Dirk Pinkerton of Pinkerton Knives is this week’s featured guest on The Knife Junkie Podcast (episode #88).

Pinkerton has custom tactical, self-defense, utility and outdoor knives designed and produced in his own shop and well as having designs produced by Artisan Cutlery and Kizer Knives. His knives are “designed with purpose” — and that purpose includes both form and function.

He began seriously making knives in 2005 when he purchased his first serious grinder. Pinkerton had a life long interest in knives watching his father daily carry a knife as an essential tool.

Knives designed with purpose. It's the slogan for Dirk Pinkerton of Pinkerton Knives and I had the chance to talk with him on this week's episode of The Knife Junkie Podcast. Click To Tweet

Please call the listener line at 724-466-4487 or email bob@theknifejunkie.com with any comments, feedback or suggestions on the show, and let us know who you’d like to hear interviewed on an upcoming edition of The Knife Junkie Podcast.

To listen to past episodes of the podcast, visit theknifejunkie.com/listen.


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Show Notes

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* Transcription is generated by artificial intelligence (ai) and is not edited. There may be some errors. Thanks for understanding.

Dirk Pinkerton 0:00
The early early ones were very very blocky very very chunky. And you know just I never really studied design I just slow actually, it wasn't until fairly recently in the past eight years maybe that I really started looking at knives, looking at what other knife makers were really doing and thinking about what they did and really looking at it from a design perspective other than just it looks neat as I started thinking beyond the aesthetic and the was started looking more into the function

Announcer 0:32
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast your weekly dose of nice news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your hosts Jim Person and Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco.

Jim Person 0:46
Hello Knife Junkie and welcome to episode number 88 of the Knife Junkie podcast. I'm Jim the knife newbie Person

Bob DeMarco 0:53
and I'm Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco, welcome to the show.

Jim Person 0:55
Welcome to the Knife Junkie Podcast the place for newbies like myself, and Knife Junkie is like you to learn about knives and knife collecting and here from knife designers, makers, manufacturers, YouTube reviewers, anyone who loves knives you have found the podcast if you are a knife ficino and we welcome you to the knife junkie podcast. Bob another great interview show today the weekend episode talking with a knife maker Dirk Pinkerton.

Bob DeMarco 1:23
Yes, Dirk Pinkerton. You may know him from the nine designs he has working with Kaiser. He also has two with artisan and he has a couple in the hoppers with both of those. He also has a thriving custom knife career. He makes fixed blade knives, very purpose driven utility and self defense knives. He had a career before his knife making career that was conducive to developing new knives and testing them out. So it was very interesting to talk to him. I've been an admirer and owner of a few of his knives and I think his designs are very cool. It's great to talk to him.

Jim Person 1:58
All right, we'll get to that end view in just a second but first I want to remind you about Thursday night knives is the live YouTube video show that mom does as a special guest co host with him every once in a while. Sometimes it's a solo show, but it's every Thursday night at 10 o'clock. You can watch live on YouTube or on The Knife Junkie Facebook page. So that's Thursday night knives live at 10pm on Thursdays and

Bob DeMarco 2:24
I have to say it's not just me Jim is behind the switcher and he works magic he makes this show look like a legitimate new show and heightens everything we talked about. So it looks pretty sweet. You gotta check it out. No

Jim Person 2:36
pressure, right? Right so somebody watches this coming Thursday and it looks awful. Okay, I'll take the blame my fault. It's all right but please do join us Thursday night knives 10pm Eastern on YouTube and on the Facebook page and if you want to find the Facebook page, you can go to The Knife Junkie comm slash Facebook and the YouTube channel is The Knife Junkie. COMM slash YouTube have a knife you want some Or reviewed, call The Knife Junkie. 24 seven the listener line at 724-466-4487 and let us know I'm here with

Bob DeMarco 3:08
custom knife maker and knife designer Dirk Pinkerton. You know, Derek from his nine designs with Kaiser, he's also got two in the works with them. He's also got a couple of knives over artists and one of which is blowing up the charts. The proponent comes in two sizes and his knives are designed with a purpose Dirk, welcome to the show.

Dirk Pinkerton 3:29
Thank you. Thanks for having me. Oh, it's my pleasure.

Bob DeMarco 3:31
So I I have one Pinkerton and it's the Orion. And when that came out, I was on a little tangram tear. And I saw that and the blade shape just oh man, it won me right away. I'm a I'm a huge sucker for the wardenclyffe style blade and that and that sort of sacks. Look that that's a theme that runs heavy in your work. But tell me about your design inspiration. Where does this come from?

Unknown Speaker 3:57
Oh, well, everything. I Almost everything I do starts with a function. I have something in mind when I'm designing it, and then I try to apply shape to that to that function. So like with, with the tangram, which follows on to the Warren cliff, which I'm really a big fan of, for all kinds of work, not just a little cutting chores, I wanted to do something a little bit different than I've done before. And I want to still keep a lot of that Angular design that I that I do on a lot of my older work, and trying to incorporate a little bit of a different flow to it. And that's, that's kind of where everything goes, it starts with a purpose. And then I try to adapt a shape or something that that's in my head to that purpose. And yeah, you know, you're also influenced by history and things you've seen. And you mentioned the sax and that's actually where my My wardenclyffe affinity started. The first one I ever made the warning. I cut out the first one that I did back in about 2001 2002. And I was trying to make a pocket size sacks. And that's that's basically where that really began and work my affinity for for the wardenclyffe really got started.

