I have probably 100 pages of knife sketches. Especially when I was starting out, I drew knives all the time. It is an interesting study to see how the designs evolved over time. After 200+ knives, I’ve settled into a few patterns that I make consistently. There are many talented knifemakers who make templates and re-create the same knife over and over, with precision. That’s not my kind of thing at this point. I draw each knife out on paper, then on the steel. I take the steel drawing and shape it until it suits me. I use Raymond Richard’s trick of holding it up to the light to examine the flow of the profile.

With that kind of design method, no two of my knives are exactly alike.

The last three knives I made deserve some discussion about design. Look carefully at the three knives in the picture at the top of this post, then I’ll tell you what I’m talking about.

If you looked carefully, you may have noticed similiarities.  All three are file knives, and all three feature mesquite burl and a mosaic pin.  They all have the same length handle and blade, and the same basic pin placements.  All of the knives have these in common.

There are also differences.  The top two knives have the same handle shape but different blade shapes.  The bottom two have the same blade shape but different handle shapes.

When you look at a knife, don’t immediately jump straight to “that’s a cool knife.”  Take time to appreciate subtle design elements, and your appreciation for true customs will continue to grow.