David Roan, Dishonor Blades – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 428)
David Roan of Dishonor Blades joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 428 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
A one man shop, David aims to make blades that resonate with the poet and perform for the warrior. Based in Los Angeles, Dishonor Blades is built from steel, irreverence, and a fearless pursuit of excellence.
David is a former law enforcement officer and lifelong knife junkie turned designer and knife maker.
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The Knife Junkie Podcast
Welcome to the Knife Junky Podcast to your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your host, Bob the knife junkie Demarco.
Bob DeMarco [00:00:16]:
Welcome to the knife junkie podcast. I'm Bob Demarco. On this episode of the show, I'm speaking with David Roan of Dishonor Blades. I met David at his Blade Show table last month. But by the time I got there, he was nearly sold out. What attracted me to his knives and marketing were the beautiful compact ergonomic aggressive designs. Now he had 2 models evocative of Japanese designs like the kiridashi and the Quaken to me. And the knives also seemed highly refined and built in a confident way and presented in a way that made the company seem like it had been around a lot longer. than it had. So we'll find out about David and how he came to be a knife maker and what his plans are for Dishonor blades. But first, be sure to like, comment, subscribe, and share the show. That is the best way to help the show. And as always, if you wanna help support us financially. You can do so by going to the knifejunky.com/patreon. Again, that's the knifejunky.com/patreon.
Don't take dull for an answer. It's the knife junkies favorite sign off phrase, and now you can get that tagline on a variety of merchandise like a t shirt sweatshirt, hoodie, long sleeve tea, or on a pillow, coaster, tote bag, coffee mug, water bottle, sticker, pen, or apron. And with COVID nineteen, you definitely need a don't take dull for an answer face covering. Let everyone know that you're a knife junkie with your don't take dull for an answer merchandise. Get yours at www.theknifejunkie.comforward/dull. That's www.theknifejunkie.com/dull.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:55]:
David Roan. Welcome to the knifejunkie podcaster. Great to have you.
David Roan [00:01:59]:
Hey, Bob. Good to good to finally be here, man. It's great to be on the the Joe Rogan of of nice podcast. Oh, man.
Bob DeMarco [00:02:09]:
Please. That's that's man, that's a great compliment. I wanna congratulate you on your first your first and very successful Blade Show. I had never heard or seen your work before. And when I came across it, you you had some of the the smaller knives the kiridashi style knives, and then you had a bunch of really beautiful marketing on the table. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of you. Where'd you come from, David?
David Roan [00:02:35]:
that's Bob, that's that's the question. Right? It's kinda been this flurry. So I don't know if I should go into the origin story just yet, but screw it. Why not? So so, basically, 2 years ago, You know, we we get into COVID. Everyone's kinda just clamoring to to figure out who they are in this interesting time. And there was a moment where, like a lot of other people, we we kind of we vacationed the off and you we went to Texas. Right? Like, the we're the only three places left to, like, go out in public and So we're out there. We visit. And I was telling you earlier about my girlfriend, Sabele, who's a glassblower, and she's well known to her community. Anyway, We go out to visit a fellow glassblower purse, and we walk in their studio. Her boyfriend is standing there, and he's got these beautiful knives laid out on the table. And I'm looking at him. I'm and then I'm looking at him. I'm like, these are kind of above average. What's going on? And then long story short, his name is Chris Adelhart, and he is Pariah Nives. I'm not sure if you're familiar with him. Yes. I am.
Bob DeMarco [00:03:54]:
Those are way above average.
David Roan [00:03:56]:
Yes. Yes. I think he got a shout a shout out from a knife talk a while ago too, and they were talking about how his handground lines were were perfect and how he just holds his breath and and just does it all controlled just from experience. And and so, anyway, I'm witness witnessing these from a diff like, I backed into this unexpectedly, and I'm just trying to figure out what I'm looking at. And So I got to know him and hung out with him for a week. And then at the end of that time, I'm just like, dude, how do I get into this? because this is really cool. And I was like, what is it? Like, a grand, 2 grand, and he's like, oh, yeah. It's something around there. It's it's not that bad. And, you know, little did I know that that's almost like saying, like, how much is it to be in college? Oh, yes. Just the application fee. Right? because, like, once you get into the the whole of knife making, you know, you're just like, oh, I should spend money on this. And now this, and and all of a sudden, you're locked, you know, in debt with my wife. So Yeah. So it's been a it's been a ride, and I think
Bob DeMarco [00:05:04]:
I think I answered your question. Sorry if I went down it. Well, yeah. No. No. That's ex that was exactly my question because just in the brief conversation you and I had at blade show and then looking at your website, you know, I I I know that you have a pretty varied past, and you studied architecture. You were part of the Los Angeles Police Department. Is that right? I was actually a state trooper, Florida Highway Patrol. Florida Highway. Yeah. Hey. So those are those are 2 very very different fields of of -- Yeah. -- study and and engagement. And I have to believe that both of those have fed a lot of inspiration into what you're currently doing, making knives. Tell me first about the architecture. And and, you know, what you did with that. Right. So
David Roan [00:05:55]:
I actually I was a state trooper first. And it was this kind of I don't wanna say it as, like, this cowboys in the news kind of thing, but that's sort of what it was. Right? It's it's like a guy a young man wants to Feel like you can make an impact on the world, yadayada. But your question was about architecture, and so basically, I I hopped into that after a stint in law enforcement, and that was much more my speed where You know, I grew up drawing a lot with my brother. I had that mindset. You know, my dad was an engineer and so kinda combining creativity. and and the the logical side, that was kinda what I fell off. And so I got a really quick degree in that, and then I immediately got hired out in Los Angeles shipped out there. And, you know, that's the that's kinda how the story goes. And I I went into commercial office office design up first. So I was I was Dishonor for, like, Google, for YouTube, places like that where, you know, you see, like, in the architecture awards, you see, like, the really cool hip tech offices and stuff like that. So I got to dabble on that, which was cool most of the time. But at the same time, you design something really cool up Roan, and then this giant tail end of just working on the drawings and coordinating with the, you know, the contractors and doing all the nitty gritty boring stuff. So -- Yeah. That's that's the stuff that keeps the building standing. Right? The the nitty gritty ones
Bob DeMarco [00:07:36]:
