At the most prosaic level, a custom knife is simply one where the maker has in some way tailored the knife to your request. This ranges from very slight additions, such as a line of engraving, through to the full monty of having a bespoke knife designed from scratch.
What’s so special about engraving?
If you’re of a slightly cynical bent, the interesting thing to note about engraving – and therefore possibly why so many people are starting to offer it – is that this simple addition makes your knife a ‘custom product’ and therefore one covered by a whole different set of consumer regulations. If you’re ordering an otherwise standard knife, but with a little bit of text, be sure it’s the one you want as you won’t be able to return it without very good reason.
Knife handle material customisation
Moving on to sunnier aspects – the next logical step in customisation is altering the handle material, or possibly even its shape. The latter is generally more difficult to achieve, not least because knife designers generally take a great deal of care in matching the handle geometry to the blade size and so it’s rarely warranted.
Changing the material can be done for a lot of different reasons – the most obvious being the look of the knife, but also for reasons of functionality, maintenance, grip, or the dreaded health and safety. Custom handles can be broadly divided into those which are natural wood and those which are not – and a good knife maker will always make it clear that while wood can be wonderful to look at, and very pleasing to the hand, it is not maintenance free; you will need to be acquainted with sandpaper and your oil of choice and not afraid to use them.
On the metal front, you can specify different angles for your bevel, and also the finish of the blade itself, and if you’re really into that sort of thing you could opt for a particular steel.
Beyond these relatively superficial offerings, you move into the world of the truly custom knife – one which is designed for you and by you and which takes a fair amount of work and time to get right.
A maker can approach these sorts of commissions in one of two ways – they can take your wish list and general outline and then make something that fits the criteria, but which is unmistakably their work. This is akin to deciding you’d like your portrait done and selecting the artist based on their previous work – with fingers firmly crossed you are happy with the final result in your case.
Alternatively, we would suggest that the whole process is broken down into iterative steps; initial drawings to cover dimensions and geometry, renders for the aesthetics, a mock-up for the crude geometry and then a prototype for final thoughts before the actual knife is made.
Is it worth it? That’s something we can’t answer – but if the continued existence and global fame of Savile Row over the centuries is anything to go by, truly bespoke craft must have something going for it.
Savernake offer custom knives, with 44,380 possible variations for you to choose from. Our Savernake Knife Configurator can help you choose and personalise your knife which is then handcrafted by us. Should you have any questions email us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01672 870120.