening it at the very place it should not be weakened. And it thins out and disappears toward the top of the tanto drop point, making it, in effect and application: completely useless, even destructive to the geometry and strength of the blade overall! I can guess why they did this, because they ground away the top of the spine with the tanto point drop and probably had lots of knives returned because the tips were snapped off, so they thought it would be a good idea to create this boondoggle of a backwards swage to thicken the area and give it some meat. This is typical of manufacturing that's done by looks on a CADD program monitor and not actual field use and application technology, and another reason why factory blades are so poorly constructed. But then, there's the price...

The Handle. Not a lot to admire here. Made of stuff called "Valox." Sounds impressive, right? Like some new element discovered on the planet of Valotran, where Jerry Vale sings romantic lullabies in the light of three pastel moons. However, some basic research will reveal that this is a THERMOFORMING POLYESTER! Polyester? Isn't that the stuff used in the cheapest fiberglass-type handles? Super, duper cheap? For some applications (like a small boat hull or cording, rope and webbing) polyester is great, but for knife handles? It's the wrong choice, period. Learn more about this horrid material for knife handles on this link on my Manmade Handle Materials page. That he wants me to replace it with purpleheart is a positive improvement.

The lock is a design that was created and patented by a knifemaker, a decent sliding bar lock for the application. His patent expired in 2015, so anyone can use it now. It relies upon the strength of the handle frame to support it, so is probably less force-resistant than a liner lock, which would require the handle to fall apart to defeat it. Of course, all locks depend on the accurate fit and machining of the entire mechanism and blade, and in a $140.00 knife, you wouldn't expect it to be too great.

So that's the gist of it. Back to the original email, why would I put a handle on this cheap piece of manufactured product, and where did you get the idea I would?

A very nice liner lock folding knife:
"Sadr" liner lock folding knife: 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, jasper gemstone handle, anodized titanium liners, granite case
More about this "Sadr"

Hello Jay Fisher
my name is D. T. i am a knife reviewer on Youtube and have done reviews on some great knives in the past but your knives are spectacular and am very interested in them. I know you may get a lot of these requests but let me assure you my reviews are well researched and very thorough and doing a review on your knives would mean a great deal to me. Thank you for your time and cant wait to hear back from you, have a great day. 

You would think I could simply plug this guy's name (omitted here) into a search engine in YouTube and find his reviews. You would think. Imagine my surprise when I found only 5 videos, mainly short clips of teenagers doing things teenagers do; dancing, singing pop tunes, working out, and climbing around a playground. Not one review of any knife, not a single hint of a knife anywhere. And I was so looking forward to his "review" when I sent him a brand new $4000.00 knife! Oh, well.

Review this real tactical combat knife for a soldier who served in OEF, OIF I, OIF III, and OIF V
"Mercator" tactical combat knife, obverse side view in blued O1 high carbon tungsten-vanadium alloy tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, canvas Micarta phenolic handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath
More about this "Mercator"

Hey Jay,
I have a strange request for you. Would it be theoretically possible for you to put a serrated edge on the back side of a scissor blade? For example...in the image at (*URL not found, but based in a sewing machine vendor's site*)
I have a TSA "friendly" survival kit I have taken all over the world as I only travel with a carry on bag. Obviously, I can't bring a knife along with me. However...TSA does allow you now to carry scissors in your carry on bag if the blade is less than 4 inches. So I got to thinking...if you take a pair of quality scissors apart...essentially you have two knife blades. The closest thing I have found is the 9920 model shears made by Fiskars (*URL showing short, horrid little blunted Fiskars with a knife edge on one blade, and a serrated edge on the other- on the outside of the scissors*)
If you have the capability to add a serrated edge to the backside of a scissor blade, sortof like the one by Fiskars, do you have an idea how much that would cost? Thanks

Another query not related to anything I do, but let's have a look. You want me to somehow assist you in covertly smuggling a knife aboard an airplane; is this correct? You want me to subvert the security procedures for air travel safety for what reason, exactly? Are you asking me to help you break the law? Hell, I can refer you to the nearest FBI office or Homeland Security if you wish. After all, I have friends and family that fly, so what intent do you have here? And really, if you like the stumpy stupid looking Fiskars, why not just pop for a pair of those and see if you can do a dry run to get it past the TSA? After all, you're all about taunting procedures and breaking laws, right? How about I "theoretically" pass your intentions to the authorities so they can put you on the NO FLY LIST, where it sounds like you belong... shees.

A counterterrorism blade to admire:
"Xanthid" counterterrorism knife knife in N360 nitrogen passivated tool steel blade, sheath of kydex, anodized 5052H32 aluminum welt frame, blackened and passivated 304 stainless steel hardware and fixtures, anodized 6AL4V titanium
More about this "Xanthid" Counterterrorism Dive Knife

hi mr. fisher.
i have a question about some work i would like to have done.  have a cold st*** r*** II that i recently purchased and would like the american bando association logo etched onto the blade. i was wondering how much something like this would cost and if you would be interested in doing this for me. thank you for your time. J.

Not that I would ever consider doing any work on the astoundingly out-of-balance so-called "folding khukri" made of a poor, lower alloy Japanese steel, atrociously finished, poorly constructed misshapen 14" folding knife...! It's the handle that stops me cold. Griv-Ex? Really? This is high temperature nylon, the same plastic used in automotive engine compartment air boxes and other engine compartment applications. You know the stuff if you've popped the hood on a modern car. Big cowlings, splash guards, even intake manifolds as long as the temperature doesn't ever get above 338°F (170°C). Hint: Zytel is the same stuff, so it's really just another name for nylon, but sounds all cool and techie.
Just for future reference, any association logo, particularly one not in the governmental or public domain is a protected artwork, either by trademark or copyright, so putting it on your wondrous piece could bring legal action. Just so you know...

A real tactical combat khukri:
"Phlegra" custom combat, tactical knife, obverse side view in blued O1 high carbon tungsten-vanadium tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, canvas Micarta phenolic handle, kydex, aluminum, blued steel sheath with engraved flashplate
More about this Phlegra khukri

I have a Kershaw fixed blade knife that belonged to my husband and I would like to give it to my son.  I was wondering if you know of anyone who can polish it back to the mirror finish (it has never been used but over time the mirror finish has very, very slightly deteriorated).  I've contacted lots of local knife and sharpening businesses here in Houston and nobody seems to be able to or want to do it.
E. F. 

I respect the emotional bond that knives have, and clearly, so does this writer. Why not just give the knife, as it is, to her son, without trying to get somebody to improve its appearance?
Simply put, if the knife has never been used (as she claims) then why has the mirror polish deteriorated?
First, let's just assume that the knife does indeed have a bright mirror polish. I'll state soundly that it does not; no manufactured knife has a true mirror polish. They may claim it's mirror, or bright, or high, or some other descriptive term, but their version of polish is far below the high finish that can be applied by careful hand work. Just look over the videos online of dozens of guys "customizing" Kershaw factory knives by polishing them on a buffer. So let's just ignore that and consider there is something of value in the finish she likes that has deteriorated, and she wants it "back."

It might do well to look over the knife itself, it's creation, its material, its value in the world of knives. Kershaw makes cheap knives. There; I said it; so shoot me. But it's clear. Their 12" long blade fixed "camp" knife sells for $28.00 in 2015, so I can soundly state that this is one of the cheapest knife markets around. Discussing this from a standpoint of value, it's easy to determine that the emotional tie is stronger than that of worth, but let's examine a bit more of this.

Kershaw is competing directly with Chinese and other foreign markets. Offering a cheap knife for cheap is great; you're aiming at a particular volume market that can be substantial in size. But in doing so, the direction of quality and materials has to be downsloped. They are, indeed, lowballing, because there is no way to compete with Chinese mass manufacturing here in the US without cutting lots and lots of corners. So much so that Kershaw has admitted farming out a significant percentage of its work to China and Japan (from their website), even while claiming that the knives are made in a 55,000 square foot facility in Oregon, according to their website. How much of their work is made in foreign countries? They don't give specifics, so you're left simply to wonder.

Let's go on to look at the steel itself, the steel she's worried about. From what I can determine, many of these knives are made of 420 stainless steel, which is a very poor stainless steel for any knife, even though most knives made (in China) are made of 420. No matter what, 420 can not be any harder than 52C Rockwell, and that's very soft. More about 420 stainless steel on my Blades page at this bookmark. Another steel they use is Sandvik 7C27Mo2. This reads like a highly technical steel, and you may wonder why your favorite knifemaker does not use it. Let's look this steel over. Sandvik 7C27Mo2, as listed on Sandvik's own website, is a "strip steel." It's used to make springs, and "cutters" in electric shavers. That's directly from their website, so it's clear, this is a spring steel. It has a surprisingly low alloy composition, only .3% carbon, which, while much more than the .1% in 420 stainless, is horribly lower than the 1.2% found in say, 440C. Yes, 440C has four times the carbon of the Sandvik stuff, and over ten times the carbon of 420. Just for information, carbon is the number one ingredient in steels that imparts hardness and wear resistance, the main thing that separates a knife from a piece of angle iron. Going on about Sandvik 7C27Mo2, it's claimed as a "high molybdenum" stainless, but let's look that over as well. Sandvik 7C27Mo2 has 1% molybdenum. That's a little more than 440C (at .75%), but 440C does not claim to be a "high molybdenum" stainless steel. ATS-34 does claim to be, and rightly so, as it has over three and up to four times the moly! So the Sandvik 7C27Mo2 is not a great steel, by any measure against 440C or ATS-34, or any of the other fine steels used in knives. What then, is the attraction of this steel? It's cheaper, and more easily formed, stamped, milled, and, according to their website has "excellent formability." So it belongs on cheap knives that can be easily made, and aimed at the economy knife market.

I know she didn't write me to get a lesson on cheap knives and steels, but after all, this is my profession. My profession is not polishing cheap knives, and that is clearly posted on my "What I do and don't do" page over and over, and over again. In this response, I've tried to describe why this isn't productive or reasonable.

A true mirror polish on CPM154CM Martensitic Stainless Steel:
"Ari B'Lilah" Tactical Combat Counterterrorism commemorative Knife, obverse side view in CPM154CM high Molybdenum Powder metal technology stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel  bolsters, Sardius (Jasper) gemstone handle, tension-locking sheath of kydex, aluminum, stainless steel, 6AL4V titanium, ultimate belt loop extender
More about this "Ari B'Lilah Counterterrorism Commemorative

I Have several 20 year old chainsaw bars in various lengths.up to 40".
These are in Roswell area. are you interested?
Thanks, G.

Knives from chainsaw bars. Yup. Sure, let me fire up the smoky old forge and get some Harley biker chain so we can have a logger-biker high-flown, bombastic, aggrandized come-to, in our jackets and plaid shirts with our skirts blowing up while zipping along assuming a motorcycle handstand with a double bit axe between our teeth. Does that paint a picture for you?

Imagery is a wondrous thing, when applied in a fiction novel, but does little to make a worthwhile knife. A chainsaw bar knife blade is an image thing; hell, you don't even know what the steel is, much less if it can be made into a knife! This is unfortunate, as in our tradecraft guys are making knives from motorcycle chains, crankshafts, leaf springs, and railroad spikes. By the way, none of these steels make good knives, not a one. Guys do this because they feel (not think) the previous use of the metal was so awesome that surely the awesomeness can be concentrated by hammering it into a red hot blade, and they want to share their imagery (and awesomeness). While real tool steels, high alloy performers are sometimes considered too dandy next to the bass and rumble of a good bike chain or chainsaw bar. If you understand this macho wannabe concept, then thank you for helping to end wives' tales through education in our field. And anyway, if they come from Roswell, they're probably alien anyhow, and all charged up with that alien probe radiation...

A real macho counterterrorism knife with CPMS30V tool steel:
"Raijin" Tactical combat counterterrorism knife, obverse side view in CPMS30V high vanadium stainless tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, carbon fiber handle, locking sheath in kydex, aluminum, stainless steel with Ultimate belt loop extender package and all accessories
More about this "Raijin"

I work for UPS and noticed on your website that you ship with our competitors. Have you ever considered offering UPS shipping to your customers?
D. G.
United Parcel Service

Okay, really? Is UPS so desperate that they are trolling the internet looking to snatch FedEx customers over to their side? Well, if so, I can clearly claim that I receive most of my supplies through UPS; I pay quite a bit for them to ship Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) materials and supplies to my business storefront. I've got the best delivery guys to my business I could hope for, but that's the incoming stuff.

However, I would not use or recommend UPS for any outgoing knife and artwork shipping and here is why: many years ago, I carefully boxed up a very, very expensive item to be shipped by UPS. When it arrived it was, quite literally, beat to pieces. It was red oak, which is not easy stuff to destroy, but they did their best to finish it off. I filed a claim, and UPS sent two giant goons to my business to dispute the claim. They waltzed around my studio, with doubtful accusations, glaring eyes, crossed arms, and stubborn attitudes, and not the supportive caring that should happen when their company ruined my artwork. They were clearly there to intimidate me into some small token settlement. I detailed the disaster completely, and UPS simply ignored my claim and complaint. Ignored it. Completely. The shipper ruined my artwork, then refused to make good on their damage. Refused to even try.

I did a lot of research after this. I tried to find out just who ships the most valuable, expensive, and most highly tracked and confirmed items, like jewelry, coinage, and other high value items. Every single source and professional I talked to told me it was FedEx. It was, simply, common knowledge, and I had to learn it the hard way. While I still support UPS with my money because they ship my incoming items (drill bits, grinding belts, work gloves, fasteners, and most other raw materials) quickly and as inexpensively as possible, I don't and won't use them to handle high value items. UPS has paid in their careless treatment by losing, quite literally tens of thousands of dollars of shipping fees my clients and I would have paid in the last decade, and they'll continue to lose, though I don't doubt they are doing very well shipping raw materials and supplies.

Additionally, FedEx is the only carrier I've found that will track an item to its final destination in a foreign country, something UPS absolutely refuses to do.

I've used FedEx for about 10 years now, at the time of this writing, and they haven't lost, or damaged a single item. And though one time one item was misdelivered to a wrong address in New York city by a new hire carrier during the holidays, they send out a special guy who tracked it down on the same day and got it to its right destination.

So, for Ms. D.G. who wonders why I don't ship UPS, now you know the rest of the story.

More sculpture than utility:
"Manaya" hatchet sculpture in hand-engraved ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Nephrite Jade, Green Goldstone gemstone handle, stand of Walnut, Oak, Tulipwood, Jade, Migmatite Granite
More about "Manaya"

Hello Mr. Jay Fisher sir.  Someday in the close future, me and my boyfriend are looking to get a custom made anniversary knife.

I get a lot of these from women. God love them; they're in love, and I highly approve of love. However, technically, you can not celebrate an anniversary until you are actually married. In the past, when I've taken deposits for commissions of such knives, every single relationship has met with dissolution or outright disaster, before a wedding actually occurs. I do hope it's not a hex of some kind, but seriously, every one of the pre-nuptial knives has never come to culmination by resting in Grandma's antique hutch right next to the wedding album. Now, for married couples, the exact opposite is true; every knife project based on love between them has, happily, come to fruition. For this present situation and inquiry, I'd have to first ask, "Do you have a ring and a date, or is this just a plan of yours he's not aware of?" If it is the latter, buying him a pretty knife will not likely seal the deal...

I appreciate artistic value and he appreciates the quality and durability of the object; and as a surprise I decided I would get one of his favorite collectors things and have a knife made for him, dedicated to both of us.

Again, uncertainty reigns. When a knife is dedicated, this typically means etching, engraving, or permanent personalization of some type has to be incorporated into the design. Do you have a solid ring and an actual wedding date?

When we met I drew a simple design, a delicate heart with an angel wing off to the right side. I was hoping we could have a knife made to that similar shape or design, with the feathers as a large serration. At current i'm just curious to know if you could do such a design, a wing as the blade and a hilt that somewhat resembled a heart at the base of the blade, either engraved or some how worked into the metal.... I'm not very familiar  with metal work, I apologize. I love the look of your "Aegir" knife pattern and I want to say that could be turned into a wing very nicely, and of course my beloved boyfriend is flipping his shit over how "freaking cool" it looks when I presented him the basic design with my idea.

When you met? A lot to consider here. First, though you admit you are not familiar with metal work, you have some idea of wings and hearts and mention a knife of mine that has zero resemblance to either, so I don't know what perception you have of this. With the "delicate heart," It's not something most men would appreciate, no matter how enthusiastically your beloved is cartwheeling over his feces.

I'm aware I probably sound completely inept and retarded, but this is a legitimate question.

We don't use the "r" word here; that's politically incorrect and offensive to the developmentally disabled.

If you could put a guesstimate price that'd be great; on a simplistic metal, (I mean really, the most this beauty would see is a wedding cake, I'm not looking to put something my boyfriend could hack and slash the neighbor with.

Sorry, I don't "guesstimate," but, rather, give solid quotes, and I'm afraid I won't quote this one. I don't use any "simplistic metal;" I don't even know what type of metal type or designation that is. And the thought that your mind even considers your boyfriend hacking and slashing your neighbor with your wedding knife sends a chill up my spine. And you call him your boyfriend; if you have a ring and a date, he is your fiancé, violent tendencies aside.

Its more decoration and adornment than utility) a lovely handle with a simple gemstone in a blue color, as "sky blue" is his favorite color, and the Aegir Knife body with the pattern of a wing.... that would be greatly appreciated.

Technically, Aegir was a one of a kind piece, I'm not likely to make another, and I can't quite visualize where a wing would be located in the concept or structure of the artwork.

Again, I am not looking to purchase this right now, I'm window shopping. I do apologize for the inconvenience  and hope this doesn't wind up that section of your webpage where you put stupid questions.

No windows to shop at here, and your questions are not stupid at all; I simply want to make sure you have a ring and a date!

I do hope my idea is not to far fetched and it could be done as a one of a kind gallery piece for my sweetheart who drools on knives like a kid in the candy store.

You'll have a hard time polishing all those spittle marks off the blades, and I'd have to recommend a corrosion resistant stainless steel or you'll get rust spots.

If you need a better idea of what I am asking, I would be more than happy to donate a simple design sketch for you, I'm not terribly good at knives but I do design now and again as a freelance graphic artist.

Donate? Is your work of such value that you might consider selling it to me?

Thank you for your time. I once again apologize for my interruption of your daily activity.
PS: no this design is not based off any tv, show, or movie I have ever seen. I'd feel cheated as I drew this on a napkin when I met C.
 And then I'd be tempted to sue...

Sue? Litigation? For a napkin drawing? Be sure you both get a pre-nup; it sounds like you're building on a tenuous foundation.

I'm not seeing the wing...
"Aegir" knife sculpture in mirror polished, hot blued O1 high carbon tungsten-vanadium alloy tool steel blade, blued steel bolsters, 14kt gold bezels, peridot gemstones, Nebula stone gemstone handle, stand of cast bronze, white Carribean coral, Venetian gold granite with garnets
More about "Aegir"

Dear Mr. Fisher,
I'm 19 years old, and I've just arrived back in the states after working on a mission in Western Africa for the last six months. I've been forging knives out of carbon steel since I was 15, but after returning from a place on the equator line where they all rust, your site has been most helpful in helping me understand that quality stainless steels are not only a corrosion resistant alternative, but also more than durable comparisons (if carbon is worthy of comparison at all, which I'll soon find out).
In addition, your latest page, 'funny emails' and your cleverly placed comments between the lines is simply hysterical! The woman building her relationship with a man that was begun with a sue-worthy design on a paper napkin is a winner. I'll be reading some of these aloud to my family around the dinner table tonight, and have no doubt they choke with laughter the way I did.
All in all, I would like to personally include my thanks among the many others who have also done so, for your site is very informative and inspiring to both aspiring craftsmen and adventurers alike, not to mention the new element of clean, tear drowning entertainment. Stay sharp!