as as opposed to the the fun of making it look. We have good friends and neighbors and and She's an architect who specializes in those kind of spaces too. And so it's interesting to see kind of how how they create and then how the client comes back at them. So so that you you said you grew up a lot doing drawings. You're doing a lot of drawing, and your father was an engineer. You take those 2 things, put them together. You get an architect. You get a knife maker. You get some sort of creative person who's not a pure artist making things there to only be appreciated on the wall, which is is a completely different discipline as far as I'm concerned. So I can see how the architecture feeds into that. Tell me about the law enforcement. I didn't mean to have you grays over it. I'm I'm very interested in finding that out. I I did not serve the -- Yeah. -- law enforcement or in in the military when I was a young man. And when I talk to knife makers who have, it's a very direct line And it's it's interesting to me. Tell me tell me about that. Well, yeah. You know, I obviously, most people haven't served in in any capacity, but I think Generally,
David Roan [00:08:52]:
with men, we we tend to always have that little itch. Like, oh, I kinda wish I did the I kinda wish I was in special forces, whatever it is. Right? Almost just to kinda check that box and and, like, essentially, like, validate you. And so so, really, as a young man, that was that was probably my primary reason kinda searching Same same for guys who joined the military. And so I did that for it wasn't too long. It was about, like, 5, 6 years But I signed Roan and, you know, went through the academy, did all this and that. I wasn't the best trooper. And I say that because I was this guy who, you know, you're in a paramilitary organization. know, they punish you with push ups and stuff in the academy. All this all these things where they didn't want outside the box thinkers. You know, they need guys to kinda start to the mold and are good at just being like, this is how it is, this is how it's done. Let's go ahead and just do that. and anyone who raises their hand is like, you know what? I've got an idea. You know, it's just like, why don't you kinda get out of the way? which is a great segue into, you know, the even the name of the company, Dishonored Blades. which we can go into in further detail. But but yeah, man. So so I liked to chase after people. in a car or on foot. That was that was, like, that cowboys and Indians thing that I that I referenced where I liked the glamorous part of it. And there's a lot of sitting in your car. There's a lot of writing a report. Report after report. ticket after ticket, punishing people and kinda seeing, like, the the bad side of them. And, you know, you get jaded. So there are not too many people who come out of that field with, like, a really good, healthy perspective. and and a nice demeanor in public. And so, you know, that's that's been kind of This learning process for me is kind of backtracking from that, like, you know, that tough, like, that tough nature, like, can't can't have your back to people in an elevator kind of nature to, okay. You know, I can sit in this restaurant. I don't have to be facing, you know, from the corner out and watching everyone come in. You know, work worse your hands. You know? Oh, okay. But yeah. So so, yeah, it's it's been a really cool discovering of myself, all the other aspects. Right? because you just kind of you become that to to survive.
Bob DeMarco [00:11:42]:
Well, yeah, you state that and we talked about this a little bit, that you've been a lifelong knife junkie. I'll I'll just I'll say that. You say nice head. I like I like that too. What where did that come from? And and how did you I mean, I know me. If I if I got a job, with the sheriff's office or or the state troopers. I'd I'd I'd be festooned with knives. I'd be, you know it'd be the the big great excuse. Maybe I'll get to use them now. How how did knives play play into that? And where did your love initially come from?
David Roan [00:12:15]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I I think in law enforcement, you hope never to use a knife. Right? because that means you're in a very bad place. Knife fighting is not where you wanna be. That means you're up close with the other person. They can take it or they can cut you if they've got a knife too. So for me, And I wanna keep my eye on the other part of that question you asked. But for me, a knife meant a backup weapon and really a attention for my primary tool, right, which was my handgun. And so I I was trying to keep a a TDI, a Kmart TDI, a knife which for those that don't know, you keep it on your support side And then you're what you're doing is you're backing up basically your your strong side firearm by if someone's grabbing my holster, I just since down on their hand, I don't try and get them off immediately. I since down on their hand, so they can't let go. And then I just grab my knife and in one stroke I rake across their hands, that's what'll happen, and and that's what quickly will deter them from holding Roan to your to your holster. Right? And so that was really all I had to train for. I didn't need to train necessarily pass that because the goal is always to get back to your strength. And to circle back to your other part of the question, I mentioned my older brother and and another thing that we did is we'd be on the floor, and we'd have open. I wanna say it was, like, early sharper image catalogs or something. Oh, yeah. Basically, they'd have all the you're right. It's like they'd have all the spy gear, everything that, like, a little boy could want And we would flip through and we play this game where it's like, okay. You, you know, point point to what you want first, then you get to have that. Right? And so we'd be like, okay. I got that. I got that. I'd find myself just always pointing to, like, the spider cone knives or, like, you know, the the Gilhaven knives at that time. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Right? And it's hilarious because, like, there was one Christmas. We're growing up. And I'm with my brother and my my brother-in-law, and I had bought them all these throwing knives. So it's, like, all excess gonna be awesome. We're gonna have, like, good man time after this. They open the the pet presence up, and they look at each other, and they're just like, what you expect us to, like, fly back with this. And then I just knew at that point, I was like, me and my brother are no longer the same. Right? Yeah. So I kinda stayed that little boy on the floor, and he's, you know, he's he's done other things with his life. But Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:14:53]:
That is funny, man. I I 100% relate. My brother and I played a very similar game. we had a we have this book of weapons that we both still have. Like, he has the original I I bought a new version of it. But we would just flip the page. Okay. If you could have one on this page, what would you I'd take this Nice. Okay. What about this? What sword would you take here? And, yeah, so I play that game with my daughter too when the when the Smoky Mountain night for its catalog comes. But that's interesting to say that you know, you you went your way, and your brother went his way similar here too. My brother's always maintained his his weirdness along with being a you know, a bigwig mucketymuck. But the thing that's interesting is that is that There is something gripping about it. And by it, I mean, this love of knives and this you know, centering a lot of things around it. And and I I I ask everyone what it is, and I don't quite know what it is, then there's no wrong answer. But It's always amazing. Like, why why did David Roan just, like, why did knives captivate him to the point where he's made that his life? You know?
