Hi. I'm new. Seeking HELP!!!

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by -Kiku-, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. -Kiku-


    Aug 13, 2020
    Spent a better part of the day tracking down knifemakers on this forum. What a way to spend my Saturday...

    Learned by trial and error the best way to message them is via on their Profile page. Without this, it gets really confusing after messaging several dozens to a point where I no longer remember whether I've already messaged that person. Some of them may have received multiple requests & inquiries from me unintentionally.

    I hope they don't get annoyed and place me on their ignore list... Oh well.
  2. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    You do understand that commissioning a custom is going to be significantly more expensive than anything you see on the dealer's sites right? I only ask this because of your comment about Burnley and 8Cr. As said, I believe those are just him doing a design and then it being mass produced by a large maker. Having him personally build the knife will be vastly more expensive and it is not uncommon for some makers to require months to fulfill an order.

    You may well understand all of that, just wanted to point it out just in case.
    Sharp & Fiery and AntDog like this.
  3. -Kiku-


    Aug 13, 2020
    Yes, I am doing this knowing well that I'll be paying more than a few hundred dollars for a tiny knife.
    Custom-made blades aren't cheap. And exhibition-level quality blades will cost even more.

    The hardest part is finding the knifemaker.
    The Aflac Duck and Eli Chaps like this.
  4. Velitrius

    Velitrius Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 3, 2000
    If I was gonna get myself a kwaiken in M390 I'd grab a Kwaiback from Jake Hoback.
  5. NorthernSouthpaw

    NorthernSouthpaw Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 27, 2014
    You are definitely over thinking the whole m390 thing.
    I have some customs in 154cm and n690 that handle just as well as some of my production blades made from m390. How a knife is made is quite often more important than what it's made out of.
    Also no maker that wants to build knives as a career is going to lie about something like blade steel. Reputation is EVERYTHING in the knife world.

    Another suggestion is to check out who the knifemakers are following on IG. For instance, guys like Burnley, Pohan Leu and Matthew Gregory may not have any spots open (Pohan actually might), but I know they make fantastic kwaiken style knives and they follow some highly skilled but lesser known makers that may have open books.
    It's a small, tight knit community.
    Sharp & Fiery likes this.
  6. fishface5

    fishface5 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Why is it critical that it be M390?
  7. kwackster


    Dec 23, 2005
  8. Lodd

    Lodd Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 23, 2015
    You can never be 100% sure about the knife steel. There have been instances where production knives have been mislabeled, too. I believe Bark River had that going on a few years ago.

    A custom maker that does his/her own heat treatment can HT each individual knife with greater care and attention, possibly getting more out of the steel. I wouldn't focus too much on the steel used. Sure, it's a factor, but it's not as important as people sometimes make it out to be. I'd rather have a custom knife in N690Co with a great heat treatment, than a production knife in M390 with a worse HT.

    And, since you're new to this hobby, are you really sure you know what kind of steel you need? Do you have hands-on experience? You might get the latest fad in a supersteel and curse yourself the first time you have to sharpen your knife.
    Smiling and Black Oak Bladeworks like this.
  9. ElementalBreakdown


    Jul 14, 2020

    Vennewaard 151, 1824 KD, Alkmaar, NETHERLANDS, Phone: 00-31-618-774146,
    [email protected]

    Maybe try using Brouwern instead of Brouwer and check with some of the other Dutch bladesmiths as well. The email above is probably outdated but might help, the address is probably still valid. If there's no rush while you search maybe you will see some other similar blade smith and get more ideas. I seen that area where he lives or near by there and it is probably not where a high end knife maker has a shop.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  10. jlauffer

    jlauffer Dissident Aggressor Platinum Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    Is it possible that it was a typo, and it's really [email protected]?
  11. W. Anderson

    W. Anderson Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 22, 2016
    What is your price range? I may know a guy, here on the forums no less, who could fulfill this request.
  12. Sharp & Fiery

