Aaron Bieber Knives – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 432)
Aaron Bieber of Aaron Bieber Knives joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 430 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Aaron makes fixed blade traditional and tactical knives focused on craftsmanship, quality, and performance. He is located in Pennsylvania.
He studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, which is also the Knife Junkie’s alma mater. Aaron has also worked with and for legendary knifemaker John Gray.
Find Aaron Bieber Knives on Instagram at www.instagram.com/aaronbieberknives.
Be sure to support The Knife Junkie and get in on the perks of being a Patron — including early access to the podcast and exclusive bonus content. You also can support the Knife Junkie channel with your next knife purchase. Find our affiliate links at theknifejunkie.com/knives.Aaron Bieber of Aaron Bieber Knives joins Bob on Episode 430 of #theknifejunkie #podcast. Aaron makes fixed blade traditional and tactical knives focused on craftsmanship, quality, and performance. Click To Tweet
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Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast, your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your host, Bob the Knife Junkie. DeMarco.
Bob DeMarco [00:00:16]:
Welcome to the Knife Junkie Podcast. I'm Bob DeMarco. On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Aaron Bieber of Aaron Bieber Knives. I've been following Aaron on Instagram for a while now, first drawn in by his very unique pacal style fixed blade called the DMF. But soon I discovered his ultra refined, EDC long clip fighter that's my description called the 302, with Japanese handle wrap and varying grinds and finishes from blade to blade. While sharking around Blade show, I spotted a case filled with three hundred and two s. And then I introduced myself to the man that made them. And then things got interesting. Right away we'll talk all about Aaron's work and how he found himself making knives. But first, be sure to like, comment, subscribe, hit the notification bell, and if you would share the show, that's a great way to help spread the word about how well, how wonderful and wholesome knives are. And as always, if you want to help support the show, the quickest way to do that is to head over to theknifejunkie.com Slash Patreon and see what we have to offer there. Again. That's theknifejunkie.com slash patreon.
Do you carry multiple knives then overthink which one to use when an actual cutting chore pops up? You're a knife junkie of the first order.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:26]:
Aaron, welcome to the show, sir. Hi, Bob, how you doing there?
Aaron Bieber [00:01:30]:
Great, how are you?
Bob DeMarco [00:01:31]:
I'm doing great, I'm doing great. So, congratulations on a successful blade show. You told me you had a pretty bang up time there. Yeah. Tell me all about it.
Aaron Bieber [00:01:42]:
Well, it was my first time doing Blade show, so I didn't know what to expect except a massive knife show and finally being able to meet people like, you mean just everything about it. I joke around with my friends and say it was like fear and loathing, fear and loathing, Las Vegas kind of experience. But it was just great. I mean, I was up late, I did a lot of networking, I met a lot of new friends, a lot of friends that had only talked to online. I got to say, the guy that I kind of shadowed the whole time, my friend John Gray, he was fabulous through the whole experience, getting me involved with other makers, late show. I'm looking forward to next year already, just to meet people and have a great time again.
Bob DeMarco [00:02:36]:
Yeah, this was my third year and first year was overwhelming and an overwhelmingly positive experience. But second year and third year I came home and I was like, man, I kind of wish it could be Blade Show, like all the time because I feel so comfortable, I'm so in my element. And everyone here, if they're not cool, they're at least unoffensive. It is such a great crowd such a great space and filled with those things that have us just going crazy, calling ourselves junkies.
Aaron Bieber [00:03:08]:
Yeah, pretty accurate.
Bob DeMarco [00:03:12]:
So in my intro, I said things got interesting. We very quickly discovered that we both went to the same art school, and we both sort of ascertained we're around the same age, I don't think we were there at the same time. I think you were there at a different time than I was, but pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, great place, great experience I had there. But really, it felt like a small world meeting you and then just talking with you. Now it ends up you live in the town where my girlfriend used to live back in the day when I was dating her. So very interesting to see those sort of parallels. So you obviously love knives. You're spending all your time making them. Tell me how it developed. I assume it came out of the handsiness of making artwork, but it's a different thing than making artwork. Tell me how you came to make knives.
Aaron Bieber [00:04:03]:
Well, okay, I had made a few when I was younger, maybe two or three. When I was maybe in my early teens, I was hanging out with some friends. They took me to a Dojo. They had some weapons there and some knives, and I saw some of the tantos and stuff on the walls, and I kind of really got, like, sucked right in. Because I'm a kid, I can't get my mom or dad to go buy me a tanto or something. So the next best thing I could do is make yeah, so I had always liked knives, being in the Boy Scouts, and it was just how I was. My grandfather gave me my first knife, a K bar from World War II. So that was my first knife. And just have been attracted to him ever since. I made someone I was younger, I kind of got out of it. I went through a rough stretch in life, I'll call it or an adventure, and I made my way out of that tunnel. And about five years ago, a friend of mine said, hey, check it out. I just had a knife made. He commissioned a knife. He showed it to me, and I was like, this is awesome, and this is what I've been looking for. So next thing you know, I'm doing homework, and I got sucked into reading about metallurgy and what kind of tools do people use, and I'm just grabbing any kind of tool I had around my house or my parents house that remotely would help me make a knife. And next thing you know, I'm grinding with a two x. I mean, like like a three x 18 inch belt sander that I had flipped on its back, grinding with the edge away from me in one direction and then forged me in the other direction and making a little forge to heat treat. And anneal and I just got sucked right in.
