Jay Fisher - World Class Knifemaker

Quality Without Compromise

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Professional Counterterrorism Knives:
"Ari B' Lilah" Custom Counterterrorism Tactical Combat Knife, obverse side view in ATS-34 high molybdenum-chromium martensitic stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, black G10 composite handle, hybrid tension-locking sheath in kydex, anodized black aluminum alloy, titanium, blackened stainless steel fasteners, anodized hardware and mounts, HULA with MagTac flashlight, LIMA with Maglite LED Solitaire, Ultimate belt loop extender with diamond pad sharpener
"Ari B'lilah"

Commemorative Knives

Honoring Those Who Serve
Professionally Dedicated Custom Knives
Personalized Knives

"PJSK" Custom Commemorative/Tactical Combat knife, obverse side, plaque view in 440c high chromium stainless steel blade, hybrid tension-locking sheath in kydex, anodized aluminum, titanium, stainless steel with plaque of ash and engraved laquered brass
More about this USAF Combat Control Team Commemorative Tactical Knife

It is typical that my military and law enforcement clients use these commemorative knives during their service or duty, and then hand them down to their children and ultimately their grandchildren, so that they may know and honor their lineage and have a tangible physical tool and representation of that service to honor.

"The world’s elite clandestine rescue and tactical squads seek his weapons. Their lives depend on "Jay Fisher Custom Knives"- the best quality knives in the world."

--Bernardo M. Perez
Deputy Assistant Director-Ret.
FBI Laboratory
Washington, D.C.

"Horus" obverse side view in ATS-34 high molydenum stainless steel blade, 304 stainless steel bolsters, engraved, Micarta phenolic handle, locking kydex, aluminum, stainless steel sheath with black lacquered brass engraved flashplate.

What is a commemorative knife?

Commemorative knives are knives that have special and custom text, graphics, or a combination of both to commemorate or recognize the knife owner, user, event, or group. A personalized knife can also be called commemorative, when a simple identifying mark is permanently applied or created on the knife or ensemble component. A commemorative or personalized knife is very special to the user, owner, and presenter. Permanent identification, marks, or imagery signifies the personal or professional affiliation and value of the knife, and sometimes its use and character. It also often characterizes the owner of the knife and perhaps their personality. Military knives, combat weapons, law enforcement tools, and even personal working knives can be commemoratives. I make commemorative knives with personalization for any interested knife buyer, at their request, in my shop and studio.

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United States Marine Corps machine engraving on "Bulldog" Combat tactical knife
Bulldog Commemoration
USAF Pararescue Instructor's knife in etched stainless steel blade, etched nickel silver sheath flashplate
PJLT Instructor's
"Tyr" pattern SWAT Police engraved blued mirror fiinished blades, machine engraved black lacquered flashplates "Tyr" pattern, SWAT Personlized, engraved, mirror finished knife blades in blued steel
Tyr SWAT Commemoratives
"Bulldog" USMC commemorative combat tactical knife in bead blasted and engraved 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, nickel silver bolsters, micarta phenolic handle, kydex, aluminum, nickel plated steel sheath

Who else does this?

I only perform commemorative embellishment, personalization, etching, machine engraving, or custom marking and identification on my own knives.

If you are looking for this service, currently, I know of no other individual knife maker who can and does do this for his clients. There are some jewelers who might take this on, but typically, they are not equipped or familiar with knife blades, hardened and tempered knife blade steel, marking methods, or layout or arrangement of this type of custom work. Trophy shops may be able to help, but don't count on any quality there as trophies are a strictly low-end business.

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Detail of machine engraving on bead blasted stainless steel blade, commemorative knife. Cut is made with fine diamond stylus under high pressure into the hardened blade Personalization, commemoration of stainless steel blade, bead blasted. The cut is bright and shiny in a field of flat bead-blasted surface and is permanent
Machine Engraved Blade
Engraved maroon lacquered aluminum flashplate on personalized PJLT combat SAR knife. Flashplate is removable for later storage, display, and commemoration
Personalized working, utility knife in etched stainless steel blade of high chromium 440C

How are commemorations created on the blades?