    Sharp & Fiery Always Embellish Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 14, 2012
    There has been a ton of help in this thread so far. M390 may/may not be the best for your needs, finding a maker is basically doing your homework now. Check out the knifemaker’s section here...read lots of the threads here on BF...use other “net” sites for more information.
    One thing I’ve learned from custom builds...never rush. In a world where its becoming consistently easier to just click a picture and “buy now,” and its at your home couple days later...this isn’t the best way to buy a custom. ;)
    Consider all the options, test out some steels, materials, bladeshapes, handle shapes...see what you would like and use most. Take your time and nail down your choices...find maker, and wait 1-5years for it to be made. ;)
    Good luck!
    Keep ‘em Sharp
    NorthernSouthpaw and WValtakis like this.
  13. -Kiku-


    Aug 13, 2020
    Depending on the level of detail and the quality of craftsmanship, I could go as high as $1500. A real bargain for the seller considering the geometry of kwaiken is relatively simple compared to other knives.
  14. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    You have received a lot of good advice already, so I won't say too much.
    I think you are going about it the wrong way to look for someone "who specializes in M390".
    M390 is just one of a huge variety of steels all of which are a compromise between various properties.
    Knifesteelnerds has a write-up on M390. https://knifesteelnerds.com/2020/06/01/m390-steel-history-and-properties-and-20cv-and-204p/
    It has great stain resistance and edge retention, but low toughness. Could be a good choice, but so could many others, depending on your purpose.
    My guess is that some makers will use it to some extent, but there is no compelling reason to use it exclusively.
    My first suggestion is to ask makers what materials they use, and why. This could be informative.
    My other suggestion is to find someone who makes the style you want and then ask them about materials.
    Don't find someone who uses M390 and then ask if they want to make their first blade in this style.
    If you are starting a collection, it will be interesting to eventually have a variety of styles and materials.
  15. -Kiku-


    Aug 13, 2020
    Already tried both; contacted kwaiken and tanto makers, also tried asking knifemakers who work with high-end stainless steels.

    In the former, I asked several dozen knifemakers registered in this forum. Every each one of those that make kwaiken and tanto, don't work with M390. In the latter, I asked what rare and few knifemakers I could find who happen to work with high-end stainless steel; They don't make kwaiken and tanto-style knives. But those that do, S30V is about as high as they go. S30V might've been considered 'super steel' a decade ago, but that is certainly not the case anymore. This whole endeavor has been as if I am searching for a pink unicorn...

    I noticed a number of people on this forum casually tossing around statements along the line of "Heat treatment is far more important than the material itself." While I do not disagree with that statement, I think that those who use it to try to dissuade others like me fixated on M390 knives are failing to see the situation from a consumer's point of view. How does an ordinary buyer like myself know whether a knife I just bought was given a proper heat treatment?

    When I buy a knife, does it come with detailed documentation detailing the heat treatment process(es) of that particular make and model? NO.

    Does a knife manufacturer have details of the heat treatment process(es) used in their products documented somewhere on their website? Again, NO.

    As a consumer, I can choose a knife by the brand, blade geometry, length, material, and overall aesthetic. What I CANNOT choose is the heat treatment process the blade supposedly underwent. Because that part is 'well hidden' from the consumers.

    On a different note, I managed to 'collect' some knives. I already have plenty of experience working with 'ordinary' stainless steels - they're called kitchen knives, many of which are variants of 440 series. And some 'exotics' such as Shun knives which are VG-10. Like many others, I feel less inclined to collect what I already have plenty of, but more inclined to acquire the high-end exotics that I have yet to own. Hence I tend to gravitate towards Maxamet, S110V, Elmax, etc. precisely because I don't have them, yet.

