Ben Belkin, Jack Wolf Knives – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 308)
Ben has been collecting knives (traditional folders and others) since childhood and got his first knife from his grandfather, after whom he’d later name his knife company, Jack Wolf Knives.
Belkin showed off prototypes of the Jack Wolf Knives starting lineup at Blade Show 2021, less than a year later, he officially launches the wide sale of his knives. The first Jack Wolf Knife to hit the market is the Sharpshooter Gunstock Jack on April 15, 2022.
Each Jack Wolf knife comes in elaborate packaging — Ben teamed up with an acclaimed comic book artist to create characters around each knife.
Belkin’s goal is to provide knife collectors with heirloom quality knives made from modern materials in timeless styles. “I want you to enjoy your knife as a piece of functional art.” His design philosophy is not to reinvent the wheel, rather deliver an awesome and enhanced wheel.Cannot wait until the Jack Wolf Knives hit the market, and with us this week to talk about the knives and how Jack Wolf Knives came to producing such awesome knives is the founder/ower, Ben Belkin. Click To Tweet
The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 308)
Ben Belkin, Jack Wolf Knives
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.
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
I'm Bob DeMarco.
On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Ben Belkin of Jack Wolf Knives.
I first met Ben on Thursday night Knives about a year and a half ago, when he would join the stream and show off his incredible custom slip joint knife collection and talk about the finer points of the form.
Not only that, we would just talk all sorts of knives.
Ben can hang in any knife field, but he is most comfortable and most in love with the slip joint.
He also at that time told me he was starting a knife company and a little bit over a year and many tribulations later.
I'm so excited to say that Jack Wolf Knives is days away from its worldwide launch and I was one of the lucky few to get an advance copy of the first knife to be released, and I'm honored to have been back on the show to talk about bringing these beauties to the market.
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Ben, welcome to the show.
Thank you very much Bob.
I'm very pleased to be here and and a hearty hearty hearty congratulations to you Sir.
Well thank you very much.
Well it is my pleasure and it's my pleasure to have you back on the show.
As always I always love hanging out and talking with you but tonight it's a special.
It's a different kind of hanging out and talking with you and that's because I finally have your vision in hand and this is something you've been talking about showing off.
I even saw some earlier prototypes at Blade Show a year ago almost a year ago.
And there was so much more to your adventure since then to bring these to market.
I just gotta say congratulations and I, I think I joined the chorus the the unanimous chorus.
Who's declaring this an absolute victory?
Well, thank you very much.
The support from the community has been, you know, so motivating and humbling at the same time.
And I'm just feel blessed to be here with you today and I'm excited to take the next steps.
All right man?
Well, let's talk about this knife that I have in hand.
This is the most tangible part of your of your trip so far.
Becoming a knife, company owner, and uh, in this lead I see the smudges.
I hate that.
But in any case.
Tell us about this incredible knife.
This is the sharpshooter Jack tell us about this first right so this is the first model I'm bringing to market.
It's called the sharpshooter Jack.
The name is inspired by the handle shape that handle shape.
Traditionally is called a gun stock so a slip joint knife with that handle shape which resembles a rifle stock is generally referred to as a gun stock.
A lot of gun stock knives will have a clip point blade so I thought it was fitting.
And so I designed it with the touches I wanted to see in that particular model named the Sharpshooter Jack.
I have a love for target shooting so it really suited me personally and really pleased to bring that one out.
First, the the clip point blade.
The shape of this.
This is kind of a lannys clip shape.
I really like the shape of this clip point and there are all different kinds and I really dig this shape.
What was the inspiration for that in particular so well?
So usually a lanye.
Clip is gonna have a a Saber grind, so similar to a lannys clip in the like out the profile.
The exterior profile, but a hallmark of a lannys clip would be a Saber grind.
Now one of the things I really look for in a clip point.
Is I like a big swoop.
The in the radius and you know in the clip and when you're designing those, you can't always get as big as swoop that you want because it's going to bring the tip up and out of the handle for lack of a more complicated explanation.
So when you're designing a knife like that, you're really boxing in several of the design elements to end up with what is really a balance between what you're looking for as far as how the blade sits in the handle.
What the clip looks like, what the blade profile looks like, and you know how deep the blade is in the handle that necessary spacing between the blade and the back spring.
All that stuff.
So I'd like to say I could just draw it how I want it to look, but that's not really the case.
You kind of start with how you want it to look and you have to sort of ease everything together and you end up with something that you know is aesthetically pleasing.
If you did your job.
So with adding that or or designing this blade with that really nice swooping clip.
That you like, uh?
You benefit from having this stepped up portion of the the back of the gun stock if you will.
That rise allows allows you to have a rise up at the tip and kind of hide the hide the tip right under the bolster.
Exactly that handle shapes really neat because it lets you have a taller blade that step as it narrows towards the top bolster lets you have a place to get your finger for like a super easy pinch like I don't care how big your hands are.
You could pinch that one open without the nail Nic you know.
And and like you were doing with your hand there, it gives you kind of a place for the spot in between your.
Fingers so like the ergonomics, are exceptional on that model, so that that design really lends itself to a slip joint.
OK, I I hate to do this so early in our conversation, but I I have to compare it to.
The only thing I have to compare it to my only other gun stock Jack is my beloved tidioute #44 in Gabon Ebony.
I love this knife.
You know it's a GEC but I realize now having your single bladed jackknife here with the handle that I was never really able to experience the the the true benefit of this handle.
Ergonomically because you always have one blade shut.
You're never using both blades.
So in a sense, this gun stock like like now I can feel the wonderful ergonomics of this gun stock Jack.
But I got two blades out, so it seems like you went.
You went with the single blade and that was a great choice for the use of that handle.
I think so.
I think you're going to lose some of the ergonomic properties out of two blade gun stock for sure.
