Jay Fisher - World Class Knifemaker
Quality Without Compromise
New to the website? Start Here
...to the most helpful page on my web site.
When I first started building the web site in the mid 1990s, I had a few pages, a few pictures, and not much web site traffic. Everyone had hopes for the internet back then; it was a relatively new technology, and we (as knife makers and artists) could envision the time when we could simply make and sell knives from the web site. Frankly, I had no idea how big this all would become.
As my web site traffic grew, I answered every email that came in. The more email that I answered, the more that came in, until I was spending four to five hours every day just answering questions. I found myself repeating the same answers about my work, materials, finishes, value, sheaths and accessories, and so on, so I built pages on my site where clients and interested people could get answers without having a personal and time consuming email. Pages like the FAQ page and the Blades page were big hits, as the detailed information I put there was much more than could be provided in a simple email conversation. Traffic continued to build and it became clear that most of the questions that were not answered on my pages were not related to purchasing knives I make or relating to the services I offered, so answering everyone's email was costing me a tremendous amount of time and money.
If you are familiar in any way with custom and handmade knife making, you know that it is an extremely labor-intensive tradecraft and art. Every hour spent answering questions was an hour that I fell behind. I had to direct the traffic in a substantial way, a way that would clearly describe what I do and don't do, what services I offer and what services I do not. This page is the result.
This page has been very helpful because people looking for specific and detailed information that is not related to what I do can clearly see what I don't do. If, for instance, they want a group of factory knives custom etched with a corporate logo, they read that I don't do that. Every topic you see here is because of multiple inquires about that specific service.
I've tried to inject some humor about the topics, and perhaps some worthwhile advice on the topic. I've even included some helpful links to other professionals who may be able to provide the service requested. For some closely related pages on this site, please visit my Funny Emails, pages One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six. There, you can see a wide range of some of the emails that I receive and have a chuckle or two.
Thanks for your understanding.
Dear Mr. Fisher,
I happened on your website today and have been enthralled with it for 4 hours now. I feel I have to write and tell you how beautiful I think your work is.
It is wonderful that you can produce such extraordinary knives. Not to mention your website, swords, sheaths, and novels too? You must never sleep! The integration of steel, minerals, and wood is fantastic. I found myself staring at some of the gemstone handles gently turning into the mirror finish of the steel. Wow!
You are a credit to this country and to artists everywhere. I have never seen such wonderful creations. Sorry to gush and I'm sure you know all this but I needed to compliment you and encourage you. Please keep your vision and continue to share these wonderful products with the world. No need to respond to this if you haven't the time.
Please, get some sleep!
With much respect and admiration,
I thought about what i must write in this letter for 7 last years.
Mr. Fisher, you have been my teacher, inspired and role models at all that time. For anyone who wants to learn how to make a finest knives, just need to read read and again read your web site. Encyclopedia of knives! 8 years have passed since as I started studying and learning on your web site. Thanks for your titanic work! Thank you for your web site, a place where you disperse many myths about the knife making reality! I look forward for date of publication your book, your book for me is the most cherished dream.
I wish you a long life, God bless you for your work.
Thank you for having a sense of humor while reviewing this list. The list was created from the numerous and frequent requests I receive by email for specific services that are not in my scope of work or interest. From the content of the list, you can see the scope and range of interest people have in knives in general, and this is a great thing. I encourage you to keep searching on the internet for the service you desire, for it is a very big world and your best chance of finding your answers or service are here on the net. Please be sure to consider your library, book selling sites, and local book stores for valid, detailed, and professional information.
All information is in print, being printed, or about to be printed.
Guys sometimes ask why I've spent hours putting all of this information on this page, when that same time could be spent answering their questions, rather than building a page that describes in detail what I don't do. They wonder why I bother to make and maintain such a substantial list. This illustrates one of the misconceptions of the internet and just how powerful it is. At the time of this writing, the site is receiving over 100,000 hits a day, over three million hits a month. What would they think if they personally received a couple hundred emails a day wanting advice, services, or response... every day? Take a week off and you fall behind over 1000 emails! Every one of these subjects has been asked repeatedly of me over the course of the last two decades of this website's existence. This is why I had to construct this page and continue to add to it as topics come up. This page has redirected or eliminated most of that for me, so works well.
Jay Fisher won't do what I want! He's a snob! The definition of snob is one who puts himself in a higher social position than others; one who looks down on others. Yeah, right. The only thing I look down on is cheap, junky knives that are sold for as much as fine handmade works when their failings can be clearly seen and easily determined. Personally, I don't know how I can get in my local country club when I'm covered in grinder dust, lapidary oil mud, and swarf that clouds around me like Pigpen. After all, don't they know I'm a snob, like them?
Occasionally, I get negative or hate mail from the content of this page. I've been called just about every name in the book because I simply do not do what is on this list. Please think about this; when a large and faceless company does not do what an individual asks, the individual shrugs and moves on to the next company. Instead of simply moving on, I've received hate mail, rude comments, threats, and been called worse names than snob simply because I do not provide the services that some people ask for. Please remember that most of what they ask for they expect me to do for free, taking the time from someone who has paid for my time and attention by ordering a custom knife or project. How would you feel if, as you wait patiently for a product you have ordered and others receive attention, favors, and work for free? Strange, isn't it? More on that topic on my Business of Knifemaking page.
If you haven't looked at this page in a while, you might be surprised to find out new subjects, new items on the "What I don't do" list. This is because there are a continuous stream of new requests that come in, and I add to these in detail as needed.
The e-mail pages are hilarious and are my end of day giggle. Love your comments and the eloquence of your written words add a great deal of spice your website. Do you have elves make your knives at night? Either that or you are working on a 36 hr. day what with knife design and production, site maintenance, e-mail answering, writing, photography and all the rest you do for your business, Your site is truly a stupendous piece of work.