Bob DeMarco [00:06:13]:
When you were studying art, what was the discipline within fine arts that you studied? And how do you see it coming to fruition in your knives, if at all?
Aaron Bieber [00:06:24]:
Actually, it's really funny because I was a painting major at the Academy, painting was probably the thing that I did the least of. I liked making stuff, fabricating, building. And even though I was a painting major, every one of the critics I mean, you remember how you would have critics come into your studio and they talk to you about your work in progress. They all just rolled with it. They're like, you're a painting major, but clearly you like making stuff. You're more of a sculptural kind of person. I'm like, yeah. I was like, I'm not going to change my major now, but this is what I'm doing, being able to think something through, have a little bit of a vision of where you want it to go and learning what kind of tools to use and what's going to get you the best result. Some of that definitely has played off, and some of the instructors, they said, if you're going to do something that everybody else is doing, the only thing you can do is do it better. And I'm not saying I do it better than anybody, but internally, I constantly want to do better than I've done before. So that's how I look at it.
Bob DeMarco [00:07:46]:
One thing that I see in my life, even though I'm not painting, I do it occasionally or I'll go through little spells. I always have something creative going on in my life. This is a big part of that. But I will find that without that outlet, it's not good. You always have to have something that you're building up, putting something into and making stuff out of. And when you start building tools instead of artwork, I feel like something changes. Now, I say that because I've made 20 knives in my life. These famous 20 knives I'm always talking about, and they're done in my shed, and they took a long time to make, and they're no good. But they taught me some things. And one thing I remember is when I'm working on a number of things, I work on a number of things at once. And instead of taking one thing all the way from start to finish and then starting another one, I guess it's just an efficiency thing. But that started with fine art. I don't know why. I was just curious if any of that.
Aaron Bieber [00:08:55]:
I think you're on point there. When you're doing things in multiples. I think as far as how I work, I learn more if I'm working on three things at the same time, if they're all the same, the progress from the first one to the last one, by the time I'm doing the stuff in the last one, everything's going quicker. Cleaner grinds are nicer I feel more comfortable about something. But if I'm working on a couple different kinds of builds, I just got to process everything that much quicker and not question it. Just like, go with it. Maybe you've heard this story, but there was an art teacher, he split his class in half, and he said, this half, I want you to make masterpieces. This half, I want you just to produce as much work as you can. And at the end of all this, we're going to grade the work and critique it. And the people that did the masterpiece work did not have the same quality as the people that did the quantity. And I guess maybe that's just because of getting used to it, getting in the flow and the rhythm and letting things happen instead of just being so ultra focused.
Bob DeMarco [00:10:14]:
Right. And when you're thinking, I'm going to make a masterpiece, you never do it. Is that showing up, so to speak, that concept of just showing up and putting in the work and then eventually, oh, my gosh, look at all the work I've done and look at what I've learned from here to here. Okay, so if people know what we're talking about, if they're not already following you, let's take a look first at that DMF I mentioned if you have one handy, because this was the one that caught my eye in my PICAL phase, which is permanent.
Aaron Bieber [00:10:46]:
I've got two variations. Well, they're both the same knife, but one is.
Bob DeMarco [00:10:53]:
All right. So there are two different versions here. Same knife, but different embodiments, different finish, different materials. So this is a very unique style of Pickall. We've seen reverse tonto pickalls, but I've never seen an actual tonto pickle, and that's what I would call that. I think it's stunning and it reminds me of a shark. But the one I like even more is the one in your left hand with the jigged bone. It's so modern meets traditional here.
Aaron Bieber [00:11:31]:
Definitely. I feel the same way. Just bringing that jig bone, old popcorn style jig bone together with the modern blade and the tactical groups. It worked. It worked out.
Bob DeMarco [00:11:52]:
So are all of your knives in this? I mean, this is very much a tactical knife. Of course you could use it for utility. It'd be great. Just reorient it in your hand. It'd be great for utility. But that in the 302, which is one that I see a lot of on your page. It seems to be your flagship model. Maybe. I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but right now, yeah.
Aaron Bieber [00:12:16]:
That'S a lot of people are giving attention to.
Bob DeMarco [00:12:20]:
Both have a very sort of self defensey feel, I got to say. Do you have a 302 handy that you could show up so people know what I'm talking about there?
Aaron Bieber [00:12:27]:
Yes, I do. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:12:30]:
So I called it in my open, a long clips fighter. I don't know what you call it. But to me, I see that and it's built for speed.
Aaron Bieber [00:12:39]:
Built for speed, yeah, it definitely can be used as a defensive knife. You know, some of the geometry, you know, the heel on the blade that lets you, you know, you know, your palm come right up to it without poking yourself, being uncomfortable so you can get a real good master grip on it. But just for everyday utility, it's comfortable. Right? Now, this is my favorite design I've been carrying. I made two prototypes. I've been carrying one of the prototypes for months now, months on end. It's the fixed blade that I'm carrying, right? I mean, that's how happy I am. I don't know, it's on me. It doesn't print just with a simple T shirt. I'll go belt loop. I'm carrying it horizontally. Appendix, it's light. So really it's not burdensome. If I jump on the couch, I don't know it's there. It doesn't descend to my gut or hip or abdomen, nothing. It's just really comfortable carry. And to me, that's like a game changer. This knife doesn't stay in my sock drawer, right? I carry it and use it.
