Harvey Blades Phil Harvey – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 326)
Custom knife maker Phil Harvey of Harvey Blades joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on episode 326 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Making his knives in a quiet corner of Cornwall England, Phil’s knives dramatically redefine the pocket folder. Harvey is known for his audaciously large folding knives, with blades approaching 1 inch thick.
Though they are comically large, they are serious knives, with very tight tolerances and razor sharp blades. All work on Harvey knives is done by hand-machining and each knife is a one-off masterpiece.Custom knifemaker Phil Harvey of Harvey Blades, who makes those incredibly overbuilt large folding knives, is the guest on episode 326 of The Knife Junkie #Podcast. Click To Tweet
Phil Harvey, Harvey Blades
The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 326)
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
Your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting.
Here's your host Bob the knife Junkie de Marco.
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
I'm Bob DeMarco.
On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with custom knife maker Phil Harvey.
Phil is known for his gargantuan folders drawn to outrageous sizes and engineer to impossible tolerances.
Next to a Phil Harvey Gladius.
For instance, even the most Excel cold steel folders are mere child's play.
I had seen glimpses of Phil's folders in the wild, but got a real close up through the videos of my buddy and YouTuber Dirk warning do.
Check out his video, close-ups of Phil's folders.
These knives are different because in addition to dazzling the eye they activate the brain.
They make me think, and that can be dangerous.
You all know that we'll talk about these sublime pocket knives.
Fill right here, but first.
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We're going to get here from Phil tonight as well, so the quickest way to do that is to head over to the knife junkie.com/patreon.
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How you feel?
Welcome to the show.
It's good to have you here, Sir.
So as I mentioned up front in the introduction, I had your knives have kind of been legendary, at least in in my sort of research into the knife world.
Popping up here and there and shocking and amazing.
And then I I became buds with Dirk warning and he has a collection of your work and each each knife he revealed was more shocking than the one before it and.
I know that this is your daily work.
Shocking might be a weird term for you to hear, but they are unique and and different, so I'm really glad I got to know your work through through his collection and his videos, but.
You are over in England.
Tell me about how you got started and before we even start this conversation, please hold up that Gladius you were showing so people have some reference as to what you make.
OK. So this is the sensible most pocketable knife I think.
I think that you make tell me about it and tell me about your work.
Uhm, so yes, uh, it's quite old school, uh, the way I go about things.
I sort of tried, you know, Fusion 360 and all that I'm doing anything against CNC, but my sort of brain starts melting, so I think the the youngest machine in my shop is probably from the 60s.
Everything's done on a lathe and milling machine grinder.
I made heat, treat oven and stuff like that.
All very old stuff and all like handmade.
The shocking nature of them and some people say I've.
Uh, The thing is I've I've seen probably one other customer custom knife other than my own over the years, so I kind of came from a sort of a starting point of not really, you know, not having any preconceived ideas so they didn't seem that overbuilt to me at the start and then sort of over time.
I sort of respond from what customers ask for really.
So it's always, you know, can you make the blade thicker?
Can you make it bigger?
Can you make it more guidance?
And I sort of go from there, really.
Obviously the the cleavers are kind of pushing the envelope now and I'm working on a folding sight at the moment.
Just someone else for that.
Well, what was your starting point?
If if you had only ever seen one custom knife before you embarked on your own creative voyage there, what was your frame of reference?
Were you doing something else creative?
I was working in office admin in oncology research and I haven't actually I I saw the one other custom knife along the journey.
My starting point really was I was sort of interested in Nice from a collector standpoint.
I went on YouTube and did what everyone did back there then which was watched Jeff Blavet tough thumbs and Jim Skelton videos and just went on a marathon of them.
Collected a few knives and thought I don't really want to do this job anymore.
Custom knife making and go.
So I just started making things up.
Really just started drawing.
What was your?
What was your first big folder and and how did it get out into the world?
And that was the gladius.
I am I drew the gladius before.
I had a knife making workshop.
And just sort of, you know, just got the machines together around them and I put a few photos on Instagram.
I think if you influence us, sort of my related influences found me and promoted it a bit and it just kind of blew up from the start really before then I had some sort of little fixed blades and then like a friction folder that I quite liked.
Someone seems one guy seems to have collected all those friction folders in this in the state.
Strangely enough, I sort of pictured them the other day.
Yeah, once you put the Gladys on there it just it must have been unusual to people and like sort of got followers from there.
Really, Jim Skelton reached out and I sent one to him and obviously it's all know what happens then.
Just away from that really, you know, it's kind of interesting you.
I mean, you mentioned these friction well.
Look at that.
I mean, geez, that is amazing.
What is that?
Stop right there Jim.
What is that top row of knives?
If you're if you're only listening, we're looking at some pretty giant cleavers, but one of them looks kind of dinosaur like.
Man, look at this thing.
Yeah, that's the quarter slice.
Couple that a quarter slice.
Alright, so you start drawing knives.
You you decide that you want to start making knives.
It's from a collector's perspective.
You mentioned that there is a collector in the United States that who has all of your early obscure friction folders.
It occurs to me that your knives.
Kind of straight across the board are are are made for collectors.
They're they're niche knives to to to the Max, and I'm someone who loves overbuilt knives.
And when I saw.
When I saw it, I think it was the cleaver.
First I thought of that Renee Mcgree painting with the pipe Senegal and peep.
It's called the I'm.
I went to art history school so they made a big deal about this painting the the treachery of images and it's it's basically showing a painting of a pipe that you smoke but it's saying this isn't a pipe.