I guess if I was going to do a two blade I would want the second blade to be pretty short so that it didn't intrude as much on the handle, but to me that's an excellent single blade knife, pure and simple.
I I think I think from now on I would only look for a gun stock Jack.
That is a single blade so that you can take advantage of the ergonomics.
Speaking of which, now you have taken you know your philosophy as you outlined it the last time we spoke on this show is not reinventing the wheel, but making the wheel better and presenting an awesome wheel.
And in this you have kept the the shape of the gun stock, but you've done little things like ad sort of ergonomic.
Curves here and there made it a little more organic and made it fit the hand a little more.
Exactly, Yep, you nailed it.
I put some nice organic curvature in the handle.
I put the bolster flutes in the top and the bottom, which is sheerly aesthetic.
But I think really adds some depth to the overall piece and.
Did not want to stray from what is the traditional gun stock like.
I needed everybody to look at that and say that's a gun stock and I think I've achieved that, but I wanted it to also look like a well designed high quality gun stock and hopefully I've achieved that as well.
Ohh yeah, I'd say So what about the construction?
Tell us about the construction of this knife, and presumably that's going to be the same throughout your body of work.
Correct, so historically a slip joint is pinned together or riveted together, so these knives are screwed together.
It's like the first thing you notice, I suppose.
It's kind of oversimplification to say they're just screwed together, because if you were to take the knife apart, which guys, when you get one, I recommend you don't because they're real headache to put back together.
If you take the blade off the spring, I'm just going to show that disclaimer out there now and for anybody who just has to know what the inside looks like, I'm going to have a video on my website of a full disassembly with explanation, so at least I could help satisfy your curiosity.
Or if you take it apart, you want to put it back together.
At least you got some kind of idea of.
You know how to get there, but I digress so.
When you open that knife, when you take the scales off.
You'll see that there's actually 2 screws.
Underneath the, in your case, the carbon fiber.
Those are Flathead screws, so they're flush with the surface that's underneath the carbon fiber.
One of those screws is situated about midway up the handle and the other one is in the bottom corner of where the carbon fiber is, both along the spine.
If you were to undo those two screws and then also take one of the the same side pivot screw out, you'd be able to remove that integral piece of titanium and you would expose.
But the screws are not driving directly into that spring that spring actually has bores or like a hole for lack of a better term.
And in that hole are these threaded barrels?
So like a tube with threads inside and those threaded barrels serve 2 purposes, 1 to accept the screws that are holding everything together, but also.
For alignment of all the parts, because the screws themselves are not a good method of aligning metal parts extremely precisely, that's what those barrels do, so there's a barrel sitting in the spring.
That barrel actually sits on the bottom side of that liner that liner's countersunk a little bit.
So the barrel or the liners kind of clamp onto the spring, and then those barrels sit inside the spring and then up inside the liner and then the screws.
Bring it all together.
That's the best.
I can use words to describe something that's like super easy to recognize and pictures right, right?
Well, that's kind of the construction of you know that you see oftentimes in custom knives also that barrel alignment, not by screw but by barrel is something you see in Chris Reeve knives.
So I I think that that does take things an extra step to keep them.
Very, very solid, but also as as time goes on in parts are moving against one another.
You know if you have something rubbing against those threads, those threads are gonna punk out after a while.
And yeah, this seems to be a super solid way to.
To to put it together.
Yeah, it's proven to be a really solid construction.
And you know, having those pieces precisely fit together is important because one of the things we're looking for on a high quality slip joint are seamless or near seamless.
Transitions between materials and.
Particularly when we're speaking about the back spring and the two liners where the stainless steel is meeting the titanium.
You know that precise fit is really only perfect in one little spot in space, so you really want to nail that, and that's a hallmark of a high quality slip joint is when all those parts are secured together.
It's real seamless, you know, to your finger as you know, inspect the knife.
So yeah, and.
That those barrels really help keep that all together throughout the you know, if you were to assemble and disassemble it, you'd go back together the same way.
I don't think it would if you just screwed the screws right into the spring.
Uh, you, you're talking about transitions and just rubbing my hand my fingers over this has been something I mean I do that kind of obsessively with all my slip joints.
But it's very gratifying when you don't feel any transitions like the only thing I feel is the fluting and I want to feel that because I love those flutes.
They're on the bolsters, but you used the term before familiar to modern knife users and that is integral.
But how does that?
How does that relate?
To a slip joint knife.
So typically a slip joint, and if you want to hold that up to your screen, kind of on the side view of the spine perfect so typically a slip joint has liners and bolsters which this knife has.
Typically those bolsters are soldered onto the liners so they're different pieces.
And in this case, that's one slab of titanium.
That has a pocket cut out of it for that carbon fiber to sit.
And so you typically will see that on high dollar custom knives you know all the run of the mill factory slip joints have soldered bolsters, so it's just another way to do it.
It's very rigid, it's very strong, it's very precise manufacturing method to mill it out of one solid piece.
I'm I'm really loving Slipjoints made out of titanium slipjoints made with modern materials this M390 blade.
And the very pleasing, I think you said it was sandblasted.
In the video you sent me tight titanium.
It's just so pleasing and I know that eventually it'll end up in my pocket and not in this slip.
And eventually it will get, you know, right now I'm babying this knife and I probably will for a long time, but eventually it'll get some snail trails and it'll get some love Marks and it'll start to look beautiful in a more in a different way in a used way in a loved way.
And I I look forward to that.
I'm getting all misty.
But one thing that I really like about this that you see in some some even like like inexpensive slip joint knives.
But I've liked it and appreciated that is a full height hollow grind.
Tell us about the decision to do that.
Yeah, so I wanted to accomplish two goals when I designed this.
And really this the sort of the variable needed to.
Be successful there was that full height hollow grind.
So the first goal was I wanted to use.
Slightly thicker blade stock than what you'll find on a typical slipjoint knife, but I also wanted to have excellent cutting performance.