P.S. Please forgive me for any ignorance on my part in case I've missed something that already exists, but if you ever have a subscription option, even a paid subscription, I'd definitely be interested, as I am positive countless others would be as well. It's rare to find a site that is bursting with legitimate information and good humor.

I apologize but this is not a knife request.

Then, knowing I won't answer your email, why do you write?

I simply wanted to ask you about your handmade knife blog.

I don't have a "handmade knife blog." What you are curiously confused about is a "website," one that has been around for quite a while.
A blog, as defined by Google is: "a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style." I find this curious, as this is not the origin or root of the made up word "blog." "Blog" comes from "weblog", which is also defined by Google as, "A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first)." So, now Google has corrupted it's own definition, but let's take the traditionally held and embraced definition of the word: "weblog" which is truncated to "blog."

What you are reading is what resides at the URL jayfisher.com, which is a website. It is not informal, quite the opposite, it is formally presented by a professional knifemaker, artist, photographer, and writer who has been making a living as a full time professional in this field for about 28 years at the time of this writing, with about 40 years of actual experience in the tradecraft. It is not a discussion; no one is discussing anything, and, most importantly, it does not consist of "discreet entries," as every subject, every topic, every knife photo, illustration, description and the associated knife subjects all interrelate to each other. There is no isolated entry, even what the reader is experiencing at this very moment is a subject that relates to all of the website: the works and experience of Jay Fisher and the clients, patrons, and persons who have general or specific professional knife interest. There is no chronological order of anything on this website, reverse or otherwise.
Simply put, this is the largest, most significant and unique website created by any single knifemaker in the world. You are viewing this, for free, without enrolling and submitting a username and password, without fees, without ads, without popups, scripts, or other troublesome garbage. I don't get paid a penny for any of this website's creation; it's my contribution to my clients, my tradecraft, and my art. I'm glad we got that all cleared up.

You say that in most cases a knife maker (w)ill be of superior quality, but will that be because they beat it out instead of casting it, a better heat treat, or just the fit and finish.

Clearly, you have no business in writing this email. This is why it's ridiculous to answer these types of inquiries; just imagine getting dozens and dozens of these a day. Knifemaking is not "beating it out," nor is it "casting." Heat treating is a precise process all blades go through, and "just the fit and finish," is an incredibly wide yet highly specific subject that is of extremely high importance to the entire field.

Would you say that the hand made knives posted in the places like bladeforums exchange are also better even though they are only a little more?

Better? Better than what? More? More than what? Factory knives? No, that doesn't make sense, because many factory knives are sold on BladeForums. What are you comparing a general location of knife purveyors to? Seriously, every knife must be compared standing on its own merit, considering a large array of features, type, and price. Need a cheap knife in a hurry? Buy a cheap knife. Need a particular type of primitive work that you collect? You, obviously, would not be buying from me, as I don't make primitive knives. The only broad statement I can make that will answer your very broad question is the suggestion that you make comparisons yourself, based on your own judgment, means, and desires.
Ponder just the steel type: I use over a dozen currently, and just to decide on a steel type, here are the considerations: the physical factors of hardness, toughness, and wear resistance, the serviceability factors of sharpening, geometry, point service, finish, and corrosion resistance, and the financial factors of cost, value, size, and name (details here). That's 12 factors alone, and that's just the steel type! What about the fittings, what about the design, fit, balance, finish, and accessories? What about the service and the reputation of the maker? What about your own preferences? It's a lot to think about, but not much at all if you're only spending a couple hundred on a knife...

While i would love to buy your knives if i could (especially the altair), i only have the money for small time makers. Are the cheaper, small time makers still worth the price or would i be better off buying a $150 factory knife?

Ahh, we get to the inquiry, vague as it is. Here's my answer: buy the best knife you can afford.

It's okay that you can't afford my knives; I can barely afford the time, shop, equipment, materials, effort, and expense of making them, so I do know what a budget is all about. Don't break your budget; make reasonable purchases based on your own frame of reference. I would love a million dollar home, but I can't afford it, so I live within my means, the best I can. This is really an easy one: learn, for free if you like here and on other websites, then purchase what interests you. Buy the best knife you can afford. Be careful with your money, a lot of sources are selling stuff that is crap; don't buy crap. By educating yourself, you'll learn to spot the difference between hype and value, between fine craft and manufactured mass marketing. Thanks for thinking this through.

Something to admire, the "Altair":

Received the art work today! One of the most beautiful I own. The gemstone is fantastic. I know it is extremely rare, but if you have extra, save it for one of my projects please. The steel is literally a mirror. I can understand why it is so expensive!
Yours truly,


"Altair" obverse side view: CPM154CM stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Pietersite gemstone handle, Frog skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this "Altair"

I found your website recently and would like to know if I can print pages from it regarding defintions/blade types, etc.
I just starting to learn about knives and found you website very consise and to the point.You have included all that a newbee would require.
This would be for studying and becoming more knowledgable.
I can't always have access to a computer so print pages would come in handy.
Thank you for your consideration.
P. L.

Your comment, "You have included all that a newbee would require," is a great start. I encourage you to dig a little deeper and study my page Copyright and Knives. At the very head of that page you'll find this warning box:

Disclaimer and Legal Advice

What you read here is what I have learned from over three decades of making knives, and the legal advisement and experience I've had doing so. I am not a lawyer, but have paid thousands and thousands of dollars to learn what I have from professional attorneys in this field during the course of my career as a professional knifemaker.

What you read here is probably more than most knifemakers ever consider, and one thing I can be certain of: the conversation, protection, litigation, and defense of artists and craftsmen will continue and increase focus, as every legal realm has done in the past century. The more that knives are considered art, and the more that knifemakers are considered artists, the more the legal defense of artwork will continue to escalate. This is not something that will be ignored in the future; it is a current and serious issue in our world that is a major focus of current and pending litigation.

If you have even one small question about this, it means that you are responsible enough to consider legalities in this tradecraft, and I urge you to seek your own professional legal advice in this matter. Do not assume, do not stake your fortune or your family's future on guesses. Please, don't stake it on this page, either, as laws continually evolve and I am not the source for legal advice, but just a knifemaker who has been through my own individual legal experiences.


And that sums it up pretty well! More info on the page I mentioned: Copyright and Knives.
The best of luck in your endeavors.

Unique and beautiful artwork in steel, stone and leather:
"Macha Navigator EL" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Plasma Agate gemsone handle, hand-carved, hand-dyed leather sheath
More about this Macha Navigator EL

Hi Jay,
I hope all is well with you and yours!
I have seen many of your knives on the Blade Forums and, being a knife collector, am an admirer of your work!
I am hoping you won't mind answering a question I have as you appear to be one of the few people with the expertise to definitively answer it!
I am negotiating the purchase of a knife that has a jet handle.
The jet is Russian and hard jet. The knife maker generally uses top drawer materials and makes high end fixed blade knives.
This is the only knife he has made with jet. I just sent off an initial payment to an online knife seller.
The knife was listed as being ebony so the seller doesn't know it's jet.
Is there any reason you might give me to not purchase this knife because of the handle material being jet? I've searched out an answer to best of my ability and other than being cautious I am not at all sure. I love the knife makers work and was quite excited to get a piece made by him until I heard the handle was jet which brought questions to my mind.
Any help you can provide me with will be greatly appreciated!

I haven't posted a knife on BladeForums in many years, but they do archive old posts, so that's not surprising. Thanks for admiring my work, but you didn't really write about my work, after all, you've written me for another purpose. You're wanting me to approve or disapprove of your purchase of someone else's knife, and you should know right up front that this is not something I do.

For the reader of this comment, please know that I didn't and don't answer this type of email for a lot of reasons, and that's why it's featured here. The original inquiry was years old before I posted this comment, so I'm sure the sale (or no-sale) of the knife has long passed.
It's sad that the guy who wrote it was so uncertain of purchasing it that he had to write a total stranger for confirmation (or denial) of his intended purchase. I find it a bit inconsiderate that he would bother me, a maker who has to support a family, home, and business with his labor, but will benefit zero from this effort. So he's asking for a gift. To top it off he wants to deceive the guy who's selling the knife, who has it listed as ebony, in an effort to gain financial advantage (rip off) the seller. However, this is contradicted because if the seller doesn't know it's jet, how does the writer claim he "heard the handle was jet?" By the way, he never mentions who the maker is, or what the knife is, and then expects me to comment? How ridiculous is that?
For educational purposes, please know that jet is lignite, a precursor to coal and is essentially, compressed wood rot. It's been used since antiquity for small items, because of one main factor: it's extremely soft and can be easily worked. It's also extremely fragile and can break and splinter with minor impact.
Dude... you would have been better off if it really was ebony. Think of it: a coal-handled knife. I suppose in an emergency, you could snap it off your handle and burn it to stay warm... yes, it readily burns: it's coal!

Extremely hard and tough Australian Black Jade gemstone:
"Treatymaker LT" obverse side view in CPMS60V high vanadium tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Australian Black Jade gemstone handle, black basketweave leather sheath
More about this Treatymaker LT

im intrested in learning how to make knives, i was wondering if you have any pointers or schools that you recommend that i can in roll in or something.

I get this type of email all the time. Knives are neat, knifemaking seems neat, a fun and cool thing to do. And it is. Knifemaking has been around longer than man, that is, it's older than homo sapiens. It is, truly, the oldest craft there is.

So isn't it surprising how there really is no place you can go, no university, arts school, community college, or degree-certifying institution for any knifemaker...anywhere? Why is this? Why is man's oldest art not actually taught in a professional way?

Oh, there are individual knifemakers selling videos and classes, and once in a while you'll see a weekend course on basic knifemaking skills, which, sadly, emphasize hand-forging which is technically, an obsolete art. I know I'll get some hate mail over that comment, but seriously, there are NO blacksmiths in any modern machine shop, no blacksmiths in any modern industry, no blacksmiths making any tool, part or component in any modern device. How many blacksmith-made ball-bearings, valve seats, or helicopter gears are there? How many blacksmith-made I-beams, vehicle axles, or injection or pressure mold dies are there? Artistic knives and wrought iron decorative parts? Sure, but even those guys didn't go to a tech school to learn this, because there are none! And I have to add that there is no wrought iron work; all of that you see called wrought iron is actually mild steel (low carbon steel), painted black. Look it up!

I believe that most people think that this is how modern knives are made, by pounding hot steel on an anvil. They think that since this is an obsolete art and skill, so is knifemaking. Don't get me wrong; some hand-forged knives are beautiful and useful. But no counterterrorism professional is going to rely upon this old world technology to save his life; he wants the finest, most modern, most high tech and most reliable high alloy he can acquire. But people tend to generalize, and if I tell someone I make counterterrorism knives, they could easily picture me standing at an anvil with sparks flying, and nothing is farther from the truth.

And that's just the steel! What about the handle, what about design? What about woods, horn, leather, and stone? Seems that this knifemaking is an extremely challenging field, made of many different disciplines! And it is, if the maker chooses to work in all the available arts. There is enough to create a four year or eight year degree, and certainly, the better knifemakers will tell you there is a need for skilled knifemakers that is not being filled. Why do I know this? Because I'm five years in backorders, and I constantly turn down work. So there is a need for highly professional skilled makers, and frankly, no one is training them. There is no degree, no school, no accredited courses that instruct in this science and art. There is no curriculum of business accounting, facility safety, maintenance, repair, and operations, subjects in electrical power distribution, dust and vapor control, internet technology, sales and advertising, distribution and research, design and trends, materials acquisition, storage, insurance, and international shipping. Yet each one of these subjects is required knowledge of the professional knifemaker! How many jobs have such a wide array of fields in play? Perhaps, one day, there will be accredited courses on professional knifemaking. Currently, since most people don't even know this exists as a profession, it continues to be relegated to the hobby pigeonhole, like model train building. No one takes it seriously, unless they need a special weapon to quietly dispatch a terrorist, build a shelter in a disaster, skin their game as a professional guide, or employ a fine, sharp tool to prepare a five star meal... every day. Then, it's a pro they look for, and the actual pool of professional knifemakers is incredibly small.

So to simply answer this guy's question: no.

Wax models ready for investment prior to casting bronze for the stand of a knife and sheath:
"Tharsis Intense" in mirror polished and hot blued O1 high carbon tungsten vanadium tool steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Fossilized Stromatolite Gemstone handle, sheath in leather inlaid with black frogskin, stands of sculpted, hand-cast bronze
More about "Tharsis Intense"

Here we are again with another "reviewer." We've seen this before, a guy wants a knife. But let's dissect this just for fun.

To whom it may concern;
Hello, My name is L.. I am an outdoors man as well as cutlery novice.

Outdoors man? What is that? Sounds like a pop song title from the 1970s. And a cutlery novice? This is no place for the novice, surely that is clear in over 500 pages and 15,000 photos.

I love knives, and have loved them since a young man.

Lots of guys (and gals) love knives. It's man's oldest tool, and is quite attractive and useful.

I've seen a lot of knives, handled a lot of knives, and used a lot of knives. So I know quality,

Wait a minute. You said you were a "cutlery novice."

I look at your knives and i see the quality and craftsmanship put into them.

Thank you, I'm glad that you can recognize the effort and hard work, even from the perspective of a novice.

I would like to feature a knife of yours, maybe something you have just created, or want to have show off due to your pride in the knife.

"No old rejects and has-beens for me! I want something new! Something special that you're proud of! Not the usual fare; I deserve better!" Would it help him to know that I'm proud of every single one, new or old?

I would like to being making YouTube videos on knifes in areas such as reviewing the actual product and giving my initial opinion, to doing cut test/demonstrations.

I would like to be sitting down to breakfast with the Queen of England; I hear her cutlery is solid gold...
Frankly, why would I be interested in the opinion of a "cutlery novice" anyway? And please understand, my knives don't need any "cut test/demonstrations," as they are all quite capable of cutting without supportive video. Forty years of making them (and sharpening every single one) has trained me well when it comes to cutting. Perhaps you should ask the military, guides, chefs, and working guys who have my knives how well they cut. I'm not worried about the whole "cutting" thing. I am, however, a bit concerned about your proposal. To approach any knifemaker, it would be wise to know that the plural of knife is knives. This helps with the whole "I know quality" attitude.

This Basically brings attention to yourself and shows the community of knife lovers and enthusiasts, what you and your product are about, boosting sales and notoriety.

Ahh, he's going to educate me on the advantages of his idea. Every point he reveals is exactly what this website does, and quite well, I think.

If you are interested in this opportunity please contact me in reply to this email.
Maybe we can work something out.
Thank you,

Maybe.... but maybe not. Thanks for the "opportunity" to give you one of my newest and most favored knives.

A real skinning and working knife being used in the most extreme of environments:
"Nunavut" custom skinning knife, obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Musk Ox boss horn handle, hand-tooled leather sheath
More about this "Nunavut"

Mr. Fisher,
I am emailing you to inquire if you have any need for a "Damascus Folded Steel" blade from a katana sword I have for sale. I was advised to contact knife smiths when I inquired about resale for it recently, and came across your name via the net.  I can forward some photo's of it if you are interested. If you are not interested, would you happen to know anyone in your field that would be?  I would appreciate any referral you can offer.
Thank you for your time.
T. B.

What, precisely is "Damascus Folded Steel?" That is the exact term you use, so since we're on a very technical portion of the site, I'll offer what I do know. There is no real and current Damascus steel. Named for Damascus, Syria; the original recipes for this Middle Eastern creation were destroyed, most of them succumbing to the burning of the Library of Alexandria. There have been guys over the last twenty or thirty years creating their version of this crucible metal (yes, it's smelted in a clay crucible and then beat out into pattern while hot and plastic), but their idea is simply their idea, as no true techniques and methods that were recorded survive today. The original damascus "watered" crucible steel is like the legendary Samurai steels, or Excalibur, more mystical than they deserve. This is something we tend to do in our culture, think that these "long lost" items and ways were somehow superior to what we can technically create today, which is, of course, preposterous. Think of the ancient hospitals, the ancient MRIs, the ancient space station, the ancient microprocessors, and then the ancient hypereutectoid high alloy, high speed, stainless tool steels... you get it.

Back to the damascus. I'm guessing that what you are referring to is modern pattern welded steel, which is what we call damascus today, only loosely based on the premise that a pattern in the modern pattern welded steel is a bit similar in appearance to the watered pattern seen in early historic Damascus steel blades. Nowadays, there really is little resemblance; pattern welded steels are made of at least two highly contrasting steel types, hammer forged and welded together, with patterns much bolder and brighter than watered steel, and constructed with designs of everything from feathers to lightning bolts, from American flags to scantily clad pole dancers. Just to be clear, pattern welded damascus is decorative, and the steel properties are simply the properties of the steels used to forge-weld the billet, typically somewhat lower in performance than the highest alloy used. There are a lot of technical reasons for this, but none of that matters because you don't identify the steel type or alloy. Learn more than you probably want to on my "Heat Treating and Cryogenic Processing of Knife Blade Steels" page.

The important thing to take from this is that, just like any blade, the type of steel, the AISI or SAE or even the trade designation is extremely important. Without knowing the steel chemistry, there is no way (apart from expensive destructive, laboratory-based testing) to know what you are even selling. The name "Damascus Folded Steel" essentially means nothing.

I'm curious, though why you would be selling the blade "from a katana sword." Is this something you are parting out like an old Mazda from the scrapyard? Are you parting out the tsuba and the habaki, too? Not that I need them, but do let me know if you come across a nice silk sash, in royal blue, to match my Japanese slippers parked on my genkan outside the hallowed bowels of my studio.

Known steel: 440C high chromium martensitic stainless steel on the "Lycaon":
"Lycaon" handmade custom broadsword, mounted view  in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, cast bronze fittings, guayabillo hardwood and nephrite jade gemstone handle, obsidian pommel, lauan hardwood scabbard with cast bronze chape, display board of ebonized red oak, steel, black suede, American Black Walnut, engraved black lacquered brass

Can you customize a cold steel recon 1 to have a wave plate instead of thumb studs? If so how much would that cost?
Sent from my iPad

Does your iPad have a feature that allows you to include a signature, or do you just wish to remain anonymous? What a ridiculous and insulting thing for Apple to do, to try to piggyback this advertising line on every email sent. I don't care on what device or physically how an email was sent; no one does. So it's just extra advertising text that is costing bandwidth, energy, and increasing global warming, climate change, and destroying the rain forests and ice caps for Apple's self-serving profit!

Now, about your fine knife. Retails for $40.00. Forty. Two twenties or four tens. Less than a night out with a friend, less than you and your buds having lunch at the Mac. Less than a tank of gas. Why don't you write the company that makes them and ask them to change up your treasure? Oh, yeah, you wouldn't be able to find where this thing comes from; all of this company's stuff is farmed out to whatever foreign manufacturer can make it the cheapest this week. Yep, I said cheapest. Somebody's got to fill the void of the lowest price/lowest quality products, otherwise, there would be a hole there you might trip into and hurt your ankle...

