Categories of Knifemakers

Dec 4, 1998
I tried to get Les Robertson to speak to this issue on the custom forum but thought it best to ask here.

Can someone break the knifemaking industry down into somewhat distinct categories with names and examples? I was thinking that custom knives was one. Another category for Randall Made Knives, Chris Reeve Knives, Lile, etc. where the founder was either gone or had taught others to make according to his direction. Large factories, small factories, overseas, and/or any others. I think this would help some of us see what the industry has become. Les, you had your shot so go back into your room and play with your customs!
1) Custom Makers:
Small, one man operations where all knives are hand made. They do customs and have a model line of blades as well. Rob Simonich, Kit Carson, Darrel Ralph, Alan Folts, etc

2) Custom Makers deux:
Handmade, occasionally makes a custom but focuses primarily on his (her?) line. Kevin McClung (Mad Dog)

3) Small to Medium size, High Quality Production:

Chris Reeves, Microtech, Emerson, etc

4) Large, High quality factory production:
Spyderco, Benchmade, etc

5) Large, factory Production:
Buck, Kabar, Cold Steel, etc

6) various degrees of quality, factory production:
a zillion outfits

thats an incomplete overview

Excellent breakdown. Bruce if you havent figured it out by now, I dont think you ever will.

Bruce, there is no reason for you to develop an attitude. After all you dont use the toilet in the womens bathroom do you. Of course not, why, becasue you can read what the door on the room says.

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
It is easier to get things done with a kind word and a knife, than with a kind word alone!

Les, I'm confused about your remark about a perceived attitude! Especially after I praised you for your explanation and post on your forum. I'll explain where I was coming from. You own "piece of the pie #1". I was trying to get you to describe your piece in relation to all other pieces. At first you wouldn't even acknowledge there were any other pieces and deflected the question. Later you did a good job of answering the question on your forum, after I said I would take it to another forum. I figured that maybe you were right, it was a general question about the knifemaking industry, why ask a specific forum to answer a general question, so I put the question here and got a very informative response. I'll leave the court of popular opinion to decide if there was an attitude. You've called me a trouble maker and accused me of an attitude, all because I was persistent in getting an answer. I would have put this in a private e-mail to you but your approach was to castigate in public. There, I feel better. Now, let's all join hands and sing "We are the World." And Les, If I ever meet you in person, I'm going to slap you on the back and buy you lunch!"

Now, back to business. DC, thanks for the information. In your opinion, which category would Randall Made Knives go in? How about Dusty Moulton, CRK&T?

Not knowing the size of the physical plants and capita production I'd put Randall and CRK&T in upper limit of #3 or a solid #4.

I'm unfamiliar with Dusty Moulton.

Realize that inclusion of "production" category is by no means a slam or indicative of decreased quality. Chris Reeves company still makes an exemplary knife as he did when he was a one man custom operation. Kevin McClung is another maker who is in the position to go that way, but he won't, as he is a very stubborn man. (this isn't a slam Kevin, you know I have no qualms about taking a bite

Hi Bruce,

I was joking about being a trouble maker and having an attitude. I guess I should have put the universal Ha Ha, LOL, ROFLMAO, or <G>.

I appreciate what you were trying to do, I think it is something that should be discussed to help those who are confused. Sometimes I feel like one of the Supreme Court Justices, who cannot define pornography but know it when they see it.

Sometimes in custom knives, you cant tell the players without a scorecard.

I hope we do meet sometime. I love free lunches!

Take Care,

Les Robertson
Robertson's Custom Cutlery
It is easier to get things done with a kind word and a knife, than with a kind word alone!