And so, in order to achieve that, I don't see any way around using that high hollow grind.
So the blade stock on there is about 3 millimeters, 120,118 to 120 thousands depending on like after they put in the bevel.
Sometimes they knock a couple thousands off the overall spine thickness, but it's like basically 120,000 to give you an idea like 90 thousands.
Is a typical like thicker slip joint?
Some are even less.
And so you really notice it if you put your knives down on the table with the spines facing up, like with the blades open and you look at them.
And it's like 30,000. This is actually more than you'd think when you're when you're looking at them side by side.
So in order to achieve the.
Stock thickness I wanted which is, you know, translates to the thickness of the spring as well.
So it's like a little bit beefier in your hand than super duper thin.
Then I I also wanted to have a thin dimension behind the cutting edge, and so the way I designed them was like we need a very high hollow grind that's like thin up and then sort of widens out as it gets towards the spine.
And especially on that model with that tall blade, it is super thin, like I mixed it out on the one I have at 9000. So other guys are measuring them like around 11 or 12, and it's like you know you got to be good with the calipers when you're splitting hairs at 3007 inch.
But either way 9 to 12 thousands of an inch behind the cutting edge is going to give you exceptional cutting performance.
I feel like the thickness of that blade also adds to the rigidity side to side.
Especially when you consider.
It's also sandwiched between these integral liner slash bolsters and then backed up with that.
With that beefy spine or with that beefy Spring.
So you're talking about how thin it is behind the edge and also that that enhanced sort of sharpening notch you put on there will give this blade a lot of life.
I mean you could.
You could theoretically sharpen it pretty much up to the top of that sharpening notch and still have a pretty damn thin blade.
I know that it's then because I I put up a goofy little video me and my girls out in the in the in our woods and and I started doing a shaving some wood and I thought, wow, this is weird.
It's skating across it's not.
I don't think it's cutting.
This is weird and then I turn it over and I look and there's like all these little curly cues on top.
It was just.
It was like slipping under that first molecule of wood.
It's so thin it it cut so well that I didn't even know I was cutting.
Yeah, I'm super like something.
I'm really looking forward to is getting these things out into people's hands, getting them in the field and learning peoples use results.
You know, like everybody uses their knives for different stuff.
I want to know if people are satisfied with the geometry, you know, like nothing I'm doing here is set in stone for the rest of time.
I think I've made some good decisions on.
The design and the performance balanced with what I was trying to achieve esthetically but.
You know the proof is in the pudding, right?
So I'm really interested to, you know, get a taste of the pudding, so to speak.
Well, one thing another thing I'm I mean I'm I'm going off on details here.
But another thing that you nailed here that a lot of slip joint guys, myself included, though I'm not truly bona fide slipjoint guy is that.
Flush spring at the half stop so this has really excellent walk and talk and at that half stop.
The spring is 100% absolutely perfectly flush and.
I mean, as far as I know does that does that have anything other than aesthetic appeal?
Does it have any?
It seems like a hard thing to achieve.
Let's talk about, yeah, so.
OK, but a lot of the embellishments are aspects of a really nicely made knife are not always relevant to its performance.
So what does it reflect well?
First of all, the design has to be sound in theoretical space to allow for that to happen, but then the construction of the knife has to be as such to allow for that to happen.
So you need sound design, sound craftsmanship, and the craftsmanship it takes to achieve that that's being performed on these knives is work done by skilled labor by a skilled laborer's hands.
And I think that's something that I really want people to understand about these knives is that these are not parts made and mass thrown into parts bins grabbed and assembled.
This is far from that.
These knives are assembled and then ground as an assembly.
So that when they're in those three positions, they will be flat and flush, so it's not just the half stop it's at open, closed and at half stop so, but when that?
When that action is performed, now those parts, the spring, the liners and the tighter the micarta or the carbon fiber, the covers or the scales those are now mated for life.
Because each assembled knife is now unique from the other because they were ground assembled by hand.
I hope that makes sense, yes?
And if you were to take apart that knife and look underneath the scale, they're actually numbered.
So those parts are numbered, so that means in the factory when they're making those things once, they take that step, those parts have to remain together for the remainder of the production cycle.
That slows things down, requires more care, drives up the cost to manufacture, which is a big part of the price I have to charge for these knives.
I think that's not necessarily being translated.
You know, it's just requires education for folks who say like, oh, that's a lot of money for a slip joint.
It's like slip joints are not easy to make, not if you want these types of fit and finished characteristics.
They require skilled labor by a tradesman who's done it.
Time and time again, so that's the significance of that.
It's someone with an excellent eye and a good hand.
Who's able to grind those parts so they don't screw it up, making sure everything still looks, feels and acts appropriately.
Yeah, I mean, just stem to stern, it just feels like one solid piece.
It really it feels like one solid piece and I think that's what you mean by hand, ground you you're you're talking about.
They fit everything together and then everything is flushed by.
Their hand and and you can.
You can feel it.
Well, let's let's, let's talk about this process that you went through since last I saw you in person at Blade Show 2021 you had you had.
Almost all of your designs well or most of your designs at to that time that were fully fleshed out, fleshed out in prototype form and and So what happened since then, right?
So well, there's a lot there, so let's start at that moment.
In time Blade show 2021. Just a week or two before the show, I had received some prototypes, not my first ones.
I think I got the first three and then four more and then right into the show.
So I had seven models on the table.
I had four more in.
Design or even prototype construction at that point, and so my goal at that time was to go to the show, gain feedback on the prototypes, get them in people's hands, start picking up things that I hadn't seen myself come back from the show, incorporate those.
You know feedback points into updated designs and then.
Either get new prototypes if necessary, or just change the designs and then commit to the production schedule.
So I had a plan right.
It was a good plan, well plan kind of blew up on me.
Long story short there after having according to them substantial orders shortly before Blade show and after.
