Custom knife maker Brian Nadeau of Sharp by Design Custom Knives is the featured guest on episode #66 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Nadeau talks about how he got his start in knife making at the place he once worked full-time, using company equipment, before that company’s relocation led to his full-time knife making career, and how the power of Instagram really powered (and continues to drive) his business.Brian Nadeau's Arch Nemesis knife is, in my eye, the most beautiful folding knife -- and it was my pleasure to speak to him on The Knife Junkie #podcast. I think you'll enjoy the conversation! Click To Tweet
Bob calls Nadeau’s Arch Nemesis knife the “most beautiful folding knife” and he can’t stop gushing about it. They do, however, manage to talk about some of Nadeau’s other designs, like the Typhoon, Evo, Cyclone and others.
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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 hosts Jim Person and Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco
Jim Person 0:16
Hello Knife Junkie and welcome to episode number 66 of the Knife Junkie podcast I'm Jim Person
Bob DeMarco 0:22
and I'm Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco Welcome to the podcast.
Jim Person 0:25
The Knife Junkie podcast is the place for knife newbies and Knife Junkie to learn all about knives and knife collecting and hear from knife designers, makers, manufacturers, reviewers, anyone who loves knives. If that's you, you're in the right place. And Bob another good show today who you speaking with on this episode of the podcast.
Bob DeMarco 0:45
This week I speak with Brian Nadeau of sharp by design. He has been making knives in his garage on his own CNC machine for about six years, something like that seven years and he has taken the The knife world by storm with these extremely intricate and beautifully produced and designed, handmade, handmade, machine made knives, but he recently takes the cake for me takes takes the title as most beautiful folding knife just took to my eye and that is his arch nemesis design. It's a recent he's just finishing up a run these arch nemesis and they are double edge folding daggers on bearings and and his special detent the whole nine yards but double edged and perfectly symmetrical but still fitting into a regular outside regular folding handle. So they're amazing looking well and that you know that just kind of slipped by there in conversation would you say the most beautiful Yeah, I said to my eye, it is the most beautiful folding knife out there. It's just perfect. It's it's a I compared to the vitruvian man that you know Da Vinci drawing diagram with a man standing there with his arms outstretched in a network of circles and squares kind of showing all the perfect proportions of the human body. It's kind of the same thing. I look at that and I'm like, it's just perfect.
Jim Person 2:10
Wow. High praise from the knife junkie
Bob DeMarco 2:13
and that's not even a hint to my wife if she's listening because it's, it's a it's a costly knife.
Jim Person 2:20
All right, we're going to get into that interview. But first I want to let you know about one of our sponsors for The Knife Junkie podcast. If you are in the knife business or want to get in the knife business, you've got to have an online store, you've got an have an online presence and what better way to start building your online store then to jump right in. But you know, maybe you're not good at web development or design or you hate installing and updating e commerce plugins or popular website builders that aren't really made for online stores. Maybe you're looking for a way to get more e commerce tools built in and connected to your website. After all, with better tools at your fingertips, the more efficient your business. This can become and the more profits you can make. That's why it's a smart decision to use a dedicated ecommerce platform for your online store. Of course picking the right software can always be a hassle with a lot of second guessing you're trying to determine which platform is best for you. That's why we're glad that we can offer Knife Junkie listeners a 15 day free trial of three d card with no credit card required. You can use this time to create your website with easy to use customizable Online Store Builder get a taste of the inventory management features decide which plan your business needs are and more. With a risk free trial you can get hands on experience with the most feature rich e commerce Website Builder there is and find out how easy it is to get started creating the perfect online store for your business. So go to TheKnifeJunkie.com/3dtrial. That's TheKnifeJunkie.com/3dtrial that's the number three the letter D three and trial. Let's get into that interview with Brian Nadeau next
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 4:11
I'm speaking with Brian Nadeau of sharp by design. You know him for his intricate and elegant knives like the typhoon, the EVO, the cyclone and my absolute favorite. The arch nemesis. Welcome to the show, Brian.
Brian Nadeau 4:24
Thanks for having me.
Bob DeMarco 4:25
The arch nemesis came out with it maybe I don't know. It came onto my radar about a year and a half ago or so a year ago. And to me it is a it's a perfect design. It's a it's a perfect night. So okay to me, that's my my unobtanium and good friend. No friend Alex too. So just got one from you with some radioactive inlay. Uranium refer a noble and I gotta say that that knife blew me away. And anyway it that is a great knife I hesitate to use that term but to me that is a true ground knife as a dagger lover and everything else so I just want to say you did a fantastic job on designing that knife.
Brian Nadeau 5:11
Thanks I appreciate that. You know I took I always take a lot of time in the design end of the knife I typically don't you know, draw a shape and then just make it fold. I take a lot of time. If you've noticed most of my knives to blade fits inside the handle to make a good ratio with the blade always fitting inside the handle was really tough. And I spent a lot of time with stuff like that. But the dagger I love everything about it. I love the symmetry from one side to the other. There's nothing I don't like about a dagger. What I tried to do is what it seems so many guys would do make a dagger go away from they try to change the dagger to make it their own. And I understand that and why but they a lot of them take everything that's sexy about it away.
Bob DeMarco 5:59
What do you find so sexy about a dagger.
Brian Nadeau 6:01
Just the lines of it no matter what direction you look at it from, you know it has that shaped like a woman's curves to it. I just you know something about it I think of sexy.