The sheath is part of the knife.
I put this one first because it is the most often asked-for item. Even with the big red and yellow warning box on my Custom Knife Sheaths page, I still get continual inquiries about making a sheath for someone else's knife. It seems that people are simply desperate for well-made knife sheaths!
Though there are a lot of knife makers, only a few of them, in my experience, are well-trained and skilled at making durable, worthwhile, and well-crafted knife sheaths. This has been a complaint of mine since I started in this field decades ago. A knife is simply incomplete without a sheath, stand, case or way to carry, store, or display it. Sheath making is part of this career field, so any effort to make a knife should be accompanied by the same effort to create the knife's sheath.
If you are looking for a sheath for a factory knife or knife made by another maker, don't go to an aftermarket sheath maker; a leather worker typically knows very little about knives. Instead, go back to the maker or factory, demand a better sheath, and perhaps you'll encourage them to improve their sheaths and actually help their business in the long run.
You might notice that I do not recommend any sheath makers to construct a sheath for an existing knife. This is my own preference, as it has been my experience that sheath makers are not knife makers, and may be unfamiliar with the knife in the realm of compatible materials, design concepts, storage and longevity, mechanical, chemical, and even physical interactions between different types of metals and leather, kydex, nylon, or other textiles, and are seldom concerned or knowledgeable with the final knife owner's needs for carry and use. If a knife is designed with a client and made by a knife maker, the sheath is simply part of the knife and should be constructed along with it as part of the entire ensemble. Insist that your knife maker create a worthwhile sheath, and please don't ask me to perform a service that they don't care about!
This one is not complicated. It is illegal in the state where I live (New Mexico) for me to make these kinds of knife, so I don't.
It's that simple.
Some of the most frequently asked questions are, "How do I learn to make knives?" and "Do you give lessons on knife making?" and "Can I be your apprentice?" Also, some of the most angry and upset people that email me are those insisting on free help in their business or hobby of knife making.
I do not teach knife making. I'm so busy and stay so buried in orders and projects that any time taken away from my paying customers who are waiting on their work to be finished would be unfair. I appreciate your interest, but I simply don't have time to teach.
There is no easy answer for those who wish to learn knife making, as there is no recognized organizational reference for knifemakers, no official license requirement for making knives. There is also no complete and thorough text of information to detail all the facets of this skill. Even universities with metal arts degrees do not engage in the business and art of making knives, man's oldest tool.
Purchase and read every book you can find on the subject, apprentice under someone if you desire, and start making. Feel free to read the information on this site, though, as you will surely become more knowledgeable about custom knives from this site than any other single knife maker's site on the internet! Watch for my new book coming out. I'll offer a lot of advice and guidance based on my own experience.
By the way, if you have access to the resources, a Metal Arts Degree is something that many colleges offer. You'll pay them for this instruction, of course, and hopefully it's worth it. Expecting the same information from a professional metals artist for free at request is completely unrealistic. If you don't think so, simply contact any successful professional metals artist and ask him for his advice and time, for free, any time you ask.
More details on my Knife Making Instruction page.
Dear Mr. Fisher,
I want to say thank you for sharing your vast knowledge of knife making. I've been reading your website on and off for the past couple of months and I really appreciate you putting the information out there. It has been extremely helpful for a beginner such as myself and I am sure it will continue to be a valuable resource as I hone my skills at this wonderful craft. Again, thank you.
I don't do this because the person who asked is usually wanting a free appraisal. Here's a detailed topic about this very subject on my Business of Knifemaking page at the link: Questions about previously sold knives I've made
There are an endless amount of questions about knife making. How to heat treat, what steels are best, how to make a sheath, how to finish a handle, how to attach, shape, grind, machine, and create. This is not a how-to site, this is a detailed explanation of my own work about my own knives and professional knife making business. You can find many answers to these questions on the many knife making forums here on the internet, and maybe meet some nice people in the process. Give it a try! You can also purchase many books on knife making, certainly more than were in publication when I started over 30 years ago. See above.
Just like any part of knifemaking, there seem to be endless questions about heat treating and processing of steels. I've included a significant list of references on my Heat Treating and Cryogenic Processing of Knife Blade Steels page, but it's surprising to see how many people think that I should do their research for them. They won't take the time to look these specific answers up themselves but expect me to. No.
This one is happening a lot more frequently. Someone has come up with a design they've mashed-up on a computer program, CAD (Computer Aided Design), or cobbled together an idea that they think will be the next best thing in knives since electrically heated socks. They are convinced that their work is not only unique, but patentable, protected, and valuable in inconceivable and magnificent ways to the knife market and world. They just need someone to actually make their prototypes, quietly, with limited exposure, and secretive nature, so that they can link their idea with a big name maker and peddle their idea to a manufacturer. They might try a website fund raising campaign so they don't have to spend a penny of their own money, and at the appropriate time, they'll spring it on the market, become zillionaires, and retire to Aruba with their shih tzu.
They'll write, trying to lure me (and every other well-known maker) with promises of sales, exploding popularity, and unbounded success if the maker would just make their project real. They'll even require the maker and anyone exposed to this stunning idea to sign a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) so that the word won't leak out and the Chinese or Pakistanis won't copy their work, and the individual maker won't profit from anything the so-called designer has created. By the way, a knife designer is a dude with a pencil or a tablet, or a computer and mouse, and having never made a knife, doesn't know the first thing about the process.