Blew out their hold times for production or their the time of their production cycle.
And what was supposed to be a three or four month production cycle became a 9 to 12 month production cycle.
That was obviously an issue.
I try to secure a deposit at my place in line, but after those conversations continued for oh about another month or two.
They just came back and said we're not able to commit to this project because we're not going to be able to meet your expectations.
We're we're having some issues over.
Here is what they were basically saying to me, and so that was a devastating you know, message, but those are the kind of things that happen when you're on an entrepreneurial journey, so.
I you know, rewind a little bit here once.
I first heard the the lead time became 9 to 12 months, I immediately started thinking about Plan B because anytime you hear something like that, it's like you know usually they don't tell you all the bad news at once.
Usually they kind of, you know like lay it on you slowly and so I just knew like I better start thinking about who else might be able to do this project for me.
And so I started, you know, reaching out to my industry, contacts, friends I've made along the way, just gathering information you know, researching other OEM options and came up with a list of six of them and ended up making good contact with four.
And sending off deposits for all that deposits, but payments for prototypes to be made by new manufacturers.
Basically some of the same models I had made from the initial manufacturer, which would be the best way for me to compare quality of what I had originally versus what I may get from another manufacturer.
And you know, of course, as that time is going by, there's a lot of stress because you know you've set expectations with potential customers as to when you're going to bring these things to market, and you were really comfortable with the original manufacturers quality, so you don't know if the
quality is going to be the same and you don't know how much time you're going to lose.
And it's you know the mental side of it can be pretty stressful, but all you can do are do is endure, and so that's what I did, and so.
My my thought process was I'm going to.
Engage with these OEMs and be upfront with all of them about what I'm doing.
I'm not trying to, you know, be dishonest with anybody.
It's like I'm you guys are kind of competing against each other and I'm going to pick the one that's the best fit for me.
Here's the project I'm proposing.
Here's the schedule that I want to do when I get started.
And here's the long term vision of the company, so it's like, you know, here's what I have to offer.
Here's my goals.
This is what I'm looking for.
Are we a good fit?
And one of them?
And I got stuff from all of them more or less.
There's an asterisk there.
We don't really need to get into it, but you know the important thing to learn is that one of them, really.
Sort of demonstrated that they were interested in the project they wanted the work.
They could build the knife to the quality I expected they could deliver a price I could be comfortable with, and they could meet my timelines, you know.
And you know one of the bad, I guess bad is not the right word, but one of their conditions was, you know, we have a requirement that you are keep a confidential who we are because that's just how we do business.
And so I weighed that because truthfully, everybody wants to know who's making these things.
Yeah, and I get the question all the time and it's like you know, if I sign up with these people then I can't say who they are.
But on the other hand, they're offering me everything I could possibly want, and they're demonstrating their proficiency.
It's like, so I'll live with it.
You know, I think it's a small price to pay for what they're going to deliver me and I think ultimately you're buying a Jack wolf knife.
I'm standing behind the quality.
I'm not going to send out anything that I wouldn't put in my own pocket, and so you're going to deal with me if you have a problem, you know.
So you're buying a knife.
For me, right?
So hopefully people can be comfortable with that.
Yeah, and and like you said be something you would never send out, something you wouldn't be comfortable with in your own pocket and your your.
Criteria for a good knife is your standards are so high like it's it's insane.
But in terms of OEM's and and we're talking about overseas, I've recently gone on a little tear where I've been getting knives from a number of different.
Big name and and and up and coming or or fresh faces if you will.
In that crowd and my God man.
There is amazing work coming out of like every factory so far that I have that I have, you know investigated that is by buying a knife or checking out something that's been sent to me.
You know there there are a number of manufacturers over there and.
They all seem to have gotten the memo and all seemed to be making really amazing knives, amazing work and for me just even a year ago I thought I thought that there was definitely a hierarchy of who's the best and then who's the second best and then who's the third best and then who's tied for 4th?
And now for me, I feel like I feel like the tides have raised all all ships over there.
I think so too, and I think so we could speculate a little bit because here's one thing really, nobody knows, right?
Like we know what they tell us, but they know what's going on and they have their own trade secrets and so.
They're all a lot of these companies are in the same town, right?
So they're drawing from the same labor force.
They're buying material from the same material sources.
They're all owned by the government, basically more or less to some degree, so it's like.
Are we not dealing with a cooperative industry over there, like when it makes sense that if you have one shop that's like got some employees that are really good at grinding blades that.
Brand AB&C would send their blades over there.
You know or?
It's like this guy's got his machine set up to mill titanium like let's bring our fixtures over there and let's run our programs on his machines like.
That's how cottage industries work, so I think we're putting.
I think we got to be careful not to put so much like of our opinion in these brands or these manufacturers over there and just judge the products by what is being put into our hand, you know?
And so it's just been interesting for me to kind of go down this road, because to for an example, as I was receiving in prototypes from multiple of the manufacturers, I'm looking at some of the stuff like how did this not come from?
How did these parts not come from the exact same place?
They're identical, you know.
And so I'm just looking at this like it doesn't make sense to me that everybody's working in their own little vacuum over there when they're all in the same town.
So you know, we all got to take it with a grain of salt.
Ultimately, I think it's on the brand owners here in the states, like guys like me, we need to inspect these knives when they come in.
If we're unsatisfied, don't send them to the customer, send them back.
Have the conversation you know.
Just make because it's it's my name, it's my brand.
It's it's my reputation that's that's at stake here.
If I put something in the customer's hand, that's not.
Up to an unreasonable or appropriate standard, you know.
So it's just been interesting, I think to think about that stuff you mentioned, how you got feedback points from potential clients, potential buyers and such at Blade show.
And by the way, your table just from my anecdotal, my observation was that your table was all there was always at least someone there talking to you, but usually you were somewhat swamped and people were very impressed.
