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tk59

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Lately, I've had a number of conversations with knuts and non-knuts alike about the meaning of the term "custom knife." Does it just mean it has a particular level of fit and finish or does it have something to do with the customer designing part or all of it?

I am also curious as to what all of you think is the proper etiquette in terms of utilizing advantageous or aesthetically pleasing characteristics of one knife to produce another so-called custom knife. Obviously, knives have been around for thousands of years and people have been copying each others knives for probably about the same amount of time. So what is fair to do? What should be taboo? I'm not even talking about what is legal either. If I made a cool knife and someone else copied it, I might be proud or pissed. I dunno. Maybe it depends on how much money the other guy made off of my idea. What do you guys think?
 

obtuse

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I would consider a custom knife to be a knife made to order from a knife maker. I don't think the word custom implies that it has to be totally original or designed partially or fully by the buyer.
 

JohnnyChance

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It is certainly a gray area. Some makers have profiles, geometry, styles, etc that they like to stick to.

If a "custom" or "artisan" knife maker has a profile you like and you just pick a handle material, is it no longer custom?

I would say if you talk to the guy who makes the knife, he makes it specifically for you, and you get to specify what you want, or at least pick from a list of options and you end up with a "1 of 1" unique piece, it's custom.
 

jaybett

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Customization can be anything, from requesting a different handle color to blade dimensions.

Combining ideas from different blade patterns and/or makers seems to be a fairly common practice. The Butchahiki and Jon Broida's utility knife are recent examples.

I'd have qualms about somebody making an exact copy of an existing knife. I don't even know if its possible, since what maker is going to want to copy another makers knife? Let alone replicating heat treatment and grinds.

Jay
 

JohnnyChance

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There are only so many good profiles. We can't each have our own. I don't see a problem with copying a profile. Handle, steel, geometry, fit and finish will all be different.
 

goodchef1

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a knifemaker only has a limited number of steels, handle material, etc. that they are capable of putting together. I mean I doubt anyone can find someone that does any steel, any HT, any handle material, any grind on one knife. So to me, I would call having some say in what maker makes for me, custom, one that a knifemaker makes without any input, I call semi-custom, one that I have full say from tip to butt is what I would call full-custom. But that's only my own personal terminology
 

jaybett

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There are only so many good profiles. We can't each have our own. I don't see a problem with copying a profile. Handle, steel, geometry, fit and finish will all be different.
There is nothing wrong with combining profiles, with different steels, handle types, finishes etc.... Making counterfeit knives, or impinging upon a maker's brand is the few ways that I think a person could get into trouble with a custom knife.

Jay
 

El Pescador

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I think a custom knife is a departure from a what a maker does normally. It might be a different style handle, profile size, grind, etc.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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Anybody who is anybody in the knife-making world, has copied somebody else - that is a process one learns the craft and it extend to any atrisan crafts. There are only so many ideas to go around. There are no such things as patents on octagonal or D-shape handle, for example.

Counterfeiting brands would get one in a trouble, but copying shape, form, material, no.

M
 

Lefty

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I agree with Marko. We all need to work up to something, not to mention, if a customer tells Marko (for example) he wants a Carter made with 52100 steel and a handle made to a specific size, do you think Marko (or anyone) is going to turn him down? Hell no! There is far too much opportunity to say no. There's exposure, another notch in the belt, money (we all need it) and a chance to learn from one of the best.
A custom is anything made specifically for the customer, with that specific customer's preferences and desires in mind.
 

JohnnyChance

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I think a custom knife is a departure from a what a maker does normally. It might be a different style handle, profile size, grind, etc.
So if I ask Devin for a gyuto and choose the handle material, ferrule, end cap, and damascus pattern and steel, it isn't a custom since I use his standard sizes, grind, profile and style?

Is a Kramer only custom if you ask Bob to change the profile?
 

El Pescador

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So if I ask Devin for a gyuto and choose the handle material, ferrule, end cap, and damascus pattern and steel, it isn't a custom since I use his standard sizes, grind, profile and style?

Is a Kramer only custom if you ask Bob to change the profile?
Pretty much. A Camry is a Camry until you get Toyota to make on into a Limo. Then its a custom Camry Limo. The Devin thing is funny because I talked to him about doing a ITK suji in 52100. Because he doesn't make them normally it means it would be custom. It is a departure from what he normally does. My knife will be a one of a kind.
 

El Pescador

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You're paying custom price?
LOL! Yes I am. I know you're asking me to bug me. The knife has a different profile and now its going to be longer. But the quote I got originally was for a 52100 suji at the custom price.
 

tk59

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Bug you? Whereever would you get that idea?! Just curious...
 

mainaman

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Pretty much. A Camry is a Camry until you get Toyota to make on into a Limo. Then its a custom Camry Limo. The Devin thing is funny because I talked to him about doing a ITK suji in 52100. Because he doesn't make them normally it means it would be custom. It is a departure from what he normally does. My knife will be a one of a kind.
I am sorry but IMHO if it s hand made it is always different. For me if a customer specifies parameters for the knife to be made then it is custom.
I ordered a thinner Shigefusa, this I consider customized knife rather than full custom because it is only slightly modified to my parameters but not built in a different way than any other Shigefusa. If I wanted it to have different profile then I'd consider it custom and not customized.
 

stevenStefano

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So if I ask Devin for a gyuto and choose the handle material, ferrule, end cap, and damascus pattern and steel, it isn't a custom since I use his standard sizes, grind, profile and style?
Personally I'd say this is a custom. I don't think you have to get into really specific requirements to make it a custom. If you like the way someone makes knives and like the standard geometry and profile you can still have a custom knife from them.

