BLADE Magazine

Trend Watch: Why Are Custom Slip Joint Knives So Popular?

How to buy a custom slip joint knife
Stan Buzek based his slip joint on a Bill Ruple two-blade trapper. The hollow-ground blades are Damasteel damascus and 3.5 inches each. The fileworked liners are 416 stainless steel. Closed length: 4 3/8 inches. Buzek’s list price to make a similar piece: $1,950. (SharpByCoop photo)

Blade Counts Count

Custom slip joints are hot again and have been for a while. Why are they so hot and how long will their popularity run this time?

“I have seen a bit of an uptick in pocketknife sales in the last couple of years,” notes custom knifemaker Stan Buzek, whose turnaround time on orders is three to four months. “I think this is due to the fact you can have both multiple- and single-blade slip joints,” as opposed to the single blades of tactical and other locking folders (though lockbacks are experiencing somewhat of a surge in sales, too).

Tobin Hill’s five-blade sowbelly sports feather-pattern damascus blade steel in hollow grinds and a mammoth ivory handle. The maker’s list price for a similar piece: $1,200.

A Bright Future Ahead For Slip Joints

Adds Johnny Stout, who has a backlog of six to eight months, “From what I’m seeing at the shows and online in the past few years, pocketknives are alive and well. I see a bright future for slip joints.”

“I have seen slip-joint groups on Facebook grow by 300 percent in the last three years,” Tracy LaRock states. “I also have a group called ‘Making Slip Joints and Lockbacks’ that has grown a lot recently, with many new slip-joint makers.”

As for his sales, Tracy says, “My books are closed but I intend to open them in early 2020 when I retire from the military. In the meantime I list available pieces in my Facebook group and on Instagram.”

Tracy LaRock pushes the envelope of traditional slip-joint design with his Ethan Jack. The 3-inch blade is D2 tool steel and the handle and frame are Timascus™. Closed length: 4 inches. His list price to make a similar knife: $900. (SharpByCoop photo)

Pocketknife Sales Are Up In General

“I think there’s an upswing in pocketknife sales,” Tom Ploppert agrees. “Plus, a strong economy hasn’t hurt anything.”

Tom says he continues to take orders and has no idea how far behind he is.

“I will write an order down. I do not take deposits. I will call when it’s your turn. If you commit, then we will discuss price and I will start on building it,” he says matter-of-factly.

Turnaround time notwithstanding, the exquisite slip joints by Stout, Buzek, LaRock and Ploppert are well worth the wait—though you might want to get a leg up now. The more demand increases, the longer you’ll have to bide your time until you can get your hands on one of these gems.

See More Knife Trends In KNIVES 2019

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