That was the that's what I was hearing whenever I was at your table.
Was people picking them up very impressed, asking you questions about him?
So you mentioned you took some of those feedback points and and tweaked the designs, but what about and?
I would be interested to find out if if any of those come to mind, but what about working with the OE M?
Did they have any changes they had to make to your design due to their manufacturing process?
Very little and more so in the beginning of my design work.
Then once I started to understand better the constraints so.
When I first started designing these things in the beginning, I wasn't designing all the interior geometry.
I was just sort of doing my best to.
Put a blade on a handle that I thought when you rotated it could fit together well, but then they were doing all the geometry design on the inside and that would result in a modified design because they'd have to create geometry that worked.
You know the mechanism geometry.
So in those cases, yes.
But once I started to really dig into and design those slip joint mechanisms and understood like.
Where how things had to be properly spaced part.
Then I started getting back 3D models that essentially perfectly mirrored my 2 dimensional drawings.
Now they take some you know they apply some of their expertise when they go from my 2D drawing to a 3D drawing.
But the things I'm asking for.
As far as like the thickness is the radius of the contours, the depth of the flutes, like those kind of things.
I'm asking for things that are doable.
I'm not trying to do things here that are extremely difficult to machine or overly costly to machine like their simplicity in the designs, and I think those are translating well to CNC.
How fortunately my my last several sorry fortunately my last several designs have been more or less unaltered, unaltered.
Well, how familiar are these makers?
On the whole?
Would you say with slip joint knives as opposed to what?
I imagine their bread and butter are modern flippers and such, you know, I really want to have that conversation with them.
You know, let's think about all the knives of the world like slip.
Joint knives are legal to carry just about anywhere.
You can carry a knife and you know there's a lot of knives made in this town, not just the ones we see but for.
People all over the world and so not only that, but you know the world's been making slipjoint knives for you know 400 years or whatever it is.
So I think the knowledge.
Is there to institutional knowledge?
Now obviously there's not a lot of guys like me ordering these boutique really high end super precise slip joints.
So that was a little bit of a risk.
Like can you guys translate which was like?
Cheaply made stamped parts, you know, by the thousand with soldered bolsters and.
You know this kind of stuff to a higher level of CNC production, but I mean clearly it's translating well.
You know, there's been some back and forth when they sent me prototypes like.
OK, like this one has a little bit of blade play in it like you guys got to fix that you know or this one it's you know you you made the spring too strong like I need you to fix that or you made the nail knit too small like they're not 100% when the prototypes come in.
But like I know when I get something like holy crap like this is really close and I know the things that are not as perfect as perfect not the right word.
As excellent as I want them they can fix it if they get the correct feedback.
You know, like if I got something that was just a mess, I'd be like.
Maybe we're not the right fit, like how?
How do we?
How do we get there?
From here, you know, but this manufacturer you know when they first started sending me prototypes.
I'm like these things are like I'm like 90 plus percent satisfied.
And if you guys can help me get to like 98% satisfied you know I'll sell them.
You know, I, I can't expect to be 100% satisfied.
It is a production knife at the end of the day and I do stare at these things for hours so I notice little stuff that like people fortunately aren't saying anything to me.
You know about.
And because I think I think it's just the obsessive like.
Inspection of these things that I do on a routine basis, right.
Right now I'm like what is it?
What is it?
I'll find it no, I'm not saying I'm not saying they're perfect everyone, they're perfect, yeah, I mean, I can't.
You know it'll do till the the perfect one gets here that let me put it that way let's talk about this it shows up each knife shows up I don't there's a soft touch box that this shows up in.
I mean, you're.
Obviously customer service means a lot to you.
You've developed a lot of relationships with custom knife makers that you've purchased knives from.
You understand how important that those relationships are.
You've talked about that in the past, but I feel like part of that bleeds into how you present the knife.
People are spending a good deal of money on these.
They are, they're not inexpensive knives.
When they come out.
But you're you're giving them not only I mean, if you send it to them in a zip lock bag, it would be worth every penny, no doubt.
But people like the ancillary goods with knives.
Tell us about this.
Sure, so this was like there's a lot of passion in this part of the project like this is for the collectors.
This is for people.
This is this is the emotional side of the project so.
Like the philosophy here is that these are luxury goods.
They are extremely performing luxury goods with extreme excellent performance.
But like I'll say this, I've said it before and I'll say it again, like if we just need to cut something, we can get excellent performance from a $10 box cutter at Home Depot.
You know you can get something that takes disposable razor blades and like man, you're ever sharp, you know?
So it's more than that.
Like we buy nice high quality, nice for more than the performance of the knife.
The performance has to be there.
I don't want people to.
Take me what I'm saying wrong, but I think that there's an opportunity to think outside the knife and give someone a truly memorable emotional experience.
When they engage with your products and your brand.
And I think that's where in a sea of excellent knives.
That you can personalize your product and really make yourself stand out.
And so that's like the the underlying philosophy.
Now you know the whole concept is driven by art appreciation, so there's a painting behind me.
My father is an art collector, and so I grew up sort of saturated in art appreciation.
You know, like it was, my house looked like a museum because that's what my father liked to do, and so I've always had a appreciation for it.
But I'm not, you know, into the paintings he is like.
I always appreciated comic book art and illustrations, and like album.
Art on all my favorite music and I just enjoy that stuff.
I really enjoy music so.
Creative art I really enjoy.
And so one of the things that drew me to traditional knives in general, especially when I started buying Great Eastern cutlery was their packaging.
How you get this really cool tube?
How the tube has this?
Like unique artwork on it, how the artwork invokes a certain like emotion in you like their artwork is like early century kind of vintage, you know, throwback art to a time hearkening in the past, you know, and I think.
Maybe folks you know a generation or two older than me probably touches them like a little more than it would me because they they they respond to that more because it's more personal for them.