It may help to know that knives have been made longer than any other implement, tool, or object by man, even before man was modern man (Homo sapiens sapiens), and if they've thought of this great idea, chances are, someone else has too. By the way, homo sapiens is Latin for "wise man." So, wise up. If you really have some great new idea, and want prototypes, go to a local machine shop to have them fabricated. If you want more personal control, buy your own CNC machine (most of these designs and ideas are created with computer programs anyway). Don't bother a successful maker because you want to link his name and reputation to your uber-valuable folding knife design. That way, you'll keep the money all for yourself, and you don't have to accuse a knifemaker/artists of potentially ripping you off (which is what an insulting NDA does).
With over 400 copyrighted designs, and accepting new designs with the input of clients, I don't copy other makers' work. Designs I do accept must be new, not a copy of someone else's design. If you want their knife, why not buy it from them? It's usually because an interested person likes a design, but does not like the quality of what he sees on the other maker's work, or because he doesn't want to pay that maker's price. There is probably a reason my knives don't look like other makers'. I make my own knives.
I had this this white box on my bench….Like the new drawstring bag that comes with the knife..
The knife is an amazing recreation of a vision upon which we collaborated to the “T.” I looked at every seam and joint with 3.5X loupe magnification..polish and fit are amazing (not a space or rough spot anywhere, stone color is dramatic and the dovetail fittings are for me technically unimaginable (except that I have it here real-time in my hands), the sheath is a real work of art…the stitching and leather selection are so well constructed and the edges are solid and even. This specimen and leather selection is a real work of art.
The balance and ergonomics are excellent. The appearance of the knife belies the intricate balance your skills have achieved. One would think from looking that it would be blade heavy, but it is not.
All in all I am totally pleased. Unfortunately words are insufficient to match your skills as a master craftsman.
Keep up the good work…
Knife design is done as part of a custom project. You can read why I don't design knives for free on the Custom Knife Design page.
I try not to be insulted when someone asks this. Often they want one of my custom designs, and may even offer to pay for it, only to have someone else make it for less than I do. In cowboy land this is known as "shooting yourself in the foot." Please don't ask me to pull the trigger; I'm hobbled enough in my old age.
I have been looking at your website and I thought it appropriate to complement you on maybe the most comprehensive website of its kind in the world and some of the most beautifully crafted knives I have ever seen!
My son is a young knifemaker (18) and you are an inspiration to us both.
Tinus and Magnus Stone, South Africa
If you don't like the way your knife was made, outfitted, embellished, finished, set with materials, designed, or generally offered, then you need to go back to the maker to correct this, and get the knife you want. If your maker can't do this, or won't do this, then you've got to ask yourself why you bought the knife in the first place. Maybe you looked at it and said, "It would be great if it just had...(insert feature of specific here). Maybe some other maker will "fix" that for you, but I won't and I wouldn't recommend that another artist or craftsman do it. A custom or handmade knife is not a truck that you can install custom options on. It's more like a piece of art (at least it should be). For example, adding to a fine bronze sculpture of a horse by adding a saddle and a rider and perhaps a bit of brush along the base for effect is just ridiculous, and can ruin the value. If your maker is dead, well then, the customization is certain to ruin the value! Don't do it!
Occasionally I get asked this by hobbyists or beginners who are not confident in their own work. To them I say practice, learn, study, make, and grow. If you make good blades, you'll have knives that you can be proud of. Much of the art and science of knife making exists in making the blade.
If you need the blade only, there are plenty of kit knife companies that sell parts for this type of knife. It may be a good place for a hobbyist to start.
I know guys who will tell you that if you don't make the blade, do the heat treating, and finish the entire knife, you can not reasonably call yourself a knife maker. Something to think about-
I don't work with any of these parts of kit knives; I make all my own blades, handles, fittings, accessories, sheaths, stands, components and everything related to my profession, so I simply am not familiar with parts, kits, and pieces sold by suppliers. Therefore, I can't recommend or endorse any. When I started there were no such things. From what I've seen of the kits, they are poorly constructed and designed, but may be a simple way for a hobbyist to get started and find out if he has the patience and interest to be a knife maker.
I encourage you to make every single part of your own knife; the satisfaction, knowledge gained, and pride will far outweigh the investment of time and materials. When you put your name on it, it will mean something.
Someone has a new supply, product, or service, and it is related to the fine knife, custom knife, handmade knife, or just plain old factory knife field. So they do a search on the internet and find this site. Since it rates highly on most search engines, they think that if old Jay would just endorse their product, it would help their sales and boost their own recognition by links and referrals. I don't do this. When some of these advertisers see this very "What I do and don't do" page, they might think I would offer an endorsement if they pretend they are interested in a knife (yes, I know, it's shocking, but this happens). I still won't. I only make and sell knives here; that's it! So if an email comes with a request for an endorsement, it smells bad and I let it rot on the vine, negligent farmer that I am.
At least not knowingly! While I'm sure that some of my knife clients are or have become knife dealers, I don't seek out, encourage, or promote making and selling knives to dealers. I discuss the reasons for this on my Business of Knifemaking page at this bookmark, but the general idea is this: sooner or later, nearly all dealers want breaks, discounts, or special prices that are not available to the public. This is unfair, so I don't do it.
This one has been asked by promotional companies, or sometimes by dealers who want to do the finish work or handle a knife themselves, and then put their own name or company logo on the blade. You might find some struggling maker to make blades, but I doubt you'll find any quality there. Most makers who can make a good blade are already making their own complete knives and are not interested in this. That's why knife kits are sold.
If you make your own good blades, you'll have knives that you can be proud of that are uniquely your own. If you don't make them, then your knives are just like kit knives, of little value. See previous topic.
My handles are beautiful, and the fit and finish is excellent, so it doesn't surprise me that someone asks this question. I'll try not to be insulted, but why would I put one of my beautiful handles on what I may consider an inferior knife blade? My blades are some of the best in the world, period. I will absolutely put them against any other maker's in the world for quality in finish, grind, and accuracy. Often, this request is an attempt to gussy up a poor knife. I won't do it and most other makers won't, either.
