Kevin Wilkins Leafstorm - please share

Discussion in 'Custom & Handmade Knives' started by matus, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. matus


    Apr 24, 2009
    I have recently had a chance to try the Spyderco Leafstorm. I was intrigued by the knife and put in on that "get it sooner than later" list. Thanks to my ignorance I did not realise that the design was not from Spyderco. Today I was browsing for custom scales dor Spyderco knives I just came across the webpage of Kevin Wilkins and his custom Leafstorm knives. My jaw just dropped - I love those little guys! Short google search showed that last were made several years ago. I have send an email to Kevin and he was quick to reply - he is currently not making these and having the single custom piece done would be way more than I could afford (and I can not blame Kevin for that).

    Given the fact that these were all hand made in small quantities it effectively means that that is close to 0 chance finding a second hand one.

    So to just enjoy it virtually it would be very nice of you happy owners to share your photos and experience and let me daydream a little :)

  2. Lycosa


    Aug 24, 2007
    I almost ordered a chisel ground Leafstorm from Kevin, a few years ago. Dang... I wish I did!
  3. GaryFlorida


    Sep 30, 2014
    Wow, nice shop with all the CNC equipment in full view banging out production. I never was big on holes in the middle of blades. Maybe some day.
    I know Wilkins is an English name so I had to find out what he was doing in Germany.

  4. matus


    Apr 24, 2009
    So, no more love for custom Wilkins Leafstorm knives?
  5. Veen89q


    Apr 7, 2015
    I have one, this is one out of the 3 clean leafstorms kevin did without the onlays. Also one out of two that he used laminated steel on. Love this knife! Very Smooth action as well! Hope you like it



    rexromic likes this.
  6. matus


    Apr 24, 2009
    Thanks for the photos - that Leafstorm looks really great. Maybe one day I will find one (or maybe Kevin will decide to make a few more). Until then - keep them coming :)
  7. SpyderJaam


    Dec 30, 2014
    I really like the style of this knife. But it is a little small for me: I just traded mine (spyderco) for a PPT.

    Veen's knife is awesome!
  8. bob7


    Jan 8, 2003
    I have the spyderco version. It locks in to your hand better than most small knife designs. Why do custom makers shut off production of proven designs? Elitist tendencies or catering to the "collector"?
  9. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Some custom makers might get tired of making the same thing all the time.
  10. Veen89q


    Apr 7, 2015
    I think it's a little bit of both. As an artist you need to be challanged, making the same knife over and over again will make their hobby more like work you just gotta do to make money instead of work you want to do because you love it.

    At the same time people pay generous amounts of money for these kind of knives. Wilkins straight from maker are around €550 in europe (up from there depending on the materials used), but secondhand they go from $800 and up. If you just keep making the same knife over and over the market will have enough to supply ask and demand, lowering the prices/ value of the knife.

    I started collecting this year and i didn't understood the prices payed for knives made. But now that i do own a couple i understand why.

    as with all my other knives this one will eventually leave te collection to make space for another knife.
  11. vilePossum


    Jan 14, 2015
    hmmm, how to put this nicely... wilkins has sort of a rep over here... and it is a mixed bag. his knives are okay and even great, however his attitude towards customer wishes and his arguments about expired products/price gouging ... well, to each his own.
    personally i see no reason to buy any of his overpriced knives, though i did pick up one of his fixed as a used once.
    same goes for his scales etc.
    some say that his early success and spyderco coop got to his head, don't know, don't care. also he seems to have lost a lot of visibility recently.
  12. Kevin Wilkins

    Kevin Wilkins

    Oct 7, 1998
    Wow, there are several misconceptions and a good deal of misinformation in this thread, let me try and set the record straight.

    I’ve been designing and making knives for almost 20 years. And a lot has changed in that time, not only with me but in the knife community as well. But since this thread is about me and my work, that’s what I will address.

    One thing that has always remained constant with me has been the way I treat my customers: I treat them with honesty and respect. If there is a problem or if I make a mistake, I take care of it. This is one reason I have so very many repeat customers -- many of whom have been buying stuff from me for years.

    I began designing and making knives purely as a hobby, but thanks to the internet, I also started selling them almost immediately. I also lost money on just about every knife I sold. Didn’t matter though, because it was a hobby. I enjoyed it.

    Over time, knife making for me went from being a hobby to being a business; it became my job and I had to either make a living at it, or give it up altogether because I couldn’t afford an expensive hobby like that anymore.

    So I started looking at knife making like you look at any business, and trying to make profit at it. Products that were loosing money had to be rethought. Production techniques that were money losers had to be restructured. So over 10 years ago, I decided to make the jump into CNC machining to make new products possible, hopefully also more profitable and allow me to increase production while still doing as much as possible myself. Back then many makers were already having parts made by outside vendors but only a very, very few were actually operating their own CNC machines.

    CNC machining has been very successful for me, and now I have 2 Haas CNC mills and more than $100,000 invested in my shop. If I had not gotten into CNC machining when I did, I would have had to shut down in 2008 at the latest.

    It is not true that I no longer make folders or no longer make the Leafstorm model.

    It is true that my folders don’t come onto the secondary market very often. Most people who buy them, keep them.

    It is true that I generally only sell products that I have in stock and ready to ship. Prices for knives start at €99 for a knife that will ship as soon as the payment arrives. No waiting lists, order books and excuses or any of the crap we all see happening all too often.

