Please look at this and tell me if I am wrong

A.G., I don't think you are off base. I don't understand why anyone is so worried about the definition of a custom. I lean more toward your view which includes "handmade" and "custom". I don't understand why it is so important to classify everything. I think if the method of manufatcure and origin of the blade steel are disclosed then all is on the up and up. Randalls are generally respected and are collected, whether they are indeed custom or not...Ed.
AG, yes, the word 'custom' is used a little differently than the way you describe it in that thread. Please have a look in the 'custom' forum here at BFC. There are at least three discussions going on right now about the meaning of the words custom, handmade, Randall, etc that started because of the thread you just referenced.

I guess the arguements that started because of a comment made about a post in the new custom fixed blade sales category are now going to spill over to the general forum besides the custom forum.

Spark makes a few nice changes and everybody starts throwing punches. Sheesh.

Here we go again ;)

The forum changes are great. I don't have any critisism of the Blade Forums at all. I will pay for a premium membership just to support these forums wether I sell here or not. If the recent forum changes "Sparked" this thread then good. It is still an interesting point of discussion, but my response to A.G. was not intended as negative toward things here...
A.G., I don't think you're off base, and I have these terms very clear in my mind as to what each one means, and the labels I put on my knives. That's all these terms are is labels. We do get some sticklers here for these terms and it would seem an ax to grind. Some may call it clarification and others can see it as just trying to burst someone elses bubble. I will find it interesting to see who steps forward to debate you on this subject, considering your perspective and involvement in the knife business.
Wow! A.G. just presented things in a way that makes sooooooo much sense. It cut right through all of the hype and elitism that crops up from time to time.

Well done A.G.!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Maybe we should just have two categories in the for sale section: "factory" and "everything else". Just a FNG confused about this whole hooha

BTW A.G. your explaination of custom and handmade makes perfect sense to me.

Andrew L

Your explanation makes perfect sense to me.

It leaves me without any questions on the difference between custom, and handmade.

I find it most interesting that people are disagreeing with your definitions by using guildlines set forth by an organization that you helped to found.

Many party’s in the field that deal exclusively in custom knives are very protective of that territory, and will jump on any item being promoted as custom that does not fit the criteria they adhere to.
I think James hit the nail on the head pretty squarely.
A.G.'s definition makes perfect sense to me personally, but much of the industry seems to differ. Over time I have used the term "custom" in the looser sense that seems to have taken hold.

We have shows with the name "custom". By the stricter sense the only custom knives there are the ones that were ordered and will happen to be picked up there. The rest of the knives that the maker brings and puts on their table are "handmade".

Now I have managed to confuse myself all over again. :)
Originally posted by stjames
I find it most interesting that people are disagreeing with your definitions by using guildlines set forth by an organization that you helped to found.

James: It is the easiest place in the world to put up things like the guildlines you speak of. Unfortunatly they don't really exist. Even the directors cannot agree on what is a hand made knife. If they cannot how can other people who are not knifemakers. A. G.

Your definition rings cristal clear to me. I hope the forum can overcome its' periodic identity crisis. :)

Hand Made
Limited Run

Maybe no one else looks at it the same way I do, but it seems to me the above terms should all be considered and defined as follows;

Custom. Made to specifications put forth by the Buyer.
It doesn't matter if it's hand made, or done on a CNC Bridgeport mill. It's made EXACTLY as the Customer wants it.

Hand Made. Made by hand individually, forged or stock removal. Made by one skilled Artist. ( A Purist may demand this applies only to knives made without benefit of electricity, I do not.)

Limited Run. A group of identical knives, either "Production" or "Hand Made" and offered "as is" to customers as they come.

"Production" Knives mass produced on an assembly line basis.

You will notice, that Randall Knives for example, under the above definitions becomes a "Custom" knife, and whether it falls into the "Hand Made" catagory depends on whether they are truly built by one person from start to finish. (I do not have first hand information as to whether this is the case or not, so I will not put forth further opinion on the matter.)

On the other hand, a Chris Reeve Project 1 is neither a "Custom" nor a "Hand Made" knife., as much of the manufacturing process is farmed out to a nearby machine shop. It is instead, a "Limited Run" "Production" knife. (Which takes absolutely nothing away from the excellent qualities of the knife!)

Well fellas,

It looks like this thread has finally found a home, a home where it belonged in the first place... ;)

I had asked a simple question of exactly what constituted a "Custom" knife, in the opinion of our esteemed BFC site managers. My initial question was not intended to be divisive, only to ensure that a relative newcomer to the industry would have the answers needed to make informed decisions with regards to potential knife purchases.