Just as with the blades, if you make the entire knife yourself, you will have something you can be proud of and call your own.
I get this request frequently, too. Other makers will have invested a lot of time, materials, supplies, and effort to create a knife and then find an error, mistake, gap, flaw, foible, or intolerable condition. In frustration, they'll email me because surely I, too, have suffered the same experience making knives for over 30 years. Maybe I have, and maybe I haven't, but to take this on would require detailed explanation, followed by more questions, and more answers, and more questions, and ... well, you get it. I could just tell them to throw it in the fire and start over, but they would probably hate me for that. And I'm all about being liked-
If you can't make the parts or components to your own knives, please make an effort to learn how. It is an exciting and rewarding career, and you'll be more proud of something you make than if you have just assembled it. If you have a creative spirit, you might come up with something that not only is unique and worthwhile, but maybe even help to shape the direction of modern custom and handmade knives.
You might be surprised how often I get this request. Someone has started a project, and they haven't been able to finish it. People write, explaining their hardships that usually occur in this case, as their hardships are a reason I should drop everything else I'm doing and take up their failed, ruined, disastrous, or merely unfinished project. I'm generally a kind person, but this is just asking too much. Besides, I don't know who these people are and even if what they write to me is the truth. Sometimes, they even ask if I'll do it for free! They don't want to order a knife; they want me to work on something that they have suggested has emotional ties to the originator of the project or knife. That, alone is a reason not to touch it; when people are emotional attached to an item, it's best to just leave it alone. The answer here is for them to take the project to a hobby or picture framing store and have the store make a simple display case for the unfinished work and display it as is. If they aren't willing to do that, this suggests that it really wasn't that important anyway.
Don't do it; I have too much work of my own to engrave and don't believe in doing this for the reasons detailed at this link on my Embellishment page.
If you have a sheath and no knife for it, I will not make a knife to fit and I've never heard of anyone else doing this either as most sheaths are less valuable and of shorter life than the knives that go in them. This may be asked because a favorite knife was lost or stolen, and the sheath was left behind. All I can say about that is don't lose it!
In technical terms, this is not a reasonable request in any case, as the sheath is (or should be) custom built around the knife. It would be like owning a gun holster, and asking a custom gun maker to build a gun to fit.
There are professionals that do this for a living, and they will usually charge you a modest fee. You're in luck; the best appraiser and historian of knives in the world, Bernard Levine, has an internet site, and I've thoughtfully included a link: Go here for professional knife appraisal services.
I once had a link to a guy that could do this for you, but he's gone out of business. If you are a knife repair person, and wish to have some business steered your way, and you do decent work, and have a website, send me your website link for consideration. Thanks!
There are some concerns with knife repair and I elaborate on some of them on this topic on my Business of Knifemaking page.
I don't refinish knives, no matter who made them. Even if it's a knife that has my maker's mark on it, it is the owner's responsibility to take care of his knife. Some people think that once I've made a knife, I own all of the care, refinishing, and/or modifications of the knife forever. This is as ridiculous as saying a custom home builder must refinish the floors of a home for as long as it exists. I can only be responsible for my own workmanship, not the care of a knife that is out of my hands. How do you care for a knife? Please read my knife care page at this link.
Please, do not refinish old or antique knives! You can absolutely destroy their value. Get and appraisal first.
I used to have a link to a guy who offered this service, but he went out of business. If you are a knife repair and restorations person, and wish to have some business steered your way, and you do decent work, and have a website, send me your website link for consideration. Thanks!
There are some serious concerns with knife refinishing and I elaborate on some of them on this topic on my Business of Knifemaking page.
People go through the list and figure that I'll make a pin, or repair a blade, or replace a component, or do something with someone else's knife, and I won't do it. So here's the all-inclusive comment.
If you need work on your knife, go back to the maker and ask him (or the company) about it. If the maker is deceased, or not available, or the company is out of business, you're better off getting an appraisal, and deciding based on that appraisal if you should have anything (or nothing) done to the knife. If the knife isn't worth repairing, I know of no maker who will take pennies to repair a knife that has no value. If that's the case, bite the bullet and buy a new knife!
I wouldn't dare put my name on anything but the highest quality art and the finest tactical, combat, investment, or working tools. If you are another knifemaker, please consider where your name goes.
Frankly, the person looking for this kind of work usually has a meager budget idea for his project. There are plenty of companies that deal in this sort of junk, you can find them all over the internet. The knives and swords are usually made overseas and as you can imagine, they are cheaply made and poorly constructed. By the way, they have no collector's or investment value, and will be almost worthless the minute you purchase them. If you want to wait for them to appreciate in value, you'll be long ago turned to dust before that happens, my friend.
Once in a while, someone asks for an impractical design, a knife cheaply or badly built "just for display." This is not something any modern knife maker should do, it leaves all of his knives in question as to their durability, usefulness, and quality. Even if a knife is considered and investment knife, art knife, or knife sculpture, the blade is hardened and tempered, the handle solidly attached, the balance, fittings, accessories and all components are real and of the highest quality. This assures that the value will continue long after I'm gone. A "display" knife is just a token. Perhaps a photograph would be better, a photo of a real knife. That way, you can have the image of the piece without the expense and without sacrificing precious real estate on your dresser.
Just like the knock offs, imitations, replicas, and novelty items above, these are passing fancies, mere points of interest until the next warrior, alien, sci-fi, or medieval movie comes along. And they aren't worth owning, much less making. Just so you know, they have very little collector's value in short or long term.