Bob DeMarco 6:11
Yeah, I think that I think the symmetry is unavoidably i mean it's it's undeniably appealing to me I love double edge. Even if it's not a symmetrical dagger I love the double edge. But when you add that that perfect symmetry, there's something that is, you know, it's just intrinsically appealing. And you mentioned blade to handle ratio and that knife I don't know I've never held one I've never seen one in person I've only kind of lusted after the third person in pictures and it seems to have I swear to God that the handle and the blade seem to be the same size.
Brian Nadeau 6:49
Yeah, obviously they can't be right. It's guys. It's impossible. I wish you know, I get it as close as possible. But yeah, I mean that's big part of it is making the blade Look, even if the blade isn't as big or as long you try to do things to make it look beefy or bulky or kind of show it kind of evens out when I say that you know adding the ball flipper tabs and and then cutting in with this you know with the oils, they're just a little sharpening oils trying to sneak that area down so it then makes the other area look wider, you know stuff like that.
Bob DeMarco 7:26
That's all little plays a part. So that's kind of like a almost like a visual trick or something.
Right? describe to me how you got to this point. I mean you in my eyes and these are these are just my eyes but to my eyes, you've designed a perfect knife designed and created with your own hand. This perfect folding knife but obviously you didn't start here describe to me your your process in becoming a knife maker and getting to this point.
Brian Nadeau 7:51
This all came all of a sudden it was about well now it's been about eight years. My wife met a neighbor. I don't know why I didn't go That night, but she went to she went to a neighbor's Halloween party. And I think I was I was probably back stuck with the kids that time, you know, it's probably her chance to go out. So we had little kids at the time, you know, so she went out she came back and said, Oh, this guy down the street bill, he hand forged his knives. I was like, Oh, really, I was working with machinery at the time I worked for a company that we made. I was actually in the r&d department I designed and built prototype machinery. So marketing would come and say build something for build something to make this and I would build a machine to make that. So she met Bill. She said you gotta go check this guy out. I went and talked to him and said oh well let me show you what I can do it machine so I went back to my work you know, company time company money, all that stuff. You know, and I set up and I designed my first two knives and extra with the same knife and I made two one for him one for me. I machine to scare the machine, the whole blade, machine, the scales all the all the components For me, the sheets and everything, put it all together. I gave it to my buddy. He loved it, except he used it for digging when he metal detector
he's, you know, my first two knivesI had a little sentimental thing going there you know and then now not so much but back then it was like come on man.
Bob DeMarco 9:21
He doesn't have it hanging in a prominent spot in his den.
Brian Nadeau 9:25
No matter what he gets uses. It could be you know, if all he has on him as a pistol and he needs a hammer because what he's using.
Bob DeMarco 9:34
So what was that first night where that first knife
Brian Nadeau 9:37
that knife was a seven inch
long bladed fixed blade. This was a fixed blade at the time. It was a tanto because that's all I was able to do at that point because I didn't know enough about machining blades hard and all that you know that was my first just go at it. I just said I'll let me show you what I can do and ripped it up in a day. Now there was a lot of things that I didn't like about the knife and looking back but it was still kind of cool some of the things I was able to do and I kind of evolved the fixed blades for a while, you know, nobody comes in and really goes I'm gonna just start making folders really right off the bat. It's kind of tough nothing nobody knows but it's tough. And he brought me my guy belt, he brought me to my first knife show which was the New York custom knife show and walking around there I had some dealers asked me about them and I sold up you know, sold a few things and I started going back there for a while, you know, but I was at my company time my company machine that was using my company machines to do all this. So after about two years of doing it, I finally made my first folder and then too many people started knowing about it. So I said, You know what, I gotta shut this down. I can't risk my job for you know, and what was nice though is everything's profit when you're not paying for the time or the tools you know, buying the steel, but nothing else right. You know, It wasn't as hokey as it seems. We pretty much bought that machine for one job. And I finished that job and the machine set there most of the time, you know, so I was able to kind of do whatever I wanted with it. It was over there doing its thing I would program at night at home and set it up. So sold a bunch of the fixed blades stopped because of too many people know about it. And you know, another year went by or so then the company decided they're going to move to South Carolina. I didn't want to go down there at the time. So I said farewell, came home said to my wife, what are we going to do? She said, Take that money that they gave you and go buy the machine that you want, and let's give it a go. I was like, All right. Now this is three kids a house. I mean, I was like, so that night, I was literally looking for a machine. And now at this time, I was expecting to still be getting unemployment but In that few weeks, I opened up a business, you know, got the business thing going, I did all this. And they said, well, you're not unemployed, you're have a business. So I got zero unemployment. And I was expecting to get six months to a year, which would have kind of held me over until I had a design and really worked out the process. You know, everything I was doing was one at a time when all of a sudden, you go to make you know, six parts at a time, it changes the way you do things. And everything really changed. I didn't have that was the hardest part of the whole process of everything was getting the process to make the knives down. What do you have to do first and how I should do it? But you know, I just had to put my head down and go,
Bob DeMarco 12:40
so well, you were in one stroke, totally lucky and totally on the spot. I mean, you're like, you have a wife who's supportive of your knife habit or your knife making which is pretty amazing. But at the same time, it's like okay, gotta gotta do it all now. Like right off.