Silver leaf serpentine gemstone, hand-engraved stainless steel, and blued O1:
"Vulpecula" obverse side view in hot-blued O1 high carbon tungsten vanadium tool steel alloy, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Silver Leaf Serpentine gemstone handle, Frog skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this "Vulpecula"

Hi Jay,
Sorry, if you do not want to answer me it is fine.
I am looking for a knife pattern “ BUSHCRAFTER” --- Could you refer me to a page or do you perhaps have a pattern for me ?
Senior Forensic Auditor
G***** Internal Audit (GIA)
(International Availability)
Think before you print.
This email, and its attachments, is subject to important warnings and disclaimers which are legally incorporated into this email in terms of Section 11(3) of the South African Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 25 of 2002. The full text of the warnings and disclaimers, together with the company?s details and directors is available by clicking on *URL Deleted*

Why would this guy send this email to me? Why? This is the most ridiculous type of email I receive, even more absurd than some dude wanting me to customize a $40.00 piece of crap knife he bought at a flea market. If, indeed the guy is a "Senior Forensic Auditor" wouldn't he have the sense to do even one minute of research on this website right where he clicked on my "email Jay Fisher" link that clearly states that I only answer emails about knife orders? No, just hunt down a link and send some crap that you're too lazy to research. Remember, I'm not talking about a confused kid or someone who doesn't understand basic English; look at his signature! And the "warnings and disclaimers" -shees.
Here's a piece of sage advice from someone who knows how to use the internet and email: type "Bushcrafter Knife" into Google or any of the other dozens of top search engines. See what pops up. Don't write and ask me to do that for you. Auditor my ass; you should be fired.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing your vast knowledge with the world at large, and providing people like me so much insight into knife-making and metallurgy for free.  Even for someone like me who may never be able to afford one of your masterworks, the knowledge you've shared has already made me a wiser consumer where knives (and possibly tools in general) are concerned. 
In return, for the vast amount of knowledge you've shared with me via your website I'd like to share a little tidbit of knowledge you may not yet be privy to (if that's possible for someone so well informed on such a wide range of subjects as yourself).
Since you have supported yourself through your own small business since the 80's, you might not be as familiar with how email accounts in large corporate bureaucracies are set up as someone like me who works in one of those bureaucracies. On page 6 of your "funny emails"  you posted a bizarre looking inquiry from a "Senior Forensic Auditor". The reason for the bizarre tone of that email is that he probably only wrote the actual inquiry himself, and the job title and legal warnings are automatically attached to every email he sends from that account. He probably forgot they were even a part of the message he sent. Of course the reason why an email account is set up to open and close every single message with a header and footer like his is because it's strictly intended for use in connection with his job, and not mean to be used for messages connected with  a hobby or any other personal purpose. So great call on the "he should probably be fired" comment.
Thanks again for all the knowledge and inspiration. If I ever do strike it rich, or end up spending most of my time outdoors, I'll be sure to add even further to your list of back-orders.


Much Respect,
  D. G.

Thanks, D. G.! Oh, I'm familiar with these automatic signatures; for a little humorous look into that, see that very subject lower on this page.

Brecciated African Jasper gemstone, hand-engraved stainless steel:
"Thuban" obverse side view in ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, brecciated jasper gemstone handle, lizard skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this "Thuban"

Mr Jay Fisher
Good afternoon
My Name is C., I´m interested in know more about your art, prices and business,  I´m an Architect living in Bogotá Colombia.
I´m also interested in providing help to trade with this fine art of you as a buyer for selling, or with a small commission that we can arrange if you are interested.
The idea is to merchandise the pices in this country if is necessary for me to start a company of imports I would do it.
Since I was a Child I collected many blades, that´s why i´m very interested in your work.
C. S.
Bogotá, Colombia.
South America.

I think I know what this guy is asking for, so I'll just suggest that he wants to become a distributor of knives. He sells them in Bogota and takes a cut. While this might seem like a great moneymaker, we have to consider the world economy and the distinctive tradecraft of custom knifemaking and ask if this is something that would even be possible. Here are some quick facts that C.S. should have researched before he sent the email:

  • Colombia has a median income of $8300.00, less than half of the rest of the world's income. That ranks them lower than Bulgaria.

  • The United States has a median income of  $52,000.00, the highest in the world (but, of course we have a somewhat lower disposable income since everything is so expensive here with everyone who sells something keeping our median income high).

  • Since there is such disparity in these incomes, and since one of my knives typically cost more than three month's average wages in Colombia, it's unlikely that any of my knives would be able to sell there. Plus, there's this five year waiting list I have....

  • A useful idea is to perhaps get knives from a maker in Tajikistan, where the average yearly wages are about $2700.00. That way, you can mark them up to get your commissions, and help out a country that desperately needs help!

    "We are the world... "everybody sing!

Looking good in any kitchen:
"Sirona" chef's knife, obverse side view in mirror polished 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Green Orbicular Agate gemstone handle, slip sheath in kydex and 304 stainless steel fasteners
More about this "Sirona"

Dear Sir,
We are from Armenia. We have a hunting knife, which was made specially for us in Russia. But it doesn't have a scabbard. We want to order it. But we are interested in a very original and exclusive scabbard. Will you inform us how we can open  the order of scabbard? We want to know whether it is possible, or not.
Thanks in advance.
Best Regards:
R. G.

My number one item on my rather abundant list of "What I don't do" is make sheaths for knives other than my own. The reason it's number one is because this is the most often asked-for service or item. I've complained about this for decades: not that people are asking for a sheath for their knife, but because sheath-making is obviously a very undersupplied art and craft. The sheath is part of the knife; it's not some afterthought, some outsourced accessory item, some pinstripe paint job that's applied to your custom Corvette after the engine is modified for full race. This is why, on some knives, like my counterterrorism knives, the sheath packages may take more time to make than the knives! Try supplying five sheaths, all different, for different modes of combat and wear, with all of their accessories all fitted to one knife.
It's clear that this is the direction of knifemaking: as a whole unit: knife, sheath, and/or stand, and/or case, and/or display. When are knifemakers and knife companies the world over going to recognize that the sheath is just as important as the knife? I've been waiting 40 years to see this attitude change and nothing has improved in our trade in this area. I guess it won't happen in my lifetime, but hope springs eternal for the future.
In the meantime, I'll keep suggesting that the knife owner go back to the place/vendor/maker/manufacturer who made the knife, and ask for a better sheath. And for me, I'll keep improving sheaths for my own knives, and try to set an example of what clearly works, and what clients the world over desire in their knife experience.

The belt loop of a fine handmade knife sheath inlaid with frog skin:
"Sargon" obverse side view in CPM154CM high molybdenum stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Fossilized Stromatolite Algae gemstone handle, Frog skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this "Sargon"

I was  wondering if you were familiar with the SOG Sterile Knife that was made for the 5th Special Forces in Vietnam in the 1966 era. I have one of the Sterile models that I was given by 5th Special Force to use in Nam and they also presented me with a 5th Special Forces presentation knife that was ingraved with their symbol. I was wondering what the value of these knifes might be. I have no intention of selling either one but was curious.
I was a USAAF Staff Sargent in EOD who set up a booby trap course for new 5th Special Forces troops coming into country at Natrang.
D. S.

Clearly an attempt at a free appraisal, this is not something I do. However, on the page this guy ignored, I give him a direct link to who is perhaps the world's foremost knife appraiser, who will give him the information he needs for a measly $15.00 (at the time of this writing). Okay, maybe he couldn't find the link.

But now let's get to the fun stuff; let's look over this interesting knife. It is noteworthy, because much of modern knifemaking owes its popularity to Viet Nam-era knife makers, knife companies, and knife users, who were simply looking for a better option while serving in Viet Nam. I know many of these guys who served and sacrificed, some are in my family, and I just missed the draft and the war by a year, so that dates my interest (and me).

This knife was designed by a man in the US Counterinsurgency Office, and it was probably the best they could come up with at the time. One has to wonder though, because it was based on a knife made by Marbles Knife Company in 1916! The US CISO wanted special knives, knives not in the standard issue, knives better made but serviceable without markings on them identifying the US military. So they are unmarked, thus the "sterile" descriptor. They were commissioned for groups like MACV-SOG, and I do know some of these guys, and understand why they would want well-made knives, unmarked, in their missions.

By the way, the acronym SOG means "Studies and Observations Group" and was later hijacked by a company wanting to make copied knives of the era, as it is known today. It's kind of like me naming my knife company "SWAT" to capitalize on the original (and un-trademarked) acronym.

Knives have come a hellofa long way since that era, and rightly so. The blades of the original SOG were made of SKS 3 steel, otherwise known as O1 (AISI designation). Back then, the O1 didn't have tungsten and vanadium (not all does, but all of it I use does), and O1 could be made into a decent performing blade. They hardened and tempered them to a tough and springy, but not particularly wear-resistant HRC 55-57. Unfortunately, O1 rusts at the drop of a hat, and I'm sure that the jungle environment was murder on the blade surfaces. So they parkerized the blades, or blued them, and that helped, but this is far short of the high alloy, high performance stainless steel alloys that we use today. And of course, as soon as the edge was sharpened, it rusted. The guard and pommel were brass, typical of the time, and the handle of stacked leather washers. Nothing is worse than leather against a hidden tang in a jungle environment, it's doomed to corrode away underneath. And while they may have well served their tours, I doubt the corrosion under the leather against the hidden tang would stop, and many of these knives have had the handles simply corroded off. The leather, too, was short lived, and often the older knives have been re-handled because of this. The sheaths were extremely frail and weak, and you'll be hard pressed to find originals without sliced up strap-snap retainers, worn-off stitching, and the little sharpening stone in the face pocket.

The originals were all made in Japan, and sold for less than $10.00 US each. The company that hijacked the acronym is also based in SEKI City, Japan, and as far as I can tell, all knives made with or without the "US ARMY" crest in this type were made in Japan. Later models were shifted to Taiwan. Sad, no? Though some notable makers have copied the design (as a replica of interest), no knives made by this company in any form are officially used in our current military, in any branch, no matter what you may read. Nearly all service members are allowed to carry their own knives, and this is an extremely important point.

I know guys who were there, in combat, in Viet Nam, and they complained constantly of poor knives issued to and supplied to them. This may well include these SOG rusty, rather soft, blades and skin handles. Servicemen started writing home to custom knifemakers at the time, asking for special knives, better knives, knives that would stand up to the jungle combat and do what they needed. This was a huge push for custom knifemaking, and it is through these foundations that the field was open to follow with custom works. In the 1960s and 1970s, custom knifemakers gained in popularity, groups and organizations were formed, and the tradecraft and art of custom knives was accelerated into desirable appeal.

I honor all those guys who responded to our military servicemen's needs, and this is why I do the same thing today, making superior knives that factories, manufacturers, suppliers, boutique shops, and other makers won't or can't make for the most serious of actual use.

You can see hundreds of them and read extensively on this type of knife on my Military and Tactical Combat Knives page and my Counterterrorism Knives page.

A true, modern counterterrorism knife in active combat duty:
"Ari B'Lilah" Tactical Combat Counterterrorism Knife, obverse side view in CPMS35VN high vanadium-niobium stainless steel blade, pure titanium bolsters, G10 composite handle, tension-locking sheath of kydex, aluminum, stainless steel, 6AL4V titanium, ultimate belt loop extender
More about this "Ari B'Lilah" Predator

Hey jay,
My name is T. I am a Canadian and I am not afraid to admit I could never afford one of your knives , I love you style, I design Knives and have made a few , starting to do it a lot more now but I have had no training at all , I am an outdoor guy and a photographer , and where I live in cape Breton nova scotia the coyotes have started to over run the woods people are always getting attacked , I have made like I said a few knifes , I would love to talk sometime , any advice you could give me would be amazing , but if ya don’t get back to me I understand that to , I have been researching knives for about 5 years and your work is by far the best on this planet , thanks for taking the time to read this , This is one skill that I seriously hope isn’t forgotten because anyone who does this doesn’t wanna help or teach anyone , the only place I can seek help is with a black smith but that is not really my style I just wanna cut them on my band saw and shape and heat treat , please adv what I would need to buy to make such a sharpened edge and I don’t meant the literally sharpened edge but the groves that carry it down the body of the knife , I am a very passionate person who pays attention to all details , and your work is above and beyond all I have ever dreamed about . Thanks for making all your masterpieces Jay you inspire us all , and in 100 years your works will be as prized as shakespear or all the greats

Whew. I know that was a struggle to read, and a bit scattered, but thanks for trying.

The root of this email that I think is important is the idea that he can learn to make knives from a blacksmith, but he doesn't want to. He thinks that is too much trouble and he just wants to cut them out and grind them. This is a common misunderstanding among not only knife hobbyists and knife enthusiasts, but among knifemakers themselves. A lot of people think it's just "easier" to make knives by the stock removal method; simply cutting them out and grinding them, and that is all there is to it, while blacksmithing takes anvils, hammers, a forge, perhaps a trip hammer, a welder, and a substantial shop to create hand-forged works. I wish he could take a look at my shop, with about 400 motor driven machines and crammed with necessary equipment- much more than a blacksmith's forge.

I would like to educate him (and others reading this) in this area. First, please understand that one of the qualifying factors in knifemaking should not be to take the "easiest" route. Knifemaking, no matter the form or method, is never easy.

The next consideration is the skill and difficulty level. Hand-forging is a very old process for a reason, it can be done with very simple tools and in an uncomplicated way. The tools are technologically simple because they are easily accessible. A fire, a hammer, and something to pound steel on is about as simple as it gets, as in many third world countries, this is how a lot of local knives are made, even today. It's not complex, it doesn't require machinery, and, if you watch a skilled blacksmith work, he can make a fairly simple knife blade in minutes. And it can't be too complex of a steel project, because only fairly simplistic steel alloys can be hand-forged. Sure, the skilled smith can get into pattern-welded decorative damascus blades, but this is a more advanced use of these fairly simplistic steel alloys, and not in the idea of his inquiry. He thinks that you can make a knife just by cutting it out, maybe drilling some holes, grinding on it a bit, heat it up, and you're done.

I will claim that knifemaking by the stock removal method is a hell of a lot harder than you think. Just try it; just try to make one decent knife, a fair knife, a simple knife with this method and see how much effort is required. The reason guys like me choose stock removal over bladesmithing is because the steels we use (hypereutectoid high alloy and stainless steels) are the very best steels in the world, far better than what can be hand-forged and these are the steels our clients request. You can make a simple knife out of a railroad spike in a few minutes (see this at any Renaissance fair or local art festival in the summer in any small town in America). But making a knife out of a high chromium, high carbon, high vanadium, tungsten, and molybdenum tool steel and you're wondering why it takes so long, how you have to buy special tooling and employ laboratory techniques to heat treat it, and why you are infusing nitrogen into the furnace, quenching in ultra-cold liquid cooled circulation blocks and shoving the piece into a cryogenic freezer for a couple of days. Learn much more about this than you realized on my "Heat Treating and Cryogenic Processing of Knife Blade Steels" page.

But this is just the BLADE. The blade is not the knife, it's just a part of the knife. Would it surprise you to know that good fittings, good handles, good sheaths, stands, or accessories are just as important as the blade? And that all knives, no matter the method of blade creation, require these very critical and important parts to be of any function and value at all?

Truth is, making a good knife in both methods is hard work. If you're looking for easy, you're in the wrong field. The competition is very stiff; really good knives are hard to find, and that's because they are hard to make. Because they are hard to make and hard to find, guys like me are five years in backorders, and have virtually no inventory to keep up. Take the easy route and you'll be competing with the Chinese, who can make a knife easier and cheaper than anyone on earth, with the appropriate value associated with such products.

Necessary for heat treating and aging of high alloy stainless tool steels: cryogenic liquid nitrogen in the knifemaker's shop:
Cryogenic transport and storage of liquid nitrogen for quenching and aging high alloy stainless steel knife blades
Transportation and storage in Dewar cryostat for liquid nitrogen at -320°F

Hi, sorry to piss you off, and this isn't hugely related to your knives but I would just like to know if it is the Sheffield knife making that supplies your g10 because I cant find anyone who has the tiger stripe like yours that isn't to bright orange. ( I couldn't find anything about your g10 supplier on your website apart from the colour chart from Sheffield so that's why I'm emailing you)
p.s. wonderful work and wonderful knives that you do

Supplies are a critical part of knifemaking, and everyone needs them. Thankfully, we have the greatest resource for ... resourcing that has ever existed in mankind. It's called the internet, and on it you can easily find links, telephone numbers, and locations for every business you can imagine. But you've got to learn how to resource, and how to use the internet. You don't simply stop at the first place you see some similar item and start firing off emails, particularly if you suspect they won't be welcomed. And to cite a source twice in the email yet not bother to contact them, well, critical thinking is definitely needed here.

It's sad that our culture teaches many things, but never one class on critical thinking or problem solving. We know how to solve the equations, but we don't know how to identify the problem, list the exact parameters, and put it into the equation to be solved. This is the bane of word problems, and word problems are life problems. I do wish that during the education of individuals in our society, we once, just once, offered a course on ... thinking.

Please keep adding to the email pages! As painful as they are to read, they are very very entertaining. One can only imagine the thought process, rationale, and reasoning of some people. Just think, the email they sent you is just a small fraction of their day............what are they doing and thinking the other 16+ hours they are awake?!

--M. R.

Building folding knives is meticulous work:

More on folding knives

Hey! :)
so I was looking for a quote on engraving a butterfly knife.? I saw your work and I must say you are quite the artist. The design im looking to put on the butterfly knife however isnt quite as difficult but I would like your opinion. In the email ove attached a picture of the deaign. :)
thank you for your time ill be waiting for your email.

Ahh, a nearly incomprehensible email. I'll not comment on the casual language; it's nothing we haven't seen before.

The reason this email is cited is because it is illegal in my state (New Mexico) to make a butterfly (or Balisong) knife. It is simply against the law to make this knife. It's illegal to own them, sell them, collect them, or use them. It's illegal to carry them (concealed or not), and it's illegal to even have one locked up in a safe on your own private property!

Isn't that just about the stupidest knife law you've ever heard? That's my state: New Mexico.

Oh, and it's illegal to make or own any automatic, gravity, spring operated, or switchblade knives too. We don't want to encourage businesses of knifemaking here. Yep, no spring-opening knives, no flippers, no springing out the front, side, or back. All illegal in every way!

And you wonder why people despise politicians...

One more thing: even though these knives are absolutely prohibited in New Mexico, you can traipse down to Wal-Mart and buy them any time you like. You can buy them just about anywhere, as these big companies are not going to be scared away from selling illegal knives in New Mexico just because they are illegal... and we don't have a border either.

You figure it out.

More about this curious and illegal practice going on unabated in our state at this topic on my "Best Knife Information" page.

Pattern and cadence:
"Tribal" in hand-engraved 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Pilbara Picasso Jasper gemstone handle, sheath of hand-carved, hand-dyed leather shoulder, stand of 304 stainless steel, American black walnut, mesquite, lauan hardwoods, engraved black lacquered brass
More about this "Tribal"

Hello Mr. Fisher,
Would you be interested and - if yes - what would be the price for fitting my Cold Steel SRK knife with micarta handle and (brass?) guard? (I am not sure if this is the correct term - by guard I mean a piece protecting the knife holding hand - a small but effective piece).
I like the SRK because of carbon steel material and I like a practical look (no gold plating, no engraving but solid finish and utility). Would you recommend other that micarta material?
Thank you,

Okay, by now you know that I don't re-handle knives, but let's look at this prize of modern technology to see just where the interest lies. Perhaps it lies in the price tag, for under $100, it's less than a night on the town. Like many of these companies, they claim an American location, but the knives are actually made in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, South Africa, and India. In other words, the cheapest vendor gets the bid. But there is the price.

They are made of AUS8, which is a very poor steel in anyone's book. It's a hypoeutectoid steel, of medium range carbon, and a markedly low performer. I've read over and again that AUS8 compares to 440B, but this claim is written and repeated by the ignorant. Even the somewhat lower tier 440B is a hypereutectoid steel, with significantly more carbon and a tremendous amount of chromium by comparison. 440B also has an phenomenal amount of molybdenum by comparison, and 440B then has loads of good stuff that AUS8 does not have (namely martensite, chromium carbides, and molybdenum carbides). So anytime you read of comparisons of AUS8 and 440B, know that they are in huge error; the two are not even in the same league; hell, not even in the same ballpark! But this writer loves the "carbon steel" material... by the way, AUS8 is not carbon steel; it's stainless steel because it has over 13% chromium. He probably thinks this because the blade of this gem of a knife is painted black. They write in their ad copy that the "coating" (paint) is on there to be non-stick (as if a knife blade sticks somewhere you don't want it to), and to "protect it from the elements" which is ludicrous since it's stainless steel. This is a good example of why they paint blades, because they don't want to finish the steel and they want it colored black, and for no other reason.