When applied to the blade, in my commemorative knives, I use several proven methods:

  • The Blade finish matters in the treatment of the imagery, as well as the blade steel type.
    • In bead-blasted finished blades, I usually machine engrave the imagery using a diamond drag, diamond rotary, or carbide rotary method. This cuts through the flat bead blasted finish on the blade and gives a bright, shiny cut in various or accumulated widths. It is deep and permanent. If a knife blade is bead blasted and hot blued, it creates a striking, bright metallic cut in a background of flat black.
    • In mirror finished blades, I typically etch with a powerful and sophisticated process of successive chemical acids. These are not typical acids, as I design them to cut into the high chromium stainless steel blade surface which usually resists any corrosive exposures. I use no electricity, as this will fog the image edges, and is typically what you see on most maker's marks on today's modern knives. My images are crisply defined, at over 1/100,000 of an inch detail, showing the finest resolution possible. In most steels (including stainless), the cut is dark gray and flat, in some stainless steel types, it is a medium flat gray. It took me six years to perfect this process and it is proprietary.
    • In some cases, I electroform the imagery with another sophisticated process that is similar to the etching process above. Electroform is a very thick, successive electroplate with several different metals. I currently electroform in nickel, silver, copper, 24 kt. gold, green gold, rose gold, and even rhodium over stainless steels, low carbon steels, and high carbon, high alloy tool steels.
    • Sometimes, the client requests personalization such as a monogram, which they request be hand-engraved. Please read about hand-engraving on my Embellishment page.
  • Will it last? All of the methods I use are permanent on the knife blade, and would take machine tools, such as power buffers and grinders to remove. I suppose that someone could rub off the electroform if they used a heavy cutting rubbing or polishing compound daily for years, which is unlikely. The acid etching is very deep and would take regrinding of the blade to remove. The machine engraving would also take regrinding followed by re-blasting to eliminate the images. So with the typical minimum care of the knife and blade, the commemorative imagery should last as long as the knife, through at least several generations.
  • The knife care does not differ much from any finely made knife, an occasional hand waxing is all that is required to keep the commemorative knife looking new.

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EOD Bomb Tech knife, etched mirror finished blade commemorative, engraved black lacquered brass flashplate on sheath
EOD Bomb Tech
USAF Pararescue Commemorative knives are nickel plated, electroformed gold over nitrate blued steel blades
PJ, Creature
Detail of high resolution engraving on bead blasted blade. This type of engraving is not gaudy or overbearing, yet is permanent. Detial is so fine, it can not be seen with the naked eye
PJLT Blade Engraving Detail
United States Air Force Academy Class of 1962 in etched nickel silver custom handmade stand dedication plate
Academy '62

Are commemorations just for the blade?

Though the most requested commemoration is on the blade of the knife, I'm not limited to just the blade. The handle can be a canvas for the artistic and text images, as can the sheath, the case, and even the knife stand. It is up to the client, the artist, and the types of material chosen for creation of the entire piece and ensemble. I've machine engraved micarta phenolic, exotic hardwoods, and even gemstone. I've etched gemstone with acids, engraved brass insets and plaques in cases and stands, and applied personalization and commemoration on bolsters.

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Monogram, personalization engraved on bolster of "Argiope" in nickel silver with ebony hardwood handle
Argiope Monogram
Commemorative, custom personalized knife blades: Emergency Response Unit SAR knife, etched blade, engraved flashplate
Emergency Response Unit
Marshal's commemorative, personalized "Last Chance" knife in etched stainless steel blade, engraved blue lacquered aluminum sheath flashplate
Last Chance
USAF Pararescue commemorative is nickel plated images over nitrate blued steel blade, with green gold electroform
Pararescue PJ
Personlized, etched commemorative PJLT Ranger edition with engraved black lacquered flashplate
Ranger PJLT
Custom etching on US Army Special Forces "Patriot" in mirror finished stainless steel Etching in stainless steel is dark and highly detailed in this Special Forces commemorative knife
Special Forces Patriot

Text or graphics or both?

The imagery of a commemorative or personalized knife is either text or graphics or a combination of both.

With modern technology, nearly every font style of text is available, but that does not mean they all look good. Please remember that text can be very small when etched or engraved on to the knife blade, and must still be readable. Most computer fonts are applicable so their is a bewildering amount of options in text. Often, the text itself is a graphic representation as it is modified from a simplistic, typical font form to a post-modern work of graphic art.