Brian Nadeau 12:59
Yeah, I mean, And you know people, a lot of people poopoo the CNC guys but you know, we've had to know a lot of skills to which is different skills, you know? So I mean to take a knife now I'm trying to get a machine delivered to a house you know cuz I'm putting in my garage so that's a pain in the ass right off the back was getting a forklift or riggers and all that stuff you know so going to dealing with that, at the same time I'm trying to design a knife that I'm going to go with first. I'm trying to figure out the process design the fixtures, make the programs do all that. And I don't even have the machine quite in yet. Now I'm trying also, you know, how much is all this going to cost me looking at software and computers and tooling and the works. Get the machine delivered. I look in the drive when I go Holy crap, that thing's not going to fit. It's just Looks so much bigger than the driveway, I still had, I knew I had to modify, like my garage, I had to break off like the front of my house to get it in my garage. But, you know, with a little modification of the house and the machine, I got it in there. And at that point, you know, I already had that just now I once I had it in, I had the design, I had all that stuff going and I'm just, you know, starting to panic now. But I just put my head down, I go down, I get the first few made. And, you know, at that point, I only had 35 Instagram followers, you know, five more of my family. So you know, so nobody knew what nobody even knew what I was doing. I got to January. just happened like it started in October. Just to give you a little bit of time there. By January. I said, You know what? I said I can't even though I'm going to keep trying to go with it. I'm going to have to take a job in the meantime and see what happens. So yeah, I got a job. I started February 17. I know because that's my birthday. Set February 18. I go to for my second day at the job and somebody on Instagram posted one of my pictures of my knife to somebody else and went to somebody else and somebody else and within 24 hours I had like 100 orders.
Bob DeMarco 15:11
Wow! So but how did so how did you settle on that first design
Brian Nadeau 15:16
that was a little tough you know cuz my plan you know at first when I first got into this, I said oh I'm going with CNC you don't really want to constantly change up what you're doing because it's so much backend work. So is that like programming program it's the design part the programming part the setting up the machine part for each for each part that you have to do you have to go in and tell the machine where it is in space and set up all the tool heights and all that kind of stuff deal with tolerancing and all that. So I said I wanted to come up with something that was fairly simple design. I always liked the thin lean knife that fits in the pocket. I wanted to blade completely enclosed in the handle, I wanted a nice flipper tab. So it flipped easy. And so there was all these little attributes that I wanted to add to it. And my idea was to make this simpler design and then show what I can do with all the CNC machining end of it. You know, when I came into this six, eight years ago, you would go to the tables, I mean, there was always some crazy guys but 99% of the tactical folders were just gray. And I didn't want to be I didn't want to come out and be a table of gray knives I said I'm just gonna blend in so I want to show flashy stuff. I know it wasn't for everybody, but most people were able to appreciate it. So I came in and said look, I'm gonna I'm gonna keep that simple knife but I'm going to show what I can do with the machining and then I you know, I tried a lot of different machining stuff and I think it got a lot of, you know, people looking and it seemed to work. They did well,
Bob DeMarco 16:52
the night that really caught my eye first was the cyclone. I'm a big booty knife, shape fan, and I love that Double peak that that blade has but the the exquisite kind of layered handle was what really caught my attention it was seemed like there were a couple of layers there and they were kind of had different millings in slots but all going at different angles and it really played a trick on the eye I thought that was like really artistic it's hard to do some that you know you think even with a simple frame all the things you can do to it but to do it and make it look good is always a fine line. You know there's it's just a fine line of looking you know, like a knife you would get from a gas station. Well yeah, but that but that knife obviously people people who know know that that's not a gas station I've a MB people who know know that it takes an extraordinary amount of work design preparation, and just well, an artistic I'd come up with that sort of multi layer contra and Gold. I don't know whatever you call that what it was it was obviously seemed to me like you were showing off your chops there. Maybe you're coming. That was that was like your third or fourth knife.
Brian Nadeau 18:10
That was my second knife second night.
Well, actually no,
actually, it was my third knife. The the first knife ever made was the one I was still working at that company was called the Viper
Bob DeMarco 18:21
that's very boxy, angular and tanto. Right? Yeah, that's, that's a beautiful knife too
Brian Nadeau 18:28
a lot of people like it. I don't know. It's like, I'm not fond of it. Well, it's your it's your old. It's like any artists looks back at their earlier work. And it's, you know, they see the value, but there's a little embarrassment or you wouldn't be an artist, you know, I'm saying
Unknown Speaker 18:42
I learned a lot from from doing that. And I thought that's what actually brought me to my detent design. And so, you know, that started back that far. Tell me about your detent design. So my detent I don't use a ball. I don't press, drill a hole and press a ball and I actually start with thicker You know, I put an insert into my frame, so my inner hardened block a hardened steel inserts. So I take my, I take thicker stock, and I machine all that stock away to leave just a little nub that sticks up. And I that's an engineered shape that I make. So that nub is actually what your detent is. It allows a couple things one is, you know, when I was first making that first knife, I kept trying to get that ball in that perfect location. And that perfect location was always right at the edge or breaking through the edge. So every time I try to push a ball and get one close, I will crack the you know the steel or whatever. So that's what led me to how can I get past that? And I design that into it and you know, it was a little different back then at first it was a nub with a chamfer all the way around it and then I changed it as I went along to an actual engineered shape that has a ramp so the blade slides up onto it and everything you mean when you're closing it back up. It's correct.
Bob DeMarco 19:59
It's another Okay, so so you're you're saying that the detent I'm not going to call it a ball but the the the detent noven or whatever you're calling it is actually a part of the leaf. It's all one piece.