But let's go on to the handle. It's made of Kraton®. Kraton is an elastomer, a synthetic rubber, made by the company Kraton Polymers®, thus the name. Kraton polymers are used in many things and always in combination with oils, polystyrene, resins, and fillers, and are used in everything from road asphalt repair to adhesives in baby diapers. They're even used in aromatic candles. I wonder if you could make a scented knife handle... In any case, even the guy who buys the $100.00 Chinese rubber-handled knife realizes he doesn't want the mushy, weak, and soft handle and desires something more durable and robust. That says a lot.

Learn much more about good knives at these links:

Heat Treating and Cryogenic Processing of Knife Blade Steels

Manmade handle materials

A fine gemstone knife handle befitting an outstanding knife:
"Shaula" obverse side view in ATS-34 high molybenum stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Ruby in Fuchsite gemstone handle, lizard skin inlaid in hand-carved leather shoulder
More about this Shaula

Mr. Fisher,
I am just doing what I can to find the artist who made some knives I had that were stolen from me.
The knives are not useable. They are mounted on wood plaques with different color of velvet. The blades are about 6 - 8 inches long and the handles are shaped into animals, white owl, bear, dear, snake etc... between 3-5" long.
The artist's name is on a little brass plaque on each item.
I know this is a long shot, but I really need to get a picture of the knives, examples to show the police, and for the life of me, I can not remember the name of the artist.
I know this is not you line of work, your work is awesome, just awesome, but like I said you never know, you might know what I am talking about.
Please, please if there is anything you can help me with, or lead me into the right direction, I would surely appreciate it.
When my friend, who has passed away purchased them, he paid between $100.00 - $120.00 for each of them, back in the 80's, they are beautiful.
Sorry for bothering, but I sure hope you can help me.
B. S.

It is truly sad when knives are stolen. I've had several stolen from me, and I'll flatly claim you never get over it. This doesn't mean you stay up at night worrying about where your stolen knives are spending their days. Are they sitting in someone's display case? Are they being peddled to a hunting gear shop in Alaska? Are they buried in some forgotten clothing in a cardboard box in a storage unit in Illinois? Are they being use by some polyester-suited gangster on the mean streets of LA?

When I state "you never get over it," what I mean is that you try your best to never put your knives, yourself in the situation that allowed them to be stolen in the first place. I'll never do another show in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in Grand Junction, Colorado, or allow one knife to reside in Durango, Colorado (particularly in a shoe shop window, and no, I didn't put it there). I'll never try to work a busy show table in Pasadena by myself; I'll never allow others to take advantage of me again.

This is life, and sometimes it sucks. With stolen knives, there is abundant information, even though this writer could not find it here. If she keeps searching, she'll ultimately find it online, as the internet is becoming the ultimate resource.

Years ago, I asked a couple of the forums if they would start a sub-forum of stolen knives. This is a huge need in our community; it would be of use not only to the owner of the stolen knife, but to buyers who do not wish to buy stolen knives, insurance agents interested in valuations, and a significant clearinghouse for law enforcement not only for stolen goods and criminal activity resolution, but for cases where stolen knives had been used in crimes themselves! I my opinion, this is a tremendously good idea, but every venue I contacted about this refused to even consider it. They sited possible litigation and their vulnerability, which is ridiculous, since these same forums allow business disputes, business practices, and personal attacks to go on uninhibited. They figure that they are not responsible for the claims of the posters, so why wouldn't the same apply if the guy posting is claiming his knife was stolen, and he posted a picture and information about it seeking information? Oh, they let individuals post about stolen knives, but they are unwilling to create a realistic, centralized database, even though it would increase their web traffic considerably.

I believe that they refuse this because they don't want any stain or any discoloration on the field of knives in general. They want the knife realm to be thought of as clean, and they don't want to reveal the dark side of knives; knives used as a source of value to steal, or as a source of aggression or violence. Yet they let stand the use of the words, "fighting knife" to describe a knife that will never be used in any fight of any kind. There is no professional knife fighting anywhere on this planet, yet the violent nature of this phrase is commonly displayed. But they don't want anyone to mention stealing...

Would it help to know that there are many stolen car databases?

Would it help to know that there are many stolen gun databases?

Would it help to know that there are many stolen computer databases?

Would it help to know that there are many stolen phone databases?

Would it help to know that there are many stolen jewelry databases?

But there is no stolen knife database... anywhere.

Simply put, no one wants to dirty their hands with an inconvenient truth; criminality exists, and it is in every field where value exists and somebody wants something for only the convenient action of taking it from someone else.

Stolen from a shoe shop store window in 1987 in Durango, Colorado:
"Treatymaker" in 440C stainless steel blade, brass fittings, honduras rosewood handle, rattlesnake skin in leather sheath
The Treatymaker: stolen knife

My name is M. r. and I review knives on YouTube. My current stats are almost at 700,000 views. I review knives for b****** currently and I'd like to start reviewing other companies so my subscribers have more options when buying knives. I've increased b******* sales considerably. I think if you allowed me to review your knives, it would benifit us both. I'd get a free knive, your company would get more sales. Please email me if your interested.
-M. R.

It's not like we haven't seen this before. At least the guy is honest in claiming he'd get a free "knive." But we all know that anyone who can't spell "knife" or spell the plural, "knives," has no business evaluating anything knife related.

Then, there's the whole internet thing. I suppose that guys like this think the knifemaker is some stupid dolt that will just send them a knife without even checking to see who they are and what their track record is in "reviewing." It only took seconds to see that although his name comes up, no one with that name was doing any knife reviews that I could find in the first several pages of YouTube results.

The company he mentioned did come up. It's an outlet in Utah that sells the cheapest, crappiest factory knives made on the planet, and uses YouTube to show some guy sitting in front of a draped bed sheet, shoving the cheap knives at the camera, opening them, waving them around, extolling the virtues of how popular the knives are and telling how "mean looking" they are. On one clip, he claims the thing he likes about one particular knife is, "you get what you're paying for." The price of the knife he's showing? $64.99.

Well said.

Striking and unique, Shattuckite gemstone and hand-engraved stainless steel:
"Thuban" obverse side view in hot-blued 1095/nickel damascus blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Shattuckite gemstone handle, hand-carved, hand-dyed leather sheath
More about this "Thuban"

Hello Good Day,
This is B. T. With regards to your Company i am sending this email Regards to order some(Sword Stands)I will like to know the type and sizes you have in stock and get me the sales price of one so that i will tell you the quantity i will be ordering, and if you accept credit card as a form of payment..
Hope to read from you soon about my order request......
With Kind Regards.

A similar request:

Am Mr R. S. I would like to place an order of (Bolster) from your company to Haiti,kindly email me with the types you have and their prices and also what type of credit cards do you accept for payment .Waiting for your prompt responses.

These credit card scams are quite frequent, so frequent that the perpetrators have to put parentheses in the emails so their email scam boiler room workers know where to put the supposedly familiar term in the scam email! Yes, these are just as written, parentheses and all. The only thing I edited out were their names, and they probably weren't the names of the scammers anyway, but you never know because these thieves are so stupid. But they must not be the stupidest around, because the emails keep coming, so they must have had some success in their thievery and found some stupider victims. It's all so... stupid!

Meticulous filework:
"Khensu" obverse side view: 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Cuprite Mosaic gemstone handle, lizard skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this "Khensu"

Hello Mr. Fisher
I love your work. I spent a lot of time on the website reading all your material...Very informative.
I would like to purchase a fixed blade combat/utility knife. Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can afford one of your new knives.
I hate to impose, but I was wondering if you had any used but serviceable knives in that range? Or if you can recommend a good knife in the $400-$500 range.

People get dealers and makers confused all the time. What do I mean? Let's look at this a little more scientifically, and maybe it will make sense (or not). When you want to buy a truck, a big, all-out, fully equipped vehicle made for the toughest towing duty, it's sad to find out that you can't afford it. You can afford a lesser truck though, and realize that maybe, one day, you'll be able to afford the truck of your dreams. So you ask the dealer who sells your dream truck what other, lesser option you may be able to afford. Most dealers will be happy to accommodate you; they probably have a smaller, less expensive model or maybe a decent used truck on the lot. However, the dealer would never suggest the competition. This is how a dealer works.

An individual maker of fine knives is not a dealer. This is where it all gets confused. A maker is not a dealer. I know I said it twice, but it needs to be clear. A maker of fine knives works more like an artist; getting commissions for fine works, offering some of his own fine works to the public, and perhaps having venues (shows, displays, and the internet) where his works are shown and sold. This is not how a dealer works; they are two different species.

It would never cross your mind to go to a fine art show and tell the artist that you can't afford his work, but would the artist kindly suggest someone else's work that is within your budget. This could even be considered insulting to the artist, for the artist does not familiarize himself with lesser works so that he can make recommendations for people who are not his clients or patrons. What would be the purpose of that?

I suppose it's because of the duality of fine knives that the confusion exists. Fine knives are not just art; they are also working tools, and perhaps the duality of working and collecting, form and function, confuses the issue of artist/craftsman and dealer.

Art with function:
"Chicoma" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Carnival Crazy Lace Agate gemstone  handle, hand-carved, hand-dyed leather sheath
More about this "Chicoma"

M. E. from Baton Rouge here. I probably don't qualify a response with the question I have, but I'm gonna give it a shot anyway.

Do you suppose it occurred to him that he shouldn't write this email? Do you suppose that this has happened in other areas of his life?
"I probably shouldn't drive into the crosswalk with someone in it, but I'm gonna give it a shot anyway."
"I probably shouldn't omit that extra income on my IRS forms, but I'm gonna give it a shot anyway."
"I probably shouldn't take up base jumping..."

My son wants me to make him a set of golf divot tools made from my spalt burl scraps.

And we wonder why he thinks he might not qualify for a response?

I've heard that resin vacuum sealing is the best way to give the wood integrity and stability.

"Resin vacuum sealing?" I think this means putting the wood in a big plastic bag and attaching it to your vacuum cleaner and pulling all the air out. Then, your golf divot tools will easily slide under your bed or fit the top shelf of your closet. Why do I get these emails?

Can you please send me some contact info on who you would recommend to do this for me.

Let me start digging through thousands of potential sources, contacts, and industries; give me a few weeks; this may be an exhaustive research and process.

You ever think about custom divot tools ?

Yes, I do, all the time. Last night, I lost three hours of sleep fraught with worry and anxiety about custom divot tools.

Golfers tend to have a bunch of disposal income. Most are retired and sitting pretty good financially.
Just a thought.
M. E.

And I thank you deeply for sharing your thought with me. Maybe I can sleep tonight knowing that someone else is thinking what I'm thinking. Knifemaking reaches into so many disciplines.

Clean your divot with this:
"Titan" kerambit, obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Crazy Lace Agate gemstone handle, ostrich leg skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this Titan

Hi Jay,
My name is C. S., and I just bought a limited run Case Russlock for a young lady. I want to commemorate her new non-profit organization having its first church camp up in Colorado by having her Company’s name engraved on one side of the blade with her initials on the other side of the blade. Is this something that you could do?
Thank you very much for your time,

What a nice thought. The knife he mentions is about a $60.00 investment, but this is nothing remarkable. The reason I included this email is that commemoration is a common need, and people just don't know where to go to get this done, so, of course, they email me because I've made, embellished, and offered commemorative knives for decades.

To offer some helpful information, know that in just about every small town in America is a trophy shop. They do a good business slapping together cheap trophy parts (marble bases, extruded brightly colored columns, and gold-colored plastic figurines) for the local school system, mainly for athletic events. Every one of these shops nowadays typically has a laser engraver. This is usually a desk-sized enclosed box and within, the item to be "engraved" is clamped to a fixture. A moderately high power x-y-z drive laser guided by computer control (CNC) then burns away the surface of the material and the text or graphics appear. This works also on knife blades, and once a pattern is designed and set up in the computer, they can do dozens, hundreds, or thousands of items with the same pattern. The only real work is setting up the pattern, and modern computer programs have made this easier and easier every year.

Unfortunately, in this case, just the setup for the design pattern will probably cost more than than the knife, and these companies know this, so this limits your pattern to only text for the sake of economy, and they may well insist on dozens so the job order is profitable for them.

Another small business you may contact is a local jeweler. They are undoubtedly asked to engrave or personalize items, but most of the work they do is in very soft metals, so don't expect too much from them when you hand them a knife blade.

I don't currently use a laser engraver, but I wouldn't rule out one in the future. Even then, I would only do my own knives. I do machine engraving with rotary cutters and diamond drag scribes, but the best and most highly valued work is still done by hand.

Hand-engraved 304 austenitic high nickel, high chromium stainless steel bolsters (four power enlargement!):
"Argyre" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel hand-engraved bolsters, Australian Landscape Jasper gemstone handle, hand-carved, hand-dyed leather sheath
More about this "Argyre"

So I want this tomahawk it's from a video game he is the link to pics *URL deleted*
But you know real metal that's sharp if you could make replica of it

The modern digital age is wondrous, no? Designers of everything from landscapes to bloody alien combat have found the link between comic books and video, with challenges in puzzles, traps, and plenty of combat executed with your thumbs and fingers in the private realm of your mind. Games aren't going away any time soon, and the digital realm spawns plenty of blades. This is not because blades are the best things to kill aliens with; chances are real aliens could wipe our planet clean of all human life with one resonating wave. But blades and knives are built into human history, human interest, and the imagery is part of who we are.

The people who design knives and edged weapons in the two dimensions of cartoons have no experience designing anything in the real world, much less a functional piece that would be worthwhile to make. Typically, these video fantasy pieces are grossly out of proportion, functionally illiterate, and juvenile in scope and design. But look at who they are directed at.

The more serious concern is that they are, for what it's worth, art. They are created in a medium of artistic creation, and thus, are copyrighted from the instant they leave the fingertips on the mouse and inhabit the fantasy two dimensional world. Yes, it's true, video game items can not be copied without the permission of the artist who designed them. While I'm sure that many people step on the toes of artists who work in this realm, thankfully, it's not usually necessary because the designs are truly awful. Even bad art is protected, and copying it for financial gain is a felony federal offense.

The very ancient design of a Petaloid Celt (therefore not copyright protected):
"Manaya" hatchet sculpture in hand-engraved ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Nephrite Jade, Green Goldstone gemstone handle, stand of Walnut, Oak, Tulipwood, Jade, Migmatite Granite
More about Manaya

Mr. Fisher....
I saw your website and read quite a bit about knives. I need your help...or at least advice:

Advice? I thought it was pretty clear that I only discuss custom knife orders or purchases.

I have a knife made by SOG....it's called the Scuba Demo, which was discontinued years ago. This knife has a hidden tang ( 5 inches long by 1/2 inch wide). The handle "was" stacked, leather washers, with a brass pommel.

Okay we reviewed the Japanese company that "acquired" the acronym for the United States military's Studies and Observations Group to use for their own self-promotion of cheap, manufactured knives at this bookmark on this very page. Take a moment to review that particular case, and I'll wait here for your return-

Okay, now you may wonder why the words "Scuba" and "leather washers" are used in the same sentence, much less describing the same knife. Leather and water? What? The knife is doomed, I say, doomed. No wonder it was discontinued.

The handle of my knife was damaged.....with the leather handle stripped away . The pommel barely held in place.

Like we didn't see that coming.

I recently attended a knife show and a similar knife was shown to me. This individual took the hidden tang and somehow (either welding), added metal to the hidden tang, to make it wider ( it went from 1/2 " wide to one inch wide). He then was able to shape this new "full tang", and made micarta slabs, pinned to the new tang. For the pommel, he shaped a piece of steel, pinned and epoxied to the end of the tang.

People will go to ridiculous lengths to preserve a poor and cheap knife blade. I suppose it hearkens back to a day when steel was rare and valuable, and even a broken-off sword blade would be worth turning into a knife. That the blade is from the low-end Asian knife manufacturer means it's distinctly cheap and inferior; saving the blade is a ridiculous waste of time.

Would I be able to do this with my damaged knife? I wouldn't want welding to damage the tempering of the blade.

At least this emailer is thinking a bit. Welding would, indeed, destroy the integrity of the blade, create a critical HAZ (Heat Affected Zone) at an extremely important location (the union of the blade and handle) and would need a complete annealing, stress relieving, heat treating, and tempering regime to restore the knife to a minimum of functionality. I'll flatly claim that this will cost more than a new knife of this type and genre.

I am interested in making my SOG a full tang, much stronger than a hidden tag. I was really impressed by what he did....maybe this could be accomplished by using the welding epoxy some knife makers use to epoxy on the guards of a knife.
What do you suggest ??

...and now we've descended into the underworld of ridiculousness. Epoxy has its place, but it's not in bonding a tang to a blade. It's also not for adhering a guard to a knife; this is done with a tight mechanical fit and solder, not epoxy. And the use of the term "welding epoxy" is just absurd. Welding is the fusion of metals, done by melting them into a seamless piece. Epoxy is an adhesive bonding agent. What I would suggest is buying a new, complete, and uniform knife, and moving beyond the idea that somehow spending one hundred dollars on a new knife is out of your conceptual reality.

A real dive knife made for counterterrorism and completely waterproof throughout:
"Synan" counterterrorism knife knife in N360 nitrogen passivated tool steel blade, sheath of kydex, anodized 5052H32 aluminum welt frame, blackened and passivated 304 stainless steel hardware and fixtures, anodized 6AL4V titanium
More about this "Synan"

Good day Dear partner !!!!
dear long time pass to connect with you in hope a better business relation but dear sir/madam we could not get any opportunity till today so dear sir if you think better please give a small chance to check our quality,service and compare our products than any suppliers
i hope a better relation
v. A. ********* International India A Complete manufacturing Unit Of Horn & Bone Products

It's interesting how business communication, promotion, and advertising differs between countries and cultures. Here, the promoter suggests some interpersonal relationship that is ongoing, even though I've never heard of or done any business with the supplier. I don't even buy bones or horns for my handles, but that's not stopping him.

In American advertising, it's more about the product. If this Indian company were extolling the virtues, durability, beauty, workability, and viability of their bone and horn products, they would probably do better than just throwing out the words "quality," "service," and "dear," without even a photograph to support any of it. Hell, he didn't even send me a Valentine's day card...

An experienced salesman once told me that the word "quality" should never be used in a standalone sense, and, in essence, it means nothing. There is poor quality, good quality, fine quality, and lousy quality. Just saying quality is not enough.

Just some observations...

Tough, tight, seamless fit and durability on this black and red G10 handle:
"Arabah" tactical, combat, survival knife in ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, red/black G10 composite handle, desert digital camouflage kydex, aluminum, stainless steel locking sheath
More about this "Arabah"

Hi my name is N. S.
I am a young Jeweller, I am interested in making a few sets of bespoke knives, at varying sizes. For this i need some blades as i can source and make everything else.
So my question is where would i get a pre fabricated, sharpened blades from? Also is it possible to get different metal blades from the same company, ie a titanium blade, stainless blade etc.
Look forward to hearing from you,
Thank you for your time,
N. S.

Because of the spelling of "jeweller" and the use of the word "bespoke," it seems clear our emailer is from outside the American continent, since we use the words and spelling, "jeweler," and "custom." Just an observation.

He wants to make a few sets of custom knives, but he wants to acquire the blades and "make everything else."  Just a heads-up, these will not be "custom" or "bespoke," and here's some clarity on my "Custom Knives" page. He needs these in "various sizes," like selecting a ring size for various fingers.

This is not how knives of any quality or value are made, and frankly, not in the modern American world of knifemaking that you who are reading this have interest and indulge in. Knives are complete units; I don't even select a steel type until a drawing and complete pattern and template are made. The knife is not simply a blade with a handle slapped on it; it is (or should be) a complete, coherent unit, piece, and work, where all parts, including sheath, stand, case, display, and accessories, are part of the whole. The reason for this is the knife is not first a display, but first a tool that must function, no matter the level of embellishment, finish, or materials used.

