Jay Fisher - World Class Knifemaker
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"Ari B'Lilah" Counterterrorism Knife
Why would someone invest in a handmade or custom working knife? Maybe they want to field dress three elk in the wilds without having to stop and sharpen their knife. Perhaps they want something comfortable to hold, pleasurable to use, and warm and secure at their hip. How many times have you needed a knife when you didn't have one? How many times have you had one, but it didn't measure up? How many more years will you go on not really liking what comes off the factory knife line, but buying them anyway?
When people talk about working knives, mostly they are referring to fairly plain, disposable, inexpensive knives, often factory or manufactured knives. This is not the type of knife you see here. A custom and/or handmade working knife is often a work of art, meant to be cherished and used, a fine tool to be at the side and at the ready. These are knives that can retain high value over the years.
Jay, I bought the small Nihal with the jasper handle and my name engraved on the
blade. My purpose for the knife was as a deer cleaning blade for internal
work where a larger hunting knife just doesn’t work very well. I am pleased
to report that this fine example of your art is exactly what I needed. It is
incredibly sharp and even bone doesn’t dull the blade. When not in use in
the field it sits on my desk as a letter opener. It is one of the finer
possessions a man can treasure for his lifetime and then pass on to many
future generations…knowing they will treasure it equally as well.
Custom and handmade working knives often speak to the style of the owner. That is why any good maker can and does make many different styles, and is capable of new designs applied to a wide range of works. In effect, a good knife maker does not "specialize" in one particular type of knife, he specializes each knife for individual clients to suit their needs and tastes.
Jay, I tried the blade out on several materials today. I cut rigid PVC hose, cardboard, nylon rope and chopped a little at some wood we had lying around. (usual field chores) The tip got to penetrate a couple of old coffee cans as well as some thin aluminum sheet we had lying around the shop (can opening, piercing light body armor). I cut up some meat (chicken and beef ribs) for a BBQ and it was a clean slice through all of it. The blade preformed flawlessly at my impromptu testing, I am confident it will serve we well in a contingency environment for a long time.
I also wore a pair of gloves and practiced drawing and sheathing. I wore a pair of Nomex Flight Gloves and a pair of Mechanixs brand gloves. I was able to extract and sheath the blade with both pairs. The Nomex was thinner and worked the same as bare hands, the mechanixs gloves required a bit more force with my thumb to disengage the lock (due to the glove material thickness) but was manageable.
The belt loops worked with me pulling a single thickness riggers belt through the loops. The double thickness I wear usually was to thick to pull through. Is it ok to removing the Chicago screws holding the loops and replacing them when I put it on a thicker belt? e.g. a nylon duty style belt or double thick riggers belt.
One thing I did not even think about was the fact that I usually wear sheath knives cross draw for right hand. I wore the knife in uniform and it is very secure and close to my body, I don't have really any problem cross drawing the knife, i just have to use both hands sometimes to bring it into position. An angle position was an after thought on my part. With a little practice I was able to draw with both hands from the standing position with out using the other most of the time.
For sharpening I plan on using a diamond steel and a aluminum ceramic rod, perhaps one of those ceramic pocket sharpener for touch ups when I am out in the bush. Speaking of sharpeners did you get the ceramic tube you use from McMasterCarr? It looks like a good investment to me.
I am really impressed with your work Jay, you are a master!!! I am proud to own one of your works of art and carry it into harms way. I am interested in another blade perhaps a hybrid or a folder, I will have to look through your catalog you sent and see some of the features.
Thanks again, Ill be in touch.
There are many knives that have many uses. For instance, if a knife is ordered or purchased as a field knife, a skinning knife, or a utility knife, those are not specific and restricted uses that the knife must adhere to. Many knives can be efficient at a variety of cutting chores, and it is often the desire of the knife client that the blade shape and handle style are versatile and variable.
Jay, I received my knife a few days ago and I wanted to write you and tell you how pleased I am with the knife you created for me. Jay, ordering a knife from you is a journey! I can remember my first glance at your web sight, looking at all those beautiful, rugged, and inspiring knives you have created for your clients.
Then I began to read the copious amounts of information you have written about on so many topics related to a quality knife, and for that matter, lousy knives. I took a side road or two to research the information you write about on your sight and I can say this: your information is accurate, your opinions are based on exceptional research, years of experience, and just plain good sense. And yes, I did research some of the topics you wrote about to test the information you provided. This took me many months, but it was well worth it to know that the individual I was going to do business knew what he was talking about, had proven experience, and applied his knowledge to his work. You do!
The next leg of my journey was to actually call and talk to you; that was intimidating, believe it or not. Thank you for putting me at ease and for taking the time away from your studio and works in progress to educate me, listen to my expectations, and to manage them so carefully.
