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On a quest to find a knife maker..

Discussion in 'Custom & Handmade Knives' started by Dil, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. Dil


    Jul 8, 2019
    Hey guys - brand new to the forums and made my account specifically for this question (although I am sure I will be sticking around):

    I have been searching for literally years now to find a maker that creates folding knives which fit the following criteria:

    1. A non linerlock/framelock locking mechanism - anything besides these two
    2. Doesn't use CNC or waterjet (so a truly handmade custom)
    3. Handle is integral
    Right now the only maker which I can find that fits 1 & 2 is Elishewitz (which I own a couple of his knives now). He has button lock models which work very well.

    Brian Tighe & Tony Marfione make knives which fit 1 and 3.. but not 2 (that I know of).

    My reasoning for desperately wanting a custom folder that fits those 3 things is the following:

    1. Liner/Framelock knives have shown to be weaker than other lock types time and time again - bladehq has a good video on this
    2. Customs these days are very expensive and the term "custom" and "midtech" get thrown around very liberally. Most every custom maker is using either cnc or waterjet or both for their custom folders.. I understand the time and effort can sometimes be very extreme even with those two machines, but this is a personal preference and thought process of mine: if I pay over a grand for your "custom", I prefer it to be handmade.
    3. Integrals utilize less parts (so theoretically break less) and also are aesthetically pleasing. Dalibor used to carve out his integrals and may be the only maker that did/does that.

    At the very least, I would love help finding more like Elishewitz that fit 1 & 2.

    Any help is soooo much appreciated!
  2. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    @T.A.DAVISON @SBuzek both make phenomenal slip joints although I'm not sure about the integral part
  3. JParanee

    JParanee Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    It’s not an integral but Raphael Durand I’m sure can build you one that is



  4. BladeMan

    BladeMan Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 12, 1999
    Welcome to the quest, i gave it up a couple years ago (as a designer). The term custom knife maker is - in most cases - a farce to me nowadays. If you can choose from a couple models and may only vary the blade/handle material and maybe the finish, then that's no custom knife. It's a customized stock model at best. You will find less and less knife makers who will do a true custom design, for various reasons.

    Sorry that could not help more, but finding one that fits all of your 3 points will probably stay a dream.
    Dil likes this.
  5. Del Raso Knives

    Del Raso Knives

    Dec 24, 2005
    An integral body that incorporates a back spring is a big ask. The whole body would have to be hardened and timing would be extremely difficult. Hope someone takes on the challenge, would like to see it.

    Have you looked a Crawford knives, I’m pretty sure he came close to what you are describing but don’t know by what processes they were made.
    Dawkind and Justin Schmidt like this.
  6. Lorien

    Lorien Moderator Moderator

    Dec 5, 2005
    why is waterjet/cnc out of the question? Cutting out parts is simply part of the operation, whether it be by hacksaw or bandsaw or whatever. No custom knife maker that I know of is celebrated for their bandsaw skills.

    I can understand that position if the entire knife is programmed into a cnc machine and has very little hand finishing, but most of the knife makers I know who specialize in folders design their shapes and have them cut, then finish the rest of the work in their shop using their own equipment. Getting a blade cut with cnc is not a cheap operation, but does provide a precise foundation for the most important aspects that go into a folding knife that performs as it should.

    there are guys out there that not only do all the cutting themselves, but who also lay up their own composites, forge their steel to shape, create their own damascus and turn their own fasteners. Most, if not all, use liner locks or frame locks, (to a lesser extent). Lock strength is not an issue with most, so long as the limitations of the design are respected.

    I feel like many knife consumers should purchase themselves fidget spinners, to avoid over working their high end folders which generally see more damage from overzealous flipping instead of actual use.

    wanting a truly custom, one off folder is not an issue with most makers who specialize in folders, but designing a folder is not the same as designing a fixed blade. A folder is a machine which needs to be built correctly in order to open and close, (and stay closed) properly. It takes a lot of time and expertise to develop a new folder pattern, which therefore come at a higher price with a longer wait. Regardless of locking mechanism.

    2 cents, if that
  7. argel55


    Oct 30, 2005
    Check out Andy Fannin has been doing some milled bolster slip joints that look extremely nice and fit and finish are super.
    AJF likes this.
  8. Dawkind

    Dawkind Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 3, 2000
    Well said Lorien... :)

    Scott Sawby and Baily Bradshaw made integrals with the Sawby-Lock but, alas, they no longer makes knives.... :(
  9. coldsteelburns


    Aug 2, 2010
    Not sure about his entire build process, but Brian Tighe makes quite a few integrals with button locks. Just check out the first page in Coop's blade show a few threads below this one, here are two of quite a few from Brian this year:


    My Youtube Channel
    ... (Just some older videos of some knives I've made in the past)
    Kailash Blades and John Blazy like this.
  10. AVigil

    AVigil Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Platinum Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    There are many knifemakers making lock back folders that could meet those criteria.
  11. John Blazy

    John Blazy KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 3, 2017
    I'm a little biased towards Allen Elishewitz - on the right track there, but if you want to broaden your base, maybe Jason at Larevo Knives. But Allen is constantly thinking outside the box.

    Kailash Blades and Dil like this.
  12. Lorien

    Lorien Moderator Moderator

    Dec 5, 2005
    there's an instagram group called 100percenters which represents makers who outsource very little of their processes
  13. Trae Gaenzel

    Trae Gaenzel

    Jul 13, 2017
    There are a lot of slipjoint makers that fit your criteria including #1, #2 and #3. Bill Ruple, Tom Ploppert, Luke Swenson (these 3 make killer lock backs) Rusty Preston, Bubba Crouch, Burt Flanagan, Toby Hill, Tanner Couch, Kendal Schoersche. Most people in the South Texas Knife Cartel (except me, I own my own HAAS and cut profiles with it, although I do make some the”traditional” way on occasion). Bill and a few of them can make whatever you want. Single, double, multi blade, 3, 4 and 5 blade. Trapper, Lanny, Zulu, lockback whittler, Congress, Barlow, Dr’s, elephant toe, CANOE etc. Have not seen anything Bill could not make. All integral scales. 2 sides peened together. I believe Tyler Turner made or makes a knife milled from a single piece of metal. But if I remember correctly it’s was a frame lock.

    Depending on the complexity and name of the maker $1k is a starting point.

    There is also a show coming up that is touted as a 100%er show That might fit your criteria.

    Hope this helps. If I misunderstood the criteria I apologize.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
    Dil and Kailash Blades like this.
  14. Kevin Wilkins

    Kevin Wilkins

    Oct 7, 1998
    No problem, pick up one of Jürgen Steinau's fantastic tab lock autos!
    PS: You will need money for that...
    Dr Heelhook likes this.
  15. Dil


    Jul 8, 2019
    So crazy you just posted that.. I actually own that knife! haha It is my first custom from Allen.
    John Blazy and coldsteelburns like this.
  16. Kailash Blades

    Kailash Blades KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 21, 2015
    Reading this post I couldn't think of a single one that fit this criteria, great to see the hivemind could deliver
    Dil likes this.
  17. Dil


    Jul 8, 2019
    Thanks for all the help guys, I have been so busy lately.. but I am going to research each and every suggestion in the thread. Very thankful for all the input.
  18. JPuri


    Nov 9, 2012

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