This is wholly different than the concept of jewelry, which is first, ornamental, and second, ornamental. All jewelry has to do is stay together, and stay attached, worn, or present, and I'll illuminate that most jewelry isn't up to that. If it were, I could comfortably and reliably wear rings and bracelets and baubles while I work in the metals studio, without utterly destroying them, and I can't. I suppose that means my flesh is more durable than the jewelry.

My advice would be to study the tool maker's trade first, to get a grounded idea of what a cutting tool is and does, and go from there. To come at knifemaking from the embellishment role and go backwards to the cutting function is probably not going to work very well. It's like putting fancy paint on a house not yet built, or maybe built of cardboard. No matter how beautiful the paint is, you need the basis of the structure and an understanding of how it all works before you can choose your avant-garde latex application of "Whispering Peach," "Wishing Troll," "Butterscotch Tempest," or "Little White Lie." Yes, those really are color names for paint.

A real custom knife with New Zealand Jade gemstone handle:
"Procyon" liner lock folding knife, obverse side view,in hand-engraved ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, anodized 6AL4V titanium liners and lockplate, Pounamu New Zealand Greenstone Nephrite Jade gemstone handle, case of Granite, Quartz Terrazzo composite
More about this "Procyon"

Dear sir,
I went through searching internet and find to your blog with a good club members and to knows that you are in lapidary field and practices with a wealth of experience. Forming and finishing stone, mineral, gemstones, and Importers & dealing and trading materials. I will appreciate your kind information or you idea guiding us recommended person or recommended firm to work with them to creating extensive scale work.as well the oppournity for trading .your kind guideness appreciated for me and benefit for the lapidary artisan
Best regards.
I. Al S., Sultanate of Oman.

Okay, it's easy to conclude that English is not his first language, but we'll try to decipher it to get to the root of his request.

Okay, I tried, but it really wasn't clear. I think he wants me to give a recommendation of a firm that does "extensive scale work," and "trading." I suppose that because he sees many gemstone knife scales on my site, he figures I have it done somewhere, and that somewhere also is where I trade for rocks, gem, and mineral.

Lapidary is an unusual animal. It's truly hard to make a living solely as a lapidary, you find very few lapidary artists in the world today who make a career just carving rock. Rock is tough, it's hard, it's unpredictable, and the best rock is expensive. Nowadays, people are all about easy and fast, so a piece of pale green G10 fiberglass/epoxy composite is called "ghost jade." This is how our language and culture of the very nature of minerals and the associated arts is being confused, maligned, and surrendered to the marvelous speed and ease of cast plastic and resins.

Would it help him to know I find my own rock, from sources on the internet, from the field, from rock shops when travelling, and then slice the small boulders and large cobbles myself? No, if I told him that, he'd probably want me to be his firm to do "extensive scale work." The problem with contracting out just the knife handle scales is the same as contracting out any other component of the knifemaking process. It's an add-on, it doesn't mesh with the overall idea, it doesn't exhibit the same skill level, idea, or thought process. It doesn't match the finish, blend to the piece, or even work in the same context. But that's an artist and craftsman writing, not a businessman who arranges parts, pieces, components, and bits into a knife.

Beautiful blending, fit, finish, and execution in Australian Tiger Iron gemstone:
"Cygnus-Horrocks" custom handmade knife, obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Australian Tiger Iron gemstone handle, Ostrich leg skin inlaid in hand-carved leather shoulder
More about this "Cygnus-Horrocks"

Hello Jay,
My name is K. and I am desperately looking for a sheath/case to buy my husband for his leatherman super tool. I am having a hard time finding a good quality leather case that fits a leatherman. Do you happen to have anything like this?? Thanks in advance for your time.
Sent from my iPod

There's that irritating add for the i-whatever again. Like I care what brand of device your digital correspondence was birthed in.

Why not write to the company who makes this tool and request it of them? Why? It's because of several reasons.

  1. She probably thinks they don't care. Their interest is in the machine-manufactured tool, and not the case. Frankly, they probably don't care how you carry, wear, or keep your tool.

  2. She knows the tool is cheap. You may not think so if you buy one, but they are distinctly cheap and poorly made. I have a relative that buys them and continually returns them as they break for new replacements and upgrades. They break because they are small weak tools, and the company knows that most people won't bother with the guarantee, so they still make money. They don't like my relative getting continual replacements, but now its a game and he enjoys it. By the way, he doesn't consider it a reliable work tool, just a convenient throw away (and replace for free) item.

  3. She knows that because the tool is cheap, so is the case. Since the sheath is ALWAYS an afterthought with knife and tool manufacturers, they have these made overseas, by unskilled labor and acquire them for pennies. Something bought for cheap is not expected to last.

  4. She knows good work when she sees it, so she contacts me in the hope I'll make a durable, long lasting, permanent, and useful adjunct for the cheap tool. She figures it's worth a shot to ask.

  5. She doesn't know that a simple sheath that I make would cost many times the cost of the multi-tool.

  6. She doesn't know that I would never make a sheath for a cheap multi-tool.

She got four out of six right, but she needed all six to score.

A very nice sheath in hand-carved leather inlaid with black rayskin:
"Kadi" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel  bolsters, Sodalite gemstone handle, leather sheath inlaid with black rayskin
More about this "Kadi"

Hello my name is A. M. and i am wondering if you are thinking about taking on an apprentice. Now please just hear me out. I am 21 years old and trying to decide what to do with my life. I look at the my life so far and no real talents pop out, well yes i did a stint as a computer tech and am currently working in heating A/C to make ends meat. But none of those things really interest me and in order to be the best at something you have to love it . Like every young one I yearn for my voice to me heard , for me to be rememberd i dont know some people just dont get that until later in life i have that now like every second counts... .
I am from all over the Northern eastern seaboard with some stints down south namely Maryland and the Virginia's for fun i enjoy watching TV and when i get a chance hiking and the such. there is not much place to hike in NY city unfortunately.
Well if you are interested please let me know and if not you perhaps another knife maker you know of is looking for an apprentice either way i would really appreciate it if you emailed me back just so i know where we stand enjoy and have a great day
A. M.

I remember my freshman English teacher wagging her finger at the class repeatedly while braying: "Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!"

We were all young once, and I remember that time. I try to tell young people that the best way to find out what interests you is to try many things, try just about every legal and moral thing that comes your way, and stay away from the bad stuff. That way, something will hold your interest for a long enough period that you will naturally navigate toward it, and if you love it, you will do it. Getting paid for it comes later.

An apprenticeship suggests a long, arduous study, and actual apprenticeships, even in the trades, are sadly fading away. This is perhaps because jobs in the trades becoming less desirable and popular, or some tradesmen are more highly specialized, and this is a sad thing. I remember when I was a kid how the rage was vocational schools, tradesmen, and guys who could fix a car, build an industrial electrical distribution system, weld high pressure pipe in a ditch in a cold and muddy field, or create and outfit the entire cabinet sets for a custom kitchen, starting at the sawmill. While these jobs still exist, most people would rather sit in front of a keyboard and glance expectantly at their phone and the clock on the wall. After all, it's so much cleaner than working with your hands (Please note that I'm currently sitting at my keyboard and monitor, listening for my I-phone, and looking at the clock, thinking that I probably should be out in the studio grinding some steel).

There really are no apprenticeships in knifemaking; as I've stated before, it is not a trade that is taught in any professional way, which is sad, indeed. No college or vocational courses exist about knifemaking; it's mostly considered a hobbyist interest. That is why you may find some off-season courses once in a while in the field, usually involving a hammer and anvil at some community college venues or local interest clubs where guys like to get together and extoll the virtues of "packing the edge." None of the courses I've ever heard of teach the basis of design, history of the field, modern metallurgy, business accounting, safety and loss control, and MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) of knifemaking as a viable career. And then there's the whole advertising and sales part that is critical to any business nowadays. We won't mention the importance of optics, measurement and testing, photography and lighting, storage and display, or computer programs and spreadsheets, but all of these are critical in this business as well.

The thing about apprenticeships or individualized training in this field is that an immense amount of time and focus is required not only by the student, but by the teacher. The teacher does not get paid for this; having an apprentice is not a necessity, so this would happen purely out of the goodness of his heart, since it costs him time that he could be running his own day-to-day business affairs. Apprentices in the standard trades are workers performing the more mundane tasks that comprise the industrial necessities of the trade, like holding onto the end of the electrical metallic conduit while the journeyman fixes the clamp to the Uni-strut. So apprentices as helpers can be actually earning a wage from the instant they put their boots on and go to work. This doesn't happen in the studio. There is nothing I could trust an unskilled worker to do in the shop, apart from sweeping the floor, and this I wouldn't wish for anyone. All of this trade requires skill. If you don't have the skill, you are making cheap, fast, and easy knives, and directly competing with the Chinese, and they will flat-out smoke you in production and price.

Perhaps one day, some institution will realize that knifemaking is more than an art, and it will be covered in course catalogs. Of course, there are metal arts degrees, but none of them I've ever heard of covers the specific details of the wide range of specialty skills necessary for making effective counterterrorism and combat knives, interfacing high durability sheaths, designing and creating chef's specialty knives, artistic display, and working in high alloy tooling and treatment, machining, leatherwork, lapidary, casting, sculpting, woodwork, engraving, chemical treatments, photography, and all of the other aspects listed above that are necessary to know and understand to run a professional business of fine knifemaking.

Besides, you said yourself, "to be the best at something you have to love it." How would you know unless you try it? My suggestion; try making some simple knives to see if you like it. You don't need an established professional to find this out, and if you truly end up loving it, you'll develop your own course of action driven by your own passion. And if it doesn't work, try being a marine biologist; it's what we all wanted to be when we watched The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau in the early 1970s.

"Aye Calypso the places you've been to,
The things that you've shown us,
The stories you tell"

--John Denver

Mr. Fisher,
I have been learning to make knives for three years and the detailed information you provide, for free, on your website is extremely helpful.  The volume of information is almost overwhelming, so I am constantly revisiting your website to see what I missed from the last time.  I am grateful that you take the time to maintain a huge website in addition to the works of art you create.
It was exhausting and hilarious to read the emails you have received in the past.  I can't believe you get these by the hundreds and thousands.  By you posting those emails and your comments, I am able to learn from other people's mistakes and they show me what I can expect if I ever endeavor to turn knife making into more than just a hobby.  In those emails, I am also able to learn the characteristics of a high quality knife and what I should strive for in my own efforts.
Again, thank you for sharing so much information.

San Antonio, TX

Lots of details in gemstone, steel, engraving, carving, leatherwork in this simple and beautiful knife:
"Perseus" obverse side view in 440C high chromium martensitic stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, blue lace agate gemstone handle, hand-carved, hand-dyed leather sheath
More about this "Perseus"

i have a meyerco besh wedge that is not sharp at all. i really like these knives and like to carry them in my combat boot. i don't have the money to buy a mick strider knife and use it in the field. i was wondering if you would offer sharpening/regrinding for me at a price. please help me, send me a quote. thanks.
sgt. j.g.

So you buy a knife that is kind of like a squarish chisel, and you claim it's not sharp at all, yet you "really like" them? Yeah...let me see if I can be of some help here. First, it's important to understand that there is a very specific angle that is employed on hand knives that can be called "sharp." If there were no specific angle that aids in cutting, we would just have very squarish edges, and call them sharp. For instance, a freshly milled 90° corner on a block of aluminum is sharp enough to cut your finger if you drag it along the corner, yet you wouldn't want a 90 cutting edge on your knife, because a blade must be thin enough to not only have an acute edge, but also separate the material it's cutting. There are many more factors that contribute to the fact that blades are thin at the cutting edge for a reason, and we're not shaving our face with a metal-cutting cold chisel, no matter how finely honed it is. Of course, if you want a poker to shove into someone in combat, I'd suggest an ice pick for fastest penetration, or perhaps a woodworker's lathe tool. The diamond cross-section parting tool is pretty aggressive, and the oval skew chisel has some real potential, and both are much stronger and better-handled than the chisel-bladed knife you first mention.

You then go on to mention another knife brand, one too expensive for your taste. I'll claim that the handle on the woodworker's chisel will be much more friendly to your hand than the so-called "combat" folding knives of that company, since, in looking at the knife handle, it seems they don't believe in chamfering, rounding, contouring, or shaping the handles in any way, leaving your hand to grip a very rough, sharply cornered, unfinished metal handle that will surely cause injury the first time you bear down on the piece to try to defend yourself. Those sharp milled cuts and corners in the handle should bite well into your hand, and your own blood should convince your enemy that you're serious... by the way NO FOLDING KNIFE SHOULD EVER BE USED IN COMBAT!!

The important thing here is that you realize the benefit of having a properly ground knife. You know it's critical, you need help, it's not sharp, you know it needs regrinding, yet did you ever consider sending the offending knife back to the maker or supplier and asking that of him? After all, he/they are who made it, not me! I won't fix someone else's screw up, and this is clearly what your are requesting. Send it back to them, demand your money back, or demand a proper knife be built. You're in the military; if your rifle was unworkable, you wouldn't sneak around to a custom gunsmith and ask that he correct it, would you? How about your other gear, gear that is not issued? If your flashlight or sunglasses were inoperative or ineffective, you wouldn't sneak around and ask some other company to fix them, would you? No, in all these cases, you'd go right to the vendor where you purchased them and demand satisfaction. So why is it in the knife world, when a knife is poorly made and ineffective, knife clients and owners try to get another maker to fix their failed purchase? Why? These companies make vast claims about their superior products, but they are poor works, poorly or cheaply make, and not suitable for your needs. Stand up, tell them, make them deliver or give you your money back.

A true combat push/punch dagger that will deliver:
"Guardian" Custom Counterterrorism Push/Punch Dagger, obverse side view in ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, G10 composite handle, hybrid tension-locking sheath in kydex, anodized aluminum, anodized titanium, blackened stainless steel
More about this Counterterrorism Guardian

I am interested in buying some Antique Paper Micarta. I have started playing around with "scrimshawing" and would like to buy the Antique Paper Micarta. Do you sell handle material, or just knives?

I've demonstrated before how some people evidently think that I'm a supplier of materials. Because I write extensively about them and describe them in the context of what I use and how I use it, they make the rather difficult jump to belief that I sell the materials I use. And this guy's not sure, even though the place he saw before he emailed me is clear that I only answer questions about knife orders, and include a link to an extensive and detailed page of "What I Do and Don't Do," which clearly states I don't sell materials. Ah, well.

Micarta® phenolic comes in a lot of colors and a few types. They are reinforced by paper, cloth, or canvas, or not at all. There is a type of Micarta that is ivory colored, and, to my knowledge, it's called "Ivory Micarta." I think this is what the guy is asking about. It's a pretty good imitation of ivory, though with a very simple examination, you can tell it's not real ivory, but it's about the same color. The neat thing about this stuff is that as it ages, it even yellows a bit like ivory does, though it does not shrink and crack, and is not prohibited or regulated in any way.

Of course, try telling that to the customs agent or the law enforcement officer who decides your ivory is a banned substance and then confiscates your knife without a warrant or cause. And yes, they can do this. They can't even tell the difference between elephant ivory and mammoth or mastodon ivory, tens of thousands of years old. These untrained gatherers of people's property without a warrant can't tell the difference between walrus tusk and ancient walrus tusk, between ivory and oosic, between elk whistlers and whale teeth, between cape buffalo horn and rhino horn. And don't get me started on bear's claws. There are some really big deals going on in various governments now trying to regulate all natural materials, even banning all mammoth ivory because of the ignorance of people not being able to distinguish what is prohibited and causing poaching and slaughter, and what is dug out of a hillside buried in the ground for twenty thousand years. By the way, ALL ELEPHANT IVORY IS NOW BANNED IN THE UNITED STATES!

I haven't used ivory Micarta for many years, not because I fear confiscation of the knife from my clients, but because if a knife is to have premium materials on it, like rare old ivory, it's going to be a commensurate knife, high in finish, high in embellishment, high in sheath or stand value, high quality overall. Micarta is more for working knives, combat knives, tools that must endure brutal exposure and the elements, something that ivories, horn, and bone can not withstand. So, in order for the look of ivory to accommodate a knife, other makers will use Micarta to do the job, even having extensive scrimshaw on the plastic (yes, Micarta is a phenolic plastic) to embellish the piece. But it's still Micarta. So, stylistically, it seems out of balance. If a piece is to have the appearance and value of ivory, why not use some nice mammoth ivory or ancient walrus tusk or even real wart hog tusk or musk ox boss, or something that has that natural look and is actually the natural stuff? And save the Micarta for the combat knives or working knives, in bold colors or black canvas reinforced, for that durable utility look that these knives require?

The bold red and black canvas reinforced Micarta® handle on this working knife:
"Acamar" obverse side view in CPMS30V high vanadium stainless tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, red-black canvas micarta phenolic handle, black basketweave leather sheath
More about this Acamar

Hi Jay.
My name is T. D., and I work with borosilicate (Pyrex) glass, and I always thought that a color design would make a beautiful knife handle. Since I don’t make knives, I would like to offer you a set of “blanks” that you could use for a handle on one of your pieces. They can be worked the same as gemstones with lapidary equipment, and the color / design elements are virtually limitless.
If you are interested, please let me know, and provide me with length, width, thickness, and color / design theme you would want to work with. I can even send you a sample of clear to see if it’s something you would be comfortable working with.
Keep up the outstanding work sir, and have a great day.
T. D.

Glass can be downright beautiful, and some of the new stuff is fairly hard and quite unique. But, it is, after all, glass. I remember that in the knife and sword museum books, there are several photos of glass-handled swords, presented to royalty and given as tokens of appreciation of service. One has a solid crystal glass handle, and it looks like the baubles hanging on a chandelier. It's amazing to me that it's still intact, and that after centuries, it's never been dropped!

There are glassine materials, like obsidian, that can be used in knife handles, but they are much tougher than manmade glass because they actually have somewhat of a basic crystalline structure and other toughening properties, and most glasses are completely amorphous. Another looming issue of toughness is that any glass when scratched, even microscopically, will be weakened and subject to fracture at those scratches. Rock will not be weakened by scratches.

Glass does have applications on knife handles and has for millennia. It's called "enameling" and some astoundingly beautiful works were made in enameled knife handles. But the substrate and thus the durability of these handles is built on metal, and the enamel (glass) is fused to the surface in thin, small areas. It's something I'd like to try one day, as soon as I get caught up on five years of backorders!

Snowflake Obsidian gemstone on this knife handle with stainless steel:
"Patriot" handmade custom knife, obverse side view in ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Snowflake Obsidian gemstone handle, emu skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this Patriot

Ahh, the disclaimer:

Jay, this is a serious inquiry.
I have a small tortoise shell custom Joe Kious folding knife I would like to get custom engraved on both bolsters.
Please e mail me back if you have any interest.
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and may contain information which is legally privileged or otherwise exempt from disclosure. They are intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom this e-mail is addressed. If you are not one of the named recipients or otherwise have reason to believe that you have received this message in error, please immediately notify the sender and delete this message immediately from your computer. Any other use, retention, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited.

Joe Kious made some beautiful knives, and he had many other artists (engravers) embellish them. I don't engrave other people's knives and the reasons are described on my "Embellishment" page at this bookmark.

But the reason I included this email is the "Notice" at the bottom. These are useless, meaningless, statements, wasting more bandwidth than being of any value whatever. No legal case has ever hinged on or been ruled because of these notices. This is because they are one-sided contracts, that assume your agreement based on their inclusion. The recipient doesn't agree to not copy, forward, or do anything with the sender's email, the sender did only, and trying to enforce a contract based on a claim by the sender is, in a word, offensive. What is says is, "I don't trust you, the recipient of my email, so I'm including a warning and threat based on my own agreement to control you, even though you did not ask for it, participate in it, or agree to it in any way." This is like someone telling you that you don't have the right to delete their email without their permission!