Brian Nadeau 20:12
Bob DeMarco 20:13
Wow. So is that an especially is that a tenable design for a mass maker someone you know, a giant company? Is that something that
Brian Nadeau 20:23
you know somebody who's in machinery Yes. If you know, obviously for a guy who's doing in his home, or you know, making them by hand, typically No, but it separated me from other people what they were doing it cured a problem that I was trying to cure. It kept me unique and not a lot of people are going to be able to copy it right away because I didn't say you know, right in the beginning I said I'm not gonna go try to patent this or anything of didn't want to defend it. Am I going to go after some guy in his garage who's making not like me, you know, making not Am I going to go try to screw with his living? No, I mean, even though he shouldn't be doing Like that, you know, I wouldn't go after somebody like that Not for something like that,
you know, so I did it and it's on pretty, it's on every knife that I make now people kind of demand and inspect it from, from my stuff, even from my production stuff
Bob DeMarco 21:14
we'll get we'll get to that in a second. But that's kind of like, you know, changing something. That is, I mean, it takes a little bit of audacity to change something that is tried and true in a certain area of manufacturing the detent ball who questions that, you know, but you you saw a problem a in the actual manufacturer, but also in the, in the use of it, you know, in closing it and then launching the blade, and, I mean, that's an innovation that came out of necessity.
Brian Nadeau 21:51
Another advantage is has for example is you know, if if you start getting blade, play your Typically you would have to go drill that detent you'd have to drill the blade that detent hole a little bit bigger so you get a nice sharp edge, show it fixed goes and clean again and everything this you're changing insert, I can throw away and insert and put in a new insert. It's because what happened you know, if you design it right, you make the you make that less hard than the blade so that Where's not the blade. And it's just an easy an easy swap, I can even change the the diameter of it or the angles on it to grab harder come out easier.
Bob DeMarco 22:32
Well in your time have you had to do that. Has anyone ever sent back? Nice to have you know, I've used this so many times that I've worn out this detent please put another one in.
Brian Nadeau 22:44
It's funny that you say because I have one of my table right now.
I typically don't get knives back I have now probably a couple thousand you know more than a couple thousand times out there. And I get very few back. I've maybe had a lot I can count on one hand, the amount of knives I've had back, you know, the one that I have now sitting on my bench is a was the prototype. And reott didn't get it quite right. It just had a little bit of rock, it's been through three people now this guy got it and then sent it to me to fix it, you know, so now, I got to deal with that and figure out how I'm gonna, you know, now I got to basically draw and make a new insert because I'm not gonna ask reoptimize them for right well, how has it been working with react?
Bob DeMarco 23:28
Tell me tell me about the difference in process. But I mean, you go down ordinarily, you know, you work in your own shop on your own machines. And, and that's how it's been since the genesis of your career in knife making, what's it like to shift over to a different manufacturer to a manufacturer altogether,
Unknown Speaker 23:50
you know, Reate made it real easy. But at the same time, it's a little so it's weird because you know, when I think I take so much time and pride in my designs when I get a good design I'm saying, Oh man, do I want to give this to a Chinese manufacturer to make for me or do I want to make it myself? You know, and it's it's getting harder and harder to come up with a unique design that doesn't infringe on other people's look, you know, part of it is also I want I'm trying to keep my own identity my own look and I think most people can see with all the names I've made most of them you can look at and tell that it's mine. So it's hard to keep that identity but change it and not change it to what somebody else is doing. You know, cuz I don't know many other guys knives. So you know, I'll design a knife and I'll send it over my buddies who What does this look like? Does it look like anybody's out there? You know, and more times than not, it does
Bob DeMarco 24:50
And that's not even due to undue influence on your part. It's not like you're scouring the the knife websites and looking at everything out there. It's Just something in the zeitgeist that is coming out of you.
Brian Nadeau 25:04
Right It's as you're you know, and I'm sure other guys do the same thing as you're starting to play with shapes and how they fold together and ergonomics of the hand and it things look like that for a reason you know the the blade shape typically brings the you know, brings the handle shape to a specific style and that's you know, you try to change that up as much as you can without getting that ratio all whacked out again and then making it you know, so it's it's a it's always a battle to try to keep that unique.
Bob DeMarco 25:36
So what have you done with Reate? I know you did the the EVO right and then you got the micro Evo coming out that right?
Brian Nadeau 25:44
I did. I started off with the with the micro typhoon that was a three inch version of my original typhoon I said I didn't really want to make it a knife that small myself. I'm into bigger nice myself as a nicer Yeah, I like to make the bigger stuff she I said, this is a perfect example and the price range, I can get it down to where it's a little bit better for these guys and it's more realistic with a tiny knife. So I gave it to them. They I think they did very well at at it, they can't complain, everything went smooth, you know, scary the first time sending off, you know, many thousands of dollars to China, not knowing you know, what to expect or, you know, my Yeah, you know, so but but they're very professional. I give them you know, a nice strong package. I give them two and 3d drawings and all that stuff. They typically nail everything there's a cup on. There's a couple little details that they always seem to forget on the prototypes. But again, it's just a prototypes. They probably let that little stuff slide like a little sharp edge here, whatever. So there's very few thing after I get the prototypes, there's very few things I have to change.
Bob DeMarco 26:54
So there's not a big back and forth back. Are they are they trying to add things to your design?
Unknown Speaker 26:59
No. Now it's funny that you say that because I know some guys who are getting these knives made and yeah, it's there's so much dialogue back and forth and, and pictures of the bills and blah, blah, blah and has just good enough. And I don't have I don't know, I don't have any that. I give them my drawings tell them the materials I want to use on the tolerances that I need on the certain areas and they nail it.
Bob DeMarco 27:23
That's not altogether surprising because you're already an experienced machinist, you're an experienced CAD programmer and all that it's like, you could probably go over to their factory and after a day, make knives in their factory, you know, it seems more scalable, and so that that's actually not surprising to me. You've got those skills.
Brian Nadeau 27:44
Yeah, I'm sure that helps a little bit maybe.