Bob DeMarco 5:22
So where did your affinity for knives come from in the first place? I know you did some security work, did it did it come out of that sort of necessity the need for a good tool

Unknown Speaker 5:32
came from my father. My father always had a pocket knife with him always constantly didn't matter what the time of the day it was morning, noon night, there was always always had something in his pocket. And it ranged from an old case, which I wish I had all those cases that he had now, had I known I would have kept each and every one of them regardless of the condition. man he went through his Spyderco phase. Where he carried a little clip, it's he loved those. And he always had one with him. And I just, that's just where it got started. Just seeing him with it all the time and understanding that for him, it was a true tool. You know, not just a piece of pocket jewelry, he used it, abused it, sharpened it. And it he warmed down to nubs in his mind if he couldn't, if he couldn't use a knife to fix the problem, then he would go and get the proper tool for it but the knife was always his first go to tool. And yeah, they were always beat up and abused. And I just something about that stuck with me. And as I got got older, I started carrying knives just because I didn't really have a purpose other than that he had one so I wanted to carry one. And when I got into the security field, then I started noticing law enforcement, other security people had an we're carrying knives and then I really started thinking about the purpose of a knife just beyond a you know, you cut your letters open with them or cut a piece of tape or something like that. And that's when I really started thinking about the the serious application of the knife as a tool beyond just simple cutting tool, you know, the the self defense applications, life saving applications, and how it can be utilized in that regard.

Bob DeMarco 7:29
So when you first kind of had that realization, what were the first knives you were designing? Where did they look like?

Unknown Speaker 7:37
bricks, they look like bricks. I didn't really I didn't understand or couldn't get what I had in my head onto a piece of paper. So the first ones you know I had all these great designs in my head and when I drew them, they came out is very square and blocky. Which I think may also kind of The part of the reason why a lot of my designs are very Angular because I just never I never went beyond you know, I didn't go try and get away from that completely and and look at and say, Oh my god, this is hideous because when I made them, they were functional. They fit the hand and they felt good. They didn't look good, but they, they felt good,

Bob DeMarco 8:19
right? And they did that work that you were looking for them to do, what kind of blade shapes Were you really doing right then?

Unknown Speaker 8:26
The very first knife I made was a drop point. very broad blade. I think it was probably it was almost two inches wide. very broad pieces of 440 See that? I can't even remember I got the 440 See, I cut it out hacks all did everything with the hacks on the file, hand filed the blade, the bevels everything and had a local heat treat or do it and I found a cheap trying to remember that it was a rubber handle. I can't remember for sure that I put on there and Yeah, that was the first knife I ever made.

Bob DeMarco 9:03
Did you carry it and use it?

Unknown Speaker 9:05
I did for a while. And after I carried it for a while, used it, and I sat it down one night and looked at it. And I realized I could do a lot better than that. So I set it aside. And actually, I think I ended up giving it to a friend. When I told him I wasn't carrying it anymore. He said, If you know what, I'll take it, I just Okay, there you go. But yeah, the early early ones were very, very blocky, very, very chunky. And, you know, just I never really studied design I just slow actually, it wasn't until fairly recently, in the past eight years, maybe that I really started looking at knives, looking at what other knife makers were really doing and thinking about what they did and really looking at it from a design perspective other than just it looks neat. As I started thinking beyond the the aesthetic and the was started looking more into the function of the design and what they were doing and why they were doing it.

Bob DeMarco 10:00
So you're in you were working in this field, when you first started making knives, you're working in a field, where you have the opportunity to sort of feel tested, see how this how they carry. With other, I'm making assumptions about what you were doing. I know you were in private security in the corporate world, and I assume that there was some place for a knife on your belt or or stashed somewhere. And I would imagine that was a good opportunity to sort of test drive some of the designs you were coming up with. Yeah, describe that process of how you once you make a design, how you sort of break it in field test. It makes, you know, make your tweaks and all that

