Custom Collaboration -- Good or Bad for Custom Sales?

Feb 4, 2000
Just curious on others thoughts about the custom collaborations that have come along lately. I know I am basically addicted to customs so I will look at the Viele Wasp or Tighe Tac by CRKT but I probably won't buy one until I can afford the real thing. Do you think the collobrations make more people aware of custom makers and make them want to by customs or just give people an less expensive alternative for getting a knife style they like?
I can't see how they are a bad thing...


Name's Ash......Housewares.
Brad - it works both ways. Not everyone can afford a $400+ custom knife and these custom collaboration factory knives offer a means for folks to obtain a custom design without the high price tag and to be able to get the knife immediately (well...relatively speaking
). Also, custom collaboration factory knives can make one yearn for the "real deal" as well. There have been a few times in which I have done this myself, for example the Spyderco C48 and the Blade Tech Pro Hunter. I got a hold of the Spyderco version and was very impressed with the overall ergonomics that I went ahead and bought the custom one from Tim Wegner at the Blade Show a few months after getting the factory version. Then there are guys like CRKT who can duplicate a custom knife so well (minus blade and handle materials) that it's scary
Hope this info helps.

Proud member of AKTI, NCCKG, NCKK, and SCAK

In memory of James K. Mattis
I want a Bob Lum fixed blade tanto, but I cannot always pay $400+ for every custom that I want. Spyderco is possibly producing this Lum tanto this year. I hope they do so that I can have an affordable version of the knife.
I know that it's not the same as owning the exact custom, but it's not bad. Especially if you want the custom maker's design in a cheaper format that you will not be afraid to actually use because you didn't pay a large sum of money for it.
I concur with the responses so far.
Moran, Walker, Goddard, Terzuola, Viele, Tighe, Lightfoot, Carson, Kasper/Crawford and even Marble's fixed blade Loveless inspired knives.
And the list is ENDLESS! Applegate/Fairbairn/Sykes, Fred Perrin, Michael Janich, James Keating, Massad Ayoob, Dieter, Busse, Emerson, Al Mar, Bram Frank, Strider, Case, Sal Glesser, the Buck family...
Most every knife out there right now has some feature or nuance inspired by these guys!
What you are holding in your hand is both the history and future of man's oldest tool!
I hate to so like a car commercial for the latest model,
but I'm enthusiastic about custom collaborations!!!


A day without Spydies is like a day without ... WELL, Spydies!!!
John posted:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Most every knife out there right now has some feature or nuance inspired by these guys!</font>

This reminds me of something that Les de Asis of Benchmade said to me once - "custom collaborations give factory knives freshness". Custom knifemakers bring that spark of creativity to production knives that isn't found anywhere else. Basically, the designs that are submitted to production companies for mass production are already tried and true designs. The maker himself has done all the R&D upon the creation of that model.

Proud member of AKTI, NCCKG, NCKK, and SCAK

In memory of James K. Mattis
Don't get me wrong I'm not saying their a bad thing I just wondered if they pushed Custom Sales higher because of the increased exposure of the Maker or if people were more inclined to buy the less expensive production version. My example is the Microtech LCC, I bought one and probably would not by the custom version because I like the larger size of the Microtech but it did encourage me to by 2 Lightfoot customs.
Speaking from my own experience, the collaborations most certainly raised my awareness of what made a good, then better, then "best" knife, in my case comparing the versions of the Emerson knives made by Benchmade (and, sad to say, the various knock offs of the CQCs I soon found) and then the real thing.

And on a more practical note, the market has clearly spoken. Most of the custom makers probably couldn't increase production that much more without radically changing their methods, so this is one way to get known and build a name for their approach to's how I found Kit Carson, Rob Simonich, Greg Lightfoot, Emerson, and a host of others I frankly couldn't afford at first but will look at as time goes by.

Custom collaborations are also probably good for the market as a whole because, as I said above, it raises awareness and expectations of and for better quality knives that just happen to be more expensive
Brad posted:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Don't get me wrong I'm not saying their a bad thing I just wondered if they pushed Custom Sales higher because of the increased exposure of the Maker or if people were more inclined to buy the less expensive production version.</font>

I agree with you here on this by saying they definitely have increased exposure of the makers involved. It would be interesting to get some fellow BF members/custom makers/collaborators to weigh in on this thread such as Kit Carson, Darrel Ralph, Rob Simonich, Allen Elishewitz, and Jim Hammond to get their perspective on this.

Proud member of AKTI, NCCKG, NCKK, and SCAK

In memory of James K. Mattis

You raised some good points. Having been designing for CRKT since they started, I've seen their capability skyrocket as to the type of knife they can produce. I used to have to design a lot around what they couldn't do. We spent literally years on things they could knock out now in months. Now with Michael's new BladeLOCK model for example, CRKT's proven they can execute pretty much anything we can design for them.