Bob DeMarco [00:14:05]:
So I have been being honest with myself about some of the knives that I have and it's the ones that I keep noticing myself carrying over and over. I don't want to get rid of the other ones. I love them all. But the ones that I keep carrying are those we're in summertime now. And I always have a fixed blade on me and light is the name of the game. Light and flat is the name of the game. And I've moved I used to be at 03:00 and I've moved it around to the front and yeah, a knife like that that doesn't print is priceless because you're not going to be worried about it. You're going to have it on you. And like you said, with the 302, you forget it's on you until you need a knife. And then you're like, oh yeah, I.
Aaron Bieber [00:14:45]:
Forget it's on me. I'm like, where did I leave it?
Bob DeMarco [00:14:48]:
I'm like, yeah, anyone got a knife? You're like, not me.
Aaron Bieber [00:14:51]:
It's right here.
Bob DeMarco [00:14:53]:
But one thing that's striking to me about the 302 especially, I think all of the ones I've seen are in that sukamaki wrap. There's a very east meets west feel to that knife because the blade itself reminds me of a Bowie or a fighter, a Western style fighter. And then the handle with that sukamaki treatment and then also the angle of the blade to the handle is sort of Far Eastern like. Reminds me a little bit of the Filipino style knives. Tell me about the inspirations that brought you to this design.
Aaron Bieber [00:15:26]:
Well, if I was to trace the profile, that's how this happened. I traced the profile. 302 is actually a folder design. I don't have the template or anything here. I'm hoping next week to actually be able to put the pedal to the metal about making something happen with it. But I was playing with bolder ideas and I changed a few lines. I put that little swept ridge on the back of the spine, on the forward part of the blade, and I was really happy overall with proportions and the size that I wanted this folder to be at. I didn't want it to be a giant folder. I didn't want it to be a micro. I wanted to be around seven inch, seven and a half inch overall length open. And I had a design that I liked there. One day I'm working on some stuff and I just happened to trace the whole design, just the profile silhouette of the folder open. And it hit me that this really might work well as a fixed blade also. And next thing you know, I got the bug up my butt. It was right before a show. It was about a week before a show. I said, I got to get two of these now. So next thing you know, I'm staying up late, grinding heat, treating, doing everything. And so that's how the first two came about. And one of those I ended up keeping just as a reference, because if I'm going to do something multiple times, I want to have like, a solid reference in front, just not a drawing. So I kept the one. And yeah, I've been going with it since. I'm really happy with design and I can't wait to do the folder.
Bob DeMarco [00:17:33]:
You're ready to go with that folder? It looks now, when I'm looking at it, I can imagine how that folder is going to be. I think it's going to be damn cool. I think there's something even, maybe especially in creative pursuits, where a deadline really puts your feet to the fire and you got to come up with something. And when it comes to creativity and creative people, it's an ego thing, too. You don't want to show up empty handed. I'm a knife designer, but I just couldn't quite come up with a knife. No, that does not fly. So there's something about that pressure and that timing thing that I think helps creative people. When you were getting ready for Blade show, what was your process? Because you hadn't been there, you didn't know what to expect in terms of how many people were going to buy or that kind of thing. How did you prep for it?
Aaron Bieber [00:18:25]:
Well, as far as customers, I approach any show, as I would like to call it, a financial success, but I just want to go have a good time, meet people and have a good time, just be around other Mike people. As far as prepping for Blade, I knew what designs I was going to bring, and I had a lot of DMF blanks here that were halfway finished that I was working on bringing the show. The paranoias, I was on a little bit of a crunch because I had the template and templates for both of those designs. I sent them out about a month and a half before Blade show. So I needed them back and heat treated, giving me enough time to get them done. And fortunately they got back maybe a month before Blade or three weeks. I just put my nose down, went to work.
Bob DeMarco [00:19:39]:
So what is your process? It sounds like you have the blanks water jetted or something.
Aaron Bieber [00:19:45]:
Yeah, I have them cut and then for larger runs, I'll have stuff cut and heat treated. It outside. I'll outsource that because for me to sit there and grind 20 of 2030, whatever number of the same profile, that's painful.
Bob DeMarco [00:20:08]:
Yeah, well, that's also no way to make money.
Aaron Bieber [00:20:14]:
It's a financial killer. I think I would spend so much money on abrasives and time, the biggest time. It's an investment that I have to make when I have stuff cut and outsourced, heat treat and all that.
Bob DeMarco [00:20:32]:
But it's just part of the game.
Aaron Bieber [00:20:35]:
It's just part of what I need to do to keep moving forward. Grinding the knives. I feel comfortable grinding knives. Once in a blue moon, I'll butcher something. I'm human, and I butchered one really good a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to have six knives here. It's in a shelf this week and then an hour later I'm going to have five knives shelf this week. But I've learned that stuff isn't the end of the world. I learned something.
Bob DeMarco [00:21:17]:
Waste is a part of every process, period. Sometimes I've heard knife makers say that, and I've done this in plenty other parts of my life, is that you can discover something really cool from your mistakes. Like, oh, wow, I had no idea I wanted to make a keychain knife. This started as a bowie.