Saying that, for some smaller makers where all the knives are made to order the line between custom and standard knives is blurred
 

99Limited

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Pretty much. A Camry is a Camry until you get Toyota to make on into a Limo. Then its a custom Camry Limo. The Devin thing is funny because I talked to him about doing a ITK suji in 52100. Because he doesn't make them normally it means it would be custom. It is a departure from what he normally does. My knife will be a one of a kind.
If someone buys a Kono gyuto and then has a Stefan Skeller handle put on it by Dave this knife has now been customized, hence the knife is a custom. This fits the standard definition of what custom means. Putting on a new handle is just the first step into customization. Specifying the steel, profile, length, etc. is taking customization towards a unique, one off item which is more custom than just a handle, but they are both custom. I don't care what anybody thinks, but all of the knives that Marko rehandled are custom knives.
 

Eamon Burke

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'Custom' is a very vague term. It generally refers to anything that is modified to personal taste or style.

Around here, I feel that it implies that a knife was made with a specific person in mind--a person tells a maker that they want a certain kind of knife, and they get one made with them in mind. That said, a knife that was made to be unique or exceptional and then sold to the general public is also considered a custom.

I think the one hard and fast rule is that with a custom knife, the person making it is individually involved--it's a knife made by a person, not a company.

The point is, custom can mean anything. It's not a knife community thing, it's the word. It's just too general.
 

Lefty

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This is interesting...if someone calls up Stefan or Marko and gets a custom handle put on a knife and sends it to Dave or Salty (or Tinh) to have it thinned, is this knife now a custom?
 

mr drinky

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'Custom' is a very vague term. It generally refers to anything that is modified to personal taste or style.

Around here, I feel that it implies that a knife was made with a specific person in mind--a person tells a maker that they want a certain kind of knife, and they get one made with them in mind. That said, a knife that was made to be unique or exceptional and then sold to the general public is also considered a custom.

I think the one hard and fast rule is that with a custom knife, the person making it is individually involved--it's a knife made by a person, not a company.

The point is, custom can mean anything. It's not a knife community thing, it's the word. It's just too general.
I also think the word 'custom' is a bit loose, and for me it just means a knife that is unique and hand-crafted by an artisan. I kind of like the art-world terminology when we buyers get involved, so when a buyer specifically asks for a type of knife or shape to be made and has some input, they are commissioning a knife. Both knives are still custom in my eyes, but one has more input from the buyer. This isn't to say one is better than the other. What if someone gave Butch Wusthoff measurements?

k.
 

bprescot

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This is an interesting conversation. Kramer, I think, is a good test case.

Most people get a Kramer by ordering one specifically from him. I've not done so, but I imagine that he will work with the customer to get certain details and specs. Pattern, certainly, but probably also measurements etc. These probably aren't free-form specs, though, so much as choices you can make. He then makes the knife with this specific customer in mind. Is that a "Custom"? Is it a "Full-Custom"?

The truly LOADED, can also buy his knives at eBay auction. Those knives Bob makes with his own functional and artistic impulses in mind. No doubt they can be gorgeous, and as some are experimental, they may even be one of a kind, beyond the standard artisan-maker definition of one of a kind. But as they're not made for anyone in particular are they custom?

And finally, you've got Kramer collaborations. Bob works with a manufacturer to develop a knife that can be mass-produced. The shape, specs, handle material are presumably worked through with him, and the designs are his, but someone else does the manufacture. These too are then made with no specific person in mind. Are these custom?
 

goodchef1

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If I were to get after-market work done on a particular product, I would refer to it as customized. But a general term like this is like trying to define art or beauty. There will always be a personal explanation added to bring meaning to the term, and to asses a particular value in work done. No right or wrong

someone wanted to charge me $1,500 add-on on a custom knife by putting a mirror polish on it just because it would be done by hand. I don't care if he/she did it with unicorns blood. I did not consider that work to be a custom work justifying that ridiculous price, but someone else may consider that as custom/customized work.
 

El Pescador

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Maybe its not the knife but the maker that defines it being custom. Devin Thomas is a custom maker, whether on spec or by customer order. Kramer is the same way. While a Hiro rehandle by Dave is not a custom knife but a custom rehandle. Here's one. What if you have a custom knife made by one maker reground, profiled and rehandled by another maker? Who is the maker of the knife then?
 

Lefty

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And the plot thickens...
 

bprescot

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What if you have a custom knife made by one maker reground, profiled and rehandled by another maker? Who is the maker of the knife then?
I don't know, but that just feels like a more extensive version of personal knife customization. I've thinned plenty of knives, and even had to reprofile a few but that doesn't make them custom and sure as hell doesn't make me the maker. I mean, what about the places that leave the knife unfinished so that the user can finish (customize) it to their own preference? It doesn't make the end-user the maker, and I doubt the knife would then be custom. Customized, maybe, by thinning it, altering the profile, maybe even polishing it up with fingerstones, throwing on a new handle... Customized, sure. But a custom knife? Home-made? No way, right?
 

tk59

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The Japanese put a stamp on a blade they purchased and then sell it as their own. If someone significantly changes the profile or geometry of a knife, I think it is effectively a completely different knife. Just my two cents.
 

bprescot

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I get the rationale, but if I try to fix a banana knife that some idiot has run through the chef's mate for years, I don't think I've made a new knife. I've simply tried to resurrect a very old one. Even if one were to repurpose a well well used gyuto and make it more like a suji profile, I don't think that means they've made the knife.
 

Ichi

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Built to individual specifications. Anything else is just customizing to your style:thumbsup2:
 
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