Some websites offer exclusives on custom knives. True North Knives (TNK) has the exclusive on Kirby Lambert’s “Scorpios” (above). Blade steel: CPM-S35VN stainless. Blade length: 3 1/8 inches. Handle: Ironwood burl. Bolster/guard: Lightning strike carbon fiber. TNK’s list price: $675. (TNK photo) For more information about this knife and/or more like it, click on http://www.truenorthknives.com/vcom/index.php
WHITE-HOT KNIFE WEBSITES
The hottest cutlery websites offer the best in knives, selection and service
By Mike Haskew
The Internet crackles with items to buy, sell and trade, and the number of websites serving the knife community has steadily grown in recent years. Browsing online does have its advantages with a broad selection just a click away.
Knife specs and prices can be easily compared, while information on custom makers and manufacturers is readily available. However, before buying online, it pays to be informed as to service, responsiveness, quality of the items once received, and the degree to which an Internet source is prepared to stand behind the knife it sells and ships.
“It’s important to remember,” advised BLADE® field editor Dexter Ewing, “that the Internet in general is very dynamic, and folks that sell knives on [it] have the advantage of harnessing the power of cyberspace and using it to their advantage. If they get a new knife in from, say, Benchmade or Spyderco, they can almost immediately have the picture of the knife up as well as the specs, pricing and a ‘virtual shopping cart’ feature.”
Those considering the online purchase of a custom or factory knife may want to visit some of the best sites around to find out for themselves just what may be in store.
From the custom angle, three story sources said Neil Ostroff and his truenorthknives.com is a winner. “This Canadian purveyor is a real success story and an inspiration for me,” commented collector Lorien Arnold. “There is a constant movement of knives through the store, and there are quality photos accompanying each knife. Pricing is very consistent, and although my interest isn’t primarily in folding knives, visiting this site regularly keeps me informed on what is hot. True North Knives really has its finger on the pulse of what is hot in cutlery.”
True North Knives is also high on the list of collector Mike Searson. Others topping his list are Bladeart.com, EDCknives.com, nordicknives.com, bluelinegear.com and schmuckatellico.com. “I primarily collect custom knives, and these sites often have photos and stats of the latest knives more up to date than even the makers’ own sites,” he commented. “Pricing is pretty reasonable, and all of these dealers have gotten back to me usually within the same day.
“For production knives,” Searson continued, “I usually go to the factory websites as they tend to keep those more up to date than the custom makers do [their sites], and these include emersonknives.com, spyderco.com, chrisreeve.com, microtech.com and others. They all offer an equal level of customer service and response time.
“In today’s market, everyone has to be competitive. The bigger production houses can take a day or two to get back in touch with you, but that’s understandable with their volume or if you are looking for a discontinued item that may be in stock. Usually, I will buy any needed supplies from these folks when placing a knife order.”
A collector of high-end custom tactical knives, Tarek Mirshak likes arizonacustomknives.com, steeladdictionknives.com and ebosshoss.com. “They have a great variety of custom tactical knives, updates on a regular basis, great communication,” he said. Of arizonacustomknives.com he added, “It’s a ‘real-time site,’ so once an item is sold, it’s automatically marked as sold. Pricing is reasonable and shipping is prompt.
“If I’m looking for a very special piece, the place to look is ebosshoss.com. Jon Ukman has a knack of having hard-to-find pieces and most people’s ‘holy grails.’ His prices are sometimes on the high side, but considering the rarity of the pieces he has, the prices are not unreasonable. His communication is great and shipping is always prompt.” At steeladdictionknives.com, Mirshak says to expect more of the same, a real-time site with regular updates and outstanding customer satisfaction.
Ewing is a fan of truenorthknives.com, knifeart.com and knifecenter.com. In addition to knives, the sites offer sharpeners from angle-guide kits to bench stones, files, storage cases, storage bags, zippered pouches, lubes and sheaths. All three keep their content updated with timely postings of new images and information.
“Their site is their storefront, and they have to keep posting new knives on a timely basis because that’s what helps generate sales,” Dexter related. “To some degree these sites offer exclusives with custom knifemakers of a special design that the site and the maker agree on. They usually are models that are not offered in the maker’s regular lineup and offer a point of attraction for these websites to be the only source for a knife that only can be purchased from that one website.
“The selection of these sites is enormous,” Ewing added. “They all cover the range from custom and production slip joints, fixed-blade hunters, gent’s knives, full-blown tacticals, and some investment-grade collector pieces. They also stock a good variety of knife care supplies and equipment. All three sell flashlights, too, something that apparently a lot of knife guys are also into, including me! So, it’s great to see a wide variety of cutlery and related products for sale on just one website.”
Arnold said he credits his online experience with his “discovering” custom knives on Bladeforums.com. “It’s a place which provides social interaction with people whom I’ve befriended there over the years. I also frequent a number of custom knife purveyors’ websites, and I am always looking for new work by my favorite makers or newly available work from makers who unfortunately may no longer be in this world.”
Arnold indicated he enjoys browsing robertsoncustomcutlery.com. “There are rarely any exceptional deals to be found, but if you are looking for a knife which will either maintain its value or go up in value, this is a good place to look, and a great place for solid, informed advice. The store’s owner [Les Robertson] is very communicative,” he added.
Materials, Sheaths and More
Arnold said he has made a few knives himself and purchased most of the materials needed from alphaknifesupply.com. He indicated he appreciates the site’s wide selection, and researching its materials costs has provided insights on how finished knives are priced. Among his other favorite sites are beautifulblades.com and nordicknives.com.
“This purveyor always has very interesting knives of all varieties available and somehow seems to get high-end knives of a level rarely seen elsewhere,” he said of the Solvang, California-based Nordic Knives owned by Dave and Grace Harvey. “The photos are consistent and easy on the eyes and is a very simple site to navigate as well.”
At beautifulblades.com, a specialty is custom sheaths, and the site features custom fixed blades and art knives, some of which are the work of Magnus Axelson. Arnold said he recently bought an Axelson knife from beautifulblades.com and was pleased with the packaging and turnaround time.
While the Internet presents challenges all its own, and nothing quite takes the place of holding a knife and getting a feel for its balance and a solid look at the craftsmanship, online shopping opens a whole new arena for knife buyers. As always, doing the necessary homework and understanding pricing, terms of delivery and return policies help make the most of an online purchase from a reputable and responsible source.
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