Aaron Bieber [00:21:36]:
But yeah, dude, mistakes, happy mistakes.
Bob DeMarco [00:21:41]:
Aaron Bieber [00:21:42]:
Happy accident and just learning from them, that kind of stuff is priceless. You got to spend some time behind the wheel and mess up a little. And for me, that's how I work. And when I mess up, I get a little bothered, but I don't want to dwell on it. I want to keep getting better and do what I can do.
Bob DeMarco [00:22:08]:
So your knives, I'm thinking now specifically of the 302. I handled a number of those, and you also had one in titanium, if I'm remembering correctly. Maybe I'm wrong. You're right next to Mr. Gray. Okay. But they're so thinly ground, at least those 302s. They have really thin slicing, cutting blades. They come to a nice acute point. Tell me about so you get these blanks back, and I'm not trying to steal your process. You get these blanks back, they're heat treated, and now you're setting forth to grind. Take us in your shop with you and tell us what that's like.
Aaron Bieber [00:22:52]:
Well, when I get something back here's a blank, paranoia blank that I got back, you'll see all the cross patch grinding that's going on it. This is decarb free magna cut for these knives and the two S. I prefer working in 530. Second point 15 for these. That used to be me. I don't want to do quarter inch thick, that whole too thick or too thin kind of thing. I'm looking for that sweet spot for whatever knife I'm doing the 530 2nd for these and the 302s really is the sweet spot, I think. So after I get them back from heat treat, I'll clean up all the profile because there's still like a curve there from water, jet, laser, whatever process you haven't done. If I have to ream anything out, I'll ream it out for standoffs. I'll surface grind the sides to clean it up to get rid of any kind of scuff scratches. If I want a real clean machine, belt finished knife, it's got to be clean. So I'm cleaning all up from grinding knives. I know I don't need to put scribe where I want my double height. I just know so I can go to town. I freehand grind and I fixture grind. So depending on the knife and what's happening, I'll do either.
Bob DeMarco [00:24:49]:
Well, so what does determine is it like if you have time? You said it depends on the model and what's happening is it a matter of kind of getting it? I got a whole bunch of these to do quickly. Let me put this on the fixture so I'm not messing around.
Aaron Bieber [00:25:06]:
If I'm doing like a run, if I'm doing a run, I want a fixture. It just keeps everything that much more consistent. So I'll fixture grind if I'm doing a run of ten or something and it's all the same and I want them to be as close as possible. Yeah, I'll fix your grind. And I used to suck at fixture grinding. When I first started, I tried it, I couldn't do it to save my life.
Bob DeMarco [00:25:40]:
Aaron Bieber [00:25:41]:
It was horrible. Horrible.
Bob DeMarco [00:25:43]:
Because the assumption is that it's easier, but to me, I don't think it's easier. I would imagine it's just different. There's a whole other bunch of parameters to get you to get that steel looking right.
Aaron Bieber [00:25:55]:
It's different. I would say it's different, yeah. But I absolutely sucked at it. So I threw my homemade fixture out the window and just started.
Bob DeMarco [00:26:06]:
Well, I've heard that that feedback that you get from actually holding the blade is very valuable, or can be very valuable, at least when you're starting the tactile feedback that you feel through the knife as it's on the belt.
Aaron Bieber [00:26:24]:
Yeah, you feel heat, you feel pressure, you rock your body a little forward and then you got more pressure going up towards the tip. Or you push your belly in a little more and then so you're pushing in the spine a little more, raising a bevel up higher. I don't know, it's kind of like a groovy thing.
Bob DeMarco [00:26:50]:
Yeah, it's like a feel and flow thing.
Aaron Bieber [00:26:53]:
Bob DeMarco [00:26:54]:
I'm guessing. I don't know.
Aaron Bieber [00:26:56]:
Bob DeMarco [00:26:56]:
I wish I had the experience. So the blank you're holding in your hand, the paranoia. So that one. I've only seen pictures of this as a standard knife, but it also looks like it would be so wheat as a large pecal just because of the angle of the tip. If you had it in that reverse grip. Reverse grip? Yeah. That's pretty sweet.
Aaron Bieber [00:27:17]:
Yeah, I'll be doing one or two, either double edged or maybe put a little more of a curve in here and put an edge down here at some point. And the same with 302, actually, the 302, there's a little thing I want to do just to give it a little extra piece of material. So on another run, I may do a little variation and do some with that reverse edge design because it feels good. And I think it's just from playing with the standard design, it would cross over nice.
Bob DeMarco [00:27:57]:
Right. Okay, so tell me about your sukamaki wrap, your Japanese wrap. And sometimes you put even a little I can't remember what it's called, but the little yes. Under Manuki under the wrap. How did you learn to do this? And why do you choose this as opposed to handle slabs? I mean, I know you use handle slabs also, but why go for that traditional wrap?