    €99 (about $110!!) That doesn’t sound like price gouging to me. Hell, I have Ryback Carbon Damascus Chefs knives made from Marcus Balbach Damascus for €400. Those knives are a fantastic value. And I’m bringing out new stuff all the time. Take a look at my MT_Nova small sheath knife ground from Elmax with a european-made leather sheath for €149. And yes, sometimes when products sell out, that means they are gone and if somebody waited to long to buy one, sorry about that. I won’t take your money for goods I cannot deliver within a few days.

    I have a very tough time making folders at a price most folks can afford. $550 for a folder from me? That isn’t possible it won’t be possible in the future. Overhead and materials costs just won’t allow it.

    In recent years, when I make a few folders I sell them online on a first come, first served basis at the best price I can manage. Whoever emails the first “I’ll take it” and pays for it, gets the knife. I am strictly honest about this: whoever is first, gets the knife, I don’t put anybody at the head of the line. Usually there is more than one potential buyer for each knife and so I have to turn some folks down.

    Most people understand; some people don’t and get really mad. However I won’t be intimidated into canceling the sale for whoever was first in line and selling to somebody else who wasn’t first it line. If that makes some people never buy anything from me for as long as they live, etc., well, so be it. Some of you would flip at some of the stuff I have heard from angry people who weren’t first in line. I don’t think being honest and fair with everybody has hurt my reputation, not here in Germany or anywhere else. Quite the contrary.

    One business lesson I learned the hard way was that making a knife to exact specs as custom order takes a LOT more time than making the same knife and deciding the specs myself -- often as I make the knife. You may not believe me, but like I say, I have learned that the hard way.

    So today, when somebody really wants a custom knife made for them, I can do it, no problem. But it is expensive. Very expensive. Too expensive for most folks. I understand, I don’t blame you. But don’t get mad about it. There’s lots of stuff I want and can’t afford, but I don’t get mad at the pople who make it. Maybe some day I’ll go buzzing around town in a Porsche? I kind of doubt it but the fact is, it is mostly the folks who can afford the Porsche who can also afford for me to make them a folder.

    One thing that takes a great deal of my available production time is producing my line of WilkinsGRIP products for Benchmade and Spyderco folders. I am one of the original designers and manufacturers of replacement knife grips. I’ve been doing it for years and have many, many happy customers, a great many of whom are also repeat customers. I like designing and making the grips. My customers love the product. Why not keep at it? I plan to.

    As many of you know, I was forced to move my workshop in 2014 and that cost me a great deal of time and a lot of money. Still, now that I am up and rolling in the new space, I have a number of new projects in the works. Right now I’m 57 years old and plan on making knives and grips for as long as I can and as long as folks are willing to buy them.

    So in closing, here’s a big Thank You to the thousands of customers over the years who have supported me and continue to do so. I will try not to let you down.

    If you want to know more about my work, please see my website, there are over 300 pics to look at and a lot to read or follow me on Facebook to stay up to date on what I’ve currently got in the works.
    RobertK and rexromic like this.
  13. matus


    Apr 24, 2009
    Wow, this thread took a bit different direction than originally intended.

    Kevin, I think you do not need to explain yourself - you can never satisfy everyone and even with the very best intentions things go wrong sometimes (simply becuase they can). I can also understand that you can not make custom knives at around $500 price tag - those are the prices we are 'used to' with US made mid-tech knives. It seems that many people do not realise how much more expensive life (that includes not only cost of living, but also materials, machines, etc) and that reflects itself in the price of products.

    At the moment I am also considering to get some of your grips as those look really cool and I have read only good things about them.
  14. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Nice! Followed.
  15. parfums95

    parfums95 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 24, 2008
  16. parfums95

    parfums95 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 24, 2008
  17. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    ^^^ AA+

    Well, if there was ever a chance to understand how a professional and a good knife businessman operate, this small bio covers it.

    I was lucky and got a LARGE GhostDog with a little input from me, and much more input from Kevin. Quality reigns.

    Let's see it here:

    (This goes back eight years to 2007)

    Thanks Kevin! Those scales are a 'bread and butter' need which allows you to continue in other less profitable arenas.

    rexromic likes this.
  18. Kevin Wilkins

    Kevin Wilkins

    Oct 7, 1998
    Wow, those pics just made my day!

    I hope to bring out a short run of folders with machine ground blades and everything else made by me asap. That does take a lot of money though, and the shop move ate over $20,000 of reserves.

    I will have the new Mytuko Mini Cobalts ready in numbers soon and the long overdue replacement blades for the large Griptilians are in the works in S30V.

    I also want to bring out a new run of Ryback Bushcrafters in a premium stainless.

    I just have to finance these projects as best I can.

    Coop, it is tough being a small business and doing it all yourself, but at least you are your own Evil Boss! ha ha
    Oh, my Evil Boss just said it's Sunday, so I have to pack the orders that are going out Monday morning... gotta run!
  19. matus


    Apr 24, 2009
    Those photos just blow my mind. On top of that I have just learned that couple of years ago there was an Avalon knife from Kevin - now that looks fantastic. Pretty much a perfect utility EDC (and bigger brother to the Leafstorm it would seem). Impossible to find today, of course.
  20. Veen89q


    Apr 7, 2015
    Hey Kevin, i think its great to give people another view and another perspective on knives and knifemaking. I Enjoy my Wilkins leafstorm. If i said anything incorrect or something, shoot me an pm and i'll rectify it. I was lead by info i got when buying this knife, some info that is fed is taken for fact whey to easy sometime. Thank you for your extensive reply!

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