D'Holder knives

Joined
Nov 8, 1999
Messages
26
Hello all,
I want to buy a nice custom hunter, and I noticed on many websites
some knives made by D'alton Holder. I know he has a very strong
reputation (wasn't he president of the knifemakers guild ?),and
on the pictures his knives look awesome. The problem is that because I live in France, I'll never get the chance to handle one before I buy. Can someone tell me if the fit and finish on his knives are
as good as it seems on the pictures ? And how are they technically:
is the grind efficient, the heat treatment correct etc... ?
Best regards to all,
François.
 
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
235
Don't worry. There's a bigger chance of you getting hit by a meteor then of finding a flaw in one of his knives.
 
Joined
May 26, 2000
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1,922
D'Alton is a very good maker. He obviously specializes in those multi segment handles.

His grinding is excellent, and he nearly always mirror polishes... and if you don't get the hollow grinds smooth, mirror polishing shows all the flaws. I.e., you gotta be good to have the courage to mirror polish...and D'Alton is good.

D'Alton nearly always uses ATS-34, and if not it's damascus.

I talked w/ D'Alton at the 2000 Guild Show. So as of that time stamp, he was sending his blades out to a professional heat treat firm near his home somewhere around Phoenix.

I forgot the name of the firm, but it's owned by the guy who owns Ping Golf Clubs, Karsten. So it may be called Karsten. Karsten doesn't just heat treat clubs, he does other stuff, like heat treat work for machine shops if I recall what D'Alton told me. He said they use big industrial vacuum furnaces, and the knives come back with zero scale and no warpage, so he is pleased with this service, as it shortens his final prep time. That implies that you should get a very reliable heat treat out of D'Alton, and that his ATS-34 should perform like it should at Rc59 or 60 or whatever he specifies. I.e., they ain't just purty, they would actually perform well I suspect if anyone had the courage to use one.

D'Alton actually handles heat treating for other makers... he accumulates batches of blades (I assume ATS-34 and 154CM) and then sends the batches through Karsten to keep the price down. Often times heat treaters have a price they charge for the whole oven to run through a cycle... and you can have 1 blade or 100 blades in that oven for the same price.

Golf clubs are heat treated, so that may be the genesis of why this big heat treat business came to be.

From Ping:

The heat treating of clubs was also pioneered by PING. After casting, the clubheads are heat-treated in a vacuum furnace to stabilize the metal and give it the necessary corrosion resistance and durability. Importantly, heat-treating allows clubheads to be adjusted for loft and lie for years after purchase.

Here is D'Alton's web page:
http://www.dholder.com/pages/bio.htm

I own one of D'Alton's "My Knife" patterns, and it's a real beauty... stabilized dyed spalted maple, cocobolo, and red amber. Sorry, don't have a pic to show off. It's not one that I use... a bit too pretty.
It looks a lot like the top knife in this pic from D'Alton's page but has deep red amber spacers:
http://www.dholder.com/images/my_knife.jpg

D'Alton's work is first rate and his wife's (Pat) engraving is excellent also.

There is one thing you should know about multi segment handles like this. You can see D'Alton uses red (felt?) and metal spacers between segments...makes for a really unique and beautiful handle (that's probably as much or more work than the blade). Every one of those elements in that handle has a different propensity to swell and shrink with changes in temperature and humidity. So you can't expect that handle to be perfectly smooth forever... you can feel the seams. I suspect it leaves his shop perfectly smooth, but over a couple months, you start to feel the joints... by probably less than a thousandth of an inch or so (which is easy to feel with your finger). You might be able to mitigate that somewhat by waxing the handle. Don't let that deter your purchase of what I think is a really classic, high quality, beautiful multi-segment-handled hunting knife by D'Alton Holder. Just a heads-up. This styled of handle is really his trademark... and he does it as well or better than anyone.

P.S. D'Alton is a super nice guy also. A real gem of a guy to talk with ... things weren't too busy at Guild, and he spend probably 15 minutes with me talking handle materials and grinders, etc.
 
Joined
Nov 8, 1999
Messages
26
Your replies convinced me, I have just ordered a "my knife"
hunter. It seems so beautiful that I think it won't be used hard, but it will be admired!
And thank you very much for the links.

François.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 1999
Messages
3,036
FWIW, D' taught me a great deal about how to do this and that in knifemaking. His mirror polishes are the best I've ever seen, and his fits are flawless. It's really hard to fault any of his knives. I've owned three of D's knives and still have one. Virtually all of my knives have evolved from his basic tapered tang, bolstered guard design.
 

Joss

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,348
...and actually pretty reasonably priced, esp. for the Crow Beak. I would get one myself if it could be carbon steel as opposed to this stainless cr ... hmm ... material. One thing I've noticed is that there are *tons* of Crow Beak and My Knife pieces on eBay. SO there's always the risk that the market be overflowing at times.

JD
 

Gus Kalanzis

Havin' fun, learning and putting up with Bastid.
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I could not agree more with what folks have posted. He has a very distinct style and all of Mr. Holder's knives that I have seen have been about as close to flawless as it gets.
 

SharpByCoop

Enjoying the discussions
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Oct 8, 2001
Messages
12,262
I couldn't possibly add to the fine comments here. But I can support them 100%. D' talked to me at last year's ECCKS and I walked off with this little gem. It has ALL the right stuff...

You got a good knife comin'!

Coop

standard.jpg
 
Joined
Nov 8, 1999
Messages
26
Very nice knife you show here. How long is the blade ?
I would guess it is about 3.5", and it matches perfectly
with the handle.Is the engraving by Pat Holder ?
Rdangerer, you talked about a little incovenience with the multi segment handles. Since the first few months, did the irregularities
continue to progress ? As I understand it, this knife is not
supposed to perform in agressive environments. Anyway, my intention is
to use it very lightly and to display it.
By the way, I added a "Crows Beak" to my order: so I'm now waiting for 2 D'Holders, I have to stop now !

François.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 1999
Messages
602
been using my D'Holder for 6 years. It has segmented handle of Oosic and Walrus tusk and you can feel the slight elevation of brass spacers above the ivory, but it is so minimal as to not matter. The knife carries very well and evokes comments everytime it is shown.

Marcel
 
Joined
Sep 17, 1999
Messages
602
here's a picture of my D'holder. It is app. six years old and has been carried and used often. Still looks great after all this time.

Marcel
 

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