Ask JT! the THK FAQ thread

Discussion in 'Terrio HandMade Knives' started by james terrio, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    I have an answer. Let's throw 'em together and see if they match up! No guarantees, but it's worth a try.

    Welcome to the Terrio HandMade Knives subforum! I'll try to address the most commonly-asked questions here...

    -Why buy a Terrio Handmade Knife?

    Performance, quality and options. Factory knives are typically a compromise between good design, meeting a low price-point and ease of manufacture. I insist on only the finest steel and heat-treat, the most effective geometries, and the best handle materials available. Individual attention to detail helps me ensure the highest standards of quality and workmanship. By purchasing a Terrio knife, you're supporting an independent American craftsman, not a staff of marketing gurus or cheap labor overseas.

    -What's so special about a THK knife?

    An awful lot of factory knives and even handmade knives just don't cut very well, and are uncomfortable to use for long periods. Thick edges and blocky handles make for knives that are heavy, poorly-balanced and don't perform as they should. My basic philosophy is "Thin is In, and Light is Right". All my knives are designed and built from the edge up, with the greatest emphasis being placed on cutting performance, while not sacrificing strength.

    I strive to make my handles comfortable so they provide a secure grasp without needing to clamp your hand down on them, and I put a lot of time and effort into making sure my knives balance properly. Details like fully-tapered blades and tangs add a lot of work to a knife, but they really help it balance and cut well.

    Using the very best alloys, HT, and handle materials available ensures that your THK will last a lifetime and beyond.

    -What are your favorite steels?

    There are a whole lot of great steels available today! We're truly in the Golden Age of knifemaking. Working by the stock-removal method allows me to use any steel I want to. Currently I'm working mostly with O1 and 52100 carbon steels, CPM-3V tool steel, and CPM-154 and Elmax stainless steels. Each is selected for its characteristics of fine grain, ability to take and hold a very fine keen edge, high toughness and resistance to corrosion.

    If I could only work with one steel, it would be CPM-3V; it takes a wickedly sharp edge and has a nearly perfect blend of toughness, edge-retention and durability, with moderate corrosion-resistance.

    -What are your favorite handle materials?

    G10 is very hard to beat. It's strong, durable, looks good and provides a comfortable grip even when wet. Micarta, carbon fiber and stabilized woods are also fine choices. Occasionally I use hardwoods like maple, desert ironwood, cocobolo and walnut with a hand-rubbed oil finish. I very often use thin colored or contrasting G10 liners under my scales, just to add a custom touch.

    -Who does your heat-treating?

    Currently all my blades are HT'ed by Peters Heat Treat of Meadville, PA. They're the best in the business and provide outstanding quality, including full cryo treatment and Rockwell testing of every blade to ensure they're at the correct hardness.

    -Who makes your sheaths?

    I design and make all our leather sheaths, and my wife Angie hand-stitches them. On request I will send your knife to a craftsperson who can make a Kydex sheath for it; some time in 2014 we will be expanding to make our own Kydex sheaths.

    -Do you make folders?

    At this time I'm focusing strictly on fixed-blade knives, mostly of the full-tang variety. When I do start making folders, you'll hear it here first!

    -Where's the best place to get updates and see your work?

    Right here!

    -Do you do mods on other knives?

    I cut my teeth in this business making new handles and sheaths for factory knives, and sometimes doing re-grinds on them. I don't do a whole lot of that nowadays because I keep pretty busy with my own knives, but I will consider such projects on a case-by-case basis. If you have a handmade knife that requires attention, it's best to contact the original maker.

    -What if I want a truly custom order?

    I made a name for myself in large part by doing custom work that no other maker would attempt. Although I'm doing mostly my own original designs these days, I do accept custom orders from time to time. Send me an email ( [email protected] ) and let me know as much as possible about the design you want. Pictures of similar knives, drawings, detailed descriptions, the materials you require... all will help me work up a firm quote for you.

    -How can I place an order/check up on an order?

    It's best to email me at [email protected]. PM's here on the forum fill up quickly. If you prefer to speak on the phone, call me at 865-253-7378 during business hours and leave a message... I often don't hear the phone ring when I'm working in the shop.

    -Do you require a deposit for custom knives?

    I very rarely ask for a deposit, and only if an order requires exotic or costly materials that I don't normally keep on hand. Payment in full is due when your knife is complete.

    How much is shipping?

    USPS insured Priority shipping to anywhere in the US is included in all my prices. International orders may involve additional cost and paperwork; send me your address and I will work up a quote for you. Let me know if you have special requirements such as shipping to your workplace, specifying that your package requires a signature for delivery, etc. If you prefer a different carrier (UPS, FedEx, etc.), let me know and I'll get you a quote.

    -How do I make a payment?

    I prefer PayPal simply because it's so easy to deal with. My PP acc't is the same as my e-mail, [email protected]. Please be sure to send me your current correct shipping address! Sometimes it doesn't show up on the invoice.

    I will happily accept personal checks and money orders as well; orders paid by MO will ship on receipt, orders paid by check will ship when the check clears. There are no extra fees no matter which payment method you use.

    What's the Patriot Program?

    All Terrio Handmade Knives purchased by or for active duty military, law enforcement and fire/rescue personnel for their own use are eligible for a 10% discount. This is my way of thanking the men and women who keep us safe and free.

    -What's your warranty policy?

    All Terrio Handmade Knives are backed with a 100% guarantee against defects in materials and craftsmanship, when used in a reasonable manner, for as long as I'm able to work. Please note that a Terrio Handmade Knife is NOT a screwdriver, chisel or pry bar! Outright abuse voids all warranties, express or implied. I test them so you don't have to.

    -What if my THK needs a little TLC?