I had an opinion of what constituted a "Custom" knife, and the definition that I received from some of the posters ran contrary to what I understood to be factual. As such, I looked for holes in their arguements, and I found many. Ergo, I remain unconvinced.

I would tend to agree with those that believe a "Custom" knife is one that is relatively unique, in and of itself, regardless of maker.

I knew what a mass produced knife was, and is, and I have no problem with that....some of the very best using knives on the market are mass produced, and they are a great value for the money. Again, no qualms there.

I knew what a handmade knife was, could visualize the many various incarnations of said knife, and also the vast gray area that such a knife type would encompass...again, no disagreement with that, other than such a (seemingly needed) sale forum didn't currently exist here at BFC.

What I did take exception to was the analogy that certain seemingly similar knives made exclusively by an individual, with or without outside assistance from others, (family, apprentices, etc.), could be classified as a "Custom", whereas a knife such as a RMK, made using similar processes, and/or including customer specified features or options was not a least here at BFC.

As I've stated previously, in lieu of a "Handmade" forum here at BFC, and as long as RMK's are considered "Production" knives by those that have decision making powers here, I will neither list or purchase RMK's here.

That's been my position from the "get", and I'm neither promoting it, nor attempting to garner followers. You'll all make your own decisions as you best see fit to do so.

I know, "Big whoop", and get over it right? I'm over it. I've been over it from the first night on. It really doesn't mean "Diddly Squat" in the greater scheme of things. Those persons that are getting heated up over this, any of this, should take a breather IMHO.

I think the suggestion for a "Handmade" forum might actually be easier to maintain than a "Custom" forum, or in addition to. It seems that might be a possible solution.

For the record, hopefully this isn't taken an effort in futility, or a lesson in semantics, on my part. It's not my show, I don't make the rules, and I don't pay the bills.

Do I have a vested financial interest in keeping RMK's from being classified as "Production" knives? Sure I do. Do those folks here defining what qualifies as a "Custom", and buying into that definition have a vested interest in doing so....Sure they do.

But is that what this is all about, relative knife value? I sure hope not. It's certainly not for me. I actually like Randall knives, and I intend to keep acquiring them as long as they interest me.

It'll be a shame if I can't Buy/Sell/Trade them here...but that's my choice. No harm, no foul. I know what's right, and I know what's wrong...and I also know that there's more to life than this. :rolleyes:

As far as I'm concerned, there's three "general categories":

Full custom



Even that isn't really adequate. What do you call the first 70 Sifus? The blades were hand-ground, the grips and other hardware was machine-done.

With any high-tech steel such as ATS34, BG42, A2, 440C, etc, you can gain a lot by having the knife hand-ground prior to heat-treat, and having the heat-treat/temper cycles done in small hand-controlled batches. Blade performance can go up for the steel type used because you eliminate "hot spots" during grinding and you get a more predictable end result.

In a folder, you may also end up with a hand-fitted lockwork - not sure that's the case with early Sifus but it's something you get with, fr'instance, CR folders.

Therefore, despite only being partially hand-done, I think my hand-ground Sifu is probably a step up from production ATS34 Sifus.

In short, you offer me a folder with a hand-fitted lock, handground blade and/or small-batch carefully controlled heat/temper cycle and I'll definately consider it a step up and to hell with what "formal label" gets put on it.

Fixed blades are the same except the hand-fitted lock isn't a factor.

Hi AG,

Yes, definitions do make a difference.

Somewhere in the 70's the term "Custom" knives was coined. Not to be used in the "narrow" scope of it's true definition, but as more of a marketing word.

Consequently, to most involved in "Custom" knives we understand that there are two custom defintions.

Using your example, a drop point hunter delivered by Bob Loveless with green micarta, may not be a custom in the narrow scope. However, in the large scope it is a "Custom" knife. As it is a hand made knife. This term "hand made" has also been open for debate. No knife is literally hand made, as saws, mills, grinders, drill press', etc. are used. Perhaps the term should be hand tool made.

Back to your example, Buck Custom Shop does not produce custom knives. When contacting a factory such as Buck or Randall when you request a change to an established pattern, using the accurate definition, this is a "Customized" knife.
Are these knives, hand made? Yes, they are. As are Chris Reeve Knives, Busse, William Henry, Randall and Lile Knives.

However, none of these knives, as they are made today, can accurately be called "Custom" knives.

Some of the confusion comes from the fact that Chris Reeve, Jerry Busse and Jimmy Lile were/are known as custom knife makers. Compound this with the fact that you can still find "Custom" knives from all three of these makers. Where as Busse and Lile have changed their logo's, Reeve has not. Further adding to the confusion.