Unknown Speaker 10:40
to that little bit of history that the the first knife I really did that with was a knife that I called a variable broadhead. A buddy of mine, he was in on the Columbus police force and he was very much a knife fanatic. He love knives. And he loved neck knives and he used to carry the Fred parents look riff, love the finger hole of the security love the size. But what he hated about it carrying it as a neck knife is if he got turned around or in Russell around the knife will get twisted and he would go to reach for it. It wouldn't always be where he wanted it to be. So he would grab it and it would be the wrong way the handle would be the wrong way, something to that effect. And he asked me to think about coming up with a better solution to that. So the variable broadhead was born, I started looking at what he wanted his application of an edge on either side handle so it's always where he wanted it. So centrally located, handle, double edged dagger blade, still the same finger hole and that was the first knife like that that I made and that I actually feel tested at work. And so I carried it around for a while. Being security, you don't get the chance to you know, wrestle with people as much as the Officer does, but I would, I would put it through its paces when I was you go out on a tour or something, I would run the stairwells, you know, run through the building, do things that would cause me to, to move around quite a bit and see what it did how it felt. Then I also carried it in my pocket, see how it felt there for size if it was too heavy, because He also mentioned he wanted to be able to do that. And that was one of the early test runs that I did on a knife at work. And then when I when I do something a little more utility oriented. The first thing I do is it's got a feel, you know, I make the nice, do the prototype. I check it how it feels in the hand. I mean, I don't do any serious cutting or anything with it. I just hold on to it. Make the sheet carry for a while drawed just to see how it feels. I'm not worried about his performance. At that point. I want to make sure that It fits the hand correctly and feels right in the hand. So I'll move it around, draw it in different, different methods, different directions, carry at different ways. Then once I'm satisfied, I've got the handle laid out the way I like, then I'll start testing the cutting performance. Mainly because with a knife blade, you always want to want it to cut correctly. You always wanted to be a good cutter, because that's his primary task, but you're dealing with for me, I do a lot of my heat treat goes to it goes to theater t treating. So I'm 100% confident what they do. So I know if I tell them what spec I want, it's going to come back. It'll perform I know the truth will allow to perform. The only question is did I put a good enough edge on it? So when I do cutting test or something like that, it usually comes down to a completely new blade shape. And that's when I'll really put it through some kind of a cutting test. It's a bigger blade, chop some wood. Smaller blades, though are usually cutting into water bottles, stacks of paper, see what kind of penetration I get, see how much cut I get to make sure those are clean cuts, not jagged tears. See how it feels when it penetrates a soft material. I have done a little bit of cutting with me. Not much. That gets a little expensive. But you know, those are the kinds of things that I'll do when I test out a new design. And just to see how it works, see how it performs.

Bob DeMarco 14:33
So this variable broadhead just just to reiterate to, to listeners this it looks like a modern day Arrowhead kind of dagger with a hole kind of at the base in the ricasso. And then it's got a symmetrical handle usually right yeah. And with a little bit of micarta or G 10 or something on there to give you grip and unlike the look Griff there's, it's it's Totally neutral indexing, if you will. Either way you grab it. It's going to be it looks like it's going to be exactly the same now I've never held it. But but just to look at Yes, absolutely. When you were testing this, were you testing it as a neck knife I know you said you put it in your pocket to try that

Unknown Speaker 15:15
as well. Testing doesn't that knife tested it, dropped it in all my pockets to see how it would ride. See how you could draw and then also I started I put it on the belt, clip it on the belt inside the waistband outside the waistband to see where it felt optimal for me. Everybody else has you know, everybody has their own preference on how they use a knife but you know, I would test it out to see where it felt the best for me as a neck knife. I found that I I'm actually very sensitive to wearing neck knives. I can't wear much weight around my neck so I don't wear neck knives at all. So was that was a non starter after a while once I realized that and then I start actually The variable broadhead out were on my belt in a horizontal position on the center line right in front. That way I can grab left or right handed if I grab right handed the way I have it set up, it comes out in reverse grip I grabbed left handed it comes out and forward. And that's that's the idea of it. No matter how you grip it is, as long as you get your finger in there, you're going to pull it out, you're going to have a blade in your hand secure, usable,

Bob DeMarco 16:26
okay, so I want to I want to go from one extreme to another that is a small featherweight, 100% purpose driven little knife and and now, you are known hugely for the proponent from artisan which is a giant it's sort of the opposite. It's a giant, heavy, beautiful wardenclyffe Man, I think it is. I think it's such a cool looking knife. Thank you. Haven't You're welcome. I have not got my hands on it but it is very much up my alley in the US. You know, I just I'm a sucker for for pretty much you know how you define that knife big chunky titanium.

Unknown Speaker 17:08
Warren cliff.

Bob DeMarco 17:10
Tell me about that knife that development explain how that came about and, and how it was working with artists and cutlery

Unknown Speaker 17:18
artists on was fantastic, extremely easy to work with great communication. I love working with them very, very open, they listen to whatever I have to say. It's It's never a question of you know, is it something that we can do or it's just a question of when can we get to it? Because that, as you've noticed there, they're exploding, becoming extremely popular. The design for that actually came around. I had basically four models of the warning that I do, Mark one through Mark four and when I sent drawings to artists, and to Look at they selected the mark three, which if you take a mark three warning, you lay it right on top of the proponent. It's exact, I mean it's the perfect silhouette of that. And they said, Okay, let's let's do a folder. Okay, fine, I gave my you know, that's fine I hear my basic drawings on a folder I had in mind. And so what they did was what I liked is this was actually one of the this was a true collaboration effort. Because a lot of times a designer will send a company a knife and or a design and the company will make that design. Well. I got an email back with some drawings and it was hey, here's our here's the sketch we did we incorporated a couple of ideas. What do you think? I looked at it and they added You know what, I would assume a normal you know, any company would they put their pivots on their their screws, that's, you know, that was expected that I saw some of the cut out On the handle, which I don't do that, I mean, that's that's not my thing. But when I saw it, I was like that, that really works on that knife. I like that.