David Roan [00:16:03]:
Yeah. Yeah. That's really true.
Bob DeMarco [00:16:06]:
What kind of stuff were you collecting? Once you became once you weren't laying on the floor and you get afford stuff and buy stuff. Yeah. What were what were you getting? And then tell me how that and your law enforcement started inspiring these designs you've been making.
David Roan [00:16:20]:
Yeah. You know, like and I think part of the reason we pointed to catalogs for so long, right, is because, like, we weren't that rich. And, you know, it's like the poor man's way of getting dopamine just being like, I get this one. It's like, can you afford it? Not really. But, you know, at some point, I think, you know, after college, when I could pay for some things, I was also restricted by uniform policy with law enforcement. Right? So, like, for instance, the K BAR TDI, technically, that wasn't even the uniform policy. And because we were a state run organization, they were a little bit more strict on that kind of stuff. So You know, if if a superior spotted me with, you know, wearing that knife, you know, it protected me. They're like, yeah. That you know, that's gotta go. So I was kind of it's not like I could rock like a a Lucas Burnley or and on my on my chest, you know, when I'm walking around. Right. So I was restricting that regard. We were allowed to to rock out the front knives. And so I had a MicroTech, and MicroTech is a company just a brand identity that I respect a lot. It's kind of I just resonate with their visuals with their aesthetic and their style. So So I got I kind of got obsessed with, like, keeping track of them. I really like Spyderco. The wave feature actually compared to out the front and eyes, obviously, it's it's more than twice as fast. Right? So if you're talking about functionality, I actually I think I replaced wearing my Microtech for a wave feature just because of so much quicker to deploy and with in policy.
Bob DeMarco [00:18:16]:
So -- Oh, okay. Okay. Well, yeah, it's funny that you mentioned Microtech and it how it resonates with you because in my open, when I said that it seems like you've been around a lot a lot longer. Something about your marketing and your presentation, not just on paper, but the the the blades themselves. Now what's the name of the little kiridashi? I'm calling it a kiridashi just loosely. It's a small utility blade that it's beautiful, and it really focuses a lot of power towards that tip with that with that thumb swale there.
David Roan [00:18:47]:
Bob DeMarco [00:18:48]:
This this and and your presentation reminded me of a company as refined as a microtype, for instance.
David Roan [00:18:56]:
I appreciate that. And, you know, obviously, that's what I'm going for. I'm not, you know, I'm not necessarily I I okay. So I came to Blade Show. And, you know, I didn't fully answer your question about, you know, where I came from. And there's just so much to talk about, but We'll try to unpack this. So I haven't been doing this for too long. I haven't been making for too long. Obviously, every maker's goal, I think, is to make a knife like the pros. Right? Like, if you love Microtech, you're trying to be you're trying to make something as good as a Microtech. It usually doesn't work out. So I came to Blade Show. as a first time seller, not with the goal of being seen as a Microtech like that, that's a fail you know, that's that's setting it yourself up with failure. But I came just with the goal of getting feedback of making friends, getting immersed in the community. Right? And and I got so much more than that. I did get a lot of really good validation on, you know, you're on the right track. that these things are, you know, a level up than, you know, what what a first time maker might might show up with. And that's really all I wanted was was to have something that was original called original. Right? Like, for someone to be like, oh, I haven't really seen this knife before. Awesome. And I love it. Awesome. And so I was very surprised how quickly I would I was starting to sell these things. And to kinda go into details and, obviously, I'm rambling, so feel free to stop me. But you did point out, it's it really all is designed to drive power through the thumb ramp. And I know, Bob, you're super into Warren Cliff Place as well. Mhmm. When I first started getting into When I started thinking about ergonomics, the Warren Cliff just really made sense to me keeping track of, like, the Yojimbo. Right? I think we are very light minded because we both saw that first Dishonor, and we're just like, yes. And so this is almost it it it's ridiculous to say, but it's like, this is my, you know, jimbo because it's the same grip It's a small knife, but I can get a full purchase, basically, and it's hard to show you because Yeah. Essentially, my pinky doesn't like, there's no there's no weird spot for it, it actually curls around this, like, this return on the handle. Mhmm. And so it's like a full grip even though it's it's about as short a handle as you'd ever want for a full grip. And and you kind of get, like, I think the problem with a lot of these shorter knives that I've always felt is that you almost have this, like, block 19 dilemma where your pinky is like, does it want do I wanna fall off the edge, or do I wanna stay on? Right? And that always pisses me off. And so This is kinda like you know, if you like the Spyderco Dragonfly, it's kinda like that. And there's I I'd say there's 4 kind of, like, tension points on this handle. It's like the finger choil, the meat of your thumb, and then your pinky and then the thumb ramp. Right? So everything's driving, like, counter opposing forces and do each other so that you get this just ridiculously good grip. I put in Dave from nice center center's hands, He said it felt super ergonomical too, and he's got these, like, big bear hands. Yeah. Yeah. And so so yeah, man. And and, you know, feel free to ask me any questions, but this is on purpose that I only have the finger group for the toil because What I've noticed is that it gets less universal as you get more specific, like adding more and more finger grooves and Actually, I have speaking of the, like, the glock 19 dilemma, I actually have like, I'll show you, this is a a Gen Three Glock. And you can see the finger grooves here that I just haven't deleted yet. But they're made for like a like a French barista or something. Right? Like, if you don't have a specific -- Yes. -- a specific thinker size, then you get all sorts of, like, Roan undercut bite and everything. And and so, you know, the pinky dilemma, all of that makes me kinda steer away from getting things super specific just to my hand. I have the luxury of having a girlfriend with small hands and most girlfriends have small hands. But she's around all the time, and she can grab a knife that I've made and just be like, yep. I like it, or I don't. And so that's been another good filter for me. So I I agree with you. A single finger toil is excellent.