Mostly, people and companies who include this do so out of habit, thinking that their email is somehow safe, or at the least, safer than if they didn't include the threat. Thankfully, the practice is falling by the wayside.

If you want your email to be safe, don't send it. Send a registered letter via postal mail instead. But first, be sure to send a non-disclosure agreement, and get the intended recipient to sign it (and have it notarized by the appropriate authority). Then have the recipient mail it back certified, with appropriate copies sent to legal authorities, since the NDA is an actual binding contract that two people agree upon. Then, once the NDA agreement is completed , you may forward your correspondence resting assured that the contents of the email are safe and, if not, you can sue the pants off of the person you chose to send an email to!

How ridiculous is that?

Here's an email disclaimer by Ray Corrigan, Senior Lecturer in Maths, Computing and Technology, Open University:

IMPORTANT: Please be aware that this message has, quite likely, been harvested and possibly processed by the NSA, under §1881 FISAAA (now s702 FISA as amended) and by GCHQ neatly bypassing the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) via Tempora and other bureaucratic means. In relation to the NSA, I accept that I am, after all and in fairness to the good guys in the NSA, entirely guilty of the charge of not being a US citizen.By reading this email, you agree, on behalf of your employer and associates, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all non negotiated agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any such “agreements” on behalf of your employer and relevant associates.
My small print trumps yours and any and all attempts to circumvent the letter and spirit of the UK Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and equivalent level-the-playing-field statutory instruments in other jurisdictions. I particularly reject the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA).
This email is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) named above and may contain information that is confidential privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low self-esteem, no sense of humour or irrational religious beliefs.
If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this email is not authorised (either explicitly or implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas.
Unless the words absquatulation, witzelsucht, strikhedonia and pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis have been used in their correct context somewhere other than in this warning, they do not have any legal or grammatical use and may be ignored. No animals were harmed in the transmission of this email. The cats treating my garden as Grand Toilet Central, however, are courting a super soaker blasting.
Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading this warning backwards, so just ignore that Alert Notice from Microsoft.
However, by pouring a complete circle of salt around yourself and your computer you can ensure that no harm befalls you and your pets. If you have received this email in error, please add some nutmeg and egg whites, whisk and place in a warm oven for 40 minutes.
Thank you for your cooperation
This e-mail has not been scanned for all known viruses.

Bravo, Mr. Corrigan; only two trees have been harvested and 20 pounds of coal mined and burned for electric generation so that your disclaimer may be reproduced and presented here.

Simple and nice engraving on 304 stainless steel bolsters:
"Golden Eagle" obverse side view in CPM154CM high molybdenum powder metal technology tool steeel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Bicolored Tiger Eye gemstone handle, Caiman skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this "Golden Eagle"

Hi Mr. Fisher Sir,
Perhaps you can help me. Am confused with all the knife choices out their and being and having a true love of knifes that you have, maybe you can help me make a good choice that will meet all my needs. I want a good all purpose utility knife, that I can keep on my person and have available when needed. I want both a neck knife and one i can keep in my carry bag. I would like one that would have some self defense capability and one that I can keep in my tactical vest for wing hunting or any other need that may arise while am out and about in the world of nature. Survival knife comes to mind, so does utility, practical, yet capable of handling the task at hand. Portability is another key world, one I can carry in my pocket, vest, back pack etc., Perhaps, am looking for more than one type of knife. Or maybe there is one that will handle most if not all my needs. Sog, is a brand that came up recently, so is this one, X-ray image of a KJ Eriksson Mora Carbon Knife 711 showing the length of the tang. And Carbon Blade on the Mora 711 Or Fallkniven F1, SOG Seal Pup Elite, and KJ Eriksson Mora Carbon Knife 711 These look good to me, SOG again, Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife versus the Gerber ASEK LMF II Survival Knife, I've also looked at the Spyderco Manix2, Cold steel Recon1,Spyderco Pacific salt black ( H1 steel ), Sol Core Lite Am not sure what the SEALS, currently are using but I like a lot of what they use. So you can see how confusing this all gets for a newbie. Am on a budget but I also don't want to sacrifice quality either. I'd rather have a little but a good quality of little than a lot of garbage. So am willing to save up for a good item if needs be. I probably will need more than one type to handle both the Survival needs and the everyday, practical, needs, including defense. Besides, it's always good to have more than 1 for a back up. Look forward to your advice and help,
K. S.

What a mess. This guy is clearly dazed, overwhelmed by the plethora of cheap knives, charging at him from the endless meteoritic shower of hot advertising and marketing media sources. Pummeling him they are, with all kinds of options, promises, ideas, and combinations, all kinds of steels, finishes, mechanisms, and handles. He's flummoxed, he's bewildered, and lost.

So he writes to a maker of fine custom knives, someone who is in a totally different field, someone whose knives start at 30 to 50 times the cost of the knives he's looking at, with a five year waiting list, hoping for an answer.

So, here's my advice. For all the knives listed, it's a simple choice. Any one of them will do. They are all cheap, common knives, mass manufactured in a foreign country, many by the same company. Choose a color you like. And a box. Get a good box, make sure they come in a nice, hard cardboard box with some glossy print on the outside. The gloss is important. Black blacks, bold reds, clean whites. And make sure that all the words in the instructions included in the box are spelled correctly, otherwise, send it back.

What the SEALs I know are using:
"Horus" obverse side view in ATS-34 high molydenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, engraved, Micarta phenolic handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath with black lacquered brass engraved flashplate.
More about this "Horus"
Please remember that the opinions expressed here are my own, based on my experience in this field. If you disagree, you are fully entitled to build your own knives, and your own website, and stake your claim the way you see fit. My employers are the thousands of kind men and women who have ordered and purchased my knives in the last three decades, and to them I owe my loyalty, and no others. Except, of course, my family. And my dogs. Don't forget a couple cats, too, though at times they are intolerable. I'm fond of a couple trees, also, but they don't complain.

i was looking at your concealed carry knife sheath , and was wondering if you are able to make one for a merc worxs orion knife , and if so how much i have been looking at your work for a while and , I am in the mid east and my sheath took a shit , thank you very much for your time

The knife mentioned is a small shank of underground steel, with an overly thick blade that will not endure but one or two sharpenings before it's a chisel, typical of what manufacturers do: just a bit of a grind, and out the door it goes. The handle will likely fall off first, since it's an unbolstered and un-tapered thick slab, and the scales are held in place with thin-walled tubes and only two of them, an absolutely weak way to handle any knife, but typical for knives in the $100.00 range. Too bad this one sells for three times that much! Good luck on finding information about this company; all leads I can find seem to hide the origin of these knives on purpose; why do that, unless it's not something you're proud of?

No matter. It's the sheath that is the problem, and significant problem it is, since it's made of hot formed, single thickness kydex, held together with a few hollow rivets. This is typical of thoughtless, useless manufacturing of knives, and the sheath included will not last. Why not go back to the company that made the knife and ask for a better sheath? Probably because you can't even find where the company is, much less get any kind of support or help.

Multitude of fine sheaths for Counterterrorism Push/Punch Dagger:
Counterterrorism Knife "Guardian" push/punch dagger with multiple sheath types and styles
More about this Guardian

I know appraisals may not be something that you would normally do. But I am at an empass in trying to get a value for a custom knife.

Would it help to know that I include a link to the world's foremost knife appraiser in multiple locations on this site, like on the very page you ignored before sending your email?

The knife was made by Mark Lahrman in 1980. I have not been able to locate him to see if he still makes custome knives. I have included some information about the knife and several pictures.

Just putting this maker's name in a search engine will give you many avenues for research. Yet somehow, I'm the guy he writes.

The handle is walrus tusk that I took off of a walrus when I was stationed in Alaska in 1971.

So am I to assume that you had Mr. Lahrman put this handle material on the knife? Then what are you asking? And the poor walrus! By the way, NO non-Native American is allowed to possess any current (non-ancient or not fossilized) walrus tusk; this is the law. Better keep your knife hidden from the greenies and the eco-nuts!

The scrimshaw work was done by Gayle Mcgrath in 1982.

Why don't you ask her about your knife?

Thank you for any assistance you can provide.
J. M.

I'm not a knife appraiser, and I don't know anything about your knife, the maker, or what your knife is worth. I make new knives, I'm a knife maker. The term you need to put in your search engine is "KNIFE APPRAISAL." I don't know how I could be more clear, yet this is a constant request that gets wearisome.

The real problem here is the handle. If it's current walrus ivory, and you are not a Native American, you are not allowed to have it! I know this seems ridiculous to some, but it is the law. Only Native Americans can possess walrus tusk, as walrus are a protected species. You claim that the knife is old, but how are you to prove this to a potential buyer? For instance, if I were a buyer or dealer (I'M NOT!), I would want some solid proof, in writing, about the source of the tusk, otherwise it could be immediately confiscated, without even the consideration of a warrant, by the authorities. There are numerous states now and in the near future legislating all natural biological materials out of the hands of the public, and since there is no way to date your tusk as being "pre-ban" then it would be assumed that it's illegal, and up to you to prove it's not.

This is a lot like our tax system; they automatically assume you are breaking the law, and then impose fees, fines, and corrections, and then it's up to you to prove through documentation and records that you are innocent. It's probably not the best way to do things, but it is the law.

If you saddle a buyer with a piece of tusk that is not clearly ancient (determinable with stain and age-related checking and appearance), you are saddling him with a possible fine or prison sentence! Don't think this can happen? It's happening all over the US right now; just do some research and find out what lawyers and politicians are up to. It benefits them, after all, as the lineup of arrests and lawsuits is already bringing them untold business.

No handle material required on this Working/Counterterrorism knife:
"Random Access Three" obverse side view in CPM154CM powder metal technology high molybdenum stainless steel blade, vertical and horizontal sheaths in hand-stamped brown basketweave leather shoulder
More about this Random Access Three

Hi Jay!
I have a question to ask about one of your knives. I know that you say only to email you about ordering one of your knives, but I don't want to get into any trouble. On your copyright page, you say to always ask if unsure, so that is what I am doing. You currently have a tactical knife for sale, "Mithra", and it is absolutely beautiful! I love the way the knife flows from the handle to the tip. If I had the money available, the knife would be on its way to my house right now! Anyway, I really love the rear finger ring and the way the butt of the knife is designed. I would like to use the design of the rear finger ring for a knife of my own, but like I said don't want to get into any trouble. This would be my personal knife that I carry and therefore would not ever be reproduced after that or ever sold.
I completely understand if you don't allow me to use the design of the finger ring, as I know how much time and effort you invest in your designs. Please let me know soon! By the way, you can expect me to be a future client in a few years down the road!
Thank you so much Jay!
K. S.

Well, at least it's a kind email. And the sender is thinking about copyright and its application, which is a very good thing. However, features alone don't constitute design protection. In other words, a ring at the rear of a knife is not something that would be protected, as man has been putting rings on knives in various locations for literally hundreds and hundreds of years. What would be protected is the individual complete design, but he's not asking about that.

This brings up another point one I've seen discussed on forums. One company uses a lot of small holes on or near the ricasso (the blade-to-handle junction) and I've even seen it claimed that this is a protected design feature. What a bunch of baloney. I don't know who started this rumor, but no company owns a feature like a hole in a blade, and this would flatly be laughed out of any court of law. Holes in blades date back thousands of years, even to the Bronze Age, before steel! To think that if someone puts a hole in a ricasso, it's somehow new is a testament to the total ignorance of that person. Just go into any historical reference (or here on my definition page) and look up piercework, or open work, or drilling, and milling, and you'll see what a waste of time this idea is! I hope this can help educate people.

Nice rear finger ring, rounded, smoothed, and polished:
"Bulldog" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Fossilized Stromatolite Algae gemstone handle, hand-carved leather sheath inlaid with burgundy ostrich leg skin
More about this "Bulldog"

Subject: Custom sheath

Ordinarily, just the title alone means I delete these emails. As the reader of the website and the person who even glances at my "Services Offered" page, otherwise known as "What I do and Don't Do" page, the number one question asked of me is to make a sheath for someone else's knife. But let's look this over, just for educational purposes and see what this dire need is all about.

I am wondering what a custom sheath would cost I want it to be crocodile leather with a cape buffalo leather inlay

Whoa! Crocodile leather inlaid with buffalo leather? This sounds pretty fancy! Of course, some clarity might be in order here. The crocodile, alligator, or caiman is a premium sheath material only for the pattern and color, which is in the outer layer of the skin. It makes no real sense to apply the thicker, under layer only to carve it up to do an inlay of another skin; this would be tedious, and ruinous to the pattern and texture of the reptile. Buffalo (American Bison) has a rather uniform texture, and would not compliment the texture of the reptile in any way. This request is kind of like a piling on: I want gold, but gold inlaid with platinum! What is the absolute gem of a knife this magnificent sheath would compliment? Let's see:

The specs. are below
Down Under Knives The Outback Hunting Bowie Knife 11" Polish Blade, Leather Handle

This is a $189.00 knife (2016 prices). Let's look at the company profile a bit; after all, don't you want to know all about the source of the knife? From their own website:

"Down Under Knives is a fresh company born from over a decade of full-time experience in the knife industry."

A fresh company? Uhh, a bit green, aren't we? Over a decade of experience? That's a babe in this field. Sorry, but it's the truth.

"It was built around a shared passion to create the ultimate Bowie."

Huh? What do Bowie knives have to do with Australia? This is a 100% United States or American design of knife!

"Company founders have been making and selling knives, working with metal and leather, and evaluating hundreds of designs for both business and pleasure for the better part of their lives."

Okay, get out the shovel. Who are these founders? After all, doesn't the knife client deserve to know just exactly who these people are and their experience? What is, exactly, the better part of their lives? And where are the hundreds of designs? Show us! If I, as a singular maker can offer over 450 individual designs (some of them are Bowies), where is this "group's" experience displayed?

"The Outback™ features a forged, dual heat treated 440C stainless blade honed to a razor sharp edge."

"Dual heat treated? There is no such thing. You either heat treat the whole blade or not at all. Maybe these guys need to read my "Heat Treating and Cryogenic Processing of Knife Blade Steels" to get an idea of how this is done.

The back retains some spring to it while the edge has been made hard enough to withstand hundreds or thousands of cuts with no perceptible dulling.

Ahh. Now it's clear. They are describing differential tempering, not "dual heat treating," since there is no such thing. Their claim of "thousands of cuts with no perceptible dulling is flatly, bunk, unless of course, you are cutting Jell-O. No knife, no matter how well made, no steel, no matter how well alloyed and heat treated will never dull. This is one of those often hyped claims that needs to stop in our industry. Even a diamond cutter WILL dull. So to inflate the performance (of a $189.00 knife) with this tripe is insulting.

This is not a wall hanger - we set out to create the most devastatingly effective Bowie knife ever produced, and designed every detail like we mean it.

Okay, a slam at a knife that is too nice to use, which is typical of these comparisons, but let's ignore that. Let's look instead at the term: "devastatingly effective" for fun. Just what the hell does that mean? Attach a adverb to a vagarity for some real drama and show. Devastating how? Effective how? I don't know of any knife client who asks for "devastation" as one of his main requirements for knife function and features.

Hack, slash, chop, cut, crush... This is one blade that will never let you down.

Ahh, some transitive verbs to paint the picture of the knife owner with his sleeves rolled up and his dirty boots on, and the knife in use, flying through the heavy, wet, air (like that picture?). To me, this sounds like a job for a $5.00 machete from the big box hardware store. Or maybe a Weedeater...

We believe in putting our money where our mouth is, so we back this claim with a full five-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

Okay, an important point here: it's not their money, it's yours, and they don't specify warranty claims so we're left to wonder.

The handle is skillfully crafted out of genuine ebony, leather and brass with an ultra-strong tang that will not twist or break in heavy use.

Let's ignore their claim to skill as that's very subjective at this price point. The tang better be "ultra-strong" as this knife is a hidden tang model with washers of leather and wood stacked on the tang like doughnuts. This is one of the weakest handle types made, definitely not one I would recommend for any chopping at all. And leather as a handle material? We all know (if you've read the previous sections of this page) what will ultimately happen to a leather-handled knife.

The solid, bead blasted brass handguard and pommel complete the distinctive look.

And we didn't have to do any of that pesky finishing to get that look!

The Outback™ is truly both a great example of the knifemaker's art as well as the most rugged, dependable tool an outdoorsman could wish for.

That's rather insulting to those of us who are real knifemakers, but again, a vague, suggestive statement.

The Outback™ comes with a genuine heavy leather sheath patterned to resemble crocodile skin.

AHA! Why would the writer of the original email want a real crocodile sheath? After all, they've stamped some squarish patterns on leather with a bit of an angled bump in the square, and it kind of looks like a croc skin if you squinch up your eyes real tight...
They go on and on about the size and a little sleeve for a spike for sharpening that mounts on the sheath. I don't know why it would need sharpening if there is no perceptible dulling after thousands of cuts! A big red flag here, isn't it? And at the very bottom of the ad copy, here is the climax:

Made in Asia

This is a knife company based in Finland, from what I can glean, and the knives are made in the Peoples Republic of China. They are careful to use the word "Asia" and not the PRC, as it sounds better. Not a lot of "down under" at that location. Any knife buyer needs to seriously do some research to find out who these people are. The reputation and being banned from public forums is a pretty big red flag. One would have to doubt the steel type, the workmanship, and the claims overall, but the knife looks like the prop used in the movie, "Crocodile Dundee," and that really is the big point, isn't it? And you know the phrase that accompanies this style of knife in every circumstance, right? I don't need to repeat it. Funny, an American design being associated with Australia, made in the Communist People's Republic of China by a company in Finland, now and forevermore because of a movie. Yeah, and that silk scarf was really cut in half in "The Bodyguard," too.

But the knife owner wants a sheath, in real crocodile and real buffalo. A sheath worth more than ten times the knife, no less. Simple answer: No.

A real Principal Security Detail knife with real crocodile sheath:
"Macha" PSD combat, defense, tactical knife: 440c high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, canvas micarta phenoic handle, kydex, aluminum, blued steel sheath, crocodile, leather sheath
More about this "Macha"

Hello Jay,
Thank you for the prompt response to my inquiry. Unfortunately I cannot afford your prices. If you can help me find a quality hand made knife in the $100 to $200 range I would be most appreciative, otherwise I'll have to take my chances with a factory knife.
Thank you for your time,

He opens with a hopeful comment, thanking me for a prompt response, which is expected. After all, he has sent an email! Immediately, he remarks that my work is not within his price range. This does not stop him; he goes on to clarify that he desires a "quality" knife in the $100-$200 price range. Obviously, he does not understand my classification of "quality," though I've tried to be crystal clear in the over 500 pages of this website. He would appreciate my input or the unthinkable will happen and he will have to settle for a factory knife. And this will probably be my fault, as I have not directed his purchase and advised him in any way.

I've already clarified the difference between a dealer and a maker, so I won't go over that again. It's sad to think that I might recommend any cheap knife (yes, in my world, $200.00 is a very cheap knife) since I do not focus on the lower-tier realm of my art. For a lot of new makers and for makers who never really excel in this field, making and selling a $200.00 knife is a dream come true. So the constructive advice I can offer is to seek out that very type of maker; there are a zillion of them out there; they pop up continually on forums and at gun and knife shows, and often disappear as quickly. They will be happy to make him a knife from a file, a saw blade, or any unknown steel type, slap on a wood handle from a tree they cut down in the back yard, and throw together a flimsy sheath to accompany the knife. I suppose that level of quality is within his interest, but he wants me to do the legwork of tracking this maker down for him, and I stubbornly won't cooperate. It's all because I have clients who are waiting for their quality knives that cost 10 to 100 times more than he's budgeted for.