Bob DeMarco 19:07
But I'm sorry. But before you go on about what you tweet, you talking about the finger grooves kind of on the side, it almost looks like they're there for four finger purchase on the

Unknown Speaker 19:16
dorsal because of the thickness. I have small hands. And you know, when I saw that, my initial thought I wasn't expecting it to be thick. Like I saw it in profile, but I liked the look. So I basically reposition them a little bit to where I thought it would be more comfortable for the finger and changed a little bit of the dimension of the group. So that would be a little more it looked a little more balanced to me. And the next thing I know I get another drawing with it in 3d. And I looked at how big it was. I kind of like kind of like do you know you really want it to be this big and like Oh yeah. Okay, I'm good. With that, yeah I want to because a lot of my warnings are thick blades are heavy, hefty blades. I like to do that a lot as like, that's fantastic. Let's roll with this. And not too long after that I got a prototype. And I did not realize I mean it blew me away I was like, This is perfect. This is actually this is perfect. It fits into at the time when we started the the program. It fit into where everybody was really going with folders, you know, big solid chunky knives. And I think it had that, that chunky look but still add just enough. I don't want to call it elegance but that's that's about the only word that comes to my

Bob DeMarco 20:41
mind. It's got a lot of design flourishes. It's got that beautiful Fuller, the oversized thumb lugs, which are really cool looking. It's got the, you know, the milling and the handle that you're talking about. And yeah, I mean, I think it's a I think it's got a lot to it. Other than Then it just being a big giant night.

Unknown Speaker 21:03
Yes, definitely I that's it nail. I mean, they nailed it. Absolutely what I was hoping for and they, what I liked was the stop pin. That was not my idea. I would love to take credit for it. I'd love to say it was my idea but that was actually artisans idea,

Bob DeMarco 21:18
described that stop pin

Unknown Speaker 21:20
well. When you look at the handle of the knife, you'll see a hole down by the finger notch towards just below the pivot. So when you open the knife, the tank goes has a hole in it that matches and on one side of the the other side of the frame, there's threading in the box with the knife is a pin that fits precisely in that hole. You put the threaded in, into the pin in screw it down tight and you now have a fixed blade knife. So it's it's a it's a convertible knife.

Bob DeMarco 21:54
Right, a fully mechanical connection. They're making it rigidly

Unknown Speaker 21:59
absolutely fixed. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, as soon as I saw the drawing with it, I'm like, Oh, this is cool. I've thought about it in the back of my head off and on over the years but never really tried to apply it and

Bob DeMarco 22:11
it kind of takes it over the macho edge, you know what I mean? It's sort of at because it's already a pretty muscular knife and then you add, add that in and you're 100% committed to its muscularity, if you know what I mean, you know, you're, you know, you think this is a beefy folder, we'll check it out. It's actually displayed.

Unknown Speaker 22:30
So yeah, that's, it's, it just blew me away when they they put that finishing touch on it.

Bob DeMarco 22:36
So there's a smaller version of that is that same finishing touch on that smaller version? It

Unknown Speaker 22:41
is, it is absolutely. And the smaller one I like because it's it fits my it fits my hand perfectly. It is just the exact size for my hand. It's still very, very strong. That's still going to do it's going to handle the same kind of abuse. It's just because of the size you're just not going to be able to put it in the same situations because you're not going to be able to you know, hit it with a log to Baton through something just because of the size but it would handle it without any issues. So it's to me it's the perfect, heavy use everyday carry knife.

Bob DeMarco 23:18
Well so I want to talk about a couple of other designs. The escort I always loved the escort and that's a beautiful knife, which I'm not sure if you if you if that was a custom knife before it was a Kaiser knife in the Lancer i think is is beautiful that was that's a fixed blade knife. That was a custom knife that Kaiser is making. This past year you had the fire and come out you've you've had a number of you have nine knives with Kaiser and I guess two in development. Yes. So what do you have in development and what's it like working with Kaiser?

Unknown Speaker 23:52
Kaiser is another great company to work with. They are you know, they're very responsive. They are very, very open about the process on how they do things. Communication is great. You know, if I have a question I get an answer almost immediately. So yeah, it's it's another fantastic company to work with nothing but highest respect for for Kaiser. The, I guess the downside is you, you know, it's great when you get in early with them, but once they start getting popular and they start growing that's the only bog down from my perspective as an individual dealing with the company is I'm no longer the only you know, one of the only people they deal with now I have to, you know, wait in line, which I do not begrudge them that success at all. I'm just very happy they have that success. But sometimes when I have a great idea, I want to talk about something and I okay, I send them an email and you know, reach out to them was like, Okay, give us a couple of days and we'll get back to you on that we you know, we got a meeting coming up and But again that's just you know that's the cost of doing business and I have no issues with it because that means they are successful and they are growing and that's only good news.