But the sentiment I always thought was like amazing and it just struck me how really cool it was to have the tubes, because like everything comes in a box like everything you buy comes in a box.
It's just so nice to get something that's in a different form factor.
Even if it was just a cheap $0.50 cardboard tube with a. Plastic pop Catholic.
That's not the point.
The point is like this is creative.
This is cool.
This is not like something I get every day.
So you know and to kind of honor how it's been done in the past, and to sort of, you know, make that concept my own.
That's where the aluminum tubes came from.
You know, I I had this like thought in my head one day.
Like man, it would be really cool to modernize the tube and I felt super lucky when I found those things after doing some digging around.
So I sourced the tubes.
I started thinking about the art.
I knew that there wasn't something I was going to draw and that if there was going to be art on these tubes that had to be from a professional and it had to have like kind.
You know, cohesive sort of vision that ran across all the artwork.
Because each of these models is something special, so the artwork has to be special and you know that's where that journey became, you know, started going down that road.
So I interviewed 10 different artists.
I found a couple websites where these guys post job listings.
I interviewed a bunch of them on the phone, picked this guy Sean Tiffany, who really resonated with me when we talked.
You know he understood that I was a new business and that this project was going to be kind of fluid until we figured out the concept and that he could get work done quickly when you needed to and we just had the right vibe.
And so we started.
Coming up with concepts you know and so like the artwork you see there, I don't just go like hey man, make me some art like that's there's a lot there's a lot to this so we'll we'll talk about the name we'll talk about some ideas, I'll go on the Internet I'll download pictures you know off Google
images, that sort of look like what I'm thinking.
I'll send him stuff and then he'll send me stuff and then we'll he'll work up a couple different pencil sketches and then if there's any of those we like, he'll refine it to like a higher level ink.
Drawing and then from there I'm giving him specific changes in the ink drawing and then once we nail the ink it goes to color.
There is a lot of like.
There's a lot of heart and soul in that artwork, and my commitment is that our work is going to change as production runs change because I want to like keep delivering to people that really cool art appreciation experience because inside the can is a piece of functional artwork.
You know, a knife is functional art.
That's why we like it.
That's why we like a really nice knife.
You know, that's why someone will buy from a master bladesmith a $2000 Bowie knife, you know?
You know, like it's it's we appreciate the art form.
We appreciate the craft.
Of course we appreciate the performance and the performance is a part of it.
You can't have a beautiful knife that doesn't work right because then it's it's crappy art, you know.
So I don't know.
I kind of go off on a tangent there, but for me it's it's just emotional satisfaction of experiencing functional art.
The can is functional art.
The knife is functional art, the cloth is functional art.
The POG is functional art like all of it.
Alright, let's talk about this.
It is an experience of being so I got this and I'm sorry I left this.
There's a soft touch black box with your really cool logo on it.
By the way, my wife and I both have the the single Wolf logo sticker on her car.
She loves it.
I love it because it's yours.
She loves it because it's cool, so there you go.
But anyway you got it branded here.
You get this thing.
You pull it out of the soft touch box.
You unscrew the cap and there's something that is from a different generation than I called a pog.
I'll ask you what that is in the second, but then you pull it out.
A leather slip pops out as you remove your knife, which is.
Nicely cradled in a really amazing red orange microfiber cloth.
And then you got a sticker in there.
It's a whole.
It's a full on swag pack right here with with along with the knife and we all appreciate that I'm sure.
Right and what I was trying to do.
Like your typical swag pack.
A lot of times, it's stickers and patches and I don't have anything against stickers and patches.
I have a bench full of amazing stickers, but you know what I also have is like a Tupperware full of stickers that like eventually I can't do anything with all these stickers.
I get duplicate stickers and there's only so much you can do with a sticker you can stick it on something, right?
So I was trying to.
Trying to take it a step further to make them more functional.
Items like the can now of course you could just keep the can keep it on your shelf.
You could throw it in the drawer if you never want to use it.
But you could also use it to store stuff you know you could put it on your work bench.
You could keep your Q-tips in there, you know you could store the knife in there and just relive the opening the package experience every time.
You know, if you flip the can over, it's airtight underneath.
There's like a little seal ring underneath the lid, so it's like you know you could keep something kind of water tight in there.
You could keep your fishing lures in there and throw it in your truck.
I don't know, you know, but it's a functional piece of equipment and that's one thing that I was trying to sort of.
You know, hit and then.
Of course, the microfiber.
I'll tell you what's been really cool about.
The microfiber is when I've seen this.
Some of the YouTube reviews, right?
Like guys will open all the stuff.
They put the microfiber on the table.
They'll open the knife, they'll smudge it, and then they'll grab the microfiber, and they'll wipe off the smudge.
It's like, that's why I gave you the microfiber you already used it in the first two minutes of owning the thing you know, so that was super satisfying to me because it's like, who wants dumb fingerprints all over their knife, you know, like?
I mean, of course, if you're a hard worker dude, you could care less, right?
But some of us like we like to keep them nice and fingerprint free.
So you got that and you know the boss lid was just a I'll talk about that.
The embossed lid was.
Just it was just a touch that you know is nothing more than aesthetic.
But man, is it cool, you know, I just had to have it.
I've told the story before, but in order to secure those I had to buy 12,000 caps.
Their minimum order to get to get the embossing was 12,000 caps and I had to buy the stamping diet, but I was like how do I not do it?
How do I not once I saw some samples and I could vision in my head what that's going to look like game over?
Hey man, there is no motivator quite like having 12,000 caps on hand.
You got 12,000 knives to sell Sir before you can even think about doing something else or else we're going to be having we're at to figure out to do with those caps.
So let's talk about that POG so.
Though the POG so pogs, I did a post about it on Instagram and I'm no POG expert but so they're called milk caps also and back in the 20s and 30s when you get your milk delivered they had like a cardboard cap and at some point they switched from doing cardboard caps on milk but in in the credit it
to either starting in Hawaii or back to some game they've been playing in Japan for like hundreds of years.
