That is going to be an awesome knife! I love the idea of mixing friction folder with liner lock. I have drawn up a few knife designs just for fun. One of which is very similar in design to yours. Mine was not a friction folder though. It was a framelock with bolsters but the rest of the design and shape was very close. Great minds must think alike. The blade steel choice and grind geometry are also right up my alley!
Great WIP shots and I understand your sentiments on the knife maker. Awesome of him to work with you on the design. I think you are going to love that knife and it would seem the next best thing to making it yourself
I look forward to the following updates and the final in hand product and review/thoughts.