Bob DeMarco 25:10
So what do you have what's in the often with Kaiser? You got tuned developed once called the inversion

Unknown Speaker 25:15
Yes, right the inversion it is a it's a folding version of a knife I do called the smile it on which is pokal style reverse grip knife. It's a short offset blade on a I don't know that the other word for it is basically the the handle shape actually originated from the Lancer that you've mentioned earlier. I trimmed it down, change some of the the angles on it to be more diminutive and easy to carry and fit the hand and the reverse grip much more comfortably. And smile Don came from a lot of if you don't know what it is, that's the basically the scientific name for the saber toothed tiger. So, the blade reminded me of the saber tooth tiger tooth, the big tooth. So that fixed blade version was the inspiration for the inversion. There been Spyderco did the call not too long ago with South narc and I know there is a another reverse grip folder out there custom I can't think of the gentleman's name that makes them slipping my mind right now. But I wanted to do my version of it. Because I think it's a market that is growing in popularity, the you know, the reverse grip, self defense protocol, movement, people that practice that. And I just threw it out there. I had the head it all drawn up and I said, Hey, you know, what do you think about this? And it's actually been sitting there for a little while in the works. And as soon as they saw it, they said, Yeah, we'll do it. They were looking for something different and they had nobody presented anything like that to them. So they jumped on it right away.

Bob DeMarco 27:02
So we talked about that. Well at least the prototype we saw a knife news on this podcast in an earlier episode and the version I saw of it had a beautifully terrorist handle and you know, kind of topographical looking which was cool and just seeing the blade coming out kind of in reverse orientation to what we're used to seeing from a handle shape like that. I was like wait what one small sweet you know cuz it I like the pickle style of knife I don't I don't have any but you know I've I've practiced a bit of Kali through the through the years and I love that because style of practicing You know, I've never gone out and gone out and gotten a knife fight for real but but you know, turning edge in and doing you know, doing that kind of reverse grip. Drilling is is really fun. And I think I think you're right. I think there needs to be more. There needs to be more I've set up like that in the Smilodon was a knife I was gonna bring up because, first of all, it's really a beautiful knife. And it's just so sinister looking.

Unknown Speaker 28:12
Well, that's good. I kind of want it to be a little sinister looking. Well, yeah. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 28:18
It's a it's actually an older design to

Unknown Speaker 28:22
I don't remember the year but while it's been a while, I saw Well, 2010 maybe 2010. I can't remember how far back it is now. But when you first started seeing glimpses of reverse grip stuff, it was Keating did the draw had his draw point programs. That's the first time I really got an introduction to it. And then I saw Rob patent knife makers pick. Yeah, did that and saw some of his stuff at the at the blade show one year and that really inspired me to start playing with that. Then the actual first version of the Smilodon was a very much smaller clinch pic oriented size blade that actually was made from a piece of scrap, which I made put it on the table when I used to share a table with Darrell Ralph put that on the table and it was gone in a heartbeat, which I just was blown away because I didn't think anybody's gonna want it. And that's when I started developing the smiler Don after that through various blade angles. Orientation how much the blade is offset and how the blade handle felt with that modified Lancer handle because I did start with the first full size when I started with a Lancer handle just felt a little wrong. So I just kept trimming away and trimming away until I got to The final version of the smile of Donna you see today.

Bob DeMarco 30:03
So when can we find out about about the new Kaiser

Unknown Speaker 30:07
the knife? I'm sorry if everything stays on schedule, which with what's going on in China right now, I don't know how they're going to be impacted by that. We're looking at they said march into March, they should start shipping. So hopefully everything stays on course for that. I

Bob DeMarco 30:29
cannot wait to check that out. So you mentioned Darrell Ralph, he came on this show what a cool guy what a guy and and I've I've always been an admirer of his of his knives. I guess I got first glimpse of them earlier the than The Expendables. I guess when when he was doing stuff in America, which I know you have also. I got wind of him then and then saw his stuff. So tell me about your relationship with Daryl Ralph. What does he mean to you as a knife

Unknown Speaker 30:59
basically He's my mentor. I will I can't call myself an apprentice. But he's he's my mentor in the knife world and good friend. We've been friends for. I think the first knife I I bought my, one of my early customers I bought from him was 2000. And we live I live 20 minutes away from it in in Ohio, and that was kind of how the whole thing got started is I saw one of his knives. It was a thing it was an EDC and early EDC bought the EDC and then send him an email Hey, can you make me another one and I want to do this, this and this yet we can do that not a problem. He makes the knife and then he's like, yeah, it's ready. And I'm like, you know, Darrell seems kind of silly to ship it ups when I'm only 20 minutes away. Why don't I just come over and at first he was he was pretty resistant to the idea of like, no, I prefer not to have visitors. You know, it's a it's The shop, you know, we work here and I was like I understand I'm not going to get in your way. But really it just, you know, kept bugging him with it. And finally like, Yeah, come on over. So one Saturday morning, I went over to pick up the knife got there, gosh, it was about 930 in the morning. And I was expecting to be in and out of there in a heartbeat. I didn't leave until almost nine o'clock that night. And that mean just hit it off. He just took me on a tour of the shop explained how everything worked. And he started handing me you know, hey, here's the Camilla CDC and here's here's some stuff I'm doing with over here. And we just became friends after that. And I would continually bugged him to make my designs and he would ignore me and ignore me. And finally he said, You know, I have an idea. Why don't you just make your own nice. So because these are my designs, this is what I make you just go make your own life. And so okay, Well, and I would come back to him and how do you do this? How do you do this? You know, what am I doing wrong here. And the first knife I made with him was actually a very long, thin wardenclyffe blade had a slight curve to it, and I still got it somewhere. But I brought it over and handed him the knife and he looked at it, and he's like, okay, we're going to heat treat it. He asked me a couple of questions that I had no, I didn't know he's asked if it was a kneeled. I said, I don't know. He goes, it's not a kneeled. I can tell that. So this is what's going to happen. It's going to work soon as it comes out of a tree. And it did. So he put it on his surface grinder plate with a magnet. So it would cool down and at least straighten out a little bit. Then as we get get finished with that, and it's cool. He looks at it. He then spent the next probably two hours grinding the blade straightening it up for me. And which I thought was really cool because I wasn't expecting it at all. I mean, That you just had the little, little horizontal nine inch disc grinder. And that's how he did it. He didn't use a belt grinder at all just that little disc grinder and he just worked on it for a couple hours till he got it right. And he was happy with it. And there you go, here's your life. Like, I just can't believe I just sat here and watch this.

