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Thread: Advice: Fist Knife Custom American Knife Makers

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Advice: Fist Knife Custom American Knife Makers

    I have a budget of $1000 or $1600 for 2 if people are willing to work with me on pricing. I have the money and its ready to go once I find the right knife. I am willing to get a custom knife because this would be a present for the wife and I. My worry on American knife makers is if they are as good as the Japanese for the same pricing. We've been married 2 mo now and we are renovating the kitchen. We would like to start off with a beautiful knife or 2 to match. We love to cook and grew up in a family of chefs, although we aren't professionals or anything.

    I love the look of Damascus and hope my budget could afford it. My question is if it makes a difference in the sharpness of knives or just looks? I want Damascus for the looks. My wife and I were married this year which is the year of the dragon, so some type of dragon/phoenix motif on a Damascus knife would be ideal. If I can't afford it, I'd like some awesome handles. I can give the knife maker free reign on that. If Damascus isn't worth it, I could spend the money for additional knives (just an idea).

    I am looking for a knife that is multipurpose; slicing meat and cutting vegetables. After doing some research, I think a gyuto would be best. My additional knives for later would be a paring and boning knife.

    I hold the knife with my thumb and pointer finger pinching the blade with the other fingers curled under the handle. I would want a blade where I won't hit my knuckles. I don't have a preference on blade weight. I don't know if I prefer a flatter edge or more curvy. I don't know about a belly up or flat blade.

    I want a handle that's easy on the hands; round or hexagonal.

    I would prefer a super sharp knife and I do not fear carbon steel.

    I have no sharpening equipment. However, I wouldn't mind sharpening a knife and can use advice on a starter kit.

    I want a knife that is 50/50 since I a left handed and my wife is right.

    Sorry for the long post, but I want to give you guys as much information as possible so all you knife nuts can help me better. Also tell me where to buy, as I am big on supporting family businesses. I looked on the knife maker forum, but I'm not knowledgeable enough on who the buy from. I just want the best knife I can afford at my budget.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member PierreRodrigue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Alberta, Canada
    You have answered all the important questions. There will be lots of options offered here shortly. The members of this forum are very educated in all things knives, and will give you sound advice. For your price point, you should be able to find some very nice options. You can also check the subforums of many talented vendors who will be more than willing to work with you.

    As far as damascus goes, it is more about aesthetics than performance. It is the top level of the craft, and several makers here excel at it. Devin Thomas, or Bill Burke for example, as well as others. It is much more expensive than a mono stainless or carbon steel knife, the reason for the higher cost, is the hours, and materials used to forge the blade. Look at some photos, find a style you like, then start a conversation with the maker you select. Any vendor on this forum, will be more than willing to work with you, and answer questions.

    Oh yeah, welcome to the forum!

  3. #3
    Senior Member chinacats's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    On the (frozen) water Maine

    Many high end knife makers reside on this forum, you will be able to find a few people here that can offer the best in North American knives. You will get better answers though from others who know much more than I do.

    Cheers and good luck in your quest!
    once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  4. #4
    Senior Member VoodooMajik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Jasper, Alberta
    Let us know what you end up getting!
    It's not the Answer it's the Experience

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pabloz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Welcome to the forum.

    It's very impressive that you come so prepared about what you want in a custom!!! WAY TOO COOL!!!


  6. #6
    Senior Member Deckhand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Costa Mesa California
    Well Devin Thomas feather Damascus is my favorite for a custom he has a forum section here.

    For etching Jon at Japanese knife imports has some great etching and is a nice guy with high quality knifes.
    Etching examples in this video.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    99Limited's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    LVW, Manchester, NJ
    Don't let Pierre Rodrigue's modest post through you off. His damascus work rocks and he'd be an excellent choice to make what you want! Having your funds to commission a custom knife or two is great, but there is one thing you will have to consider. You're going to have to wait for delivery. Maybe a year or more depending on who you choose. Don't let this throw you off though. Once you have you knife in your hand, your wait will be forgotten and you will be just beginning years of pleasure using your one-of-a-kind custom piece of cutlery.

    By the way, Welcome to the forum.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Minneapolis, MN
    We would all like to be in your shoes, ZeroB. I think both Bill and Devin run a little bit higher than your budget for damascus, but for straight steel you'd be well within your budget from either of them. I don't know what Michael Rader charges for his damascus work, but he's also worth considering for a custom made knife at that pricepoint. Check out their respective web pages and pick the maker whose work looks closest to what you have in mind. You cannot go wrong with any of those options.

  9. #9
    Senior Member markenki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Bellevue, WA
    Marko Tsourkan, another member here, would be my first choice if I were in your shoes.

    Welcome to the forum!



  10. #10
    Senior Member Justin0505's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Minneapolis, MN
    For that price, you could get 1 custom Damascus, but probably not 2. Mono-steel or san-mai will give you the same performance, but might allow you to fit 2 in your budget.

    If you want Eastern style, but American made, Murray Carter is probably your best option. (He's Canadian, but trained / lived in Japan, and is now in the US). You will pay a premium if you want a knife with really high levels of finish, but even his most basic / plainly finished knives are known to be unsurpassed cutters.

    When it comes to more of a fusion of styles and what I think of as the ultimate in terms of handle design, comfort, and ergonomics, Michael Rader makes the best that I've used. He also works with a guy that does some really beautiful engraving.

    Also, be aware that for any top / well known maker in the USA, you will probably have to spend months or even years on a wait list.

    Stephan Fowler is newer and less popular, but his work has really progressed. I've been super happy with my recent custom order from him. His pricing would be well within your range and his turn-around time is very fast. Just be specific the specs and design that you want; some of his designs are pretty unusual, but he can make whatever you want.

    On this forum, there are quite a few very talented hobbyist-level makers. I have a few knives with handles from Mario (user RRLOVER) and they are very, very nice. He recently started grinding blades too, and while I haven't had the chance to use one yet, I believe the reports that they are spectacular in their workmanship and performance. His knives usually don't last for more than a few seconds when they go up for sale (they're priced at "how are you not losing money on this?" levels) so you probably need to PM him if you want to get in line.

    Adam Marr is another maker that strared on forums (not this one, but he has a website now). He's awesome to work with, a very creative and thoughtful guy, and he has a very nuanced understanding of what makes a good knife. In particular, I really like the ergonomics and little details that he puts into his handles. His pricing is also low enough that you feel like you are taking advantage of him.

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