A Beginner’s Guide to Custom Knives in 2021

That’s a comforting title if I have ever seen one.  If it makes you feel any better, I almost titled it “Things to know about custom knives before talking to a bladesmith”, because, well, one wrong word and you better buckle in for a long (long..) class on the knife and blade smithing process.  To be fair, it is highly interesting stuff, I mean, who doesn’t think heating metal to thousands of degrees and then smashing it with a hammer, while calling it art, is cool?  

I sure do, and had no idea I did, until about October 2019 when I met Bladeswork.com’s Founder, President, and resident enthusiastic bladesmith, Christian Helms.  He opened me up to a whole world of rough, tough, heat treated excitement, and while I am not a bladesmith myself, I have been utilizing knives in my everyday occupation regularly.  Little did I know, I was running through my tools at the rapid because I was content to purchase the $30 stamped, big company metal and use it for a week before it broke or dulled on me.  Christian, once he got over his initial disdain for my bladed toolset, introduced me to custom knives, and I have not looked back since.  So that’s what this first blog post is for, it’s to save you from making the same mistakes I did and save you the time I lost getting lectured on my poor knife choice.  So, strap in, I am about to give you a quick class on custom cutlery on par with that of Vulcan’s more apathetic younger brother.

As a customer unburdened with the knowledge of custom knife making, you should really zone into five features when judging a potential custom blade to make your partner for life.  They are:

  1. Edge Sharpness and Maintenance
  2. Duration of Hard Use
  3. Appropriateness for the task
  4. Hand feel/comfort
  5. Blade material

These categories are mostly self-explanatory, and in some areas can overlap a bit (i.e. blade material can affect edge sharpness, etc).  What is important to know is that these five features can aid in selecting the type of knife you want.  Hunting, tactical, and fishing custom knives may do very well in appropriateness but lack ability to maintain a sharp edge for extended periods of time.  Similarly, survival or rescue knives may hold an edge for longer than usual but lack the hand feel/comfort that may come with a fresh-from-the-forge custom chef’s knife.  Meanwhile, an Everyday Carry (EDC) custom knife may perform average across all five features (your standard jack of all, master of none business).  

This certainly does not make one type of blade better than another, it is simply an easy way to begin evaluating the large selection of beautiful custom knives and tools offered here at Bladeswork.com.  Here’s my recommendation, beginner to beginner; write those five features down, head back to the marketplace here find a few custom knives that catch your eye and fit the characteristics you want.  Then, contact that bladesmith, casually drop your feature preferences from the above list, and BAM, you sound like an experienced custom knife wielder.  Or, at least as much as I consider myself a car expert after googling what might be wrong in the parking lot of the auto shop.  Regardless, stick to those five features and let the brotherhood of bladesmiths here at Bladeswork.com craft the perfect custom knife for your next adventure.



Bo is the co-founder and Vice-President of Bladeswork.com.  This is particularly interesting considering his borderline lack of any type of knowledge of the forge or bladesmithing.  He does, however, hunt, fish, watch Bruce lee movies, and a number of other activities that require large amounts of blade usage. Primarily, he handles numbers and tries to keep the Bladeswork.com staff from getting overexcited and attempt to cook lunch in the nearest company furnace.

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