So that was the The first one was the mini typhoon. Then I went to last year I did on Black Friday. I did the EVO typhoon. That was 3.75 inch blade that did very well people really seem to like that one
Bob DeMarco 28:04
that came in three blade shapes right? Yeah, different kinds of tantos and
Unknown Speaker 28:08
two different detents we have two different tantos and the drop one, right? So that did very well I and if you've noticed I typically do these just like I do my customs or did my customs I do batches so I'd say I'm going to make 100 of these or do 100 of the well there's a minimum orders I have to make with them but I'm going to do 250 of these and that and then I do them and I move on to another design I typically don't go back and revisit stuff at least not yet. And which is funny because that's way different from what I originally came in here with her I'm I told you I just want to design a simple shape Right, right. Right and then just I thought I'm going to be you know to be the next RJ Martin and you know, make the same knife for 10 years and just keep being able to sell I don't know how these guys do it. I mean, I know how RJ does it his knives are fantastic. I don't know how some of these other guys are doing You're making the same night for 10 years. And it's like, I don't know. So that was my plan. And then I realized quickly realized, know, if I can keep coming up with designs that are unique and still cool, you know, I can, I can keep selling the same people and new people. So it's worked out well so far. So I moved to a design and move on and then come up with something else. I mean, a lot of people off because what happens is all these videos and stuff come out after the fact and then they go, Well, where can I get one?
Bob DeMarco 29:30
Well, here's the thing if you have a fertile imagination as a creator of anything, and people either dig your designs or they don't and they like your design language and whatnot, you know it you should be moving on from thing to thing and and almost looking back and shame at your old work. I mean, not really in shame, but you know what I mean? You move on to this next thing, and then suddenly, that has solved all these problems that the that the first the others presented and you've solved that. But that new design creates new problems. You gotta solve You got to keep moving forward. You know, I i understand that I also understand the making the sebenza for 30 years because it's just a beautiful simple thing you know? Do you think the end this is a totally self interested question, but do you think the arch nemesis is going to go ever to react or someone like that to be mass made?
Brian Nadeau 30:23
A lot of people have asked me to do something like that. And it just so perfectly knife I hate to do that to it. You know, I think that's something I want to keep for myself. And just, you know, I'm trying to finish up the last few I've been making it for two years now. Now, when I say I've been making it for two years, I made a lot of other knives in between, so I won't, you know, I've made probably maybe 50 of them or so, maybe. But I finally said, this is it. I'm done. I'm going to finish up these last couple and I want to move on to something different, but it's something that I think I want to come back to but you know, when I do come back, I want to come up with some new ideas. change it up a little bit, keep it the same but change it up a little bit, make it more modern, modern, or show some new techniques that I have. But I gotta give it a break for a little bit. You know, plus, there's only, you know, a pyramid of people who can afford, you know, stuff up to there, it's getting smaller and smaller, the higher the prices go. So, fortunately, with reott, you know, that allows me to not have to do the 300 knives a year and I can just do the fancier stuff or try some new things, you know, it's allowing me to now I'm going to try some stuff that might not work out, and I might be wasting some time, but I can do that. Now. You know, I couldn't do that before it was just make knives and feed the family. Right, right.
Bob DeMarco 31:38
Well, I think it's, I mean, to me having that having that one piece that's sort of like unobtainium is it's kind of important for you, as a knife maker to have a little bit of, I mean, to folks like me, it's a little bit of Mystique because like, that is, you know, someday, someday I'll get one by hook or by crook. But that's kind of nice. No, you know, having that as a as a knife collector, having that out there knowing that that someone's gonna let go one for some reason that sometime and maybe I'll be there or maybe just someday I get to hold one and appreciate what I mean. You know?
Unknown Speaker 32:17
Yeah, no, that's a good part of it. I mean, you always want to have the people pining for one for sure.
Bob DeMarco 32:24
So you're in New Jersey?
Brian Nadeau 32:25
Bob DeMarco 32:26
Can you carry anything you make?
Brian Nadeau 32:28
I can't ... You can't carry anything in the truth.
The only time the only time you can be carrying a knife is if you are hunting or fishing.
Bob DeMarco 32:38
Got nothing else to say about that? Except, you know,
Brian Nadeau 32:41
I'm trying to get out
Bob DeMarco 32:42
Doug Ritter's got his work cut out for him in New Jersey.
Brian Nadeau 32:45
Yeah, it's it's a it's a tough place. It's a I'm at that point where, you know my kids are one of my one of my kids are graduating high school and they're going to go to college. My other two kids are just going into high school next year. So it was do we leave now and let him start High School somewhere else do we stay at stay these four years? I think we're gonna hold tight. someday. I'll bring some pressure.
Bob DeMarco 33:11
Well, you do have to do what you have to do. Yeah. And and and that'll that'll. So what are your impressions of the knife world? I guess you haven't always been a knife guy. I hear this word nice community. I heard I heard that term knife community a lot. I tend to use knife world, because I like to, you know, not pretend it's necessarily a community though. I have been so impressed with people I've met since I've started this podcast, not just people I've spoken to on the podcast, but people who have listened and reacted and have been interested in the people I've interviewed. What are your impressions of this industry?
Brian Nadeau 33:47
A lot of wackos.