Substantial quality and investment:
"Achelous" in ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Indian Green Moss Agate gemstone handle, hand-carved leather sheath inlaid with frog skin
More about this "Achelous" dagger

I have just started to make knives. I have a number of skins to apply over cow-hide and, have been ordering exotic wood knife blanks. I like to get involved with gemstone handles but never worked with gemstones.

Skins over hide. I kind of like the look of that. Leave the hair on the cow hide, and just slop some glue around to apply them. And exotic wood knife blanks, wow. That really is some exotic wood, so strong that you could make a knife from it. I, myself would like to get involved with gemstone handles, but I'm married.

Anyway, for the time I am hoping on tracking down on fair honest blades.

Versus the unfair, dishonest blades that are so commonly found.

I like the unusual, I guess you get that alot how ever

What? What do I get?

I am curious about blades of solid color blades or blades that a fairly well scratch proof.

Scratch-proof is impossible. Even a solid diamond, the hardest substance known can be scratched by another diamond. You're tilting at windmills.

I also enjoy looking at your serragated blades

Serrageted? What is that, some sort of new-fangled bussing to make schools all look alike?

Damascus can be nice in fact I seen one where the light color of medal looked to be rather gold or something looking goldfish along with the black also I see red wit black, anything else would be nice to know about, If I can.

Okay, here's some technical perspective. Colors in damascus blades are created by heat. This is an oxide of the surface, and one good rubbing with Simichrome, Flitz, or any light metal polish will make that color disappear! So, like your scratch-proofness, the color is a temporary illusion. Oh, yes, and the colored blades will easily scratch, too.

In total, it would be so much help to know about the many blade designs.

That's no small feat! I, myself, have over 450 individual knife designs. Do you want a book on them individually, or perhaps a massive archive of each one's dimensions, enhancements, applications, and concepts. Give me a while; this is a bit of a task.

If you can help me in these area's and pricings as well, I am very curious and of course serious as I would like to be able to make nice knives and sheaths.

Of course, of course; you are very serious.

Your sheaths were very nicely made.

Thank you; I make them.

I really want to start in this right while the credit cards are strong and good.

Whose? Your credit cards or the people you plan to sell your knives to? What a curious statement.

I live in a tourist town where people will spend money if I can produce what people likes seeing, both locally as well as tourism. I would depend more on locals.

Which is it: the tourists, or the locals? Is this your best business plan?

That's about it though I could actually go on

I'll bet you can.

but, rather keep it simple to start with, if I'm able to start selling, Of course I will get even more into it, depending what sell's and doesn't.

That's some sound thinking. Make a knife, and then sell it. Good plan.

If I can sell, pay off credit cards, who knows where it could go. All I care about to get into this and keep it going.
Thank you for your time.
C. M.

A new maker with his eye on the prize. Forums and discussion boards are full of these enthusiastic young makers, and in the hordes of them are a few that will undoubtedly succeed, bringing the future of knifemaking with their very hands. But to base this profession on the goal of making money will initiate a dismal, eventual failure. Unlike most businesses, people who are really successful at knifemaking by hand (rather than production companies, small factories, or manufacturers) do this because they love it. They are impassioned by the act of creating, not focused on the golden dollar. If successful, they will earn enough to live adequately, happily pursuing their passion. But if the dollar is the intent, I'd suggest rethinking the strategy of knifemaking since it's fairly grueling, laborious work, with the possibility of earnings resting on the sudden mistake of dropping a completed knife on the concrete, chipping the tip of the blade, and having to start over.

One at a time, by hand:
"Phact" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Fossil Coral gemstone handle, hand-carved leather sheath inlaid with lizard skin
More about this "Phact"

I am wanting to replace a knife my boyfriend lost. It was a hunting knife with a deer antler ivory handle and a switchboard. It was a buck knife. Are you able to recreate?

Uhh, antler is hair, and ivory is teeth, and the two should never meet. Is it just me, or do you also wonder why she wouldn't just buy another Buck knife? Maybe because Buck doesn't include a switchboard, since most of us have gone to digital cell phone technology and there are no "Operators" any more. By the way, ask any young person what a "Telephone Operator" is and enjoy the confused look! "The Party is Calling Long Distance." Woo-hoo!

As long as they don't ask you to "accept the charges."

A very nice Sambar stag handled knife:
"Yarden" obverse side view in CPMS30V powder metal technology high vanadium tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel guard and pommel, Sambar Stag handle, hand-stamped heavy leather sheath
More about this "Yarden"

Hi Jay,
I'm writing you because I really want to get my small simple design dream knife made....I'm basically a big fan of the Neil Blackwood Pipsqueak knife shape, Anso Albatros, as well as a lot of the short stubby Boker knives like the Plus and Vox series, you'll be able to tell based on my attachment pics, but none of those knives are fixed blades...Anyways, I would like to make a 1-piece Fixed blade knife completely out of a strong stainless steel, no holes in knife, with a Satin or stonewashed finish, depending which is cheaper....I don't care so much about the finish, what I really care about is the look and size...I've attached a drawing and some pics I took of my own template designs to give you a better idea of the shape and size I'm going for...I even cut my design out of a scrapped cutting board I had laying around that was a 1/2" thick, to get a better feel for my design in my hand, as well as to give you a better idea of what I'm going for...
As you can see, I'd like about a 5.5" Overall Knife Length, 2.5" Blade length, between 1.75" - 2" Blade width, about a 1/4" or 7mm thick blade, 3" Handle length, between 1.25" - 1.5" handle width at the center arch, then widens to almost 2" at the rounded end of handle, about a 1/2" solid steel handle thickness with no holes, or 3/8" thickness at the least if you can't get a 1/2" thick steel...In one of the pics you can see that my thumb would rest on the top part of the thick blade, while the pointer and middle fingers fit right in the arch, and the ring with pinky fingers would rest against the rounded wider end of the handle...Maybe the handle can be knurled on both sides for better grip, or we could discuss handle options, but I'd like to keep it simple, since I'm a simple guy, nothing to fancy, should be easier and less time consuming for you as well...
I basically really want a small stubby heavy 1-piece knife for many reasons, besides being a small tactical survival knife or E.D.C. knife, I could break or hammer things with the handle if needed...It could also be used as a paperweight due to the heaviness factor...This little fixed blade knife would probably last forever and be able to handle many tasks...
Hopefully you can work on this design with me...Please let me know, also if you need any further info from me...As you can see I'm pretty clear as to what I want made, now you just have to tell me if it's all possible and what my total price would be....To be honest the budget I had in mind for this is between $200 - $400, since I figured it's a small simple yet strong design...Just tell me if you can work with my budget or if I'm way off for something of this size and nature, remember I don't really want a fancy knife, I just want a small heavy fixed blade functional knife, this knife would be used for many tasks, so doesn't have to be a show piece or anything....Ok, let me know, thanks.
Best regards,

I'm at a point in my life and career where I'm lucky enough to be able to carefully choose every single knife I make, and I do make custom knives, based on a client's designs and ideas. But the conversation usually goes like this:
"Jay, I'd like a custom knife based on your Hooded Warrior blade and your Aldebaran handle."
And that's how the conversation starts. We email back and forth, nail down the design, the materials, the finish, embellishment, and accessories. Sometimes, this is a detailed and long email string and conversation, sometimes it's very short. But it's a conversation, not a scattered group of thoughts or ideas that just pop into someone's head and make it to the screen.

By the time I got to the second paragraph of this email, I was weary. If a person is a big fan of someone else's knives, he needs to go that entity, person or company, and buy their knives, or have the conversation with them. There are, frankly, enough photographs of my knives on this website (thousands) for anyone to get an idea of what I make, so thrusting another's work at me will not make me change my style.
There are some key components in this particular email that automatically raise enough red flags that I won't even have a conversation with this person. You may think that abrupt, but please understand that I get dozens of these every week. What are these red flags?

  • 'a small simple design' followed by reams of description
  • 'a big fan of' and it's not me
  • 'attachments' and there are none!
  • 'satin or stonewashed' which means completely unfinished or amateurly finished
  • 'cheaper' is not the right consideration for a fine, custom, handmade knife
  • 'I don't care about the finish' This is absolutely the wrong website for him.
  • '3 inch handle length' What is he, a micro-alien?
  • '1/2" solid steel thick handle' What?
  • Details of how his fingers rest on this tiny handle is an obscene distortion of reality and space (unless, of course, he is a micro-alien creature).
  • 'I'm a simple guy, nothing fancy' With a page of description and confusing details?
  • 'break things with the handle' What? Very tiny, little alien things, no doubt.
  • 'paperweight' What? What?
  • 'tactical survival knife' With a 2.5" blade? Huh? What? What? What?
  • 'between $200 and $400' There is a great page linked at the top of every single page on this site, titled "My Knife Prices" that should have cleared that up for him before he ever got this far.
2.5" of just the serrations on this real tactical, survival knife:
"Arctica" tactical, combat, rescue, survival knife, obverse side view in CPMS30V high vanadium powder metal technology tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Thunderstorm kevlar with brass handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath with ultimate belt loop extender and all accessories
More about this "Arctica"

Mr. Fisher,
My name is C. N., 40 years old, Virginian, average blue collar worker. Like you, I have long had a passion for good knives, elite forces, and outdoor activities . I have looked at some of your knives, you and I think along the same design lines as far as style or design. I have been in and out of work for the past 2 years and very limited income. I recently decided to try my hand at some novice knife making, currently use old lawn mower blades (Oregon 10-B-38) steel to make knives and was considering going to the junk tard to get some 5160 leaf springs off of old trucks. I have a 4 1/2 angle grinder with various wheels and sandings dicss, files, an oven and currently working on a fabricating a homemade-wood fired forge for heat treating. I am also planning on getting an 8" bench grinder.
Can you make any suggestions, on getting started out on a limited income, with reference to finding cheap readily available steels, or inexpensive yet effective tools for a beginner? Any help, advice, suggestions, you make would be greatly appreciated.
Keep up the awesome work,
C. N.

There are thousands of guys who want to make knives; it's a desirous affair. To get your hands on some raw stock, to work it through whatever method is available, to make something that others appreciate and desire: these are really neat things, and a reason many look into knifemaking as a craft, then a hobby, then a part time business, and eventually, a full time profession.

I have no easy, pat answer for those who wish to get started. There is no magic phrase, no simple perspective, no guide, list, or organized path that I can offer. There are a lot of suggestions by other makers, and if you look around on discussion boards, forums, and on various knifemakers' websites, you'll get a good idea of a direction you might want to pursue.

I'm not the common knifemaker that would be able to tell you where to start and how to start. I've been in business as a professional for so long that my conversation is entirely different than a maker who wants to start with found metal, inexpensive processes, and low end sales. I'm not dismissing those directions; we all have to start somewhere; it's just that my conversation is quite different, due to my experience in the field.

Make many knives, sell them, continue to build your skills, shop, and clients. One thing I can offer is to know that since the beginning, I've worked extremely hard because knifemaking successfully is a very laborious affair. When I was in my 20s, I worked 16 or more hours a day, and now, in my late 50's, I still work at least 10 hours a day, usually 7 days a week. The work isn't because I absolutely have to; it's because I'm passionate about what I do and I simply love it. So I guess that would be a good piece of advice: try knifemaking enough to know that you love it (or not). That may well set your course into your future in the craft, trade, and art.

Seamless fit of Lace Amethyst gemstone and stainless steel:
"Patriot" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Lace Amethyst gemstone handle, shark skin inlaid in hand-carved leather sheath
More about this "Patriot"

How much would you charge me for a 3-4 blade. I want it in 5160 steel and ONLY that steel, and I dont like rivets in my handles I saw a knife with a pinned over tang, and it was the most solid handle I've ever seen on a knife, and thats what I want. Also I want the entire process recorded on high definition video of my knife being made. One last thing ... my buddy said his knife was made without power tools. So I want it forged, and left with hammer marks. I want the blank to be HOTCUT off a leaf spring, and no saw being used. I want the blank hammer forged, and all grinding work be used with only hand files... it should never be touched with a power tool, or grinder. Same with the handle.. I want the handle drilled with a hand cranked drill for the hollow out, and hand chiseled for the fitting. .. last but not least before I get this knife I want you to video it cutting a 2x4 entirely in half, and perform a hair shave right after to prove it holds its razor edge, and the handle material will be axis antler in one inch pieces with US made quarters as spacers.

After the last somewhat serious email about knifemaking, I just had to include this one. Sometimes I think that some of these emails I get are just pranks, people thinking up stuff to try to get a rise, a comment, or to make it to this page. I wish that were the case, but instead, these folks are real, and that's a sobering thing. They vote, they raise kids, they work (hopefully) at some place. We may trust them for our safety, their knowledge, or their insight, as we humans are civilized, social creatures all depending on each other in various and interrelated ways. This is why it's truly sad when you read something like this.

You might think that I am most rejecting of the the style of how this guy wants his knife made, but I'm not; it's understandable, and there are literally millions of people in the world who can make him a knife this way. However, since most of them exist in the third world, using 16th century technology, they aren't likely to have HD camcorders...

What is truly sad is the repeating phrase, "I want-" This phrase, repeated eight times in a single paragraph, is an alarming cry for humanity and acceptance where it is clearly lacking. Or, as my dad would say, "People in hell want ice water."

"Refinement creates beauty everywhere. It is the grossness of the spectator that discovers anything like grossness in the object."

--William Hazlitt, Author

Refined counterterrorism combat knife in ultra modern nitrogen steel:
"Xanthid" counterterrorism knife knife in N360 nitrogen passivated tool steel blade, sheath of kydex, anodized 5052H32 aluminum welt frame, blackened and passivated 304 stainless steel hardware and fixtures, anodized 6AL4V titanium
More about this "Xanthid"

Hi Jay,
I'm interested in learning how to properly draw (sketch) up a fixed knife blade. Could you offer me any general tips, and any good books that may be helpful? I'm a begining knifemaker, from Seattle, WA.
Sincerely yours,
T. M.

Ahh, the tedious recommendations. I get it; you want to start right. Right with the drawing, right with the knife. It's a good plan, and it helps to know that the very best works of art or utility are created first on paper. I knew a guy once who had a book he'd created of hundreds, literally hundreds, of knife designs. He drew and drew and drew... and that is as far as it went. Don't you wonder what captivates someone to draw knives continually, without ever making a one? Don't you wonder what captivates someone to draw and then make thousands of knives for a career? Ahem.

The important thing I'd like to convey is that a drawing of a knife is not hard to achieve, but a worthwhile knife from that drawing is hard to achieve. After the drawing, the idea is transferred and transformed to a template, a piece of material (wood, plastic, metal) that is then held in the hand to get the feel for what would be a knife and what would be uncomfortable, unworkable, or unsalable. These are things that are hard to define, and a great deal of tactile sensitivity needs to be applied, and that sensitivity is a refined trait that comes from handling and making hundreds of knives. There's really not a source to teach this; it's borne from experience. Then there's the whole appeal part, the part that allows a knifemaker to visualize what his client would buy, and how desirable the knife is. More about that in my book. Then, there is what happens before, during, and after making the knife itself. The changes and adjustments to a knife project happen intuitively, and continually, and then the pattern and design that was first realized on paper has to be adjusted to that reality. Lots of stuff here, and I'd recommend my book, if I ever quit adding to it and get it finished!

Attractive and appealing design elements with Seraphinite gemstone handle:
"Deneb" obverse side view in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, hand-engraved 304 stainless steel bolsters, Seraphinite gemstone handle, hand-carved, hand-tooled leather sheath
More about this "Deneb"

If I send in a knife, can you engrave it for me? I'm just looking for a simple picture, and no other sites I've checked offer picture engravings. If not, do you know of a place that will engrave a picture on my knife?
Please reply.

Picture on a knife. Yep, sounds cool, and it's done. Ignoring the fact that I don't hand-engrave or do any other work on anyone else's knives, there are some issues with engraving that most people who ask for this don't understand. Steel, really good steel, hypereutectoid and high alloy stainless steels, are just about impossible to hand-engrave after they have been hardened and tempered. While it's been done with solid carbide gravers, it's a horrible, frustrating experience that anyone who attempts once will unlikely ever try again. I hand-engrave before I heat treat. This can only be done if my heat treating process is so clean and accurate and careful that I don't destroy or damage the top thousandth of an inch of steel surface, and that surface is carried through out the entire processing of the blade. So the hand-engraving quality goes hand-in-hand with the heat treatment, and there is a lot of detail most people don't realize.

Perhaps they think you just come up with some "picture" and you magically apply it to the blade. This can happen, in effect, that is just what laser engraving by any trophy shop can do for you, with the expected value of such a treatment.

Hand-engraved hardened and tempered 440C blade:
"Freedom's Promise" reverse side view in hand-engraved 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, blued steel guard and pommel, ivory, opals, sodalite, jasper, quartz, crocidolite handle, hand-carved leather sheath with gold wash
More about this "Freedom's Promise"

I’m interested in a couple of knife sheaths. I have 2 Buck 184 knives that I would like leather sheaths for. The stock sheath is composite with metal inside that scratches the blades each time the knife is inserted.
I’m not looking for fancy. Looking for plain, but quality.
T. F.

Okay, this is not something I do, and by now we all know that, but let's look over this marvel of engineering. The first thing to notice is the very weird spikes that come out of the cross-guard and aim back at the hand and wrist. I've never understood why and how this is attractive or useful in a knife, and in the thousands of combat and tactical knives I've made for thousands of clients, not a one has ever asked for these offensive spikes. Supposedly created by a tax attorney (according to write-ups on the internet), this knife was made for Special Forces (I've never met one SF or ST guy who owns one of these).

Blade steel: 425 is a low alloy, hypoeutectoid stainless steel, slightly better than 420 (which is horrible) and worse than 440A. This is a very poor steel in anyone's book, so let's move on. The thin, horrid guard is drilled and tapped for these spikes, that are supposed to be used for "anchoring line attached to the lanyard ring." What? What kind of anchor, and why do you need to anchor a line with your knife? Believe it or not, it's suggested that this patented arrangement is intended to be used as a ... now wait for it... it can't be more serious... a grappling hook! Yep, tie a little line to your knife, throw it over a wall, hook on something with the little spikes, and pull yourself up, just like in the movies! What a sad, foolish idea to try to capitalize on! It's embarrassing that someone would actually suggest this, but many people are lured into the Hollywood fantasy world.

The handle is a knurled round tube, the absolute cheapest, poorest way to handle any knife anywhere. Definitely a cheap and fast manufacturing method, a piece of tubing is chucked in a lathe and a knurling tool is pressed against it, and voila! The roughest, most uncomfortable, and cheapest handle is finished. Takes seconds. Done by all machine, cheapo, fasto, quicko.

Now the sheath. Why would this guy want a different sheath for his prizes? After all his sheath is "fiberglass reinforced plastic" which means polyester. Learn more about polyester and fiberglass here. And it has pouches attached, with a compass, a red-cord lanyard, and a sharpening stone. It's got a plastic mount quick snap for the belt, in case you need to sharpen your knife in a hurry and tie some line to the pommel and throw it over a castle wall before you ascend like batman. Don't forget to have someone hold your cape.

I make sheaths with a lot of gear, even sharpening diamonds, but no one has ever asked for a compass, some fishing line, or grappling hooks. Why doesn't this fellow go back to Buck and ask them to make a different sheath if he wants one? The whole "grappling" knife thing is way out of my league.

Lots of actually useful accessories on this counterterrorism knife:
"Taranis" counterterrorism, tactical, combat knife, obverse side view in CPMS30V high vanadium stainless tool steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, Olive/Black G10 fiberglass epoxy composite laminate handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath with ultimate belt loop extender and accessories
More about this "Taranis"

Dear Mr. Fisher,
Thank you for providing a glimpse into your amazing world of custom knife artistry. I am truly humbled by what I have heard from your lips and seen with my eyes.