Bob DeMarco [00:24:14]:
2, you're you're on you're on dangerous dangerous thin ice, let me say. And then you you you put the whole the whole thing in, and then it's a mess. I don't have giant hands. I don't have tiny hands, so you know, where where does that leave me? But what what really you know, with this knife and please remind us of the name of the knife I'm sorry. Oh, I'm sorry. It's the Chimera. The Chimera. Okay. With the Chimera, you know, I got a chance you had 2 or 3 left. I think one had an Ultom handle. if I'm if I'm not mistaken. But I had a chance to have them and hold them, and it's really interesting. I've never heard anyone on this show use the specific terms, you know, And now I don't remember what you used, but countervailing forces and and tension points on a handle to talk about ergonomics and grip. But, yeah, there there you do feel that. There's always a push pull, you know, in in in in anything like that when you're gripping, and you're and you're sort of pulling with the back of your hand, pushing with the thumb, and that handle is set up perfectly for it with the single coil So it's not alienating the other fingers and then that top curve. And then, of course, the choil itself is thumb shaped, and it has that backstop. you're not gonna go or that front stop. You're not gonna go over the front. Very, very deliberate, and you hold it and and no. And To me, I'm always on the hunt, especially at blade show where I can at least the past 3 years, where I can really hold on to things. I'm looking for EDC fixed blades. Because though I love my folders, fixed blades to me, now that I have incorporated them into my carry over the past, you know, a bunch of years. Including in the summertime, I'm always looking for knives that are like this. deliberate -- Yep. -- and hand filling, but still small and and nasty. You know, I I I always go for a little bit of menace And this knife, you know, it has a little bit of menace to it as well. But I'm I'm very interested. I see in the background behind you what what appears to me to be, like, a 3 d printer? Is that a 3 d printer behind you? So that's my CNC. I run a lot of stuff on that. Okay. Okay.
David Roan [00:26:30]:
Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, to get into this kind of like -- -- about your prototyping,
Bob DeMarco [00:26:34]:
your designing, and your building. How do you do it?
David Roan [00:26:37]:
Sorry. I interrupted you. Roan, no. No. No, please. Yeah. I'm sure there's a delay. But so Essentially, when I first ran into Chris, Roan Nize oh, and by the way, a fun fact is he still doesn't know that I've actually started knife making. Like, that's how recent all this is. Now I'm dead serious. I like to surprise people with random stuff. A quick little vaccine or a quick little story is that I I there the US Sumo Open is is pretty it's in where's the Long Beach? It's really close to where I live, and I signed up to watch it the first time. And then the 2nd year round, I was like, can I sign up to be in this thing? And so I did. They let me in. And so, like, I invited a bunch of friends. Right? And I was like, yeah. Let's go watch it. And then so so they're all up in the stands, and they're like, where is easy? Lay it again? You know? And then I I walk Roan the stage, and I'm more in, you know, the diaper or whatever. And and so I'm competing in front of them. And so that I just like that. I guess the word is serendipity, right, just like the unexpected.
Bob DeMarco [00:27:50]:
Yeah. I have a different word for it. That's a that's crazy. No. That's that's pretty amazing, man. No training to go in a you know, my my wife has a cousin similar to you who's who's got the you know, he was in Thailand. He's like, Well, I'm pretty physically fit. I've never done Thai boxing. He jumped in the ring. He beat some Israeli commando, you know, after a bunch of beers. I I I really admire that kind of those kind of stones to get out there in Sumo wrestler. Sumo wrestler, I'm assuming you never had
David Roan [00:28:20]:
But the same thing with knife making. So you you you meet Chris from pariah knives. He inspires you you start a company, you go to Blade Show, he still doesn't know. Yeah. In that hilarious. So, like, every couple months, I'll just be like, hey, man. I'll be in, you know, I'll be in town. Like, we gonna hang out. He's like, oh, shoot. I've got like this. He does Kendo. And so so he's like, I got this Kendo contest or whatever. We haven't met up yet. And so every time I just wanna, like, bring some knives and then be like, hey. Guess what, man? I made this. We're we're doing this. Right? And and it still hasn't happened. He almost came to Blade show, but he had another thing. So, yeah, next time I see that guy, like, it's gonna be a really that's the stuff I live for. Right? I just I want to Surprise people.
Bob DeMarco [00:29:05]:
So tell me how you make these. They're they're I mean, it is a surprise how nice they are, especially considering you haven't done it for long.
David Roan [00:29:14]:
Yeah. So when I first met Chris, I know we're kinda going all over the place, but he Yeah. He showed me how he does it. It's all just, like, beautiful handwork. I love that. I I was doing just manual for a while. But what I quickly realized is I have so much design knowledge in my head, so much well, just knowledge in general about knives. that my hand was what was holding me back. And so my personal style was to design things in 3 d like I'm used to. Right? be able to, like, put it all on paper, see it, print it out, and then and then start, you know, machining it that way. I use my CMC a lot. You wouldn't be able to get, like, imagine, you know, doing all of this by hand, like, this group and then this like, all these contours it'd just be a nightmare to replicate at a cost that anyone would pay. And so I start by I start by hand sketching for a form that I like. I try and bring as quickly as I can into 3 d printing because You can also print this out and tape it on the cardboard and cut it out and feel it that way, but you get to really feel all the three d.
