In my head I picture knife makers like chefs. They will use ingredients to make something. In a kitchen they may not have chopped all the ingredients, butchered the meat etc, but their skill comes in putting it together. If they write the recipe down and work with a factory to make a microwave meal version it won't taste the same, it has the potential to be better than all the other microwave meals but to be the same as dining in their restaurant...... That factory meal can have the ingredients to the nearest gram, cooked at an exact temperature for an exact length of time, but it won't be the same. This is how I see the kramers. The chef has a skill, if their dish is cooked by others and he oversees the process, steps in where needed and tastes every dish before it goes out and is happy with it, is that much different from him cooking the whole thing by himself?
If a knife maker uses their skill to ensure that the end product is to the best of their ability and meets the standards that their reputation was built on, then I would be happy.
Since, to at least some extent, this is discussion of semantics, how about using "commercial" and "artisan", rather than "custom" and mid-tech"?
In fact, the making of knives runs across a continuum, from knives made entirely by hand, by one person, to knives made in a factory, by robots.
The Zwilling Kramers lie somewhere near one end of that continuum, but include a handmade pin and a note from the designer to the effect that everything meets his specifications (though it's hard to imagine he inspected each knife). This is why I use the ZK's as an example; what exactly is the difference between Kramer's word and that of other makers? There is however, a real difference between a maker "signing-off" on heat treat and doing it himself.
Commercial knives are not going to be the best work a maker can produce; the definition of the term implies that the object was "made or done primarily for sale or profit". "Artisan" carries with it very different connotations, implying only that an object was "made by a skilled workman or craftsman".
There are arguments to be made for producing commercial knives, but not for pretending they are anything else.
After further reflection, since all the knives in question will in fact be made by "artisans", not robots, why not just label them "1st Quality", "2nd Quality", or Grade A, B, C, etc.
IMO, the term mid-tech, used any way other than in the context of differentiating between two lines of knives from a single maker like Ken Onion, has, in some ways, just become another confusing term to be added to the tired old custom, handmade, benchmade, shop made, blah, blah, blah, argument. Remember that some of the most expensive collectible knives out there are NOT sole authorship knives, at least not in the context of the guy whose name is on the blade making them. Loveless knives and any engraved Buster Warenski knife are the most obvious examples.
When I posited that a knife could be plotted on a continuum (with, at one extreme, someone chipping a piece of obsidian), I was not suggesting a correlation with quality. The point was not that "sole authorship" knives were necessarily better. A robot could perform any number of tasks better than most humans.
The point was that the terms referred to above, "midtech", custom, benchmade, etc., are obfuscatory. If you make knives of different quality, for whatever reason, just say so.
Oh yeah. There was one other point. Saying that a task was done to your satisfaction, whether cooking or heat treating, is not the same as doing it yourself.
i have my razors laser cut "blanked" but ever last one of them i shape the blade heel and toe (jsut not the tang ) all other work i do my self
i guess it depends on a what a maker is known ffor ad what they can sell as "mid tec" liek are they a master engraver that coudl carre less if the 440c blade was HTed by a Co
i am one to think that if one is known for ther HT and grind those are the 2 things that must be done bt the maker
and bill im not picking but since you are working up a mid tec line
i woudl rather have a blade HTed and ground by bill himself that i have to fit a broom handle on to finishe that one he sent out for HT and finished the rest of
blanking kitchen knives saves only a bit of time cause of how much steel you hav eto still grind off
now then if you were to get them blanked and even half ground that coudl save a pile of time cvause then you could jsut dril a few holes HT and finish grind before "slapping " a handle on
I have always thought of "Customs" as per customer specs (with knifemaker input), Midtech as to knifemaker specs. You might just get a better knife in a "midtech" because it's what the knifemaker thinks is best in design and grind, steel and thickness, and RC Hardness. A custom you could specify changes in profile, thickness, grind, pins, wood, rc hardness, etc to the extent the maker wants to deal with your specs. Its kind of a silly distinction. I would prefer to just know if its to a knifemakers specs or a customers specs if for instance I was buying a used knife.
So let's look in the meaning of mid-tech here. I would like to think that whoever coined the work mid-tech (I think it was Ken Onion) had some knowledge of Greek and thought of it as a clever way of describing a partial-authorship concept. Tech is a derivative from tektn (Greek) and means to build, so that makes sense. Mid however doesn't relate to partial well, not in the sense it has been used throughout centuries.
So, we have a problem here as the phrase is not self explanatory, and gets misused, diminished and frankly, sounds kind of odd and unpleasant when describing kitchen knives. Perhaps to tactical crowd it's a music to their ears (think of the word tactical, for crying out loud!), but for people like me who like to use knives to make meals (as opposed to inflict bodily harm for whatever reasons), I would be happy if this word quietly disappeared from usage.
"If there’s something worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” - An US saying.
If my KKF Inbox is full (or not), please contact me via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org