I get you know, I get it. Some of the things that I get you know, most at 99% of people agree i like i all good I can't say that they're all good people. But I get so many people that just your grown men you should have your act together a little bit better when it comes to you know for this is a perfect example. So I send out my emails to everybody that says I'm doing the pre order for this on this day. Here you can go to this page and read about at the bottom of the page. It's where you click the link to the next page which is going to be the order form. I got 50 emails. I can't see the next page it's it's password blocked. It's like guys get your act together read nobody wants to promise nobody wants to read anymore. If you read you would know what's going on but nobody wants to read the line up in the title of my Instagram page. All right, what did it's about? I'll tell you the time and I'll get 60 M's you know what time it just I am I'm so little on time in my life that all that stuff just frustrates You know, and I'm from New Jersey.
Bob DeMarco 35:03
There's that. Well, maybe it's natural selection maybe maybe this is like Darwin's law like playing out like, you don't deserve a sharp by design night if you can't read the frickin web page.
Unknown Speaker 35:14
There's there's not very many people I've, you know, no night for you. But now there's a couple you know, I try to send them I typically say you know my voice probably not for you who you want to go see and I tell him something like maker I don't like
Brian Nadeau 35:33
someone who's very
difficult on them.
Bob DeMarco 35:35
Yeah. So you've got the knife nuts podcast, you're part of the knife nuts podcast. How has that changed your outlook?
Brian Nadeau 35:44
I've noticed it will it's funny because now you know when i when i go somewhere people come up a and it seemed like they know you but you don't know them. You know? So it's a little awkward about you when you talk about and I'm like you put I don't I don't know. It says weird You know, it's a little weird. But what it did do it kind of desensitized everybody to me. So you typically in my life, you'd either like me or you hated me it was was very polarizing. I know 50% of people hate me, I'm fine with that. The other 50% it kind of desensitize them a little bit. So now they're used to
the way I am, you know, what are you going to do?
Bob DeMarco 36:22
Well, so so has it broaden your perspective on?
Brian Nadeau 36:26
I don't know, knives in general, the knife world knife design, what's acceptable, what's not what's desirable, what's not.
I mean, to a certain extent, you're always trying to chase you know, what are people looking for? What do they like? And, you know, you can't always make everybody happy. What I did find is, you know, try to do things that get the bulk of the people though, you know, ultimately, this is how I eat so I might want to do something I might want to do the, you know, reott dagger, but if it's going to hurt everything else, I can't, you know, so it's It's hard sometimes but uh, to keep everybody happy and keep people from demanding certain things, you know,
Bob DeMarco 37:08
so something that is hard for me to comprehend is that you're still I, is this true you're still making those knives out of your garage?
Brian Nadeau 37:18
Bob DeMarco 37:19
Okay. I mean to me you look at them and they're, you know, they're extremely refined. It's it's, it's it I can't imagine making anything like that in my basement. I don't have a garage where I live. So tell me a little bit describe your process. I mean, what's your day like?
Unknown Speaker 37:35
Luckily, being I can make my own hours I kind of chill in the morning I get the guy to get kids off to school, say goodbye to everybody have the coffee with my wife and then it's like then I come down to work and I when I come down to work, I come down here, you know, by that time, it's probably 830 and but working tool, you know, 10 or 11 o'clock at night sometimes there's, you know, I'm normally going up and down the stairs, keeping the machine going. At the very least But there's times I don't go upstairs until dinnertime and don't eat all day. Don't have a coffee, you know, just had that one coffee all day and just running back and forth because once I'm in the zone, I hate getting out of it because I'm getting too old too, you know. So once you get moving at some feel good, I go sit down for lunch. I'm done.
Bob DeMarco 38:17
Again. Keep those old bones warm.
Brian Nadeau 38:19
Bob DeMarco 38:20
Well, so when you're working on any any so right now you're working on arch nemesis and you say that you've put out other knives in the in the meantime. But do you do you do all the screws at once and then all the handles and then all the like, how does that work?
Brian Nadeau 38:36
It depends for the knife, you know, in the early stages when I was doing, you know two or 300 of something. I'd break it up into slick six month intervals, I'd say how many Can I get made in the six months and then say okay, well I'm not gonna make 150 blades. I'm going to make you know 75 blades and I'd set up and I sit and machine 75 blade And depending on who was he creating, whether I was doing it or sending them out, typically when I was getting that doing that many, I would send them out. When I do smaller batches 2025 I do it myself. And, you know, because you're, that's the way you make money and it's not just making the money part of it is that's the way you know, when I say by making money is if all the of all the parts are consistent. You can put things together the way they're supposed to, if all of a sudden I'm trying to put you know, blades from one batch in with frames of another bat or trying to swap blades, you know, things don't always work out right. So, like with the insert with the detent I can, once I get the first one dialed in, then I can nail it on that whole batch. If I all of a sudden start throwing things in the mix, Oh, I got six pieces from this last run and I got two pieces from here. That's one thing starting to get a little more difficult, you know, so those tend to go to the side until the end when you have time to play around with them. So you know always The big stuff early on I didn't big bigger batches. Now with the you know, the arch nemesis and stuff, I pretty much do five at a time of something
and all of them are kind of customer you getting all orders like Alex's, you know, do this and this and put this material in,
I pretty much tried to get away from that, because it's just so much of a time suck. I mean it literally will triple the amount of time it takes to make a knife, if I do it that way. When and if I was a maker that was struggling to sell my knives, I would probably have no choice but to just make what people wanted. unfortunate enough where these I put them up on Instagram two seconds later they're sold. You know so so why add that complexity and all that time. I mean, I know why guys are paying big dollars and they should get what they like. But at some point I will make what you you know something that you like if you Let me do my thing and things will change up too because most guys, they don't really have much of imagination when it comes to they've think about what the other guy had. Yeah, well, I want to
Bob DeMarco 41:10
work ahead or whatever the steal of the day is the steal of the hour, make sure it's made of M 390.