Bob DeMarco [00:30:40]:
Yeah. The actual width of it and yeah. Yeah.
David Roan [00:30:44]:
Yeah. Not you know, the re the 3 d printer is kind of a recent addition. and it's been just pivotal in the making of the Chimera. That was that was my first, like, three d knife. And so the the handles they have to be c and c. Like, even the contours on this guy, it's like it's almost like there's a a chamfer Roan a chamfer Right? And and, like, I just wouldn't be able to sell these knives. for a decent price without getting help from machines.
Bob DeMarco [00:31:20]:
Hold on hold on. Hold on. Uh-huh. Hold that a little closer to cameras so we can see that champer on the champer. Yeah. Right right there on the thumb ramp -- Right. -- you can see the main champer, and then there's another Right. That would be a tremendous amount of handwork, and it would be very hard to replicate that the same each time. And I know that's not always the goal.
David Roan [00:31:40]:
but sometimes it is. You know? And -- Yeah. -- and when you want every knife to look the same -- Yeah. And and I think I also noticed that a lot of makers have the struggle of of making a living. Right? There is -- I have you know, I I have the good fortune of, you know, like, making my money from elsewhere. And so If I'm ever going to fully replace that income, it's gotta be something scalable. I've got to be able to pass this on to you know, a manufacturer or whatever it is and and not have to train someone how to machine this ridiculously complex knife So this was, to me, the only way. You know, I'd love to also spend time in the shop occasionally making, like, a pure custom knife. And I actually have something in the works with with some glass artists that I wanna kind of, like, shine a light on them with some collabs. So that that'll come later. But, you know, primarily, yeah, it's its scale is is always I was at in in the back of my mind.
Bob DeMarco [00:32:58]:
So when when I showed up at your table, you were out of the the the Quakon style knife. That's what I'm calling it until you correct me. But that beautiful Japanese, you know, weapon y kinda looking Tanto. Looks like something you keep up your sleep. A beautiful knife. Tell me about that and the Dishonor. It's it's you It's what you want. It's the same but different. It's very unique, but at the same time, it's a recognizable profile.
David Roan [00:33:26]:
Yeah. So I'll I'll start with this one, which was this was my original yeah. Like, if you can believe it, this was my first knife, basically. Wow. And I designed it all around, you know, my logo. The Dishonor logo And let's see if I can get a little closer. This is the last Seriko one that I have. on me. And it's slightly beat up, but you can see the detail with the laser. It's kind of a bitch to laser properly and get all the detail in. So I'm I'm kind of, like, refining some stuff before I re release this. But this is I think the technical name for it is Osaraku and Sukuri, and it's got a small following just this blade shape low alone. It's, like, a little more tapered. And I know who is it? Like, Williams?
Bob DeMarco [00:34:24]:
James Williams. Yeah.
David Roan [00:34:25]:
He makes 1. His is beautiful. Roan to think who else. But but yeah. So this is this is kinda like my owed to like, the culmination of of my experience with knives. Right? It's just like the visuals, the -- Yeah. -- the the Asian influence, It's kind of a balance between function and and form like it really is. I couldn't go too far. down one path without, like, kind of reeling it back into the other. But what I did was I'll show you this next one as I designed it around the logo, and you see right here, like, I had this in mind from the get go was was that the chief was gonna display this -- That's wicked. -- the snake seal. Yeah. Roo and And so this is actually kind of my second rendition of this blade where it's blacked out. I call this the abyss version This this handles carbon fiber, and it's black oxide this time. But you can see, basically, like, this seal right here Trying to do this in reverse, but this still right here is three d, and it's above all the rest of the flat. Right? So what we're talking about is machining and clearing all the metal around it just for this stupid ass thing. Right? Like like, I actually came. I came to Blade Show being like, I hope everyone disappointed this points at this thing and is like, don't ever make this again. I hate it. Right? Because then I was like, I then I don't have to make it anymore. Yeah. And, you know, and and, like, you you know, it's just a pain it's such a pain to make. But Unfortunately, it's sold out, like, right away. Everyone kept stopping and looking at, like, the display one that wasn't even sharpened. And So that kinda sucked, but also was, like, you know, great validation because, like, okay. Cool. We're doing something that people like. Does that does that also help the sheath lock on
Bob DeMarco [00:36:32]:
that raised logo?
David Roan [00:36:34]:
No. It doesn't because I didn't want the sheath to rub and -- Okay. -- pull off the coating. Right? Yep. I actually tried someone someone me to try it recently. So I tried a different person with sheet then. Yeah. No. It wasn't working. I would say the only solution would be for me to preemptively kind of, like, stand down that area to make it have this warm look so it wouldn't right?
Bob DeMarco [00:37:03]:
Well, tell me how I don't want anything to say, but Tell me maybe you'll you'll think of it as you as you riddle me this. Tell me how how you make these in like, what are your batch styles for this or batch numbers for this and the Chimera? How do you how do you do your production? I know you're you're kind of ramping up, but -- Yeah. That okay. So, like, Bob, this is happening, like, way too fast.