Next thing I knew I was giving you my story. If you’ll recall, I told you about the hundreds of dollars I have spent over the last 20 years in purchasing knives that I though were of good or excellent quality, only to retire them to a plastic container in the garage filled with old knives that turned out to be a waste of money. You asked me what I was going to be using my knife for, under what conditions, and then you started mold a vision for me of what my knife would look like. I wanted a working knife, of exceptional form and function and a sheath that would hold my knife whether I was walking, running, climbing, or belly crawling through a variety of conditions. I wanted an edge that was sharp and strong, but able to touch up in the field. I often spent extended times in the field, so low maintenance was also a priority.
Jay, you delivered!! I received my knife and when I opened it, I was elated! Not only did you meet my expectations, you exceeded them. I have a knife and sheath that was worth EVERY bit of what I paid for it. I will use it often with full confidence that it won’t let me down. Believe it or not, I cannot wait until the day I can hand it down to one of my kids. At first I felt my journey was over but after many times handling my knife, and proudly showing it off to others, I have a feeling another journey is in the making.
Jay, in this day and age of mass production, where we the consumer are often lied to and cheated through promises of good or even exceptional quality, it was fantastic to meet an ethical, honest business man who so carefully considers the needs and expectations of his customer as you do. I consider it an honor and a pleasure to have done business with you, and look forward to future contacts with you.
Durability is key in the materials and construction of fine knives. The high alloy tool steel blades should be the best our current technology can produce, the supporting materials like bolsters and guards should be high strength and are often corrosion resistant choices. Handle materials should be tough and yet comfortable, and sheaths should withstand many years of use, yet be convenient to wear and secure in protection from the knife point and cutting edge.
Jay, I've owned one of your knives for about 5 years now. It was purchased at a fair in New Mexico, and given to me as a gift. It's a small drop-point skinner, and a beautiful piece of work! Not only is it a piece of art, it is extremely functional and holds a great edge. I have put it to the test quite a few times in the past years, and it has performed flawlessly in every occasion. I'm proud to use it and proud to show it off as well.
That little knife is perfect for skinning deer and hogs though. Perfectly balanced, complete control. I just wanted to say thanks for a great product. Thanks for a great knife!
Phil Parker- Edmond, OK
Working knives can wear; they will show the scratches and marks of their life. These are often seen by the owner as proud signs of use, and some owners can recount every scuff and stain. Like wrinkles on an aged face, they can speak to experience, trust, and dependability.
Jay, The knife arrived today safe and sound. It is far more amazing in person than I could have imagined. My challenge now is to actually deploy such a work of art in the field (the first scuffs will be the hardest, after that it should get easier). I have never owned anything like this, thank you. I know it will be a great companion for many, many years.
Thank you again for all your help and patience with my questions.
Cheers, E. C.
Working knives can be highly personalized, and suit their owners like an extension of the hand. From a person who uses their hands daily, I can testify to the value of good, clean, ergonomic knife design. There is no set pattern or shape that is the best, no one style to adhere to that will accommodate every individual. The human hand is an extremely versatile piece of work, the human mind and its preference for specific styles, even more so.
Jay, Well, Jay, now I’ve got a problem. I ordered the knife as a daily user, to carry with me always – my third hand. Now that I have it, I see it should be displayed on a shelf as a work of art!
When I saw your picture of the knife, my mouth dropped open. Now that I actually have it in my hands, the reality of it takes me to an even higher level. I am overwhelmed. What extraordinary quality and workmanship. And the balance... I don’t hold on to it, it clings to my hand, resting there as if it always belonged. You really put yourself into it. I’m speechless… but AWESOME (in a very loud voice) comes to mind. You truly are an artist and a knife your canvas. But, I am going to follow through and carry your artwork with me every day. A knife needs a hand to make it whole. It’ll be a good friend.
Let me give you some first impressions of specific aspects. I read on your web about “balance”. Now I truly understand. Alegre is a knife with a little heft for its size, yet it’s so balanced in my hand. I also love how the handle belly, the upper arch on the top of the handle, the hawk bill quillon on the rear bolster and the quillon on the front bolster conform to the hand.
The concave forward extension of the front bolster turned out well. Aesthetically it adds to the gentle forward sweep/curve of the knife. It also works well as the thumb rest. I wondered if the filing through the thumb rest would aggravate the thumb, but you don’t even notice it. I will be enable to place a lot of thumb pressure to the job.
The mirrored finish, what can I say -- thanks. It takes the knife up to a whole another level. I cannot imagine it without it now.
I’ll say it again; your signature in the blade is perfect. An artist signing his work.
The dovetailed gemstones and bolsters shout quality. The fit you are able to get throughout the knife is unbelievable.
The filing is awesome. (There is that word again.) I didn’t realty expect to get something that special. I love how it goes the total length of the spine to the grind termination. The thin triangular slice in the tip of the spine seems an extension of the filing; like the tip of an arrow. It is wonderful how the filing narrows down as it goes toward and through the rear bolster and yet you keep the pattern going. Then it slowly dissipates, as if through years of wear, at the front quillon. Thanks for the filing in the choil. I didn’t expect that but I really wanted it. I think it adds so much to the style of the knife.
The sheath is amazing all in itself. The basket weave is perfect. It oozes quality but does not shout. And then you threw in the extras. The museum display tag is a great idea. The CD of all your knives is appreciated. Thanks.