I appreciate your nice comment, but my lips haven't said much apart from a few meager videos; some day I hope to do more.

Your passion for this work is a pleasure to witness, if even only on video.

You must be referring to the video I had several years ago on YouTube, now removed. We had family interactions, and knifemaking, but I realized that I couldn't sum the magnitude of operations on a few minutes of video, and the interested person is better served by a couple hundred pages of this website, but thanks again.

I have been a knife sharpener for 27 years and arrived at some interesting ways to create edges which are both sharp and aesthetically pleasing to behold. I, like you have taken great pride in my work.

Twenty seven years of only sharpening? That's a lot of experience. I've sharpened for nearly four decades myself; every knife I've made and others I haven't.

We (my wife and I) have arrived at time of business expansion which will require that I train individuals in some of my methods, incorporating some of the unique ways I sharpen straight edges in addition to utilizing more modern equipment. The difficulty I face is teaching another how I do serrated edges. My methodology for serration requires a level of hand eye coordination that is difficult to instruct and is not a system that lends itself to production work.

Good point. Serrations are mostly made by serration grinders, that is, grinding wheels with a convex and concave wavy surface. That way, the machine simply touches the blade to the wheel, and voila: serrations. Of course, these are very poor serrations, so I can see how difficult it would be for anyone to sharpen them.

I can see that your serration work is of exceptional quality. And this is the reason for this email. I need some help in developing a production system that will be fairly easy and quick for my employees to execute.

Thank you for noticing exceptional serration quality. Decades ago, I was asked by the military to create serrations that work, that rip, slice, and aggressively work through hard use, serrations so sharp and aggressive that (in their terms) "keep cutting even if the teeth break off." This is why I hand-cut serrations the way I do. This cannot be replicated on a machine-tooled device, and because of that, machine-ground serrations can not be as aggressive and sharp. I believe that you will be unable to develop a production system that will be fairly easy and quick for your employees to use to sharpen knife serrations, because good serration geometry starts with cutting the teeth and profile before even heat treating the knife blade. If there were a way to make extremely aggressive and effective serrations like mine, factories would have already come up with it, and they haven't.

Can you assist me in learning how to go about developing a safe and reliable method for commercial knife serration of varying depth and width? Should you need to know anything about my operations please feel free to email or call my cell #.
B. K.

Okay, if you're reading this, you already know that I don't advise other businesses how to operate, how to train, how and where to acquire expertise and equipment for their business. The important point (pun intended) is the geometry of the serration is a sore spot in modern knives, and I've gone into this subject in tremendous depth and illustration on my Serrations page on this website. In fact, I will go so far as to claim that it is the best page about serrations created by any custom knifemaker on any knife related website in the world. From that page, he should have gleaned a clearer understanding of serrations than he would get anywhere else, but (of course) it's not enough.

Extremely aggressive rip teeth "Vampire" serrations:
"Vampire rip tooth serrations"
More about this "Arabah"

I am Interested in a custom sheath for a full size Ka-Bar USMC.

By now I thought everyone in the world knew I don't make sheaths for knives other than my own, but evidently not.

1) Quick draw, with a latch pop open. You flip it up with a thumb and it pops up right out of the way. I saw it on Japan-made sheaths.

I have excellent locking and hybrid tension-locking sheaths that I supply with my own knives, but he wants me to make some Japanese stuff he saw somewhere.

I believe they had a piece of a thin metal sawn into the flap to do this.

Okay, I'm calling crap on this. Metal "sewn" into a flap? Maybe it is sawn, a piece of saw blade, forced into a flap... or something.

I don’t have the picture to illustrate the Japan flap, but this one comes pretty close, though it looks like they use some bungee-cord to make it work instead: the idea is here: http://screencast.com/deleted

I tried to use the link (just out of curiosity) when I found out that it's generally understood that "Screencast" is dead. Really? A website that charges you monthly to store photos and documents, and let others see them? In the rest of the world we call that a smart phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet, and an internet connection. So, there is no photo or illustration to muse over, and I really wanted to see this.

As long as you know how to do this either way,- I am ok.
Only one latch on the sheath.
Got to work.

You know, I make a pretty incredibly functional and worthwhile locking sheath, with a single engagement mechanism, in stainless steel and anodized aluminum, and it works well enough that it's requested by military and counterterrorism professionals. Or maybe you mean you've got to go to work; I don't understand your terse presentation.

2) no strap / belt loop, the idea is here: http://screencast.com/no such document

Yeah, another dead link doesn't help to illustrate your concept or idea.

3) note how the blade is raised: the sheath needs some wedges, the idea is here: http://screencast.com/t/nothing here and http://screencast.com/t/nothing here, either!

This is why you don't use a third party site like Screencast. Nothing to look at. Dead links all around. Anyway, you're suggesting wedges, so something you see there doesn't suit you. Again, I clearly make the very best locking sheath in the world, so why are you writing me this?

4) no other features, no other straps, no pockets, etc. Basic design, light, sturdy enough for the knife. Dark stain.
Need it shipped to Toronto Canada.
Please advise of availability and price,
Thank you,

The important point here is that I already make the very best locking sheath and hybrid tension locking sheath in the world today. Who else has anything close? People don't like to admit this; it's inconvenient to see a sheath with an entirely waterproof stainless steel locking or titanium and stainless steel hybrid mechanism on the most durable sheath body and frame made. It makes their stuff look very bad. But of course, these sheaths cost more than most other makers' knives. No matter. This person writes, ignores the very best, includes dead links from an early millennium website, and now you know why I don't answer this type of email either. If you are interested in the very best locking combat sheaths made, take a look at my dedicated page about my locking sheaths here, and my combat knives page at this bookmark for a whole list of related topics.

The very best locking combat sheath made in the world today:
"Arctica" obverse side view of counterterrorism, combat, professional service knife  in ATS-34 high molybdenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, blue/black G10 fiberglass/epoxy composite handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath with ultimate belt loop extender, firestarter, sharpener, and HULA advanced flashlight holder
More about this "Arctica"

I will make this short sir.

And yet, I look forward and see a lot of text...

I am a novice knife maker but have a design for the special services that will at the least shock and impress all.

Oh, no. Not another one, I smell the NDA coming. I like the term "shock and impress" used in this context. Kind of reminds me of the Iraqi campaign term "shock and awe." Close, but not really the known cliché.

I cannot go into any detail be caused i do not want to lose this opportunity to help me advance my name in the industry.

Sigh. If your discovery is really great, and you are confident that it will "advance your name" in our art and tradecraft, why not just make it yourself? After all, you claim to be a knifemaker.

I will never get to where you are but have watched you for a good while now.

As long as you're not a stalker, it's okay.

I watch your videos and read your material and am pretty comfortable you are happy where you are and have little reason to pull the rug out from under another striving comrade in arms haha.

I want this to be clear. I have no comrades in arms, apart from my clients, particularly those who are in actual combat. I don't' seek to "pull the rug out from under" anyone, for any reason. However, I am a competitive artist, craftsman, and professional business owner, and that is how I'm successful. It's a tough world out here in the real world of full-time professional career knifemaking, and I want you to understand that other makers are not typically my friends, but my competition. This is clear in their rather common and public comments about me, my opinion, and my work. They don't want me to succeed, to set the pace of singular custom knifemakers, to be a resource for honesty and technical information in our tradecraft, yet they typically visit the site and repeat much of what they read here, but only if it applies to advancing their own business. I suppose you are correct; I don't need to steal someone else's idea to advance; I don't even need to include anything close to what people are reading on the 500 plus pages of this website. I could simply take orders and make knives without ever adding to a thing you read here. But I want people, particularly clients, knife enthusiasts, knife users, owners, and customers to know more than anyone else is presenting about this tradecraft. They have supported me in what I do for nearly four decades (at the time of this writing) and I owe them the truth. This is my commitment to service that I am able to supply to our tradecraft, art, science, and business.

This opportunity i am offering you as well as asking you to partner in with your influence with military weapons buyers.

I'm not sure what you are requesting. First, you are presenting this as an "opportunity" which is sales speak 101. Present the potential customer with an "opportunity" to acquire the product. This is done to frame the purchase in a different light. Rather than make a claim that the product is simply superior and here are the reasons why, it's presented as a unique opportunity, a chance, a bit of luck that may allow money to leave the hand of the customer and land in the hand of the seller. Read some Zig Ziglar and you'll get the concept. This dates back to the time of door-to-door salesmanship, where brushes, vacuum cleaners, pots and pans, and encyclopedias where peddled by struggling young salesmen, with the prize in their eyes and sturdy shoes.

In any case, the writer of this email perceives that I have some influence in military weapons buyers. Let's make this clear. I don't have any influence in any military weapons buyers. Knives are not purchased by the military, in any sense of the word. Knives as weapons have been eliminated from nearly every single unit of our military. You might not realize this from the ridiculous ads but our military lets individual servicemen purchase their own knives for their own field use, and this has been the standard practice for decades. My influence is in simply making and supplying a superior, often individually crafted knife and accessory kit for each serviceman and professional based on his needs and requests. So when you read about the "USMC Kabar" you need to understand that this is not true; the Marines don't issue any knife. Just ask a real marine, and he'll probably tell you what he needs. I have several Marines in my family and it's clear that they don't stumble around with the concept. By the way, the knives they ask for are not the "Kabar."

The design of the knife is only available now due to modern technology and would have been any spec ops. operator's dream tool.

Do you actually know any Special Operations professionals? I do. I work with Special Tactics Squadrons regularly, and they have very specific ideas about what they want. The surprising thing is that (like most knife users) they all want something different from each other! There is no standard, unified, exceptional pattern, design, material, finish, or accessory ensemble that has universal appeal. If there were, in the thousands of years we've had military conflict, we would have stumbled upon or creatively refined such a weapon and tool, and we would be done with the process. All knives would look alike and everybody would be happy.


Okay, now you're just being silly. If you really want to know about the deadliest knife ever made, I suggest you read my section on my "3000th Term" page at this bookmark. I'll wait here while you become informed.

Also a military requirement it can be used by the average young soldier but is best in the hands of an expert fighter.

What are you suggesting, creating requirements for our military? I'll tell you right now that this is not something you are going to be able to do; they have their own command structure. By the way, a broken-off chair leg is deadly in the hands of an "expert fighter." But of course there is no requirement of specificity of what an "expert fighter" is. Want to know more about expert fighting? Do an internet search on Audie Murphy, Leo Major, or Warren G. H. Crecy. Get a taste for fearlessness in the story of Havildar Bhanbhagta Gurung. By the way, note that when the enemy was too close to use his knife, he used a rock to dispatch him!

Sir i know from following your work you are a VERY busy man. Please do not just browse this offer over and toss it away.

Again with the "offer." You're sounding a bit desperate.

You also will benefit as i would give up the title of the maker to you to sign as long as i get some credit and sales royalties etc.

Huh? This is disingenuous. You need to stand up, take credit for your discovery, and make the knife yourself! Charge on, man, make one, sell it, make another, sell it: this is how this works!

THIS IS A TOOL NOBODY IN THE WORLD HAS THOUGHT OF but after the first one is viewed all military will want it.

That's a pretty bold statement and confirms what I just said: make it and sell it! If it's really that great, you will be on your way! Godspeed!

Mr Fisher i hope i got your attention and we can work on this together. It will be an innovative change to the knife and military tool world like no other.
With Sincere Respect
R. M.

I don't "work with" anyone but clients. Since you clearly are not a client, I can only surmise that you want me to build a knife that you have designed for the hope that it will be the success that you suggest. Please don't let my refusal stop you, you claim to be a knifemaker yourself; build it!

Note to reader: To be completely forthright, I did not give this person the response you see above, instead, below is the exact response I gave him, hoping that it could inspire enough confidence that he would move forward on his own. This, then, is my actual response:

Hello, Mr. M.
I appreciate your interest, but this is not something I do, and I can’t refer you to anyone who does.
Since you are making, why not create the knife yourself, and have something you can be proud of as your own unique work? This way, you’ll also keep all rights to it, as you should.
Good luck in your endeavors,
Jay Fisher

Years later, I looked this fellow up: no knives, no earth-shattering design, no mention of his name and knives related in any way in all of Google's pages. I do hope that he kept trying, and keeps trying still, because enthusiasm is hard to maintain, and must be followed by hard, sensible work.

For many years, simplicity and durability: my most popular Combat, Search and Rescue Knife:
Components of the PJLT CSAR professional tactical knife
More about the PJLT

Hey M. here I am a freshman at N. New Tech and I have been highly interested in the making of knives and or guns. I have thought about going to school for this particular field of work and I was hoping you could answer a few questions for me.

Oh, goody, goody. I get to write someone's term paper. Why do I say this? Because his inquiry is presented in a question format that is typical of classroom assignments. Any person actually interested in knifemaking who was considering a career would not ask the questions that follow. They would simply look around the internet, and get an idea of what it's like to make knives for a living. Where would they look? There are many websites made by and maintained by and for individual craftsmen and professionals in our field, there are many forums and bulletin board postings available that will give some insight into knifemaking in general. If a person is truly interested in making knives, they would be compelled to make one, just to see how that works, and how they like it. They wouldn't be sending boilerplate questionnaires created by some instructor to force the students to consider a tradecraft and its reasons, results, and specifics. Why do these instructors do this? One might think it's because they have a secret desire to have their minions of students hassle the working man who is trying to make a living, but optimistically, I'll suggest that it makes the student consider their own interests for a livelihood. I hope that's the reason, anyway.

1. What is the demand for custom knives?

Sure, demand is a concept that springs into a young person's mind when considering his future. Of course this is boilerplate instructor speak. What a broad, ridiculous statement. Does this question get answered on a micro, macro, or mega scale? What demand? By who? Look around and you'll see literally billions of dollars of commerce worldwide based on manufactured knives, so I could say the demand in that market is extremely high. But what about demand for what I do? It doesn't really matter to this student because of this reason: demand for my work is high mainly because I've been building knives for nearly 40 years. This would mean pretty much nothing to the student considering his own future; he would realize that it will take many, many years to achieve a level of skill and reliability that four decades of experience brings. That's like me telling people, "sure, dive right in, mortgage your home for shop and equipment, the demand is high!" And then they fail, miserably, because they can't immediately make a knife that people want to purchase for $5,000.00 US. That would be an irresponsible suggestion and truly bad advice that I won't give anyone, especially a young, inexperienced student at a boutique school.

2. How much do you usually make an hour?

This is why boilerplate is defined as: "Hackneyed or conventional language, usually expressing a generally accepted viewpoint." Only a person who thinks that a custom knifemaker works by hourly wages would allow this to be in the questionnaire. No custom knifemaker building knives by hand I've ever heard of works by hourly wages. Only large businesses, corporations, or shops with employees get paid by the hour. So if the person sending this actually came up with the question (they didn't) they would be woefully uninformed about the person they sent it to. Here's what I get paid by the hour: if it's good and it works, I can make a living. If it's bad and it fails, I lose money and time. As a professional I try to have the "good and it works" results, and try to diminish the "bad and it fails" results. There you go, question answered.

3. What education would be a good start for this job?

Again, not a question that a truly interested person would ask. An interested person would ask, where did you learn to do that? How did you learn that? Why does this or that work? How does the other thing work? The actual question submitted is clearly created by an educational instructor, someone who might very well think that simply attending an institution and taking required courses would allow anyone to do anything. This is one of the things wrong with our culture. We've got too many instructors who have never made a thing, run a business, or had to struggle in earning life's keep. I'm not saying they are all bad, it's just that they attend universities to learn how to teach, and yet they don't ever do the work they are teaching! How many instruction courses are given on knifemaking institutionally? None. No college recognizes this trade and craft, clearly man's oldest, earliest art, craft, and science, as being worthy of study and valuable of career interest. Maybe someday that will change...

4. Have you ever gotten any job opportunities from big brand knives? (SOG, Cold Steel, ect.)

Okay, this is the industrial and institutional mindset at work in this poor innocent student's mind. How sad to think that this is considered by anyone the epitome of success in our field: to work for a manufacturer of low end, cheap, outsourced, foreign labor mills making the cheapest, crappiest, most volume-oriented knives on planet earth. I don't know how suicidal I could become if I had to live in a world where the low end crap is the highest aspiration. This is why some critical thinking needs to be taught at this institution, though I'm certain it will never be. This would be like taking a successful fine artist who creates on canvas with oil and force him to work at Kinkos making copies. Really, did you actually look at my website before you sent this? Why not direct this inquiry to the cheap knife manufacturers and ask them about "career opportunities? That's because the person who actually advised this question (the instructor) has no idea what knifemaking is about. They probably think that the maker slaves in his backyard with a homemade forge and anvil, hoping for the day he'll be noticed and get picked up by a manufacturing talent scout, looking for someone to push the button on the hydraulic press that shear-cuts a sheet of 100 knife blade blanks. The clear point here is that manufactured knives and fine handmade custom knives are not even in the same field; they only share the basis of the object function and little else. Hmmm: a knife that sells for $17.95 vs. a knife that sells for $5,500.00, over 300 times as much... hmmm. Did the student attend any math classes? If so, did they do any word problems or did they just learn to solve equations?

5. Do you enjoy your job?

Ah, the last one thrown in by the instructor to humanize the socialist's worker's plight. Really? Did the student even look at this website? Do they realize what they are seeing here? Did they read even one page about the craft? This is why these instructor-based queries, probably sent to dozens of knifemakers, are useless exercises for the student. The first question should be to the student, what do you enjoy doing? And then, when the student tells them that they enjoy every other thing that other young people enjoy: gaming, hanging around, playing, texting, and gaming, the instructor should suggest that the student try various things that remotely interest him, to see what might hold his interest for more than the game series (version one, two, and three). The student, if young and healthy, should try some physical work that involves helping some others. Volunteering is nice; it will give him a sense of pride and worth that can influence him for life. Once the student has tried a reasonable amount of things, between about 17 years old and 30 years old, he will have a good basis of what interests him for a career.

I know this is not how the system works. We take young, ignorant people and suggest that while still in high school, they should make the specific decision of what they want to do with their life for the rest of their life, and then we direct them into another continuing institution that will train them for this. I can tell you that I know literally dozens of adults who have degrees in something that they are not interested in, do not perform, and have no relation with or desire for. This is because they were influenced to make that decision when they were young, unknowledgeable about the world and worse, about themselves. It's a messy system, and doesn't really work well. If it did, we would be leading the world in production, employment, and happiness, and unfortunately, we are not.

Thanks for indulging my adult opinion, and for a student who reads this very section, he'll have more answers than he ever hoped for, if he can understand them and apply them to his life and direction.

Something I really loved to make, many years ago:
"Pacifica" Fine knife sculpture in stainless steel, ivory, 24kt gold, nickel silver, banded jasper/hematite, pyratized ammonite fossils, brown alabaster, obsidian, bubinga hardwood, nylon
More about Pacifica

Hi Jay,
This isn’t a serious knife purchase inquiry because your knives are out of my league pricewise at the moment. But I wanted to send you a little knife “love” letter to offset your hate mail!
The photo of this knife set took my breath away and literally brought tears to my eyes. I hope, one day, I will be back to buy a set just like it.
I can not believe anyone could dream up the works of art that you create. Your imagination is boundless. You are a true craftsman.
Thank you for making art and sharing it with the world.
Without art, we’d be senseless.
All the best --

Thank you, Hilary; your email makes this all worthwhile!

If you've reached this point, I congratulate you on your tenacity, appreciation, and indulgence. It's not many people who appreciate humor, and you must be one of them! Will I post more? Will there be an end to the ridiculousness and commentary? Will Jay just shut up and make knives? Will the knifemaker simply just answer a few questions (like what you read here) and quit offering his troubled and twisted view of correspondence? Will Rafe and Sammi get back together despite the DiMera curse? Will Barnabus ever marry Angelique and become mortal? You'll just have to check back!

I'm working on it! Much more coming! It just won't stop!

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