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Topic: Custom knife maker?
Message: Posted by: thimblerig (Dec 31, 2013 12:54PM)
Hi Folks,

I'm in search of a good knife maker to make a set of color changing knives to my specs. Nothing really dramatic or new, just to have them the way I want them, in the size that best fits my hands. For example, prefer double bolsters, 2 real/sharp blades, and a few other particulars.

Also would be nice if the person was decent to work with and not preachy or egotistical about the merits of their existing designs. A good back-and-forth about merits of one design or another would be super, but I get the feeling that some knife makers, like some gaffed coin or cups and balls makers are pretty self righteous and hard to deal with - hence all the feuds out there.

Also, if this isn't the right place to pose this question, please let me know and I'll re-post in the right spot.

Meanwhile, all the best wishes for a prosperous and Happy New Year!

Message: Posted by: bowers (Dec 31, 2013 03:46PM)
Why not check with Joe Mogar.
his web site is magicstars@usa.com
A very wonderful man to deal with.
And a expert with knife's.Tell him
Todd from N.C. Refered him to you.
856 358 3684 is his phone number.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Dec 31, 2013 03:48PM)
I don't know any pocket knife makers that make knives from scratch. The ones that make color changing knives usually use standard knives on the market and only put the work in putting on the different colored material. As far as sharpness, that can be solved with a sharping stone.

The best I have used and seen on the market years ago were from Spain, they were made for the Juan Tamariz Color Changing Knives. Jose de La Torra imported them years ago, and only a few years ago, they were offered again for a short time.

Joe Mogar is the only Color Changing Knife maker I have heard of in the magic market. If you know of others, from reading your comments, and none of them are to your liking, then that is it.

If you like any of the Buck knives, I had a friend once that contacted them and got a 5 knife set made just for him.

Good luck in your search.
Message: Posted by: Leo H (Jan 1, 2014 02:25PM)
The late J.P. Jackson used to make beautiful sets out of the Case knives. The last several years, J.P. had trouble finding the knives and subsequently slowed down. His passing in August was painful in many ways.
Message: Posted by: TheRaven (Jan 1, 2014 04:34PM)
You really need a custom knife maker. Not a color changing knife maker. After all, you can get a custom knife in any color(s) you want.
You may do better on knife collector forums instead of a magic forum.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Jan 3, 2014 12:23PM)
I am a custom knife maker. However, I do not do folders, just fixed blades. There are plenty of really good folks who make really good folders from scratch, but you will have some issues that you may not have anticipated.

First, just as there are magic tricks that are essentially in the public domain (C&R Rope, for example), but specific presentations that are very individual (Mongolian Pop Knot, for example), there are loads of knife designs that are in the public domain with specific details that are very individual to a particular cutler. What that means in practice is that you may think a knife maker is being difficult, but what he's thinking is the many extra hours it takes to rework a pattern for a one-off set of knives that really won't bring him much profit. The tolerances on a folder are typically in the range of thousandths of an inch and patterns can take years to develop for the guys who are working for their own distinctive style within an idiom.

Second, the lead-time for an in-demand maker can be years. If you are looking for a standard design with non-standard handle materials, consider a knife kit instead. There are loads of sources. Here are a couple for your consideration:

Perhaps the best way to get what you want economically will be to purchase a few of the same model of knife and pay someone to replace the handle scales to give you the customized version you want. I've heard of that being done with Swiss Army Knives a while back. Victorinox makes their Classic model in a lot of different handle designs. Pulling scales from one and putting them on another is not a big deal and the knives sell for $12 to $20 each. And they are good knives for real use, too. I always carry a Victorinox knife, except on airplanes. I've also seen a couple of examples of folks making exotic wood scales for Victorinox knives and that's a neat thing. Alternatively, you can pick up any of several hundred classic pocket knives and just have a decent craftsman (that might be you!) put the scales you want onto them.

Just some thoughts. I'm afraid they've been disjointed because I've been chasing a baby, changing diapers, and answering questions during the time it took to type this.

Knives are a passion with me and I hope you can get exactly what you are looking for.