Bob DeMarco 34:22
So did he teach you tricks about grinding and all of that all the all the way along?

Unknown Speaker 34:28
It wasn't so much that he would tell me what to do. He would basically Wait for me to come back and tell him what my mistake was like Darryl, I keep getting I get a little facet here. What am I doing wrong? He said, Well, okay, he would ask, What am I doing when I'm grinding? You know, well, I'm standing here, this is what I'm doing and he's like, okay, that your, your position is a little off. So what you're doing is as you're moving across the belt, you're you're turning your body and when you shouldn't be turning your body at this point. You should be moving the blade you're trying to turn the body to it. All these little things. And he basically said, I can tell you these things he said, but until you do them yourself and figure them out, like pretty much everybody else does. He said, it's just going to be a lot of noise. He said, because you're going to hear what I say, you're not going to understand it. And then one of these times you're going to go barrel said this and you're going, Oh, that's what that is. And that's exactly what it is. I mean, he's exactly right.

Bob DeMarco 35:25
That is learning and teaching in a nutshell right there. You know, I find that with you know, I've young kids and and and I will go off on some lecture and think I'm really breaking through with all my my words and then eventually I realized I'm just making sounds out of my mouth, you know, I mean, as far as they're concerned. So what was the describe what it was like going from making fixed blade knives to making folders? Well,

Dirk Pinkerton 35:53
I can't tell you what it's like to make a folder because I made one yet. I still only do fixed blades. So have made up made a folder just design them,

Bob DeMarco 36:02
man because you're pretty adept at designing them. Thank you. Yeah, yeah, the fire and the fire and came out last year 2019

Dirk Pinkerton 36:13
release. Yeah,

Bob DeMarco 36:14
such a cool little EDC. It's like a three inch blade wardenclyffe I think it changes maybe even slightly

Unknown Speaker 36:20
seven I think if I remember correctly 2.7

Bob DeMarco 36:24
So, when you're designing a knife like that, I mean, it's so on your website and I've designed with purpose. But the purposes are are different, you know, you look at you look at the proponent, and it seems to have a different use than the fire and which seems to have a different use from the Lancer. To me I look at the Lancer that's all so absolutely. Same thing with the variable broadhead. But the proponent, you know, could straddles a lot of fences, you know, and, and the fire and seems pure etc. Do you just decide that You want to solve a problem and then you design a knife to solve it? Or how does that work? Do you just does a knife just come out and then he decided this would be good for x application.

Unknown Speaker 37:10
It's more along that lines every now and then I'll have a situation where I'll think of a problem or a situation or a task and try and design a knife to that, but most of the time, it's, I have a shape pops into my head. And then I think what it would apply to, and then I proceed from there, and the fire and actually started back in 2014. Wait a minute now before that. 2010 when I was still with Marco, they were built, they wanted to do HDM knives, which was a team up with Darryl Ralph and Mike man rose. And they want to do what was called hand tech made knives the idea of being giving you the option of designing an idea And having it put together the way you wanted. So the early format was the knives that they designed and had made and then down the road it was going to expand into the ability to customize it. Well never got there, but the fire and actually started out to be designed for HTM knives back then. And it was actually a bigger knife. The original design was a three and a half inch blade. And st everything was the same it was just three and a half inch blade. Well they HTM took the knife and minimized it to the size you see that was Kaiser. And then they actually made a much much bigger size of five inch blade version of it. Wow. And we did. I think they made 10 of those. I still wish I had mine made made. I gotta sell knives so I sold it. got three of them, and I sold them. But yeah, so there was a five inch version, the three and a half inch version and then the smaller version. And by the time it was ready to get running HDM folded, so they're out there somewhere the blanks they actually there are blanks from that knife and cut. I just don't know exactly where they are. I'd love to get my hands on him. But I had the prototype of the small one. And it had been sitting around not doing anything and I said, Hey, here's a design I did with HTM years ago. They're long gone. Nobody has rights to it. It's my knife. You want to do it and yeah, they fast track that one that went in got done and released very fast. They really liked that one.