Graphics can be supplied by clients, but usually I work these up myself, since good, high quality graphic sources may be limited. I consider graphics artwork as part of my tradecraft as a modern knife maker. Graphics may require hand-drawing and clarifying, digitizing and cleaning for a clear, crisp image, and typically take more effort and time than standard text forms. Graphics must fit on to the area, which on a knife blade is large in horizontal length, but small in vertical height, which can be a limitation to consider.

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USAF Pararescue commemorative, working knife in etched stainless steel blade, green gold electroform, and etched nickel silver sheath flashplate
Pararescue "PJ"
United States Air Force Pararescuemen, SERE Professionals and Jay Fisher at commemorative knife presentation
PJs, SERE Presentation
US Army Special Forces "Treatymaker LT" in etched high molybdenum stainless steel blade Etching in Special Forces "Treatymaker LT" knife blade, double edged requires tight etching design pattern
Special Forces Treatymaker LT

How much does it cost?

Since all my work is custom, the cost depends on the individual job. If the image is simple text, the cost is less than elaborate or complicated graphics, where a lot of time must be taken to digitize and clarify an image. If the engraving is done by machine, it costs less than by hand, and if multiple methods or processes are used, this can add to the expense. A simple set of initials or a singular word may start at about $40.00 US, and prices go up from there. Quotes are given on an individual basis.

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"Butch" rancher's commemorative, working castrating and utility knife with etched brand on satin finished stainless steel blade
Paraescue "Creature" knife with etched stainless steel blade and engraved co-extruded acrylic sheath front
Personlized knife sheath, machine engraved in leather, hand tooled

Are their any considerations for evaluation?

Commemorations must be carefully considered.

If you're ordering a custom commemorative or personalized knife, since the commemorations are permanent, the balance of the knife plus the cost of the commemoration must be paid in full before I accomplish the commemoration. Typically, the commemoration or personalization is the last thing I do to a knife, but not always. It is easy to understand that since the knife has someone's name, unit, emblem, logo, or text and image on it, the knife can only go to the individual client, so the balance must be paid in full first.

If being done for a person who is not the original client, the knife buyer needs to be very careful to get the spelling and the graphics right. Also, the buyer needs to be certain that the ultimate knife recipient would want or desire this option on his knife. If this is happening as a surprise gift, it is the responsibility of the buyer to make these determinations beforehand, as I cannot change these permanent marks.

If the client is military, he needs to be certain that his name is appropriate when engraved on the knife. While logos, emblems, and slogans are universally accepted, many units require that the serviceman's actual name not be used for security and privacy purposes. In combat knives, the actual name of the serviceman on the blade can be used against him or his family in the case of capture. This is a very serious issue, and I always follow the specific instructions of my clients.

A personalized knife can help prevent theft. If a knife is easily identified, this can deter a thief from taking it, as he knows he'll have to grind off the text and graphics, dramatically reducing the resale potential of the knife, and scarring it as stolen.

If a knife is being purchase for long term investment, and is to be resold in the future, personalization should not be used. A personalized knife is only valuable to the person for whom the knife is made and his family if passed down through the generations. A name, date, logo, crest, or emblem etched or engraved permanently on the knife may severely limit the possibility of resale on the open or public market if that is the ultimate and long term direction of the custom knife purchase.

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"Cattleman" collector's commemorative, personalized version of field castrating and working knife in etched 440C stainless steel blade "The Cattleman" commemorative, personalized knife honoring relationship between cattle men, with both brands etched on blade, hand-engraved stainless steel bolsters, Petrified Wood gemstone handle, cow horn stand and amaranth base
The Cattleman
Skeletonized, blued, engraved commemorative knife blade with engraved lacquered flashplate in brass
Creature SK

What about layout?

Often, a client wants a large and complicated image, crest, logo, picture, or graphic etched or engraved onto a knife blade. In his mind, he can see it there: clear and concise. In reality though, please remember that the actual image area of a medium sized knife blade is only 1/2" tall. So if a graphic is round, it will only occupy an area on the blade that is 1/2" by 1/2" making it very small indeed. The blade grind is typically great in length, and may be three, four, or five inches long which accommodates text well, even if applied in several lines. The best graphics and text images are laid out with a long horizontal measurement, and a short vertical measurement.

If a working knife is to be personalized, please remember that continually sharpening the knife throughout its lifetime can eventually shorten the depth of the grind and the blade width, also cutting away the commemoration or personalization. This can take years, decades, or generations, depending on use and design of the knife as well as the materials and hardness. If a singular name, moniker, or line of text is to be used, It's best to place it central in the grind or higher, but not near the cutting edge.