Aaron Bieber [00:28:24]:
Well, besides liking it, I think it's got a place I didn't always like wraps, actually. I hated wraps up till, you know, a couple of years ago. Most wraps I felt that were predominantly on, like, production knives. They were loose and squishy, and there was nothing attractive about holding a loose, squishy handle, especially on an edged tool. If it's, like, rocking and rolling in your hand, that's not right. So I didn't like then, you know, hanging out with John a bit. He was really into doing some raps at the time. When I had first met him and playing with his knives, I kind of really started to appreciate him again because he was bonding his wraps and just doing some really neat stuff with it. So that kind of steered me in that direction of wanting to play with rats again or at least accepting on my game. So going from, yeah, I never want to do a rap I don't like it, to, yeah, I think I might like this, and I want to do more of it. So, I mean, I was I was just using some stuff, and I was just doing a real simple here's a shot mic. This is a design I've been doing for years, but just this heavy duty. I mean, I usually use this thing. It's my throwing knife. It's my box knife. I got to chop some metal knife. But that cord there initially was what the wrap I was doing, and a lot of people like it because it's bonded, it's rock solid, it's jute right? No, it's a poly. It's a poly polycord kind of stuff. And it feels really comfortable, and it takes a beating. It's resilient. So I kind of really got into that, and then I started to really admire some of the Japanese rap stuff and the variations of it. So I started just to learn. I would play with, like, an Edo, and I would kind of butcher it. I wouldn't be doing it for real to fix on a blade, but just learning, just playing. I kind of had it down to where I felt pretty good about it, but there was still some little things about it I didn't like. And one day I came across a book, and there was just that one little last piece of information in that book that kind of said, do this. And that was the last little thing that I needed that kind of changed my wrap into something that I felt was acceptable.
Bob DeMarco [00:31:39]:
Can I tell you something that first of all, I love the Japanese style wrap. I love it for its looks and feel, but I also love the utility when you turn it on its side. I love that you have alt peaks. This is not a perfect example of what I'm talking about, but you get alternating peaks, and then between those peaks are grooves, and your fingers sink into them. I think it's some of the best grip ever on some cord wrap knives that are definitely supposed to be tactical that I own. I don't miss not having a guard. I don't miss not having Quillians because of those alternating peaks. They just grab the hand so well.
Aaron Bieber [00:32:16]:
Did somebody give you that? Somebody give her that?
Bob DeMarco [00:32:21]:
Yes. Yes, exactly. That's cool. Another knife making Aaron I'd like to talk to interesting guy, but there's something that when I look at our Japanese wrap, I have a little finicky thing that I like. When the cloth meets, I like it to wrap around itself and go back or come over and turn. So it makes a higher peak. That's all I'm getting at, is that they're not crossing over flat. They're somehow twisting and causing a higher peak.
Aaron Bieber [00:32:55]:
Yeah, there's all little nuances to it. You were talking about, Manuki. I kind of got my wrap to where I liked, and then I start throwing manuki's into the picture, and then I had to start learning how to set the manukis in there. Nice.
Bob DeMarco [00:33:22]:
Okay, so is that ray skin under there?
Aaron Bieber [00:33:24]:
Yeah, this is one of the Paranoia prototypes, but there's black ray skin.
Bob DeMarco [00:33:35]:
Wow. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about on your wrap. See how yeah, you know what I'm talking about. But I like the way it's not crossing over. It's looping within and pulling back. Anyway, so the Manuki idea originally was to cover the pin on a samurai sword, and then it became more and more ornate or meaningful. Not necessarily ornate, but meaningful. What do you like. About putting the and then and then what do you make them out of? And what do you tell me?
Aaron Bieber [00:34:14]:
It all depends. Like on this one, this was bone. I did a couple of bone manufacture. I just did diamonds, faceted diamonds. I've done some with carbon fiber in there, a few knives. People have sent me, Manuki, to put in under the wrap. So I'm open to anything. I've got a friend that has some old piano keys, just the faces of them. So the ivory faces, I think that might be neat. I don't know.
Bob DeMarco [00:35:01]:
They bulk up the grip a little bit. Right? They also give you a little bit more of a little bit put in your palm.
Aaron Bieber [00:35:07]:
Yeah, it definitely gives a little palm swell in that area.
Bob DeMarco [00:35:14]:
Yeah, you can really see what I'm talking about from this angle. Why that is such a good grip. You can see where your fingers are going to go.
Aaron Bieber [00:35:24]:
Yeah, it definitely feels good. I don't put them on the 302s. It doesn't flow to me. It doesn't feel like it increases any value in the hand. It just doesn't feel any more comfortable. There's nothing added by it. So less is more on those.
Bob DeMarco [00:35:45]:
Okay, so this is now a business for you. Not now a business. This is a business for you. I think knife makers, at least this is what I feel my conflict would be. The difference between or the part of the job. That's the great part that you love. The making of the knives, the quiet time in the studio, or not so.
Aaron Bieber [00:36:08]:
Quiet time, so to speak, in the.
Bob DeMarco [00:36:10]:
Shop, but the time alone, working on your perfecting your craft and making your things versus, okay, how much steel am I going to order? Or like when I asked you that pre blade show question, it's kind of like how do restaurants figure out how much fish to buy? That's one of those things about business that maybe I don't quite get for you. And knife making, what was it like getting used to the business aspect?
Aaron Bieber [00:36:35]:
Well, to start, I still have a full time job, so 40 hours a week dedicated to doing something for somebody else.
Bob DeMarco [00:36:45]:
Sure, I kind of figured that, but you've got something you got to support.