Bob DeMarco 39:45
It seems like there's a split between your custom work and your design work design slash collaboration work in that your design slash collaboration work seems on the whole And this this will change of course with the inversion but it seems on the whole EDC oriented, even the proponent you know it it is a big, very extremely capable knife, maybe not something you know and obviously could be used tactically but it's not something it's it's not what I think of when I think primarily the tactical knife so it seems like you know you have the Lancer but aside from that much of your collaboration stuff seems etc and then much of the knives you produce custom in your shop seem more oriented towards self defense and you know that that kind of sort of weapon application who who are your users who who buy your knives and do you keep up with them? Do you know how they're, how they're being deployed, how they're being used? I

Unknown Speaker 40:50
definitely try to keep up with them.

Unknown Speaker 40:54
don't always get feedback, which is a little bit of a bummer. But yeah, I try to keep up with my customers as best as I can, on the custom side, the people that buy them are primarily people looking for backup knife, self defense, something to go with their concealed carry. I have a lot of law enforcement, a lot of military military drop has dropped off a little bit since probably about five or six years ago. The demand for my stuff over there has dropped just just the reduction and what's going on primarily. But yeah, I do occasionally get some emails or calls from people that have, you know, had an opportunity to use them in anger and tell me how they work. And I have yet to have anyone complain. say there's been an issue. So I'm very, very thankful for that. And that, you know, it's doing the job, whatever I'm making is doing the job for them. And the smiler Don, actually, I got a really good interesting phone call on that one. It wasn't In the military situation, per se, I mean it was she I can't remember if a marine or Navy, but he was spending a little time on leaf and was in a bar. And as usually happens in a bar, you drink too much and the confrontation ensued. And he he said the guy came at him with a broken beer bottle. And he ducked and moved away and got tried to get away from him. And finally, you know, kept warning him step back, step back then, you know, just stop. He didn't want to he kept persisting so he had a smile on he drew it. A couple of moves later, he said the had the arm guy's arm in a lock and filleted the arm from the elbow all the way down to the wrist. He said down to the bare bone mean. He said, I was totally shocked how fast that happened. He goes, I didn't think it would cut that quickly.

Bob DeMarco 42:58
Well, there you go. That Uh, that's a real testament, you know, to how dangerous these things are. I mean, I, I love I love knives as a hobby and I love the bladed martial arts as a hobby. But it's no joke and, you know, it's, it must feel good to know that you have made tools that have saved people's lives. Oh, very well, frankly, there aren't too many bad guys out there buying their Pinkerton knives, you know what I mean? They're, they're getting whatever they want out of the kitchen or whatever, you know, out of my car, because it's been so many times. But they're, they're getting what they want. That way they're not buying the dirt Pinkerton so it's nice to know that you're making things that are that are helping people stay Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 43:45
that's that's what I'm really hoping for is that, you know, the good guys are caring and and using them when they need to and that they're working for him.

Bob DeMarco 43:56
So what do you see in the future for your your knife? designs, your endeavors, your custom work all of that.

Unknown Speaker 44:03
I am hoping to one day eventually make a folder when I get a little bit of space and to get the shop organized a little better, I do want to make my own folders. But short term, I'm trying to really focus on the knives that seem to be the most popular right now which currently seem to be the smile of dawn and a lot of the reverse grip stuff and some of the smaller items things I do little little pieces called shrapnel. Basically those are knives that come from the drops in my shop. So what I try to do with those are, I find a piece of metal laying on the floor and I look at that shape. And if it's big enough, I make a knife out of it, but the whole trick to it is to not change the profile of how it dropped. So I want to keep cool as close to that as possible. And those turn out to be really, really popular. Those go and heart because they're always such an odd shape. They're unique. No two are the same. And I don't charge a lot for him because they're very small. And they're just little key chain kind of knives. But the demand for that is huge. I take that to the blade show and it's gone in five minutes.

Bob DeMarco 45:22
So how do people find them? If they're not at blade show?

Unknown Speaker 45:26
If I have them, I'll post them on Instagram. There's River's Edge custom Cutler River's Edge Cutler in Columbus, Ohio. You know, Friends with those guys up there, Brian and Mike. So I'll send them a lot of when I have some. And then if I'm lucky, and I have the time, which I don't usually have the time I'll actually post it on my website. But they don't usually make it that usually Instagram. They're gone in a heartbeat.

Bob DeMarco 45:58
So is that how you sell Holly? knives these days? I mean, I know you can go on your website and see samples of them. But is Instagram your?

Unknown Speaker 46:06
Yeah, it seems to be the primary marketplace right now. It's worked extremely well. I have a lot of people that contact me through Instagram, and more some more traffic there than I do on my website, even though I try and push people to my website. And you know, I've got this knife fight on my website, you know, just to justify its existence. They still just go through Instagram. So yeah, that's right now that seems to be the primary primary place.

Bob DeMarco 46:35
Well, before we wrap I want to I want to say I've seen some I watched a video from maybe two years ago. And it was at represent cutlery, I believe. But you had some crazy one offs. One of them was based on the Japanese comma. One of them looked like a well, I think you call it the pocket sickle. Yes. Yeah, yeah. These are agricultural implements turned into pocket tools, weaponry, are those one offs are those things that you're planning on cultivating design wise and making more of or those kind of things that just strike your fancy and make them and then that's that?