New Mexico… You know when I found out I’d priced myself out of the original vision of the knife, I was a little depressed. But your insights were helpful and right on. I could not afford that much right now and I would have never used as a daily knife. BUT... you still created a knife that reflects our wonderful state. Here is what I will see every time I look at it:
The gentle arching top/spine is a broad, expansive NM horizon. The forward sweeping concave front bolster, grind radius and tanto point further accent that. The hawk bill rear quillon with its “eye” brings to mind NM wildlife. The Polvadera jasper you chose is perfect, maybe even more than you realize. I love all the veins and various earth tones. The warm color of the nickel bolsters blend marvelously with the gems. There is a nice depth to the stones. You look into them. That adds a richness and mystery. They remind me of the geology in NM. The left side gemstone, the one in your picture, has the red of a NM setting sun. When you turn it over there is the white of the NM snow topped mountain peaks. And then being an actual NM gemstone makes it really special. Here’s a toast to the Polvadera mountains. And then, of course, the filling is the lightning (what a great name you chose) from our summer thunderstorms.
One of the most often-heard phrases I've encountered is that a knife is "too pretty to use." I've even posted a special section on my FAQ page about the comment. The easiest thing to do is to compare with other objects we create and use in our lives. A fine vehicle, musical instrument, or furniture ay be aesthetically pleasing as well as useful. Custom and handmade knife clients know that fine knives can live up to their value not only in beauty, but in function.
Jay, What struck me first was the appearance of the knife. Without touching it, my first thought was - this is entirely to pretty to be put to work. I would find out how far I was off the mark a week later. The knife has superb balance and feel. It is an extremely versatile and effective (i.e. lethal) design, despite its origins being a "working" knife. The simply utility of the design is incredible. I put the Quark through the paces, no doubt. With my previous commercial and issue weapons, the edges had a short half life, and I would usually spend some time every few days refining them. The Quark's edge has held up amazingly well, and I confess that I found no need to re-sharpen after 3 weeks in the field. The Quark easily met all of the criteria I asked about during our initial discussions.
I'm incredibly impressed - and from this point forward, a loyal patron.
Thank you Jay. --M.M.
If I make one good knife that a client is happy with, he'll often return for another. A hefty piece of my business is through repeat customers, and it's my hope that they'll come to me for all their fine knife needs. I do my best to work with them, applying their interests, requirements, and needs with my knife making practice and skill, to supply them with just the knife they want.
Jay, what a truly incredible knife…!
Every knife I get from you is simply a pure work of art. People say that about the software I write but in my case it can’t be held in your hand, admired for the fine creative lines of the scroll work, hefted in the hand for the joy of fine balance you have achieved or passed among friends for the look of awe and admiration it evokes. You are a true master.
Though you may see me use the masculine terms on this site, it's not just men that desire and use fine handmade and custom working knives. Any man or woman who appreciates fine workmanship can be happy with a well-made knife.
I have been remiss in that I have not let you know how pleased we are with the knife you made for my wife.
You did a beautiful job on it an she is very pleased. My daughters think it is lovely as well -- my oldest
asked me how old I was when I got my first knife so I think she is angling for one of her own.
Thank you again. It was a pleasure working with you.
You might be surprised how many different types of trades require good, solid, dependable, and sometimes custom knives. Knives are not just for the kitchen or the field, they are used onboard ships, in survival situations, and by people who handle textiles, shipping containers, and even hazardous materials. Fine knives are desired by hunters, fishermen, hikers, and every type of outdoorsman. Knives are used by electricians, mechanics, and in the construction industries. When you think about it, it seems nearly every occupation might require a knife for some task. Any knife used can usually be custom made to suit a knife user, and can always be made better than a factory knife.
Jay, I bought the small Nihal with the jasper handle and my name
engraved on the blade. My purpose for the knife was as a deer cleaning
blade for internal work where a larger hunting knife just doesn’t work
very well. I am pleased to report that this fine example of your art is
exactly what I needed. It is incredibly sharp and even bone doesn’t dull
the blade. When not in use in the field it sits on my desk as a letter
opener. It is one of the finer possessions a man can treasure for his
lifetime and then pass on to many future generations…knowing they will
treasure it equally as well.
You might wonder what it might be like to own at least one good working knife, custom or handmade, in your lifetime. What might it be like to own a knife made just for you, just the way you like it? You're in the right place here and on other well-known custom knife makers' web sites.
Jay, They've just arrived. These things are gorgeous !!!!I think perhaps
you've outdone yourself this time. I'll let you know how they're received by
my wife........I'm sure that she'll be as stunned as I am. Gobsmacked is the
term that leaps to mind. Thank you for your superb efforts.
I hope you've enjoyed looking at some of my working knives. The pictures run the range from my early career in knife making in the early 1980's to recent works. Like the rest of the site, I'll continue to update this page with new photos. Thanks for considering my knives for yourself or those you care about. Feel free to email me with your custom knife ideas!
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|440C: A Love/Hate Affair|
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