Aaron Bieber [00:36:51]:
So the rest of the other 40 hours are here, and some weeks I just have to pay attention to the family. Other weeks, my wife and kids, they realize I'm going to be out here, and if they need me, just to come out here and get me. But as far as the business aspect, materials, tools, I mean, all of it, it's a constant thing in the back of the mind. If you're making a bunch of knives, that means you're using a bunch of material. So you have to constantly replenish and have the means to replenish it. It's just part of it. I like looking for new materials, new hardware. I like doing all that. Really, every bit of the knife making thing is to me, I'm happy as to be. None of it really is a hateful experience to me.
Bob DeMarco [00:38:03]:
Well, you're talking about new materials and researching new materials, and you showed a blank earlier of Magna Cut. What has been your impression of working with Magna Cut? And tell me what you think of that steel.
Aaron Bieber [00:38:15]:
Well, it's legitimately a great steel. It's good hands down. The hardness, depending if you want, 62. 65, it has its place. 62 gives you better toughness. 65 is going to give you that longer lasting edge retention. But grinding, it like the making sparks part of it. It took me a couple of blades to kind of get the hang of it going from, like, AEBL or CPM 154 or some carbon steels w two or 80 Cr V two. The grinding changes. It takes a little longer. You got to go a little slower. I mean, this is my experience. You go through belts a little more. Overall, it's a more consuming metal to work with. It eats up your supplies, but the end product is awesome. So it is what it is.
Bob DeMarco [00:39:34]:
Yeah. I have one Magna Cut knife or one knife in Magna Cut from American Blade Works, and he did it beautifully. And it really is one of my sharpest knives, and that actually doesn't really have to do with the blade steel as much as his own work. It was really good. But I'm excited to have Magna Cut, and it's on a user. It's on a knife that I carry and use. So I'm excited to see what my results are here's. My problem, Aaron, is that I hardly use my knives. Like, I have to come up with reasons because I have such a modern suburban life that I got a whole bunch of knives on me just in case a cutting truck comes up.
Aaron Bieber [00:40:14]:
Most of us, I use my knives more for knife making, but I like being outdoors, so I'm doing stuff either around the house or a little more outside. I've always used knives. I like carrying them, I like using them. So I always try to find a reason to use something. But typically, if I'm sitting here, I'm opening a package, I'm cutting a string.
Bob DeMarco [00:40:54]:
Hang on. Getting back to the Magna Cut, I wanted to ask you, is there a demand? Are people asking, this is a great knife, but can you make it Magna Cut? I know a lot of production companies kind of were dealing with that pressure, but do you?
Aaron Bieber [00:41:09]:
There's a demand. There's demand. My customers, they kind of use for all different stuff.
Bob DeMarco [00:41:19]:
Who is your customer?
Aaron Bieber [00:41:21]:
You. Him? Them? Yeah. Who is my customer? I don't know, man. I've got customers all over from Yale to jail. I don't think I have, like, a specific.
Bob DeMarco [00:41:46]:
I mean, because I could see your work in the hands of military people, specialized people. I could see it in the hands of law enforcement. I could also see that I have a class of individual that I call the classy assassin. And it's not like I could see your knives in a John Wick movie. They have real style and real beauty. They also have a bit of menace. You're welcome. They have a bit of menace, which I always like, and I think most knives should have some. Asking about your customer. I'm sure there are a lot of collectors, but I'm sure there are a lot of people out there using them too.
Aaron Bieber [00:42:27]:
Law enforcement. I have a lot of good customers that are law enforcement, military as well, either active or retired, just all kinds. I have some customers that really want to focus on one design that I do. I have one fella, he loves the DMFs, so he wants DMFs, and he's a great guy. Then one of the few people that I will actually do a little bit of custom. But custom, like doing custom work really isn't my thing. Closest thing to custom is I want to do something new, so I'm going to do it. But if somebody comes to me and says, hey, can you do this? This I'm like, I can maybe point you in the direction for somebody who will. But nine out of ten times, I'm not going to take it on. I'll be happy to help somebody as much as I can, but there's one fellow that we work together well. We're like minded. My flow and his flow works well together, so he's law enforcement. My customers are all over. I've got some guys that want to put stuff in a case and let it be pretty. I've got some folks that want to use the heck out of it.
Bob DeMarco [00:44:00]:
Well, your work is that it is very pretty. I have no doubt that it's very effective. But how much? You went to art school, obviously, aesthetics mean something to you. How much do they matter in knife making to you?
Aaron Bieber [00:44:17]:
I think they matter a lot. You probably know, first thing that's going to get you is seeing a knife. You see it, then you want to go pick it up the next thing, and the next thing you know, you're feeling how it feels in your hand. You're thinking, oh, it feels good, it doesn't feel good, whatever's going through your mind. So it's a very visual thing to start with. And over the years, my design, aesthetics, I think I've been able to bring them more to the surface on what I really want to do, or just growth. I've grown, so what I put into designs definitely have changed. But I still really think an honest knife is an honest knife. A good knife is a good honest knife. It doesn't need to be a peacock. Yes, a good knife.