Unknown Speaker 47:18
A lot of it. Yeah, some of it is striking my fancy sometimes I just get a wild hair, and you know, you gotta, you gotta take care of that. But like the pocket cycle, I actually liked that concept. And I've been trying to work up a design because these are all free form when I make him I don't draw them out. They have no pattern forum. So I've been trying to come up with a design and get an actual layout done and have him some cut out and have some made and potentially even have somebody like artists in or somebody pick it up. That's something that as a cheaper, the fixed blade that they could do. But yeah, it's it's a lot of time. It is. It's Just I get you know, I get that what that itch that I gotta scratch and I go off and I do some crazy stuff and the pocket circle was one of them. Definitely.

Bob DeMarco 48:09
That is one nasty Look at me in the video you like, I'm just making, I'm just making would you call it a field implements in the pocket tools you decide what to do with them? I'm like, I think I know that.

Unknown Speaker 48:22
Well yeah, that's it's it's your tool, you know, you use it how you see fit. Exactly. For me, it would be putting it in my case and admiring it and showing it off to friends. Let's be honest, like, you know, that's, that's what most of us most of it is, is meant to be, you know, looked at that's how most people view it as a piece of art. And I appreciate that. I really do. I don't. I don't view myself as an artist so much as a craftsman. You know some people see art and my work. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. But that's not my intent.

Bob DeMarco 49:00
Well I see artistry in your work I but the way I define art it can't be a knife because a knife can do things other than look good and be appreciated for its looks. So yeah you're you you have artistic skill that you're putting into these awesome designs that are doing way much more than just looking good. Dirk Pinkerton. I want to thank you for coming on The Knife Junkie podcast it's been a pleasure to get to know you and find out a little bit more about the man behind the knives.

Dirk Pinkerton 49:29
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it has been my pleasure

Announcer 49:32
follow The Knife Junkie on Instagram at The Knife Junkie comm slash Instagram.

Jim Person 49:36
Alright Bob back here on the Knife Junkie podcast interview with Dirk Pinkerton of Pinkerton knives. And I love his phrase he had on the the website designed with the purpose you know it's a sounds like a purpose driven kind of guy and then interview.

Bob DeMarco 49:52
Yeah, and actually it's funny you should say that because that was my main takeaway is that though his knives are all various that ugly please To me and in many ways very on trend especially in terms of the blade shape and the sizes of a lot of these knives he has coming out with the with the with Kaiser and artists and so though aesthetically pleasing and pushing that envelope he's also very purpose driven. I look at the Nomad which is a knife his his Persian knife that he has, it's a it's a flipper, frame lock titanium frame lock flipper from Kaiser and it's got this beautiful upswept blade and it really looks kind of like pocket jewelry but we had a we had an email discussion after the interview and he was talking about that knife in particular and how though it looks like it has a lot of decorative flourish to it every single aspect to it every facet literally has a purpose has a an ergonomic and an a purpose driven purpose, utility purpose. So I it was really interesting to hear that and I knew it, but having him say that it's not just a pretty nice everything. About It has been considered,

Jim Person 51:01
right. Yeah, he seemed to in the interview, he seemed very deliberate analytical, you know, a lot of thought behind every little detail of the knife as you said. I mean, I can pick that up in the interview when he was talking about the different models that he had. So yeah, very interesting.

Bob DeMarco 51:16
And not for nothing but it looks like I might have a Smilodon coming my way at some point

Jim Person 51:21
well, you know, I think selfishly Didn't you start this podcast so that you could buy an iPhone everybody that you interviewed?

Bob DeMarco 51:28
Yeah. So people check out the smile down look it up it's such a cool looking knife

Jim Person 51:32
right Yeah. All right. Hey, if you're not subscribed to the Knife Junkie newsletter which we send out occasionally you can subscribe at The Knife Junkie comm slash subscribe that subscribe page will also enable you to subscribe to the Knife Junkie podcast if you happen to be catching this on the YouTube channel and you're not subscribed in your favorite podcast app you can do that at The Knife Junkie comm slash subscribe or if a friend has recommended this podcast and you Want to make sure that you don't miss an episode which we have two shows every week this interview show on Sundays and a midweek supplemental episode where mom covers knife news product drops of the things like that Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode of The Knife Junkie podcast. As we normally do I turn it over to Bob for the final word.

Bob DeMarco 52:20
All I want to say is everybody keep an eye out for the inversion coming out the inversion. It is a mind bender when you look at it and it will surely be a very successful knife for Dirk and for Kaiser.

Unknown Speaker 52:33
Alright, stay tuned for that. Thanks everybody for joining us on episode number 88 of The Knife Junkie podcast for Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco, I'm Jim the knife newbie person. Take care until Wednesday. Thanks for listening to the Knife Junkie podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and review it review the podcast calm. 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 link videos on YouTube at The Knife junkie.com slash YouTube check out some great night photos on Knife Junkie comm slash Instagram and join our Facebook group but Knife Junkie comm slash Facebook and if you have a question or comment email them to Bob at The Knife Junkie calm or call our 24 seven listener line at 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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