David Roan [00:37:31]:
I I thought that I could kind of, like, feel what I got. get all this feedback. Come back to the drawing board and be like, okay. This is this is how we level up. But, fortunately and, unfortunately, it's it's it's like I've got in, you know, dealer requests and and people are buying knives. So I've got to quickly get out of the r and d phase and refine my process to where I it's like production process. It's no longer, like, fastpivot and flexibility pro process. My production at the moment, if we're talking about, like, the Hanzo, it's like and and this is the Hanzo. I would say, like, I can make one a day. And that's that's really just with my time, how much time I can allocate to making these in, like, a reliable lead time that can easily ramp up. I kinda have to figure out exactly how to scale. Right? Like, when can you add an employee? Yeah. How fast can you make thing? Like, what if you add 2 machines, at some point, you know, it will scale really quick if you add more machines. But -- Wow. -- so there's a couple processes
Bob DeMarco [00:38:46]:
that I can't necessarily speak to yet, but I'm I'm working through now. So we're catching you at a really exciting time actually just post post the blade show because you went there with with certain expectations and walked away with something much more. And now you're in that you're you're on Tenterhooks now trying to figure out Like, this to me seems like the ultimate business riddle. Like, how far do you extend yourself so that you can accommodate But how far is too far? You don't wanna overextend yourself and then be left holding a whole bunch of really cool knives or or or however that works. So, you know, this is this something that is going to require the addition of another person, and what would it take would it be difficult for you to bring someone else in and have them making your knives?
David Roan [00:39:40]:
Right. Great question. I was actually listening to you talk to shed knives recently. Mhmm. And I was kinda thinking through that because you asked him a similar question, and he has a different process. Like, his his are all done at, like, the the the belt grinder and by him. And so for him to pass it along to scale looks differently than me. Right? That is kind of the problem I tried to solve by being primarily CNC based is that I'm passing along lower skill responsibilities. So a lot of it is, you know, loading a machine and taking the design already you know, it's kind of like how Starbucks simplify their machines to make a consistent coffee. Right? It's like they're no longer trying to teach a barista how to perfectly smooth milk or anything. It's like, they've already done all the thinking and design into the machine part, and then they can you know, they can hire a a wider range of people to do the tasks required to scale. So For me, what it looks like is I would love to hire that person, right, to operate a machine there's just so many things I'm finding out like the social media game. Uh-huh. I'm not so good at that. I can I can take good pictures, but to put in the thought to write things out too. Right? Like, all those things, it just requires so much energy Roan. I think once you get the ball rolling, it's a little bit easier. Like, my girlfriend, she can kinda crank post out. She also has amazing work that's constantly original. but there's that game, the taking pictures game. And then my favorite part of the game, which is designing new styles. Right? That's why I got into this. That's that's how I kind of that's how I get off is is make a new creation and physically holding in my hand and and then also getting people to hold it and then kind of validate what I already felt. And backtracking to, you know, Blade Show, like, that was that was really the first time I got feedback except for, you know, friends, which, you know, friend opinions you can't count on. They're not necessarily good for much except for support. Right. I got I got a lot of you know what the cool thing was, Bob, was that convention center. It was, like, 2 football fields. you know, worth of stuff. Right? And you would see the same faces over the weekend. You'd see a family walk by walk by walk by walk by. Yeah. And and what was amazing was, like, the 1st day I never went into the big room. I didn't know how big it was. I'm just doing my thing. next to the Balsong kids. And there was a I remember distinctly there was this one family where this probably I don't know, seventeen year old kid. They walked by and they just kept dying my knives and and just, like, admiring him. I was like, oh, yeah. Please, like, say as long as you want. But on the final day, he comes by and drops his hard earned cash, which I'm sure was, like, his only purchase on one of the Chimera's. And I hang on to that memory, because I'm just like, what an honor. Right? There's the guy who's got, like, 5000 in his his pocket. Right? And he's like, yeah. I'll take that. I'll take that. I'll take that. What about the one kid who only has one purchase? And he spent it on my knife, and I was like, dude, I would've given you one for free. That's how much It needs to me. Right? And and he looked at everything all weekend. You know he did. And when I said shark -- Everything. -- like, that's what I feel like a blade show, a shark. Like, can't stop except to purchase a night. Otherwise, I'll die. Just keep moving.
Bob DeMarco [00:43:40]:
There's something my something my myth. Go back down that row. you know, that is pretty that is pretty amazing. And, also, amazing for that young guy to have a legit handmade beautifully considered and designed, you know, crafted knife. When I was his age, you know, I had what my grandfather had given me, which I still cherish, you know, But whenever I could kinda buy at the mall or whatever, you know, get from my brother. You know? But here's this guy who's who's got this amazing thing, and it who knows? It could start a life for him, you know, making them or collecting them? Mm-mm. So what other kind of feedback did you get? Because I'm sure people felt free to to give it out.
David Roan [00:44:24]:
Yeah. And I actually I would say, like, there were a couple starting with, like, the honest feedback for the most part, it was
David Roan [00:44:33]:
positive. And then I there were a couple people And one wanted me to to to kinda radius this one edge because he was like, oh, I might have, like, a hot spot here. So I was like, okay. Perfect. That's awesome. another talked to me about, like, a wiggle in the sheet for one of them because I was cranking out these jeans as fast as I could for for blade show. And so those things I I hung Roan to those. I was like, okay. I gotta keep this in mind because I had a suspicion you know, quality wise, and they confirmed it. And those are the people that I'm like, okay. I'm gonna remember who you are because I'm gonna ask you again. What do you think about this? because you I know you're gonna tell me for real. Yeah. But so so I would say as far as validation goes, people kept saying like, woah. Look at this. This is like, I haven't seen this before. My buddy Tier 1 gear reviews. Oh, yeah. You've actually yeah. I I know you've talked to him, and he kept coming by and talking to me about the Chimera, and he was he was super blown away, and and that made me you know, he was he was loving like, he was as a designer, he was identifying all the things that I identified. while making it and and just kinda confirming that someone shared the same opinion. And that was kind of what I got. I actually Not to plug too much, but I met Lucas Burnley and TJ Schwartz. finally in person at Blade Show, and I've been listening to their podcast for a really long time. Well, as long as it's been out, it's called the Edge and Flow. and they're amazing. But I've been listening to them as I was kind of coming into my own hearing their thoughts on what to do and what not to do. I showed them my knives Lucas really liked the Chimera and TJ really liked the Hanzo. And to hear him say, like, how much he digs the Hanzo. And I'm actually giving one to each of the like, they they they DM ed me and asked me. And I was just like, dude, again, like, let me just give this to you for free because, like, that's I got the reward. Like, that's it. But to hear kinda these industry, here is a mine. say they like where it's going. That's that's really all that mattered to me. I didn't Like, I had this giant lot of cash when I came back from Blade Show. I didn't even count it or any like, it didn't It just felt like paper to me. Right? because I'd gotten everything I wanted from the from being around the people -- Mhmm. -- and that was it.