I certainly appreciate and respect your taste and preference for custom pieces (folks like you are what keep us in business!), but with the incredible quality that companies such as CRKT are now producing, please continue to enjoy a taste of the real thing along the way, a "print" instead of the original for a while, until you're ready for the other custom pieces you've always wanted.

Collaborations can't help but increase awareness due simply to the sheer number of pieces that come before the public. Due to the more knowledgeable sales people for the most part these days, the significance of the custom connection with a knife can be a positive selling point. Strangely enough, I've seen about as many folks drop down from custom and add production equivalents as I've seen folks upgrade. It's really difficult to get an accurate read on this particular question without quizzing every customer.

For someone entering knives for the first time, the lower price points are what allow then to step up, participate and enjoy. But it will take time, and education plus awareness for them to understand, justify and fully appreciate what a custom knife represents. So while the desire to move into customs will exist, it probably doesn't happen immediately.

For sure the production equivalents allow buyers a less expensive alternative. I feel the gap is far smaller between production and custom folders than it is with fixed blades. My personal experience is that the true tactical fighter has not been translated as well into the production realm as has the folder.

Having been making knives full time since 1977, I can certainly say I appreciate what collaborations mean to a maker. Artists have been benefiting from "prints" for years as a bonus to their efforts. Knifemakers are finally celebrating that opportunity as well. In the end, everyone benefits as a result.

Jim Hammond

In MY experiance, collaborations have helped the whole industry, from manufactures, makers, dealers, and knife users. The benifits in MY case have been several.

1)It has increased my custom sales. A lot of folks that buy the factory version want the custom version.

2)It has brought me recognition I could have never gotten by myself. For instance, you see all those nice ads Camilllus runs in the magazines for the Talon, as well as the web banners? Every one of those has my name on it as well as all the catalogs such as Cutlery Shoppes fine example.

3) Having collaborations has help me become a better knifemaker. It is a very competitive business, and it has taught me a little about business as well as keep me on my toes on developing new designs and trying new materials.

4) I have met more great people in the last few years than I can count!

Dexter mentions that the R has been done when a collaboration is decided. Yes and no. Ask Phil Gibbs of Camillus how much R he had to do to production grind Talonite!

Great thread by the way!

And also, what Mr Hammond said, we were writing at the same time, I just wish I could write so eloquently!

[This message has been edited by Rob Simonich (edited 02-17-2001).]
Mr Ewing, Mr Simonich and Mr Hammond,
The most exciting thing for me about the knife industry/culture is the number of fantastic people involved! From the custom makers, the designers, the ELU, the legends, the "characters", and one thing that has kept my interest is the learning - listening, reading and meeting - from everyone here on the forums.
Everyone is ALWAYS ready to share information, offer encouragement to beginners. Teachers who are students with a passion!
brad1407, my apologies for stepping all over YOUR post! Please forgive my enthusiasm - must be a manic moment

A day without Spydies is like a day without ... WELL, Spydies!!!
Without the collaborations I would not have known about some of the custom makers that I now go to to buy knives.
The collaborations give people a chance to get a little bit of what a maker has to offer, and for a great price.
Now that I have started to buy my knives from makers I will get most of my knives from these artists.
Collaborations helped introduce me to the world of custom knives, and for that I am grateful.
I will say something else though that is of the topic. I have been introduced to more great custom makers by Bladeforums than any other way. For that Mike and Spark, thank you very much.

Collaborations allow us to meet new makers we were unaware off - and this is good to all parties involved.

Good trend and good thread!!
Hard to follow up on what has been said. This thread is great.

It seems to me that the bar does get raised for the knife companies and the makers. The makers I know that have collaborations have been happy from start to finish as a whole working on the projects. It is good in some cases to see that the makers do not have as much pressure in making things meeet in supporting their business and family.
Many folks are unaware of the benefits that the factories get from working with custom makers. A lot of the materials found in high end factory knives today - such as titanium, carbon fiber, and G-10 - all came from custom knifemakers working with factories. And factories also learn a bit about assembly/knifemaking in general from the input of makers and they apply it to what they make (e.g. non-collaboration knives, or for a better term - in-house designs). So the bar gets raised in factory knives across the board. For instance, Ken Onion makes periodic visits to Kershaw in Portland to see how production on his knives are progressing, and especially when they are gearing up to produce a new model of his. So, in the end, custom collaborations benefit all those involved - factory and maker.

Proud member of AKTI, NCCKG, NCKK, and SCAK

In memory of James K. Mattis