They take the milk.
Apps and like advertising firms with print stuff on the milk cap so people would collect them and then they play a game with the milk cap.
So you basically like you and I Bob would get our milk cap collection out.
We'd stack them up like let's say we put five in.
We make a stack.
Or maybe they're two separate stacks.
I don't know.
I never really played the game to be completely honest with you.
Then you got these special ones called Slammers, and they're like heavy, so they're like solid plastic or metal.
And you take the the slammer and you Chuck it at the pile of milk caps, and you knock them over.
And if they flip upside down, you get to keep it.
It's like a real simple basic game.
But it's a game for kids to play, and so I was born in 1980, so I grew up in the 80s and 90s.
Now collectibles in the 80s.
My first collectibles I remember of course other than baseball cards was garbage pail kids like.
I don't know if you remember those things, but they were like really cool.
And then that was kind of an 80s thing.
And then in the 90s those pogs had a huge resurgence, and so kids would collect those pogs.
And so, but I always thought they were neat cause they had like really cool graphic art on them.
I wasn't a huge pog collector but I had a few and I just always appreciated the art form.
So when I started thinking about what I can put as a goodie inside the tube other than a sticker, because I feel like the sticker is kind of a given and and lacks a little bit of creativity depending on the artwork on the sticker.
I started thinking about what Great Eastern color he does and they put a lapel button in there, you know, like a tiny little round button that with a pin on the back for like your shirt or your hat or your Jean jacket or whatever.
But I'm like who actually uses those.
You know, like I don't know anybody who uses those and they're cool to collect.
But like how?
What can I do that's different, so I'm not copying what they're doing.
So that's where I had the pog idea.
I was like man a pog would fit perfectly in that.
Can I have a little bit larger size template for art?
It's fun to collect.
It's nostalgic for people who are really into it.
Like for guys that are older than me, who not even really familiar with what it is.
You can learn something new you know, and so Bam had the idea found.
A guy who makes them, you know labor love for him, really.
Spent all this time perfecting the paper so that it was so that I was like just the right.
Thickness and everything, and the right tactile feel of the pogs of the 90s.
You know, standardize the size to the International Pog Federation, so it's standardized POG size.
And so yeah, now you get a pog.
I love it and you know I am the older guy you were talking about who had no idea what it is, but it doesn't matter because I opened it up and I at first I saw this because it fell out.
I assume you had it set for this.
It fell out, it landed on the backside and I thought oh, it's like a really cool calling card, you know because there's your website and then I flipped it over and I was like, oh, it's like a little coin to look at the art in each one, you know, because each one of these you have to keep turning it
to look at the art but.
You you can see it right here and now I'm just revealing my my advanced age but I I love it.
I think it's cool man I I think any addition.
Is welcome and and this is a unique one so that that makes it exciting and like you said, a sticker is a given and we all love stickers.
But but like you, we all probably have.
You know I have a giant gallon Ziploc bag full of them in my file cabinet and you know.
I don't know what to do with them.
I give them away sometimes, but yeah, this is a unique thing and I for me personally I'm gonna keep it all together.
Probably won't use the cloth, sorry to say because I kind of probably want to keep it pristine.
To go for me, you know this, and same with the Great Eastern cutlery tubes.
I always put the wax paper back in and kind of keep them like how they came and that's probably how I'll handle this when it needs to be cleaned.
I'll use another one, but you also added a leather pocket slip which is greatly appreciated and it's already begun to take on the shape of the knife, which I love.
Yeah, it's one of those.
It's more of the functional deliverables that you get in the package.
So with the slip joint knife, right, it's.
Doesn't have a pocket clip now for slip joint guys, this is not a problem.
This is what we're used to.
But for modern knife guys, it's really foreign.
And the probably the most common request I get from guys who are buying their first slip joint is, well, can you put a pocket clip on it?
You know, I'd like to design some that have them down the road.
I've got some ideas there, but it's like coming out of the gate like the answer is no, you know, like part of what makes this a traditional knife is it's form factor and that means no pocket clip now.
For those of us who carry a lot of them, collect them, we've gone through what can sometimes be a headache of getting a leather slip to carry it around it.
Of course, you don't need one.
You could definitely like.
You mentioned earlier, you can drop it in your pocket.
You can let it get those snail trails.
You can let it get some love, let it get scratched up.
It's a tool at the end of the day.
It's a tool so it can.
It can take it.
But you also are going to need to maintain the knife more if you do that like lint.
You know the lubrication coming off that kind of thing, so you just going to get more wear and tear on it.
If you don't have a protective slip, so.
So so a lot of us will go through the, you know, the the process of from buying from a custom maker, a leather slip and that's kind of a whole cool part of the hobby in and of itself.
But I realize if I'm trying to make these available kind of far and wide, you know I want people to be able to put this in their pocket on day one.
I don't want them sitting out on someone's desk until they take the time to go figure out where to get a leather slip from.
To me that was like a non starter so I insisted on sourcing those leather slips so that.
Day one a guy can get that knife, drop it in the slip, put in his pocket, not worry about beating it up until he's ready to do that perhaps.
And yeah, you know I just wanted someone to have the function of that leather slip.
I carry all mine and leather slips and.
Feels weird to just drop them in my pocket alone honestly.
I have a. I have a favorite leather slip that I cycle my knives through and I like that this will be dedicated and it will take on the exact shape of this knife.
I've had that before in the past too, but this one special slip that I have.
I love to carry.
I just rotate everything in and out so nothing you know hasn't taken on any specific shape, but this will take on because I'm not going to put anything else in here.
Well if you ever get another one it's going to come with its own leather.
Yeah, what do you mean?
If I get another one?
Speaking of, when you get another one, Speaking of other ones, let's before I want you to tell us about the launch and when that is.