Brian Nadeau 41:16
And I have people that asked me for all whacked out steals and stuff off, can you make it? You know, I kind of can do what I want, then, you know, if I want to do a batch of different steel than I do, you know, typically what I do when I do a knife is I'll do one steel for the bulk of the simpler versions. And then I'll do diamond steel or throwing some other stuff for the fancier versions, but the bulk of them are just so you know, like the dark Nemesis was night trophy. That's what all of them were they weren't dynasty.
Bob DeMarco 41:46
So it occurs to me as we're talking there are. It seems like and I can't actually point to any examples, but it seems like there are people who make knives on machines, CNC machines and Try and take that part out of it, I look at your knives and I've seen lots of real close up pictures of them. And there's evidence of the fact that this is milled out of a, you know, with a machine. But for some or even even the way the be in the end come together the machine This is in there, it's kind of like seeing a brushstroke on a painting, you know, and, and to me, that adds to the appeal. It's not something I want you to hide, that's not something I would want to be taken away. Like, really, there's a masterful touch in how the machine is, is put to that material. And I think that's pretty cool.
Brian Nadeau 42:41
Yeah, that's part of the art of what I do. That's not something I'm going to try to hide, you know, and say, oh, they're handmade, you know, I mean, there's a lot of handwork that goes into them. There's nothing that comes off the machine done right, you know, so yeah, especially the typhoon for example, for the first two years of making knives I handstands. Did all the mil marks out of you know 750 I think it was 750 typhoon typhoons, maybe 90% of them are hand rubbed, that's what my shoulders and neck are so
Bob DeMarco 43:13
just Are you talking about just the blade or the
Brian Nadeau 43:16
whole desk, that's just the blades. Oh my god. Oh, because because there's a little pattern that comes out with those the way I was doing, you know, you can 3d a blade so you can take a bomb and mill and you could, you know, follow that surface and keep milling back and forth to reveal that, that bevel or you can hold the blades up on their side or on an angled if there's a lot of different ways to do it. And then use the side of the end mill to cut so in the beginning, you know, I want to keep that cycle time down when you're making 700 army when you're making 300. You can't 3d million because it takes too long, you know, it takes hours or could take an hour per side easy Right, you know, sometimes there's some blades like if you look at the dagger blade that it did with all the little that carbon rap like the
Bob DeMarco 44:09
the weave Yes, I know exactly what
Brian Nadeau 44:11
I had a machine that blade to smooth first and the smoother you make something, the longer it takes, you know because you want that to keep the smoother you do it the finer that step over has to be right right. And when I say conduct you know it can change time for example, if I did a 25,000 step over on a blade that's six inches long and every 20 so that's every 20 5000s that end Mills coming down and following the shape of that bevel. It now if I say I'm going to go you know 12 and a half thousands I'm going to do it's going to take twice as much time now. Wow. You know and there's some blades that I go down to you know, like when I'm going to machine those pattern and you need to really find surface so I it might have taken me two hours to machine just a surface smooth before I even went back to do the Three hours of with that little 16 ball mill going back and forth, you know, so it's uh, but that's part of what I do and I wouldn't hide that stuff or lie about that, you know, it's not worth it. It's what I do. You don't like it then don't buy them. Well yeah, it's
Bob DeMarco 45:13
not it's not even a matter of hiding, hiding or lying. It's, it's a matter of that's part of what makes these things beautiful.
Brian Nadeau 45:20
Bob DeMarco 45:22
So, all right, so what's in the future for you in terms of design? what's what's your what are the next couple of knives in the offing gonna look like? Do you have any idea?
Brian Nadeau 45:33
Well, considering I'm stopping this one I should really know by now. I should have I should have known about four months ago.
Bob DeMarco 45:39
What's the you have the little knife with the cut out and I forgot to I can't remember the name of it. But the little weight
Unknown Speaker 45:45
Yeah, the void. It's a 3.25 inch blade. Which oddly when you hold it in hand, it seems a little bit bigger than that. So that's going to be Reate knife. I did. I did the pre orders for that couple months back there. Going to be delivered the end of December 1 week in January. I didn't want to do it again right away, but I had a lot of people asking for the micro Evo. So that's going to be my second reott run this year. So I'm going to be probably not doing that again for a little bit, you know, I don't want to over
Brian Nadeau 46:20
you know, overdo it, you don't want to saturate the market, right.
But again, because I change the knives all the time, I really don't, you know, part of, and part of the reason I do that is for the collectors, you know, if if they can't, if people can't get them again to keep that value up that that at least that that's the best way that I can really think of to keep that value up at the moment. You know,
Bob DeMarco 46:42
so you're, you're unsure of what your next whatever the build you're going to be doing is
Brian Nadeau 46:47
I have a couple different designs going unfortunately, yes. So yesterday, I said I'm going to sit down all day and and start whacking away at designs because it's getting like I said it's getting it's getting to that point I should have I should have pictures being made already, you know, I should actually be doing all that. So there's no gap in between. But um, so I sat in design and once I get in design mode, things start going as things start flowing and I got this knife just when I liked it, almost I was dealing with some of the little little details crash last the whole thing. Oh, it took like three hours worth of work. I should have been saving during all of that. But again, I get into zone and I forget and I just start going and I had a you know, I had a crash and lost it all and I so I sat there for another three hours and try to get it back to the way it was and I just can't get it down. I just I just can't get the lines
Bob DeMarco 47:38
were we're not in charge Brian,
Brian Nadeau 47:41
we're not sure I guess not.