People are always looking for something they've encountered, usually in movies and shows. It may be a knife that pops out of the sleeve, wrist, ankle, or back, usually with an automatic mechanism and sometimes electrically operated! Don't laugh; I had one guy wanting me to make an electronic talking knife that lights up for a show prop for an aspiring actor. Though I suppose this type of work is possible, it's often just a pipe dream that was conceived in the comic book setting of a storyboard timeline, and has very little bearing on reality. People who want this type of stuff would be surprised to encounter the many thousands of dollars required to start such a project, aside from the actual limitations of the physical laws that would apply to it. Perhaps a nuclear power source fitted in the waistband to give the blade unlimited power could be arranged-
Neck knives are gimmick knives, too, and a very dangerous and ridiculous type of knife. Anytime you see them for sale on the internet, you might want to rethink the type of vendor, maker, manufacturer, or supplier that is selling this type of knife. A knife is not a necklace, and I detail the many and serious issues and limitations on this type of knife on a special dedicated section of my Knife Sheaths Page at this bookmark. Please educate yourself on my dime and give a good long consideration about wearing a hazardous knife on a ligature around your neck!
High quality knives should never be thrown; this is Hollywood and county carnival hype, and the myth is so prevalent that I've included a special section on my FAQ page detailing this ridiculous notion.
I don't know why people ask this, but they do. Perhaps there is a great need for custom handmade chisels, tools, and saws that is not being filled.
Everybody seems to want to build some type of business on the internet. They've read some source guide, taken some program course, read a self-help book, or studied the possibility of building a middle market website and becoming rich by buying items from someone else, and selling them to another person, without even handling the product! What a dream! All they need is someone to actually make a product worth selling, and they've come to me for that "opportunity."
I don't make anything for other businesses to sell; this is a custom shop with an individual artist, and I certainly don't need a middle level salesman to hype my goods. If these guys would spend half the time learning an honest trade rather than scheming about how to turn a buck on the back of someone else's work, they might become successful on their own. But they would rather not dirty their hands, and I won't help them, so the answer is... no.
Yep, factories and other interests have contacted me to ask if I'll make a couple hundred knives for them. It's probably the Internet presence of this website that has them confused; maybe they think this is a big company with dozens of employees.
Could it be that they know they make a lousy product and are hoping I'll help them with their profit margin while being paid peanuts? If you are one of their purchasing agents reading this, you need to quit your job, because they're not paying you enough money either.
Solution: China. Or Taiwan. Or (worse) Pakistan.
I've worked very hard to make my marking methods some of the best in this business, and that doesn't go unnoticed. Companies and individuals have offered me serious chunks of change to sell the details to blade marking companies, and I've refused. My lithographic etching took six years to perfect, and I'm not giving up those years so that a company (or individual) can make an easy buck. The methods are proprietary (that means not patentable or protected by copyright) and they can learn them if they want to spend their own six years researching and experimenting. But will they? Probably not, and I won't help them.
Solution: What to do? Try looking for a local trophy shop, or perhaps a custom jeweler. The trophy shop may have personalizing equipment, such as a laser engraver, or rotary engraver. The jeweler may have a diamond engraving machine used to personalize jewelry. In any case, they may be able to tell you who, locally, can do the personalization work you're interested in!
Like my marking methods above, my detailed filework, gemstone handles, and workmanship hasn't gone unnoticed by individual collectors, knife owners, dealers, factories, and suppliers. If you've read the points above, you're beginning to understand why I don't work on other's knives.
Solution: Want knife customization? Go back to the original maker or manufacturer and ask them to improve their services. If you are one of those makers or manufacturers, please try to make a better product, don't recommend another maker to do it for you or your clients.
Because I make more gemstone handled knives than any other individual knife maker in the world, my gemstone handles have gained a lot of attention over the years. Gemstone handles are nothing new; the ancient Persians created some fine jade masterpieces.
Factories and other makers may want to capitalize on the popularity of gem handled knives, but are not willing to invest in the education, machinery, and skill necessary to create fine lapidary work, so they've ask me (and other makers and lapidary artists) to do it for them. Frequently, owners of cheap knives want to improve their investment with the addition of fine gemstone. But adding a gem handle to a factory, manufactured, or poorly made knife does nothing to make the knife a better knife or a better investment. No thanks.
I've included a highly detailed segment on this topic on my Gemstone Knife Handles page.
Solution: don't bother to work on factory knives; they are not worth it.
Good bluing is an easily accessible process; it's not cheap, and most makers don't do it. If you really want to have a knife professionally blued, contact a local gunsmith, as any professional gunsmith shop should have complete bluing tanks. But don't expect them to take your work. The blades have to be of a certain type of steel, and no fittings, handles, or any other type of metal (brass, aluminum, solder, hardware) can come in contact with the bluing bath, as it will ruin the bath. So the knife has to be completely stripped of handle material and the bath is about 300°F and boiling caustic salts. Also, hardened and tempered blades have a different and distinctive bluing regime from the low carbon steel components of a typical firearm, so the gunsmith is usually not versed in these techniques.
The best bet is to order a knife blued from the maker, and he can take care of all that for you. Who blues their own knives? Why, I do.
Solution: don't bother to work on factory knives; they are not worth it.
If you are knowledgeable about modern knives, you probably already know how poor factory sheaths and some other custom knife makers' sheaths are. You can learn about fine sheaths here on this site on my Sheaths page, on the Tactical Knives page, and on my Locking Combat Knife Sheaths page, for free, and then take that information and apply it to your next selection of a factory knife.
Solution: Ask the factory why they don't make a good sheath, because the sheath, scabbard, display stand, or case is part of the knife.
This is a joke, right? Yet people ask...
I don't know how I could be more clear, but someone will email me, asking about something I hadn't detailed, so here's the broad, clear statement.
Solution: don't bother to do any work on any factory knife; they are simply not worth it.
In the topic above, I detailed how I don't refinish knives, so guys started asking if I could just tell them how, and then they could do it themselves.
