BLADE Show Texas 2023 Preview

BLADE Show Texas 2023 Preview

In Just Over Two Weeks Time, BLADE Show Texas Will Descend Once Again On The City Of Fort Worth.

BLADE Show Texas ’23 expects to follow up on its wildly successful ’22 rendition when it rides herd on the Fort Worth Convention Center March 17-18 in Fort Worth.

Over 300 national and international exhibitors, including the best in custom and factory makers and companies, will display their hottest knives, knifemaking supplies and more. All will coalesce in the roomy Fort Worth Convention Center in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. Spanning 14 city blocks of the city’s central business district, the convention center is surrounded by four-star hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries and assorted performance venues, with free transportation provided throughout the downtown area via Molly the Trolley.

Helping make the show a reality are its sponsors, which include Smoky Mountain Knife Works, WE Knife Co./Civivi/Sencut, The Blade Bar, Nottingham Tactical, TOPS Knives, Hogue Knives, Microtech, Jantz Supply and New Jersey Steel Baron.

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BLADE Show Texas 2023 Set To Top 2022

Blade Show Texas Greatest Living Knifemakers
ABS master smiths Bruce Bump (left) and Shane Taylor (right), both of whom are in the book The Greatest Living Knifemakers, return to display their knives. At press time, others in the book who will be exhibiting at the show are Bill Ruple and Tom Overeynder.

While Texas long has been hailed as a hotbed of knives of all shapes, sizes and types, its knife shows haven’t always seemed to keep pace. Debuting under its new name in ’22 after several years as the International Custom Cutlery Exposition (ICCE), BLADE Show Texas seemed to buck that trend, with custom and factory exhibitors praising the event.

“The attendance was excellent and sales were awesome,” BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member Bill Ruple observed of BLADE Show Texas ’22. “What a great show!”

“BLADE Show Texas was a great one. Attendance was crazy good,” agreed ABS master smith Bruce Bump. “And it was good to connect with old friends and make some new ones.”

“BLADE Show Texas was a great success as far as our time there,” noted John Cammenga of White River Knife & Tool. “We sold a lot and there was great traffic.”

“One thing I personally really liked was the eclectic mix of makers throughout the show,” pitched in maker Tom Krein. “You just didn’t know who or what would be at the next table.”

This year’s array of talented artisans promises to be even better. Also on hand will be a wealth of premier custom knife purveyors, engravers and other embellishers, many more knife professionals and entrepreneurs of all stripes—and, of course, knife enthusiasts, users and collectors galore. 

Award Changes

The knife judging awards for BLADE Show Texas have been especially tailored this year to address the specialties of the exhibiting makers. As a result, there are two changes, one each in the custom and factory categories.

The new category in custom is Machine Assisted Custom Knife, or M.A.C.K (see next section. Last year’s custom category of Best Fixed Blade was scratched in the middle of show judging and was broken down into three separate categories: Best Bowie, Best Fighter and Best Hunting Knife. 

As a result, this year’s custom awards will be Best M.A.C.K., Best Art Knife, Best Bowie, Best Damascus, Best EDC, Best Fighter, Best Folding Knife, Best Hunting Knife, Best Kitchen Knife, Best Slip Joint and Best in Show. 

To differentiate it from Best Slip Joint, Best Folding Knife will be for non-slip joints only. Each category winner will be determined in terms of how well it fits the category, quality design, construction and materials, fit and finish, line and flow, and the other intangibles that identify most top knives.

Best Tactical is the new factory category and will include both folders and fixed blades. Hence, the awards in the factory category will be Best EDC, Best Fixed Blade, Best Folder, Best Tactical and Best in Show. Each category winner will be determined in the same manner used to rate the custom winners as outlined in the preceding paragraph.


The fastest growing and, some would say, most exciting segment in custom knives now has its own category: Machine Assisted Custom Knife. 

In conjunction with a number of intrepid pioneers in the category, BLADE® Magazine and BLADE Show have created an awards segment that aims to recognize the diverse array of knifemakers whose fertile minds are dedicated to creating knives that exist in the space between the entirely handmade custom knife and the entirely machine-made custom knife.

To qualify for the category, the knife must have one or more key elements crafted by hand. It is up to the maker to determine which element(s) to handcraft, but the judges will look for makers who challenge themselves in this regard. Judges will look for a knife that is first and foremost a cutting tool. 

The design must be functional, beautiful, have great ergonomics, yet still have practical applications and uses. The winning knife should be able to go from the debutante ball to the wrecking ball without changing shoes. From a technical standpoint, execution of fit and finish across the entire knife, basics such as blade centering, lock kinetics, lock feel and lock positivity/safety, etc., will all factor heavily into choosing a winner.

To reiterate, overall aesthetic design must be cohesive and beautiful without compromising the knife’s primary purpose as a cutting tool. Exhibitors should bring their best of kinetics, aesthetics and handcraft to this category. And may the best knife triumph!

Demos And Seminars

Slipjoint Knife
Tom Overeynder will bring an Art Knife Invitational level of talent to the show with such pieces as his 34 Big Jack slip joint in PSF-27 stainless blade steel and a new handle material—jagged bone. Closed length: 5 inches. Maker’s price: $3,250. (SharpByCoop image)


12 p.m.-Grinding Fundamentals, Room 104: Co-owner of Brodbeck Ironworks, knifemaker Vince Molina will showcase the Brodbeck grinder complete with flat platen and integral bolster attachment.

2 p.m.-Let the Pros Critique Your Knife, Room 104: Award-winning knifemakers Bill Ruple and Tom Krein and ABS master smiths Jason Knight, Steve Schwarzer and Brion Tomberlin will examine your knife and tell you the good, the not so good and how to make it better. This will be a limited-seating event. Bring one knife only. Sign up when you enter the class on a first-come, first-served basis. Questions will be entertained from attendees throughout.

3:30 p.m.-Building an 1830s Knife with Modern Tools, Room 104: It seems almost certain that James Black made a number of knives circa 1830. Though he did not mark his knives with his name, the style attributed to him is one of the most distinctive and admired of his or any era. ABS master smith Lin Rhea is a student of Black and antique bowie knives in general. His seminar will be a discussion of how to build knives in the Black style in the modern knifemaker’s shop, substituting modern techniques for those of the 1830s. In addition, Lin will outline the things to consider in recreating a historic knife style.


10:30 a.m.-Grinding Fundamentals, Room 104: Co-owner of Brodbeck Ironworks, knifemaker Vince Molina will reprise his Friday seminar on the Brodbeck grinder complete with flat platen and integral bolster attachment.

12 p.m.-Trainer Knife for Kids, Room 104: Nicole Larkin of Bradford USA will introduce Bradford’s newest trainer for kids. Nicole will cover what makes the trainer a great first knife, outlining such topics as utility, basic safety principles and sharpening. “We wanted to build a trainer knife that will grow with your child as he or she matures beyond the need for one,” Nicole noted.

1:30 p.m.-Silver Wire Inlay in Wood, Room 104: A past Forged in Fire champion, ABS journeyman smith Allen Newberry will demonstrate silver wire inlay in wood, how to make the tools required and where to procure the needed supplies.

The official BLADE Show Texas photographer will be SharpByCoop. 

Get more information about BLADE Show Texas, the foremost knife show in the Lone Star State.

Learn more about the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Click here for the complete exhibitor list.

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