Message: Posted by: NicholasD (Jan 4, 2014 06:34PM)
Check Ebay often. Custom knife sets show up every now and then ( J.P. Jackson, Lanny Kibbey, Ray Zweck and others). I've found that easier than trying to have a custom set made. I have occasionally purchased knives that I like and done it myself.
Message: Posted by: thimblerig (Jan 6, 2014 02:25AM)
Thank you all for your kind replies. I have been working through the holidays and also now am on a night shift, so sorry for the delay in responding. I do appreciate all the info. In no particular order, some thoughts:

The custom knife makers generally are artists (in my experience) - they make custom knives of their own design as functional art and aren't really desirous of making something to someone else's specs. I totally get that and also Mr. Woolery's excellent points.

To have a sharp knife isn't just a matter of sharpening any old knife. There are wide variations in metal stock that can be selected based on the desired traits, sharpness, durability, flexibility, holding an edge, etc. and there are different kinds of alloys that are used. (Someone commented that all I needed to do was sharpen whatever I bought...)

I will contact Mr. Mogar. What I'm thinking is that many of the available knives are somewhat suboptimal in terms of handling/deceptiveness. The right length for one's hand is important. The thickness is important for the paddle move and for moves where two knives are manipulated simultaneously in the same hand - I think 2 blades are needed - one on each side, not both on the same side. This will be more deceptive as the knife will have greater symmetry no matter which side is up. (I have sets with two blades on the same side and one set with 3 blades. The last set is very nice but two fat to roll well or to hold two at a time.

Double bolsters help prevent flashing. Functionality (sharpness/durability) is important to me. I am a professional, I'd like a classy looking knife (set of knives), not a fake knife (Tannen et al) or cheap looking plastic thing. I lean toward a jigged bone or other rough surface for one of the sides (scales?) so I can tell by feel which side is up. I am leaning away from a set with a small loop on one end (going AGAINST no one less than Ascanio's advice!!) as I don't see the point if one has rough/smooth scales to work with.

Would appreciate any other thoughts or insights and am very grateful to all who responded above.
Happy New Year!
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jan 6, 2014 08:25AM)
In my opinion you leave only one thing to do, that is to contact the 2 famous commercial knife maker, have a knife designed to your specification and have them create it. I guess you mean "sharp looking" not "sharp blade". Looks are totally aesthetic looking to each individual's taste. Back in the 1960's there was a bone and black jigged knife handles on a nice pocket knife very much like Case Knives. With all your requirements, for fitting your hand and blades on both ends and both sides, will only be obtainable through knife manufacturer. I wonder if the experts would want to change their tooling to make a knife fit your hand. Using standard knife tooling would be much cheaper.

I have a feeling you will not agree, but even artist enjoy a challenge, so if they are approached correctly, you may be able to find one that will attempt your knife set.

You should like you have researched this extensively, but your response was kind of harsh sounding. If you would have posted your unmovable unchangeable requirements to begin with, maybe you would have received different responses.

What most people do when they demand certain requirements in something is to make it themselves. So I suggest you learn how to make knives yourself and create the perfect knife or knives that you have in mind.

I am not being smart, but, I have learned to build magic props and gimmicks myself, that required learning to solder metal, cut metal, and paint wood, plastic, and metal. I had to learn how to use all the tools required for each process. In the end I made what I wanted.
Message: Posted by: thimblerig (Jan 6, 2014 12:33PM)
Wow, I certainly don't mean to sound harsh, and reading through what I wrote, I still don't see it, but I apologize if I offended you or anyone else. Am looking for help and advice, not enemies.

I do mean sharp as in a durable cutting tool, and also good looking.

I have worked with color changing knives for years and have done some research and thinking on what would make an optimal knife set, that's all. Ascanio talks about size, shape etc. There's also good info on the web...

I hear you about doing it myself, but have zero shop experience, zero knowledge and am working over 60 hours a week. I turn 60 in March and frankly just don't learn things as quickly as I used to...EVERYTHING takes longer...I am going to contact Mr. Mogar and see if he will help me.

Thanks again!
Message: Posted by: Julie (Jan 6, 2014 12:44PM)

You might want to check the American seller on e-bay who identifies himself as Frog. He custom makes what appears to be very professional knives at a fraction of the price of some of the "name" sellers.

Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Jan 6, 2014 12:51PM)
If there is a particular knife design already on the market that fits your needs, it should not be too hard to change out scales. The real issue is designing it from the ground up. Especially since that can mean spending the money on what you think you need and then finding that it isn't right and having to buy it again. (As a knife maker, it really stinks to deliver a knife that is exactly what the customer ordered and have him say it isn't right.)

I would urge you to haunt a few sporting goods stores that carry a range of pocket knives and find one particular make and model you really like for the move. Write down the make and model, buy three of them, and then contact a knife maker in your area to ask about custom scales for the knives. Customizing commercial knives will mean you have the shape and moves that you already determined will work for you instead of having to try to make your perfect knife appear from another guy's hands. No matter what, it won't be quite what you wanted. Not unless the maker is also psychic. Or a magician himself.

Message: Posted by: thimblerig (Jan 7, 2014 10:05AM)
Mr. Woolery & Julie

Mr. Woolery,

Excellent advice, and I will take it! Unfortunately the Excalibur knife store in the local mall went out of business a few years ago. I think some knife makers regularly attend a county wide gun show in this area and I will check there.

Interesting what you wrote about delivering what a customer ordered only to have the customer say that isn't what he wanted...I used to write software a long time ago and I can't tell you how many times I made a program do exactly what was asked for only to have to re-write it when the user figured out what he really wanted instead of what he specified...

Thank you also! I actually have corresponded briefly with Frog and may contact him again. I think I'll find the knives that work and see if Mr. Mogar can then tweak them for me. If not, Frog remains an option. I wish I knew how to do the work myself as Mr. Hegbli suggested, but I don't know how to pull the "scales" off rivets, don't have a riveter (or whatever) and probably would do more damage than good trying to do it myself.

Many thanks to you both for your help.
Best regards,
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jan 7, 2014 12:47PM)
Thimblrig, you comments got my curiosity up. Whenever I wanted to learn how to do something I would go to a store like Lowe's and buy a book. My other friends would go to the library, most libraries will even special order books for people to read. But now we have the Internet, and a little thing called, Google.

As far as how to remove rivets, I was taught in the factory, to drill them out with a bit the exact size of the stem or smaller.

So I typed in, how to make Pocket Knives, and like magic tutorials sprang up.


http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Making+Knives+at+Home&Form=VQFRVP dozens of video on making knives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRfaPXos-ok Steel Pocket Knife.
Message: Posted by: Tree (Jan 7, 2014 02:26PM)
I make custom stone and gem knife scales in my lapidary shop
All I gota say is be careful removing the rivets.
There is a technique.
Not gonna tell you how, that's how I make my living.
But I do lots of cool custom work.
Message: Posted by: thimblerig (Jan 11, 2014 05:54PM)

I did take the time to search the internet before I posted. I also just reviewed the links you provided.

My observations:

1. Not one of the videos has a knife that remotely resembles a gentleman's pocket knife, or even the shape and type of knife we use for color changing knives. Many are for large fixed blade knives or more modern functional folding designs, etc.

2. I have NONE of the machining/cutting equipment, tools and hardware pictured in those videos. I have no metal or wood shop experience. I have no space in my garage or home to set up a shop of expensive equipment. I need another expensive hobby like another hole in the head.

3. I have a day job that requires shift work and 60 hours a week and I'm pushing 60 years of age - This means no time to learn all of this good stuff well enough to make something that I'd be proud to carry, presuming I didn't lop off a finger or three in the process.

4. To remove the rivets I would need some kind of drill press and device to safely hold the knife - I presume - again I have nothing like this. Tree, in his/her message indicates there is a "technique" to removing the rivets. Sounds tricky enough to me.

So while I appreciate your efforts to help me achieve my goals and to become a craftsman, it just ain't gonna happen. I am going to contact Mr. Mogar today (after this message) and if he can't help me, maybe Frog can or Tree or someone. At this age in stage I need to pay the experts to do it for me because it will be better and faster and (counting all the equipment, time and trial and error learning) much cheaper.

Best regards,