Other areas, such as the bolster or flashplate on the sheath may accommodate rounded crests, emblems, flashes, panels, or images better. Consider the height to length ratio of the layout.

Please see the examples on this page for reference. I typically work with clients on the arrangement of these texts and graphics to suit their individual projects.

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United States Air Force Pararescue commemorative, personalized, Combat Search and Rescue Knife in etched 440C stainless steel Custom etching on USAF Pararescue "Creature" on working combat, commemorative, and personalized knife
The Creature
Personalized, commemorative custom engraving by machine on stainless steel knife blade. Knife is combat instructor's grade
Custom, commemorative USAF Pararescue "Paraeagle" in etched and mirror finished blade, engraved maroon lacquered brass sheath flashplate Highly detailed custom etching in mirror finished knife blade steel of "Paraeagle"
USAF Pararescue PJLT commemorative in mirror finished, blued steel blade with high resolution nickel plating of imagery
IAFF edition of "Shank" with etched logo on blade, hand-engraved blade, machine engraved red lacquered brass flashplate
"Viet Nam" veteran in etched 440C stainless steel blade, honoring those who served and those who did not return
Viet Nam Veteran
"Tyr" SWAT commemorative knife, in engraved and blued high carbon mirror polished O1 tungsten-vanadium alloy tool steel blade "Tyr" fine tanto commemorative SWAT Police knife with engraved black lacquered brass flashplate

Are commemorative knives still useful knives?

You bet they are. In fact, most of the commemoratives I make are for use, in combat, tactical operations, combat search and rescue, and law enforcement. Many of the personalized knives I make are working knives also. I build every knife to be useful, even the collector's art knife sculptures you see on this website. All have properly hardened and tempered blades and are built with durable and working materials.

It is typical that my military and law enforcement clients use these commemorative knives during their service or duty, and then hand them down to their children and ultimately their grandchildren, so that they may know and honor their lineage and have a tangible physical tool and representation of that service to honor.

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"Diacria" personalized, engraved mirror finished blued steel blade, on field camping,  hiking, outdoor working knife, personalized with client's custom monogram
Khe Sanh Veteran's knife commemoration etched on mirror finished custom knife blade
Khe Sanh Veteran
Custom accent etching on Paraeagle knife at ricasso in mirror finished stainless steel blade
USAF Pararescue "PJLT" commemorative knife in etched 440C stainless steel blade. Note the fine wire suspending PJ from helicopter; example of high resolution possible with this method
Personalized, etched folding knife blade for pilot's "Stratos"
Stratos Folding Knife
Viet Nam Veteran's knives in etched 440C stainless steel blades. Dedicated to those who fought and died in Viet Nam Viet Nam Veterans knives in etched stainless steel blades, remembering those who did not return, POW, MIA
Viet Nam Veteran

Are their any restrictions?

I reserve the right to decline to perform any embellishment that is not tasteful and complimentary to the knives with my maker's mark on them. I do not do nudes, profanity, or any text or graphics that are not tasteful and within the scope and direction of my work, career, and reputation. I also do not reproduce copyrighted materials, artwork, graphics, or text that may be copyrighted by someone else. If a client submits graphics to reproduce, it is up to him to assure they are legal copies and do not violate anyone's copyrights.

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Custom etched initials in old English on "Durango" fine custom handmade knife blade
USAF Pararescue commemorative knife honoring those who serve, high detail acid etching in stainless steel, green gold electroform over stainless knife blade Etching in commemorative USAF Pararescue "Kight" named for the father of Pararescue
USAF Pararescue Kight
Custom etching on ricasso of Paraeagle of mirror finished stainless steel blade; rampant lion
USAF Pararescue PJLT commemorative in etched stainless steel blade. Etching is deep, permanent, and high resolution USAF Pararescue PJLT commemorative knife, with etched stainless steel blade, electroformed green gold footprints on stainless blade
SWAT law enforcement working, commemorative, personalized knives in blued and machine engraved alloy steel
Saber Tooth
"Wardlow" tactical bowie style knife in mirror finished and hot blued, machine engraved O-1 steel blade, customized personalized, combat knife
Wardlow Bowie

Thanks for being here; please let me know if I can make a commemorative or custom personalized knife for you!

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