Solution: If knives do have some collector's or historic value, a repair might destroy that value. Don't work on or have work done on old, antique, collector's or historic pieces without a complete appraisal! Also, knives may have no value if they've worn out and failed. You can get an idea what a knife is worth by contacting a professional appraiser, then ask him if it's worth repairing. Get a professional appraisal at this link.
This is not a how-to or tutorial site, no matter what you may see here. There are a never-ending amount of questions people have, and they figure that since I have such a voluminous site, I'm bound to know the answer to their technical knife questions. If I answer any of those emails, to be completely fair to everyone who writes, I'll have to answer them all. This will invite a flood of questions requiring answers, all which cost precious time and do nothing but benefit what could be a competitor! How crazy is that? Look, I'm a nice guy, but the website traffic and amount of email I get can be overwhelming.
Here's a humorous blip: a guy wrote, calling me profane names, insisting that I tell others what they want to know. This genius claimed that because I was skilled that I was obligated to teach others (I get this quite a bit). He told me that I didn't like to share and was overwhelmed since I'm "such an expert." After all, he took an oath to help and teach others... and then he accused me of only being a capitalist.
This is an unfortunate, ignorant person, and it saddens me. First, this is the site of a business professional, and I do, indeed, have direct competitors who would love to see me completely out of business. They know that capitalism is how I (and also this ignorant man) feed our families and keep a roof over our heads and the wolves at bay. On no place in this web site do I claim to be an expert on anything except the very knives I make and I simply compare these knives to other knives. And I must have missed that part of my oath that requires me to answer everybody's questions and spend countless hours teaching others for free. Perhaps this fool needs to build a web site where he gets over 100,000 hits a day and he can spend 6-12 hours each day answering everybody's questions over and over while his family starves to death outside in the cold.
Fascinating, isn't it?
Solution: Look for my book coming out, and in the meantime, look for existing books on knifemaking; there are plenty of them out there!
Yep, they ask this, too. This website is all my own work, and I invest hours every day on its maintenance, growth, traffic, construction, and repair. It's probably the best single knifemaker's web site on the internet, and the reason is that I work very hard on it. I don't have time to do that for others, and I'm not interested in doing it for others.
Solution: If you want a good, powerful, substantial website on the Internet, do what I did: read, research, learn, grow, and do, and you can have a viable, essential, decent web site on the Internet, too!
People are always looking for a quick buck. They've discovered a domain name that has just become available, or hasn't been taken yet, and it's somehow related to knives. Remember, a domain name is just a string of words, followed now by .com, .net, .us, and .whatever. The idea is that they buy the domain name for cheap, and sell it to a knifemaker who doesn't have a web presence, and shazam, instant business success (for them, as they are selling some text). This is based on the ridiculous idea that people will remember a domain name, not the product, not the maker, and not their own browsing history or search terms. That may have been the case in the very beginning of the internet, but now, a domain name does not mean success; a good product, service, and reputation does. So please, take your domain name engine and put it in park (or better yet, mothball it), and leave successful websites alone; we don't need another domain to start over!
Solution for you? Keep looking for domain names that come up for sale when websites implode and go under. There are plenty of them out there, businesses fail every day. Then you can buy them up and resell them to people who actually need a good .com domain name!
Sometimes, people on the web are trying to sell something, and often it's based on the internet itself. Web site building, web development, search engine optimization, and other web services are offered. People may even try to sell their computer and web services with trade. After all, who wouldn't want a fine handmade custom knife that increases in value for a few dozen lines of code? They regularly send me emails claiming that my website needs some help, needs upgraded, or needs modernized with shopping carts, nested programs, and data collection. This is ridiculous, because this is already the top individual knifemaker's website in the world, and in the top 10% of all websites in the world, and I really don't need any help! At 4-5 years in backorders, there's not much you can improve on, and not more that I can produce!
Solution for you if you're looking to help someone? It's best to take your service offer to a lean website, a struggling maker, or someone who really needs help, not someone you think you can get a worthwhile knife trade from.
I suppose it makes sense nowadays that someone would like to see their name associated on one of the largest, most robust, most visited knife websites in the world. But as a quasi-famous person once said, "You didn't build that!" Since this website is my own creation (noted by the name: "jayfisher.com," it's not about promoting someone else who thinks this would be a great venue for their own promotion. I owe it to my family and clients to make the best knives possible, promote and sell those as good as I can, and my only venue is this very website. Someday, when I don't need to make and sell knives any more (this is my profession), I may decide to sell space on my website, but I doubt it!
If you are interested in your own self promotion and profession, you have a good leg up by being alive at this time in history, where you may build your very own website to do just that. Go to it, and good luck!
Endorsements. This is a big word nowadays, and everybody wants one. They even want one from a singular knife maker. I understand the need to promote your business, get the word out, advertise, and keep your site and products in the visible content of the internet-based world. But using old Jay by trying to piggyback on his web site with links, testimonials, and endorsements is not the way. Though there are a few products and sites I link to and recommend on this site, they are businesses that have not solicited me in any way, and are my own inclusion because I believe they are important to my clients. I've never endorsed any soliciting business.
People ask me where I get my supplies, materials, and equipment. They ask if I can recommend any knife related products, such as sharpeners, cases, display, service items, books, or knife related tools, stock, expendables, and supplies. Rather than just plug the name of that material, supply, or equipment into a search engine and look for themselves, they figure that they'll dispense with all that bother and ask Jay instead. After all, Jay's not doing anything else; he can take the time away from his business and feeding and housing his family to give me recommendations, lists, sources, suppliers, and perhaps throw in a cost comparison to make the purchase easier.