But before we get to that, I want you to tell us about the other knives that you have coming.
Tell us a little bit about that so.
You can see everything I've prototyped on my website.
There's eleven models on the website right now.
My plan is that about on a monthly basis, I'm going to come out with the next model.
I'm not publishing the production schedule, you know, selfishly, I want to have some suspense for you guys.
I don't want to, you know, show my road map like that's not fun.
We got to have a little bit of anticipation, but I do understand people like to have some time to save and prepare to buy something.
You can figure you're gonna have about a three week heads up from me from the time I notify you of what's about to, you know what's next versus the time it'll go live, so hopefully that's enough for folks.
And so yeah, I'm just I've.
I picked an order.
I established that order.
I've committed to the first six deliverables already with the manufacturer, made the financial commitment.
So like those are happening no matter what you know.
And if I get the support from the community and people buy these things, I can afford to keep going, you know.
And you know I will.
And obviously part of running this company being kind of the sole shareholder janitor president and everything in between.
Is that can be flexible.
I can sort of learn as I go.
You know, if there's something that's just extremely popular and there's a huge demand for, well, I can run another run of those before I were to cycle back to it.
And I'm not opposed to doing stuff like that.
I I want people to be able to get what they want, but I also have to walk before I run and strike some kind of reasonable balance between the supply and the demand.
So that's the kind of stuff I'm always thinking about, you know, is.
I'm not even thinking about the first six months anymore.
I'm already starting to think about months, 789-1011 and 12, you know?
Well, that's great news in my mind that that's great news, especially if you're considering on a somewhat monthly basis to be releasing these at least the first six because you said you've already made that commitment.
Those are in the works.
Now tell us when Jack Wolf Knives officially launches and where people can buy these, right?
So, April 15th Friday, Tax day, Uncle Sam's been holding your money long enough.
It's time to put it to something useful.
Now my original plan was that I was going to bring on a small handful of dealers who showed some initial interest and put the rest of them up on my website.
Well, like, totally blown away by the dealer support that I've received since I started this project.
They just kept kind of coming and asking me to be a part of the program and so I look at the dealer network as being instrumental to the long term growth and success of the brand.
And so I didn't want to turn guys.
Way just to sell them on my website because, you know, I'll make more money on my website, but it's not really about that like it's about the long term success of the business, so I sacrificed.
The units that were going to go to my website and sold them wholesale to the dealers that wanted to participate with me.
I can always make more in the future.
If we're successful, you know, oh, that's I think that's great.
I also think it's a it's much better exposure too, because you're going to have a lot of people on those sites that maybe haven't haven't heard of you and haven't heard of Jack Wolf knives yet.
But come across them, you know, and and they're all I've, I feel like on your Instagram every every day.
I'm seeing a new, you know, a new dealer.
Signing up, which is pretty exciting.
Yeah, I I've got.
There's ten US dealers.
I just saw it was up on the screen so on my website there's an authorized dealer page.
They're all listed with links.
There's ten US dealers.
There's three international dealers.
the US dealers are a nice mix between the big houses we all know and a couple of the smaller outfits you may not be familiar with.
You know one thing that I built by design was you're going to pay the same price no matter where you go.
The price is fixed, there's no gouging, there's no discounting, no coupons, no coupon codes, no sales, none of that stuff.
It is a level playing field, so rest assured that wherever you shop, you're going to get the right deal.
Buy from who you like, buy from who you trust, buy from who you're comfortable with, whether it's me or anyone of my dealers, everybody is going to make them available no sooner than the drop date.
So the drop date is April 15th, Friday 11:00 o'clock Pacific 2:00 o'clock Eastern.
Some of them don't drop on Fridays like some of them drop on Wednesdays.
I think urbanity supply urban EDC supply.
I they don't drop on Friday, so there'll come a few days later.
Arizona custom knives.
They drop at 3:30 eastern so his will come on at 3:30 and I'll put notes once I pin that stuff down on the dealer page as to when those guys drop.
You know some of them might want to wait a week or two and.
Pick up the customers that missed.
If I'm lucky enough to sell out, you know so.
But the point of the drop date is it's like an embargo date like nothing before said date, so I just want to communicate that to everybody and they come in four flavors.
They come in four flavors.
The carbon fiber I was showing you that beautiful blue fat carbon fiber.
They come in black natural and green canvas micarta covers correct green, natural and black canvas micarta.
That's US source micarta.
For if anybody's interested in that, the fat carbon so the fat carbon for the sharpshooter is dark matter blue, but next production run.
Of the next knife.
So like month two knife #2. You're going to get the three same my cards, but you're gonna get a different flavor of fat carbon.
So the fat carbon is going to rotate with every model run.
Uh, I think you're going to turn me into a carbon fiber lever.
Never been into it, but I love this this and I love these kind of marble carbon fibers.
Anyway, I could go on forever with you.
Ben, thank you so much for coming on.
The Knife Junkie podcast.
I'm so thrilled to see these knives coming out and I've just got to do my monthly savings plan now because I want.
I appreciate you, Bob.
Thank you very much.
My pleasure man.
Ever Strop a knife again?
Even though it gets no real use?
Face up to what you are.
You're a knife junkie.
Do yourself a favor.
Go to jackwolfknives.com and check out the other models that are in the offing.
They are all beautiful.
I've handled prototypes of many of them, if not most of them, and they are all tremendous.
And also do your favor if you're do yourself a favor.
If you're a fixed blade guy or you are a modern folder guy and not a slip joint guy, you got to check these out.
These will turn the tide for you.
So anyway, I can't.
I can't say enough about how much.
Love this sharpshooter knife by Jack.
Wolf knives and what an honor it is to have been back on the show and so be sure to check all of his stuff out on Instagram and on the web.
You can also check us out at all of these places right here and download us so you can listen to the podcast 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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