Bob DeMarco 47:43
Well, you know what, I always find that when when I have to do something twice. I'm also in a creative field when I have to do something twice. It's usually better the second time anyway. It'll get distilled out hoping
Brian Nadeau 47:55
but it's Yeah, I gotta I gotta put my head through a little bit more.
Bob DeMarco 47:58
So Brian Where do people find you? Where do they find your knives? Where do they buy your knives? What's the best way to and I'm not saying send emails to Brian NATO I'm just saying like what's, what's the best way find your stuff?
Brian Nadeau 48:14
Typically Instagram is where you're going to see the most current stuff. I look at that all the time. I try to get back to people right away. I try to get back to people with emails and everything right away. Only because I get so many it's a burden if you just wait till the end of the day even Yeah, you know, so the best way for me to handle that is just hammer them out as soon as I can. Instagram is the best way though, to see what I'm doing to see what I'm putting up for sale. A lot of times when you see me put something up, a lot of times are available. It's the person who says, you know, since we dm right away, a lot of times we'll get it. That's the best place. What doesn't go right away and Instagram will go to my website, but they rarely get there. I said once in a while. I'll throw them on there. I'll throw them on my website just to keep some of the guys that are looking every day. Yeah, can I see the same addresses every day? And so I throw one up once in a while.
Bob DeMarco 49:10
Well, I've been on your website recently and I and I've been going to the available knives page
Brian Nadeau 49:15
Unknown Speaker 49:17
These daggers I said I, I show and it's, it's funny because I don't really, I put I post stuff as much for me as I do everybody else, you know, when I, I need to, I need to hear feedback to keep going and hear good things and hopefully not bad things, you know. So when I finish up a knife and you when you see a knife show up on Instagram, I literally just finished that, you know, it might be warm from from the millons though you know, that's That's how quick I put up you know, when I'm ready. I take that when it's done. I take that picture to get to keep me motivated to go to the next one now, you know, so but a lot of times there's neither available you just gotta, you know, ask
Bob DeMarco 49:55
Well, you heard it from the man himself be tenacious, keep after his Instagram page and Watch for knives hot off the presses are I should say hot off the mill Brian, thank you so much for coming on The Knife Junkie podcast, it has been a pleasure meeting and speaking with you.
Brian Nadeau 50:09
You too man. Thanks for having me.
Bob DeMarco 50:10
It's my pleasure. My pleasure. Take care.
Have a knife you want featured or reviewed called The Knife Junkie? 24 seven the listener line at 724-466-4487 and let us know.
Jim Person 50:22
we're back on the Knife Junkie podcast episode number 66 of our show that has been going on for a little over a year now and we're glad that you are on the journey with us. If you're a new listener, we thank you so much and we would like to ask you a favor please leave us a rating or review Be honest you know we'd love it if it was five stars but you know, give us some feedback let us know what you like what you don't like whatever podcast player app you're listening on has a rating system so please leave us a rating or review. Bob another great interview as as I said what was your What was your thoughts coming away
Bob DeMarco 50:56
something that is amazing to me about What I found out about Brian and I found this out about a few other people, you know, not really a nice guy going into it, but man has had a real latent talent. I mean, not just in obviously he was a an accomplished machinist by the time he started making knives, but just by looking at the designs, the intricacies of the lines, the the symmetry, just the beauty of his work. It seems like he was always a nice guy just didn't know it. He had that he has that latent talent. for designing knives. Well, not so latent anymore. He's not just like birmomg stuff up with it. But like I said at the outset, that that arch nemesis to me is is, you know, perfection. And maybe one of these days I'll get my hand on Alex's with that uranium repair and noble in it. But yeah, so Brian Nadeau just another -- not just another guy, a guy who Who takes the bull by the horns and takes on a knife career and just to me is is redefining things?
Jim Person 52:08
Well and I think he mentioned some of the places you can find him online it was sharp by design dot com that's the website he's also on Instagram at sharp by design. So as we're wrapping up this podcast as you as we finish up you can go check them out at sharp by design and on Instagram at sharp by design and he doesn't he also do a podcast as well.
Bob DeMarco 52:28
He's on the knife nuts, which is the preeminent knife podcast. much loved by many. And yeah, that's where I first got to know him. You know, I failed to mention this too. He's just a cool guy. He was fun to talk to, and, you know, real relatable, and yet he's making these. What I estimate is, you know, almost knife art, almost meaning if I had one, I wouldn't feel too bad about actually using it.
Jim Person 52:58
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this interview with Brian ... give us a call on the listener line at 724-466-4487, 724-466-4487 or shoot Bob an email at Bob at The Knife Junkie dot com and let us know your thoughts or comments reactions to this interview with Brian. And we'd love to hear from Bob a final thought as we wrap up
Bob DeMarco 53:20
I would have to say kind of like what Brian said use the resources you have at hand at the moment to do as much as you can to get you towards that goal.
Jim Person 53:30
All right, very good. Very well said by The Knife Junkie and Brian Nadeau on episode number 66 of the Knife Junkie podcast will talk to you on Wednesday with our supplemental thanks for listening to the Knife Junkie podcast
If you enjoyed the show, please rate and review it review the podcast com for show notes for today's episode additional resources and to listen to past episodes visit our website The Knife Junkie calm you can also watch our latest videos on YouTube at theknifejunkie.com/YouTube check out some greatness photos on TheKnifejunkie.com/Instagram and join our Facebook group at theKnifeJunkie.com/Facebook and if you have a question or comment email them to Bob at The Knife Junkie dot com or call our 24 seven listener line it's 724-466-4487 and you may hear your comment or question answered on an upcoming episode of the Knife Junkie podcast.
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