My service aspect to my tradecraft ends at my own knives, their care, maintenance, and storage, and all those details are supplied with each knife and also posted and updated on my Knife Care and Military Tactical Knife Care pages on the site. Please don't ask for my recommendations or endorsements concerning other knives; go to the maker of those knives and ask them!
Perhaps some day I will endorse products. I'll charge a monthly fee, based on amount of hits and referrals, and when you download a page on this site, it will be covered with frames, pop-ups, applets, and flash cartoons designed to lure you away to my advertisers. Then, I'll look just like MSN, and take forever to load with all that clutter... NO.
This request usually comes in the form of a
"Hey Jay, what do you think about-" or
"Jay, how do I-" or
"Jay, just one simple question-"
I receive lots of requests, and any time I take to answer them is time I've taken away from my paying clients, and that's not fair. Also, if you're researching a term paper, roll up your sleeves and do the research yourself, don't simply compile answers to questions you email to professionals over the internet. Gees, is every student lazy nowadays?
Occasionally, I get asked to supply my artwork, craftwork, or knife projects to entities that are organizing art displays, museum exhibitions, or craft shows. They are looking for well-made products, cleanly and finely executed, to fill their roster and area for their shows. These take on several formats.
The first format is the donation. They claim that if I just donate a knife, I'll get plenty of exposure, publicity, and this will benefit my work, business, and art. That may be true, but at 4-5 years in backorders, I'm not sure I could survive any more exposure! And there is that pesky responsibility to my family, business, and self that requires me to pay my bills.
The second format is the temporary custody. How this works is that I submit my piece(s) to them for their display or exhibition, and after their event is finished, they are returned to me. Sounds good at first, but the care factor can be somewhat limited. While they are on display, who is responsible for them? Will they insure your work against damage and theft? Most will not.
This is not my first rodeo, and I've been dusted before, buckaroos.
More about this on my Business of Knifemaking page at this bookmark.
Because I use rare and exotic woods, handle materials, hides, skins, inlay, adornment, embellishment materials, rare gemstones and minerals, steels, metals, and techniques, I often get asked where and how to locate these items. If you are reading this, you have the start to the same access to information that I do: the Internet.
This is a great place to start your search. Identifying specific dealers, sources, and methods to purchase these rare items is a time consuming affair, often fraught with financial perils. To ask me to do this work for you or give you (for free) the results of my efforts (continuous and ongoing) is not fair to my paying clients, who have invested their hard-earned money in my work and are waiting on their projects.
However, if you know of a source on your own for rare and exotic materials, and would like to trade info or contacts, I'm willing to talk. After all, you've invested your time, too!
I don’t offer discounts, wholesale or otherwise, because it isn't fair. How would it appear to say that an Army soldier must pay more for his knife than a wholesaler because he can only afford a single knife? How fair would it be to sell knives at a lower price to a dealer who makes his living off the labor of knifemakers (and their reputation), than a young man who is defending our country (and my family) against terrorists with his life on the line?
For me to discount would also suggest that the knife is not worth what my pricing structure has assigned, or that I can’t sell within that structure's framework, or that the knife has some flaw or defect. This degrades the piece, its value, my craftsmanship, the client, and all other clients who purchase custom knives.
Professional knife users, knife collectors, and knife aficionados don't haggle about price. In some cultures haggling is expected, but this is not a produce market, and I'm not desperate to make a sale.
By the way, this is the cheapest place to buy my knives, as the first reseller will mark up the price, sometimes considerably.
This usually comes up because someone has stumbled on my Gemstone Knife Handles page and seen the over 400 examples of gemstone I use on custom knives, or because they've come across the Wood Knife Handle Materials page where I detail and have information on the 50 most commonly used hardwoods on custom knife handles. They think I'm a supplier, because I have so much information there. They'll even ask for kydex, G10, or manmade handle materials! But I don't resell any supplies or raw materials and only describe and detail my use of these materials over the last three decades of making knives.
Sometimes people are fishing for information: about knife shows, other knives, forums, people, processes, or anything they might think I know. I try to stick to my own custom and handmade knives in the interest of expediency and professionalism. I even get personal questions from complete strangers, and that is downright inappropriate. If you send me a question like this, your email is simply deleted and your address forever blocked to the purgatory of junk mail.
If you're wondering about this one, you probably can guess. People have written asking me to clarify laws, cite cases, give testimony, swear affidavits, and give legal advice about their own personal legal troubles pertaining to knives. I suppose it shows how much a need there is for some serious knife conversation and a worthwhile source of knife information that does not exist. Perhaps it shows how far-reaching and detailed this very website is. Or, just perhaps, it shows how insistent and persistent a person can be who is charged with a knife crime... I'd rather not think about it, much less get involved. Thanks.
Since I've been in this field professionally for so long, I'm bound to know old so-and-so and his knives, and if they're any good. I probably do know so-and-so, and his knives, and if they are good, or worth your money or not. But I won't tell you.
It's just not professional for me to evaluate another maker's work, and if you're inquiring, you must have your doubts or suspicions. You can find a lot of information on this site that will help you determine what kind of quality goes into a custom knife by a knife maker; feel free to read and learn before you invest. I'm working on a book right now to help the collector and user of modern knives to make just such determinations, because there is a huge need for one.
I often get asked to evaluate or critique other makers' knives to help them in their journey and skill to create a fine handmade knife. I'm honored that they ask; it means that they've seen some value in my work on this very website, and that recognizes my effort and labor in this whole creative process. But if I offered it to even one person, to be fair, I'd have to offer it to everyone, and at over 100,000 hits a day on this site, I'd be doing nothing but critiquing and evaluating, and probably never get into the shop!