Bob DeMarco [00:47:22]:
Yeah. You can't ask for more than that. That's you know, that that is that's just the kind of validation you would need to put wind in yourselves and keep you going. For for anyone. Certainly, those 2 guys too. You know? I've never met Lucas Burnley, but TJ Schwartz he's a very stand up guy, and his designs are just amazing. And then the fact that he's now making them, you know, for the past couple of years, you got a CNC. I think he had to rebuild his garage around it or something like that. But -- Yeah. -- and and he's producing. He's he's, you know, at least as far as I can tell from his Instagram feed, he's he's pumping them out, and that's super admirable. A couple of things I wanna get to. is -- Yeah. Yeah. -- I wanna find out what your what your design goals are for the future because, like you said, your favorite aspect is coming up with ideas and new Dishonor. Without without spoiling anything, can you can you tell us what you're kinda looking forward to, what kind of designs you wanna make next?
David Roan [00:48:25]:
Yeah. Well, I think this is a perfect time. I I know you guys pulled up for a second on my website, but I literally just finished A new knife basically is the Chimera XL. And my website kinda showed a hint of that while you're pulling it up. And this actually so I had been asked to do it a couple times, but you referenced him recently as what is it? This old sword. Oh, yeah. Dave. Yeah. Yeah. And he I I saw him comments on one of my I think Tier 1 gear reviews, he shared my he shared the Chimera, and then he commented kinda like, oh, you know, it might be a little small for me, which I just I think if he held it in his hand, he'd feel very differently. But I heard that, and I was like, okay. I got you. And so I kinda just went back. and this -- Oh, sweet. -- is the XL. Right? So here, I'll do a side by side.
Bob DeMarco [00:49:21]:
That's beautiful. Okay. I gotta I gotta say, David. This is a perfect example to me. I talk about this all the time. I'm sure you've heard. I lock Roan to certain topics, and sometimes the longer blades are just a little bit more room for the the design to express itself. And seeing this, Dave and I have similar tastes definitely, and we both like larger knives. So I'm not surprised the
David Roan [00:49:44]:
the quip for that, but
Bob DeMarco [00:49:47]:
that to me is is it's a it's a beautiful big brother to the to the other. And what's that handle scale?
David Roan [00:49:54]:
So this I know it's there's, like, a bronze mesh. No. Brass mesh that's embedded. Yeah. It's really cool. It's slightly translucent too. So you can actually see and actually show you here as an ultim. Mhmm. Mhmm. But now you can actually see the internal. Right? So so I've polite at everything for weight. So it's it's balanced well. This one might be going to with sternly, actually. But but yeah. So so the the skeletonized aspects, like, it just it takes light a little better and it'll kinda show there's, like, layers of of brass mesh in here, and I did the brass screws too to go along with it. But this is literally, like, fresh off the press, Bob, like -- Beautiful. -- I finished this last night. Wow. And so we're kinda we're going hard. What's the what's the blade length on that? So this one is 3 inches. So this is, like, this is kinda, like, kinda kinda similar field to, like, the. Mhmm. And at the same time, it's weird because it's, like, it's significantly bigger, but it feels very similar to the regular sized Chimera and ergonomics.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:15]:
Yeah. I think I think this I think giving people this choice between those two sizes is going to be even better. I mean, I think that this knife is gonna take off anyway, but I think catering to to those of us who like, the larger, you know, just for whatever reason. Yeah. See, this is what I didn't get because, like, my wife says, I don't read things. But I when I saw this on the website, I didn't didn't note the Excel and didn't really note the Yeah. The the elongated proportions. But now that I have, I I yeah. It's beautiful. I I I love this. What other what other style knives are you interested in? Do you like do you like knives of from all cultures, or are you do you have a a what's your what's your taste?