Bob DeMarco [00:45:17]:
Yeah. It's like what I tell my daughters, go for the substance over the looks. Don't turn your back on the looks because they do have some bearing on how that person values themselves, but it's not about how they look. It's about their substance, and then it's about how they so, anyway, that's my way of trying to keep boys away from my girls as long as possible. But, yeah, I think you're right about that. The first thing we see, I mean, when you walk into Blade Show, it's that overwhelming sensation of, I have to look at every single knife in this room because every other room I go into where there's a cool knife, I look at every knife in that room. It's just never millions of knives like it is in that case. So it's a real I don't know, I just feel really compelled that way. But you were talking about your first impression is you look at that knife, then you pick it up, and then you use it, and then that's where the connection is made. Again, it's like being attracted to a person. And then you go out to dinner with her and she's got nothing to say, and you're like, oh, that blows it all. It's the same thing with picking up a beautiful knife and then realizing this thing weighs like, 50 pounds. I'm never going to carry it, or it's too thick, or the grind is bad or the heat treat is bad. Then everything goes out the window. Like my Rambo three knife. I hear you.
Aaron Bieber [00:46:42]:
The function, the thought might be there, but the reality are we going to carry it every day in our environment, that's two different worlds. You know, being, you know, an act of service versus actively going to the post office. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:47:01]:
So who are some of the makers that influence you in terms of their work, both in use and how it looks?
Aaron Bieber [00:47:10]:
There's more than a few. I got to tell you about somebody you've probably never heard of, and most people have. Probably never. Selman did not sell knives to the public. He only sold knives to enlisted men and either the Army Rangers or Navy Seals. He did that through the into the think. So he had a long career, but his name is Richard Batson. If you do a little Google search for him, you'll see, like, the Smithsonian has one or two of his knives. I came across his work in a knife museum about an hour from Phoenix out in Lancaster. It's called the American Edge Weapons Museum. Really cool. It's an old bank converted into this museum. One gentleman that owns the entire collection, thousands of knives. And you're not seeing Spyderco or microtech or anything like that in there. It's all military, proposed military designs or designs that were in use from the French Indian War all the way up to somewhat current. So in one of the cases, I came across these knives with the name maker, Richard Jackson. The Real world knives, they were meant for combat meant for an Army Ranger, a Navy Seal in that time period with the philosophy of what a knife should be and the fit and finish on these things were absolutely amazing. They weren't frilly. They were all about function. But every bit of it was refined. It really just made me open my eyes to what user knife quality could be. It just didn't have to be licked and stick. Let's put it together. Let's get it out the door. And there were so many cool things about this guy's work. He had different designs. Ranger knives, bolo knives, baggers. They were the coolest things. He had this sawback that he did that he did a triple row sawback. So if you're looking down the side, there's one, two, three rows of teeth. But all I don't know if he did it by hand or if he used a mill or what. I mean, I've spent I've spent hours, probably days trying to figure out the geometry to do that saw backpack. And yeah, it's just amazing.
Bob DeMarco [00:50:12]:
So Richard Batson, I got to check him out.
Aaron Bieber [00:50:14]:
Yeah, just absolutely cool. So that gentleman definitely influenced me. I've mentioned John a bunch of times. John Gray definitely has influenced me. He's a good friend. I consider him a great friend. My daughter loves him. My wife loves just all the people I've met along the way. There's a gentleman named Grant Chambers up from Ontario. His work is beautiful. I've been talking to him since just about when I first started. The type of knives he does compared to what I do, we're kind of like worlds apart. But just what he does is so cool, and how he goes about it is definitely influencing yeah, so many cool people all over the world.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:12]:
There's a lot of places to draw influence from, too. It's not just the person's knives. It could be the person's work set up, or it could be the person's process for heat treat or anything. And the beauty part about this knife community, I'm sure you have experienced this plenty. Is there's lots of openness people sharing techniques, people sharing all sorts of stuff.
Aaron Bieber [00:51:38]:
It's probably one of the friendliest communities in any industry on comic Call.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:44]:
I'd agree. I can't imagine. I always ask anyone that I know who belongs to another enthusiast group, so what's the gun community like? Or what's the biking community like? Every time it's like it's cutthroat, I'm like, not knives. Come over to the knives.
Aaron Bieber [00:52:00]:
Yeah. Blade show just hanging out. It was great. And in general, it's always great talking. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:52:12]:
I want to know what knife you want to make that maybe is out of reach right now in terms of your confidence or ability to make, but something you want to do by the time you hang up your spurs.
Aaron Bieber [00:52:27]:
There's a few right now for the immediate future folders, like this 302 folder. I really want this to come to fruition. I want to hold it. I want to be able to offer it. I have another dagger design on paper that I'm really excited about, too. Still working through some of the process on what I might not want to do with the handle. But the bones, I have all the bones on paper. It's just man, if I had all the time in the world, I'd be able to start making more of those.
Bob DeMarco [00:53:22]:
Is that is the thing. It's the time.
Aaron Bieber [00:53:26]:
Like, just back to some other makers, like the yeah. Gavin Hawke and that the the design, the mechanism, all that stuff like that, to me, is really intriguing. So I get into the mechanics, and who knows, maybe someday making something a little more complex, I don't know, interesting.
Bob DeMarco [00:53:54]:
Because you talk about an out the front or something like that. Now you're talking about a different aspect of engineering. When you're making a fixed blade knife, you're doing some engineering and some building and erasing, so to speak. But when you're doing that, it's a project. Yeah, total project.