    Here are the two knives I managed to collect this week:

    Figure 1: Size Comparison
    TOP: Borka Blades SRambit M390 - A fixed-blade production knife designed by Sebastian Berenji, but manufactured in Italy by Fox Knives.
    BOTTOM: Spyderco Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189. Very popular folding pocketknife. Manufactured in Seki-City, Japan.

    Figure 2: Spine Thickness Comparison
    TOP: Dragonfly 2 (2.5 mm)
    BOTTOM: SRambit (5.0 mm) - About as thick as a cleaver.

    Figure 3: Grind Profile of Borka Blades SRambit
    This particular model of SRambit appears to have a Saber grind where the primary bevel is practically flat. If the grind is hollow, then I can't see the concavity. Very unusual for Borka Blades as their primary bevel tend to be hollow.

    Figure 4: Grooved Notches on the Spine
    The placement of the notches on the rear of the handle appears to be less than optimal. A better placement would be to slide the notches further back and partially on the ring itself for more secure placement of the thumb in a reverse grip.

    I think both knives would make for a fine EDC, but I wouldn't dare to carry my SRambit outside unless I plan to go camping. With the local knife laws being the way it is, I wouldn't want to risk having my collection confiscated and fined.

    My next acquisition will probably be a custom blade from a renowned knifemaker or a production knife made of exotic stainless steel.

    I'm also looking into getting a good sharpening system. Currently looking at KME and Wicked Edge. Currently reading up on convex grind which I am starting to like more and more. As I don't grind knives for a living, I cannot trust myself to grind blades free-hand with a high level of consistency. Hence, going with a guided sharpening system appears to be the logical option.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
  16. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    I'm sure you can convince someone to use M390. However, when I look at its properties, it doesn't get near the top of my list as I don't prioritize corrosion resistance. That is the main thing going for it and toughness is quite poor...
    Half the fun of owning a tanto is cleaning, oiling, brandishing etc, so I don't need stainless. I have a high-end one commissioned right now in the makers' san mai. It is not a super steel, but it will be awesome and would stand up to hard use.
    Did you read the knifesteelnerds link I posted? It discusses M390 and compares properties to others.
    When I choose steel for my projects I look at Larrin's charts like the two I'll post below.
    I like non-stainless, and based on outliers along the edge of the toughness-edge retention plot, I have recently worked with 3V and M4.
    For stainless I like AEB-L. Performance enthusiasts buy CPK knives made mostly in a specially heat treated 3V or AEB-L.
    Looking at the charts, it is clear why.
  17. Smiling


    Nov 21, 2019
    3V is pretty stain resistant (not fully stainless), has plenty of edge retention and is insanley tough.
    You might like the patina too.
  18. -Kiku-


    Aug 13, 2020
    Thanks for the link, Richard338. There is a lot of good info on that website. But every graph and chart I see on their website is partially blocked by formatted texts. Thinking this is a browser-related issue, I tried switching to Safari (instead of Chrome) but ran into the same issue. Here, take a look at what I am talking about:


    So a lot of the charts and tables are not fully viewable. This issue appears to be unique only to knifesteelnerds website.

    By the way, I didn't see anything about M390 on the graph of Toughness vs Edge Retention. And correct me if I am wrong, but when it comes to small knives (Blade Length under 4"), isn't the general consensus that Toughness isn't as important as the edge retention?
  19. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    Not sure why you can't see it well. I use Firefox, but it looks ok even on my phone.
    M390 falls on the second plot I posted right where you see 204P.
    The importance of toughness depends a lot on how you plan to use it. I really like 3V for its toughness. Using the chart you can pick steel that has lots of edge retention if you wish. It's always a compromise with other properties. I have a little slicer in M390 that I like a lot, but I won't use it too hard.
  20. jux t

    jux t Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 10, 2018
    If you’re interested and are in the United States, I’ll sell you this Swanepoel tanto in m390. I think it’s a 4 inch blade, and the tip has a small chip from dropping on the floor. $70 shipped. I’ll get better pictures if you’d like.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020

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