The certain direction of critiquing would be then to request
from me specific instructions on how to make any corrections,
modifications, and techniques to improve the creation of a new
knife. For example, a guy asks me to look at his knife and I
tell him that his grind termination should be radiused, not
squared and angular. Of course he's going to ask, "How do I
And I'll be expected to give detailed instructions on grinding techniques, something that takes hours to describe and years to master. Not only is this unreasonable, it takes years to perfect the skill and it can not be offered by simple illustration in email or even in video form. Any effort would cut into my paying client's time, and I simply don't have the time.
Where to learn? As I did, I can only recommend books and practice. There are a good deal of books in print about knife making, certainly more than when I first started making knives. There are also DVD instructional videos, tutorials, and quite a bit of discussion here on the internet. I encourage you to look around, and with each of these sources, please consider carefully their content, recommendations, and the person who offers the training and instruction, as there is a lot of misinformation and a few crooks out there who simply want your money. Here's an interesting related topic on my Business of Knifemaking page.
By the way, if you have access to the resources, a Metal Arts Degree is something that many colleges offer. You'll pay them for this instruction, of course, and hopefully it's worth it. Expecting the same information from a professional metals artist for free at request is completely unrealistic. If you don't think so, simply contact any successful professional metals artist and ask him for his advice and time, for free, any time you ask.
Sometimes dealers are starting or expanding their business and want to know what a good factory knife would be to carry and resell. It's not professional for me to recommend any knife that I wouldn't carry myself, so I don't. It's important to remember that all factory knives depreciate in value the instant they leave the manufacturer, and fine custom knives appreciate. That should tell you a lot.
This is not a knife buying or knife dealer's site. If you're looking to sell your knives, try EBay or Craig's list for the cheap factory knives, and if you have more substantive or valuable knives, use the Internet to search for a professional knife dealer. Don't forget to get a professional appraisal first, and don't expect to receive the apprised amount as the dealer or reseller has to make a profit, too.
Technically, this is not true; I do make donations to certain military groups and individuals who I choose to, but I am at my maximum quota of donation, meaning I can't give any more. You would be surprised how many requests (dozens a year) I receive for free knives, free sheaths, free services, an any thing else that I might be able to provide for free to individuals, groups, organizations, and causes. There is usually no way to determine if these individuals or organizations are real, much less worthy of free handouts. Also, I simply don't have the resources to ferret out the specifics and validate the sources due to so many requests. Another consideration is that a donation implies my support and endorsement, and I have to be careful that these are real causes. The requests may be simple and clear, or they may arise from a complicated and detailed story about the hard times the person has suffered. Surely, some of these are scams, perhaps most of them, and I have to be very careful, as most artists, craftsmen, and businesses do. It's not that I don't have empathy for causes and events, it's that I choose how I donate, and it is not a choice made from a pleading email from an unknown person claiming to represent an unknown group or organization. Good grief, I even get donation requests from large companies!
More about this on my Business of Knifemaking page at this bookmark.
Once in a while, a previous client has to liquidate his knives he purchased from me, and asks if I would be so kind as to buy the knife from him to resell it. It makes sense to the client, after all, Jay Fisher has access to many interested buyers via this very website. I don't know of any maker who does this, and know of no company that purchases items they have sold to resell them again. The best place to do this is through a verified and established knife dealer, and they can be found right here on the internet. Be sure and get an appraisal to understand the market value of the piece, and remember that a dealer may offer it for less, so that he can get his cut and the ultimate buyer can have an attractive break as incentive to buy. More information can be found on my Business of Knifemaking page at this subject.
I speak English; this is an American website based in the United States of America. If I'm sent an email in a foreign language, I won't respond. Sure, I could run the thing through a translator program, but then what about a follow up? Am I supposed to convert it back to another language? And what about further correspondence? What about when we start discussing the intricacies of construction, embellishment, and finish? In the past, when I've run emails through a translator program, they've turned out to be unsolicited sales, cons, or get rich schemes. It's all just too much... so I just delete foreign emails.
Some of it gets through, but my delete button works flawlessly, and then your address is permanently and forever blocked.
Before I updated this page, I had a funny comment that said:
"No matter how much you beg and plead, I can't answer your request unless it is about ordering or purchasing one of my custom handmade knives."
I went on to joke: "for God's sake, be a man and do your own research."
And then, a woman wrote me and told me I ought to make an exception for her as she was not a man...
For all the requests, needs, information, desires, and interests you have, I do thank you for being here, and sincerely wish you luck in all your endeavors. I'm not a mean guy, just dedicated to making fine knives, swords, and artwork for my clients and hope you can understand that.
I thank you for your interest and support of knives in general. Please don't forget to thank your country for the freedom you have, your mother and father for your life, and God for your universe!
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|Featured Knives: Older/Early||Bank Transfers||27th Air Force Special Operations||Hunting Knives||Factory vs. Handmade Knives||Second Novel|
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|Top 22 Reasons to Buy||Concealed Carry and Knives||Handles, Bolsters, Guards||Knife Blade Testing||Site Table of Contents|
|My Knifemaking History||Knife Handles: Gemstone||Knife Embellishment|
|My Family||Gemstone Alphabetic List||Knife Maker's Marks|
|What I Do And Don't Do||Knife Handles: Woods||How to Care for Custom Knives|
|CD ROM Archive||Knife Handles: Horn, Bone, Ivory||Knife Making Instruction|
|Publications, Publicity||Knife Handles: Manmade Materials||Larger Monitors and Knife Photos|
|Testimonials, Letters and Emails||Copyright and Knives|
|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 1||440C: A Love/Hate Affair|
|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 2||ATS-34: Chrome/Moly Tough|
|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 3||D2: Wear Resistance King|
|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 4||O1: Oil Hardened Blued Beauty|
|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 5||
Heat Treating and
Cryogenic Processing of
Knife Blade Steels
|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 6||Cities of the Knife|
|Knife Shop/Studio, Page 1|
|Knife Shop/Studio, Page 2|