    Should your Terrio knife ever require sharpening, touch-ups or repair, or just a "fluff and buff", simply send it to me with return shipping and I will bring it back to as close to new condition as practical, at no charge. This includes knives that were not bought directly from me! Secondhand, dealer purchases, you found it in the woods... it doesn't matter. If my name is on it, I will honor my warranty.
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  2. DerekH

    DerekH Handsome According to my Mother Moderator

    Nov 18, 2010
    Hey Terrio, what kind of finishes do you offer on your blades? Stonewash, satin, mirror polish, etc...?
  3. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    Great question, thanks!

    I don't do true mirrors, because I'm scared to death of buffers, and highly-buffed blades just look odd to me. I do like a nice hand-rubbed "silk polish" at 2000 grit, though. That's pretty close to a mirror but it still has that handmade look to it.

    I don't do media-blasted finishes anymore because they encourage corrosion too much.

    I'm open to doing coatings, but at this time I would have to farm them out since I'm not set up for 'em.

    The most basic is a machine or belt finish. The scratch pattern runs across the blade. I don't recommend this for non-stainless steels.

    I recently started doing tumbled/stonewashed finishes. They hide scuffs and scratches from use quite well, and dull the glare.

    The most popular is a simple hand satin. People like 'em because they look crisp and clean, but they don't show tiny marks and scratches as much as a finer finish does. Most makers do a 400-grit hand satin; I take mine up to 800 to make sure I didn't miss any previous scratches, then bring them back down to 600 grit.

    I will happily do specialty finishes like passivation, patinas, bleach-and-blue aging, etc. on request. They look best when the steel is brought to a nice silk-polish to start with, then etched... but they work well on hand-satin blades, too.
  4. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    nitric acid or citric acid passivation? or does it depend on the type of stainless?
  5. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    Acetic acid (white vinegar). It's inexpensive and safe, it just takes longer. I'm looking into citric acid... not real interested in nitric because it's kind of a pain to store and deal with.

    In other words, the point of passivation is not to change or coat the surface of the steel, but simply to remove contaminants from it, especially iron, so the free chrome in the steel can form the thin oxide barrier on the surface that makes it stain-resistant. In a small shop like mine, it's just not practical to completely isolate stainless from non-stainless steels, so cross-contamination between the two is bound to happen (dust in the air and grinding swarf that may be transferred from blade to blade by being worked with the same tools/bits, etc.).

    For my purposes, passivation is most important for steels with only moderate amounts of chromium, like CPM-3V. Like D2, 3V tends to corrode by pitting rather than forming a film or patina, and tiny bits of iron on the surface make this worse/more likely - passivation removes those tiny particles and improves its corrosion resistance in normal use.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  6. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    SWMBO buys powdered citric acid from a soap making supply site - I don't think it's very expensive, but it probably costs more than what I pay for white vinegar at Sam's.
  7. Mack

    Mack Expert Ultracrepidarian Platinum Member

    Aug 19, 2007
    I know that some custom makers will not use stag for handles. Do you?
  8. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    I don't have anything against it except that the good stuff is really expensive, and it can be a pain to work with. There are occasionally issues with cracking and shrinkage down the road. So while I try to never say "never", I don't really have any burning desire to use stag.

    Especially for full-tang knives (which is mostly what I make) jigged bone may be a better choice. Stag is also hard to find in pieces large enough to be cut into scales... there's a reason we see it mostly on hidden-tang stuff :)
  9. Mack

    Mack Expert Ultracrepidarian Platinum Member

    Aug 19, 2007
    Ok, fair enough. I do know a guy that has quite a bit. I'll have to talk to him about some good sized slabs.
  10. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    Is it Jeff/Sam? :D
  11. Mack

    Mack Expert Ultracrepidarian Platinum Member

    Aug 19, 2007
    PM sent...
  12. worldwood


    Sep 30, 2012
    Great thread.

  13. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    What's your best selling pattern?
  14. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    The Growl, followed closely by the Sidekick. I'm gearing up to have a run of blades water-jet cut, and I'm trying to decide which one to do... it will probably be the Sidekick.
  15. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    do you sell bare blades so the customer can add their own handles?
  16. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    Great question! I have not done so in the past, but I have no problem with the idea. :) I've also considered offering kits with a finished blade, piece of tubing, Corby bolts and handle scales pre-drilled/countersunk for the bolts. That way someone with no tools at all but a screwdriver, 4-in-hand rasp and some sandpaper would be able to build themselves a very nice, pro-level knife with the finest steel and HT available.

    "Kit knives" and blade blanks are great fun, and in fact that's how I got started on this magical mystery tour years ago. Unfortunately most kit blades are hollow ground, not FFG or convex, and only available in cheap stainless, not the good stuff like O1, 52100, CPM-154, CPM-3V, etc... so yeah, I'm totally open to that. :thumbup:
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  17. unit


    Nov 22, 2009
    Would I be correct in assuming that you would be willing to (for a charge) re-work your own knives. Specifically, rounding a squared spine, re-shaping a handle, or other (feasible) modifications?

    I have not seen serrations on any of your knives, do you offer them?
  18. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    Absolutely! I'll work on basically anything.

    Not currently. I'm open to the idea. It would be costly, though... doing them by hand is crazy labor-intensive. If a person really needs a serrated edge, they're probably better off keeping an inexpensive serrated folder in their pocket, and a plain-edge handmade knife on their belt.
  19. fast14riot


    Oct 27, 2010
    JT, I've loosely followed your work for a while, I may have missed it but I don't recall you ever doing a version of the sharpfinger, would ya?

  20. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    I don't have anything against making one, I just haven't been asked. It's a great little design! I like the larger version too, I believe they called it the Deerslayer.

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