Aaron Bieber [00:54:18]:
Some fierce r and d. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:54:21]:
Would you ever make a sword?
Aaron Bieber [00:54:24]:
I don't know. I wouldn't say no. I could see making one for fun someday.
Bob DeMarco [00:54:30]:
Yeah, I could, too, especially with that wrap, man. Beautiful wrapped handle like that, but who knows? I don't mean to put ideas in your head. So where do you want to see Aaron Bieber knives in the future? Do you want to grow the company, or is this how you want to.
Aaron Bieber [00:54:48]:
Keep know it's hard to say. I love every bit of it. I think it would be great to see it as something that could sustain my family myself, if I'm looking at it that way. It has to be able to support the family and everything. As far as what I'm making, I just want to continue making. I mean, I really do enjoy every bit of it. At the end of the day, I'm just fortunate that I can't do it, that I have the time to do it, that I have the means, that I have the tools, that I've got a wife that says, go ahead, go. Disappear.
Bob DeMarco [00:55:25]:
Well, I got to say that to me, of course, the thing that really draws me to your work is the fact that they're small, but not too small. Edcable, beautiful fixed blade knives. At this point, I feel naked without a fixed blade, and then I always have a folder anyway. But to me, that is the thing. And I want to see more people carrying fixed blades. And yours are the kind that could be that kind of knife that a non fixed blade carrier could cross over with because of the lightness, because of the flatness, because of the ease of carry, and then the effectiveness of the knife itself when you have a fixed blade.
Aaron Bieber [00:56:13]:
Absolutely. I mean, for years I carried folders. Fix just wasn't my thing. I got into making ice fix quickly became more my thing. And as the years have gone by have really thought about, well, what do I want to carry every day? What's realistic, what's comfortable, what's a good package?
Bob DeMarco [00:56:41]:
All right, so I have a very annoying question for my last question for you. And it's annoying. And I say that because we both went to art school, and this was a terribly annoying question in art school. And it always made me feel like this person doesn't know what they're talking.
Aaron Bieber [00:56:54]:
About if they're asking this question.
Bob DeMarco [00:56:55]:
But I'm going to ask it anyway. Define your style. Define the style of Aaron Bieber knives.
Aaron Bieber [00:57:05]:
You know what? I actually might be able to answer that. All right. I remember having to write that long, drawn out essay about what my work was, and this is what it is now. It might be not the answer you were looking for, but it is what it is. I'm bringing me to the table. I'm bringing what I want to do out there. And I think before Blade show, there was another show. I had a gentleman, another knife maker, really cool guy who's making these really cool autos with spring shawl scales and stuff. But he came over to check out my work, and he goes, you know, I'd be able to walk away and see your work in a year for ten years and know that you did it because it's because you're putting you into the work. You're not just doing, like, the standard Skinner hunter, but he's, like, putting you in the work. And honestly, that's all I can really say. I'm putting me into it.
Bob DeMarco [00:58:11]:
I love it. I love it. Then I think I must like you, because if you're putting you into the knives and that's what they look like, man, you're doing something right. I think you've got some really nice work, and I hope well, people should definitely go check you out at Aaron Bieber Knives on Instagram. Where else can they see your work? Or what's the best way to get in touch with you if they want?
Aaron Bieber [00:58:32]:
That is it. That is know, I keep it real simple. At some point, there might be a web page, probably sooner than later. I need to make a Facebook group. I'll do like, you know, Facebook group on just, you know, interact with some of the other groups. There was one called Pact. Ancient city? Continental. That's a nice group. It's a real friendly it's a good know overall know all kinds of people in there. But, yeah, I need to make a Facebook group for myself, at least to have those two platforms. I can't get strung out doing 20 platforms. It's rough.
Bob DeMarco [00:59:14]:
Instagram has got to be the best, though, because it's pictures and a little bit of text pictures. That's what draws us in. That's how I learned about you. Aaron, thank you so much for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. It's been a pleasure. You and I are going to continue our conversation for patrons. I have a couple more questions to ask Aaron. Please join us on Patreon so you can hear that and otherwise, sir, it's been a real pleasure.
Aaron Bieber [00:59:39]:
Bob DeMarco [00:59:40]:
Yeah, you got it. I look forward to getting a 302 or a DMF one of these days. Thank you, sir. Take care. Don't take dull for an answer. It's the Knife junkie's favorite sign off phrase. And now you can get that tagline on a variety of merchandise, like a t shirt, sweatshirt, hoodie, long sleeve tee and more, even on coasters tote bags, a coffee mug, water bottle and stickers. Let everyone know that you're a knife junkie and that you don't take dull for an answer. Get firstname.lastname@example.org dull and shop for all of your knifejunkies email@example.com. Shop. There he goes, ladies and gentlemen. Sign of a true artist. He is putting himself in his work. And like I said before, what he's putting in is awesome. So I can only assume that's because of the maker. So beautiful stuff there. And I got to say, I really like the look of that paranoid and I would love well, I get ahead of myself during these conversations, so we will see. All right, please join us again next Sunday for a great interview and also Wednesday for the midweek supplemental. And, of course, Thursday. For Thursday night, Knives Live, 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, right here on YouTube. Facebook or Twitch? For Jim working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying until next time, don't take dull for an answer.
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