When people ask me, as I have done many times on this forum. Check with the Guild and see if the construction techniques meet with the Guild's requirement for admission into the Guild. If if meets the requirements, it is a "Custom" knife, if not it is not a "Custom" knife.

Randall, Reeve, Busse, White Wing, William Henry, Lile and a few others do not meet the Guild criteria. There for these knives are not "Custom" knives.

Spark was nice enough to break down the categories into production and custom, folder and fixed. He did this to help eliminate confusing posts. As in BF old form, you would see an add such as this one:

Elishewitz, Onion, Terzuola, Carson, Ralph, Lightfoot. Well those of us who collect custom knives would click on this only to find the ad should have read:

Benchmade, Kershaw, Spyderco, Outdoor Edge, Smith and Wesson and CRKT.

This is part of the reason for accurate definintions. As the word custom takes on a meaning of a better product. By listing the names of the makers (knowing full well these individuals had absolutely nothing to do with the construction of the knives), non the less did so to sweep for a wider customer base. While he was not necessarily dis-honest, by listing the add by maker instead of the factory that actually made the knife he was walking in that gray area.

Consequently, when I saw the post for the Randall, I suggested that it be put in the correct category. As I did for a few Busse knives that were there.

Someone just emailed me to inform me that:

- Here is a post by a well known Dealer;

- Here is a post by a MAKER selling one of his own knives;

- Here are a couple of Posts by two other Makers selling other Maker's knives;

- Here is a post for a Mad Dog brand knife (which IMO should be lumped into the same category as the Busses);

- How about a Khukuri, No Maker or Production method identified;

- I found no less than seven (7) For Sale posts for Busses.

- And finally there have been approx three (3) Posts in this Forum with someone selling Randalls.

It seems that out of these 16 questionable Posts only 25% were Moved or received Comments to the Seller saying they should do something different with their Post (ie. move it to a different Forum). Two of these posts were selling Randalls and now two were posts selling Busses. Of these four posts, three were submitted by the one individual.

I know that you are trying your best in your efforts to keep the Forum running smoothly and I think this is probably just an oversight so I wanted to bring it to your attention. I personally don't mind putting any For Sale posts in their proper category, but the thought that only one or two kinds of posts (or one Poster) have been singled out does concern me. Again, not trying to interfere just trying to present you with some facts that you might not have been aware of. No need to reply to me just keep up the good work.

He obviously thought I was the moderator of these forums. I can see how he would come to that conclusion. I informed him that I was not the moderator and asked he forward this to Spark.

See AG, it's not just definitions. It's keeping the custom forums as the should be. Devoid of "Non-Custom" knives. I think some of the other posts just stem from confusion caused by the new soft ware.

I think we are all in agreement that it can be confusing. I know when I am in doubt, I follow the guide lines of the Guild and ABS.

One thing they all agree on is that Custom Knife Making is not a "Team" sport.
Originally posted by Melvin-Purvis
Do I have a vested financial interest in keeping RMK's from being classified as "Production" knives? Sure I do. Do those folks here defining what qualifies as a "Custom", and buying into that definition have a vested interest in doing so....Sure they do.

watch the fur fly if someone suggests a Geno Denning Model 6 for-sale post be moved out of the custom forum into a different forum. IMO, it should be. It has a model number/name, it has defined specs, and it is kept in stock by a knife-selling store. nuff said. It's not a custom knife.

hmmm. maybe I'll put that in a sig line.
Concerning Randalls specifically no one seems to have noticed that we have two very different descriptions of the Randall business somewhere in the original thread cited by A.G.R. On the one hand, we have each of Randall's employees making a whole knife from forge to finish, while in the other, we have employees each involved in a different phase of the work.

How important the distinctions are depends on the collector and the over all volume of trades in dollars. If the financial values become significant, then the distinctions grow in significance too. The more money is involved, the more important they will become. For now, I have to agree with Les. Whether he is interpreting guild guidelines correctly or not I can not say, but for the sake of standardization, if the guild says its a custom then it is. Otherwise, its not.
Perhaps I am mistaken, but doesn't Bob Loveless refer to his own knives as being "Benchmade"? And, assuming my memory serves me correctly, where would "Benchmade" knives fall into the fray?

Would it be possible from now on to start including the term "Benchmade" into these custom, semi-custom, handmade, production, semi-production arguments?

I think this is only appropriate, and, with the Benchmade Knife Company, it will only put a whole new spin on the points that we'll have to fuss, argue, whine, cry, and start shit about!!! The possibilites are endless!