David Roan [00:52:04]:
So why I'm Asian, and I have always kinda gravitated towards agent style Blades. So that's kind of that'll stay in my wheelhouse, probably forever. With that said, like, there's a bunch of blades that it's like you keep kinda showing different blades that aren't necessarily inherently Asian that I'm like, man, I need to try that blade shape. I'm kind of starting to get interested in, like, a cleaver. but their on my list is really I wanna make an interesting take on a go to war blade, and everyone's got this opinion on what a go to war blade means. Right? like, some guys are like, I want a ten foot long claymore, you know, that right. It's like they I wanna they think they're just, like, in the middle of a battle battlefield braveheart style. Right. Right. And then and then a lot of guys are like, I don't even carry an on me. Right? Or it's just, like, a a little m 16, like, a a tiny little pocket knife. I have my own opinions on what that knife might look like, you know, kind of a mix of, like, a get off me knife, easily indexible. I wanna say, like, I'd like to have a ring on it that you can index with your your pointer finger that can fit into maybe Molly as well. I know that that does exist at least in 1 or 2 forms, but I kinda wanna make my own version. That's my take on it. So that eventually, we'll come down the line, but there are so many more parameters with a knife that you can say is it go to go to war night. Right? Like, I'm not gonna send anything to anyone that I know will break or fail at any capacity. There are certain knives that, like, for instance, it's do they have a some sort of retention point that that's more than just handle grip. Right? Like, if they have blood on their hands, if they're sweaty, Is there a guard or is there a ring? Like, there's there's not a lot of knives that exist that fit every bill. I don't think that a knife has to be necessarily that long for a soldier because you you factor in weight and you factor in up closeness. Right? Like, if I've got a guy on me, I obviously don't want like a like a foot long dad here, and I'm turning out. And then I've got right. Yeah. Exactly. It's like I can only slash. I can't stab. Not to get too graphic, but it's like, I actually want the shorter, thicker, burlier blade that I can turn around -- Yeah. -- and and angle however I need to. So, anyway, long story short, that that will come down the the pipe as well as I have a double edged dagger that I'm developing that I think you'll really love. Yeah. I have a I I may or may not have a folding knife in the works. And I think, you know, overall, my goal is actually just to keep cranking out new designs as as much as I can while holding production at a at a satisfactory level for people that want a knife. The dealer thing is kind of like in question I'm just you know, I'm just like, okay, dealer and then direct to consumer. All these things I'm I'm kinda playing with and and figuring out how to work through it. I'm I'm watching
Bob DeMarco [00:55:41]:
someone a friend of mine who's recently started a custom knife company and and he's in a similar position. He got a dealer at Blade Show. And so now I see him kind of doing that balance. He's he's also new, but also making a quisite things that people are really jumping on. So he's he's scaling up, and you can see, you know, oh, I just made these ten knives to go off to the to the dealer. I think that that's a it seems like an exciting opportunity when people get especially when it's understood that this dealer is not expecting 5 1000 units from you, you know, you're you're sending them what you're sending them, and they're going and and it's a feather in their cap too. Look at what we're offering. You know? We we have 5 of these Chimera's here. Check it out. Oh, I I I do wanna get to this before we wrap the name, Dishonored blades. One one might have a preexisting idea about that. Tell us where it comes from.
David Roan [00:56:40]:
Yeah. So I I you know, it's hard to get a beat on exactly how much controversy it has, but, you know, I did touch on it with the law enforcement, how I kind of would always go left when people wanna go right. And I would kinda label myself as a heretic in in a lot of ways because I don't I don't follow the crowd without thinking through things first. And I think when it comes down to brass tacks, like, To make something memorable, you have to break the rules. Right? And so, like, if I was just following the path of others. I'd probably have, like, a a similar blade shipped to everyone, a similar similar handle. I kind of make something that's bread and butter of the industry already that's that I know is reliable, and I'd be off to the races. I'd have 10 knives already. But Yeah. So so there's that. There's there's this takes the form in creativity. Just like You know, if breaking the rules is dishonorable, then that's fine. I I choose dishonor. Right? And then and then in the other aspect with law enforcement, yeah, it was like, I can think of a lot of ways that takes form. Another way is that, for example, I chased this guy down the interstate for a while. He was like an arm fell in. I I it it was almost like what is that? The men in black, when Will Smith chases that one alien through the city and then corners them, and then, you know, that's how he gets hired for the the men in black, that was kinda it. But just picture a more Asian guy chasing this guy. The point I'm getting to you is I chased him into this ditch in the woods, and I had this moment where I had to choose whether or not I was going to follow him down there because there was a safety risk, like, it's at night. It was probably 3 AM. And I'm like, okay, should I or should I not? Well, I've come this far. So I jumped down. I look left. I look right. Don't see him. Look left again. Finally look right one more time. And then I realized he's been laying down in this drainage pipe. staring at me the entire time. Mhmm. And the call out we got was that he was an arm felon. So he easily could've killed me. He didn't, and I drew down on him and, you know, and we we locked him up. But In that moment, I always think back to it. I'm like, okay. This was a life and death scenario. You could argue the honorable thing is to jump down there because it's your duty. Right? But who's your duty to? Is it to the state like the public that doesn't really care if you die or not? I would argue that it's to your family to to return home. Right? Like, live to see another day. This guy will get caught. Let's do it that way. Right? So it it's Dishonor is kind of like a question of what is honor and what is dishonor because a lot of times you can flip them. And and so that's what the the name means.
Bob DeMarco [00:59:58]:
That's interesting. That's way more that's way deeper and and but also way more positive, you know, than than one could assume. I I in in meeting you, You know, I I knew that it was something more than, you know, you're not trying to be contrarian. This is like disruption. This is like you know, not not following the rules to make the rules better, to make things better. And, yeah, it's much appreciated, man. Thank you so much for coming on the knife junky podcast. It's been a pleasure talking with you about this, and I'm gonna ask you a few more questions in a different 10 minute or so long interview for patrons. Thanks, one in all the patrons. But David Roan, I'm very excited about Dishonor blades. I love what I've seen so far, and I'm I'm thrilled to see what comes next. I really appreciate you having me on, Bob. It's my pleasure. Take care, sir. Do you carry multiple knives then overthink which one to use when an actual cutting sure pops up? You're a knife junkie of the first order. And that's exactly what I was talking about with David. Having all those knives, but then there's 1 or 2 that you actually end up using. And I gotta say that that Chimera looks like it could definitely be that night. Thanks for joining me with this with David Roan of Dishonored Blades. be sure to join me next week for another great conversation with a knife luminary and also join us on Wednesday for the midweek supplemental. Thursday night, of course, 10 PM Eastern Standard Time. Live. Join the conversation. It's always a lot of fun. Thursday night night.
Bob DeMarco [01:01:34]:
For Jim working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying until next time, don't take dull for an answer. Thanks for listening to the 9th Junky 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 knifejunkie.com. You can also watch our latest videos on YouTube at the knifejunkie.com/youtube. Check out some great knife photos on the knifejunkie.com/ Instagram, and join our Facebook group at the knifejunkie.com/facebook. And if you have a question or comment, email them to bob at the knifejunkie.com or call our 247 listener line at 724-466-4487, and you may hear your comment or question answered on an upcoming episode of the knife junky pod test.
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