It's basically saying this is a painting and that's kind of what I think of when I see your knives like I know they cut and I know that they're.
Extremely well made, but they're also a representation of knives.
Yeah, I sort of looked at the time, you know where custom knife making was going and it was sort of, you know, as start of the overbuilt sort of crazy and they're just getting thicker and bigger.
And I just thought, well, where's the end game for this?
So I just kind of tried to jump straight to that really.
So I mean that that quarter slice, one that you just showed that's got a 5/8 thick blade on it.
Wow, yeah I think yeah they predominantly go to collectors.
They do occasionally go to someone that.
Beats them up and uses them.
But that's not the rule.
Teresa surgeons, being a an obvious one.
So yeah, I sent one out to a tree surgeon in California.
It came back a year later and it had it had been through hell.
But I like that, you know that's a yeah yeah, I think you're just cutting through scrub and just cutting small branches and stuff with it the whole time.
Just letting it go rusty and.
It was fine with that.
Yeah, have an image of a guy way up high in a tree like not quite having the right tool and pulling out his his giant Phil Harvey and just hewing off limbs with it.
Yeah, you have a junk.
He was like 7 feet tall as well.
I had to change the dimensions of it as hands were so I thought he was joking when they I asked his hand measurements I thought he was joking.
I was like a human hand.
Can't possibly be that big and yeah I end up making them a knife.
It wasn't a cleaner.
It's well it was.
As heavy as actually, there's quite low down on my Instagram feed that one, but it was.
Yeah, it was enormous.
So just in looking through your catalog of work, it seems like you do a lot of individualized.
One off designs.
Is that right?
I I try to make each one a bit different and I am sort of open to suggestions, but they do tend to follow.
You know, sometimes like recently it's taking me like six months to design A knife.
So it's kind of, you know, I can't really change one thing without changing everything, so it'll be sort of a gladius.
Original peacemaker quarter slice or something and then if they want to tweak it, make it bigger, smaller, different colors, that sort of thing.
I'll go with that.
I did do a gladius one so he wanted a tanto blade and he literally just sent me a chicken scratch on a like a post it note and I was like OK I uploaded it into cab and went with that but.
Usually people just you know, they just sort of want like one of my sort of staple models, really.
OK, so you were talking before about you don't use CNC, but you do use CAD.
Tell me about your design process, kind of soup to nuts.
How you're inspired and then how it goes all the way to a finished drawing soup to nuts.
Yeah, I don't know where well.
I mean, I'll get like the the the peacemakers and there's several different ones.
They're all cleavers, but someone just emailed me and said I want a crazy folding cleaver.
So using that as an example, OK, you wanna create a folding cleaver?
I took him literally as in OK, you want something that will please through a like a lamb so they have to have the weight to it.
And then I'll just sort of draw over and over again.
You know, just sort of on pen and paper, and I thought sort of thought crazy.
OK, how am I going to do that?
So as with proportions?
So the first one you know when it's folded and closed, it looks like the blades just plonked on top of it and it's just it just insane proportions, just you know it doesn't look like it should work, so I just sort of went, you know, sort of Salvador Dali.
Kind of, you know, surrealist type type approach to it really and just make everything as thick as possible.
Yeah, I mean it has got really graceful, beautiful lines that are all at.
It's all very unexpected, but it works so nicely together.
And like you said, it doesn't look like that blade should be able to fold into that handle.
It looks like it just looks like it won't fit.
You know, like once it.
Once it curves around that pivot, like.
But man, I mean I'm just looking at this.
To me this is real art art knives.
You know there's a difference, I don't know.
There are the art knives that are really exquisite with incredible amounts of detail that you might see in a like a master bladesmiths test knife, but this is artistic to me that these are art knives because they're really like nothing you've ever seen before in terms of the lines.
Very graceful, very beautiful to look at.
But also like I said, there, you know they they.
You can't help but look at that and and and wonder if it's supposed to be real and usable and and you are saying that this tree surgeon has used it and other people use it.
I know that a lot of collectors collect them for their.
For you know what they are.
But to me this is real art knife because art is something that makes you ponder.
You know it's not just the ability to do a lot of intricate things.
Well, it's the ability to make someone think.
And I don't mean to keep coming back to this well, but that's what I get from your work.
Yeah, I suppose the.
You know the the artistic element.
I sort of went with a bit of brutalism rather than say classics.
So that's kind of, you know, look at like old architecture and things like that.
And just like how a surrealist element to it as well, I sort of thought.
You know, like just because a knife is extremely overbuilt doesn't mean it has to have an industrial finish on it.
Or you can put fine finishes on it and have it huge and industrial at the same time, so I've sort always sort of tried to blend those two together.
Obviously I like her an industrial finish and appreciate that work, but it just seemed like a different Ave for me to go and that other people haven't really done that much.
Yeah they do.
I mean, there's a. There's a video on my Instagram with one split in a like a four by four piece of wood, but I doubt many people are doing that, especially since they take you know, a few weeks to make and quite expensive I suppose.
You do like knowing that or or me as a collector.
I as a collector who does not abuse his knives.
Do you like to see videos of other people abusing the same models?
I have to know that they can withstand that, but my mind don't have to go through that.
How do you?
Yeah, right exactly.
I like knowing that they're capable of it, but mine I'm gonna keep pristine, you know?
Yeah, let other people do that.
So where does CAD computer assisted design?
Where does that come into your process and how is it useful to you?
Obviously I mean sort my inspiration comes from pencil sketches.
I can't really get a lot done that way on the computer, so I use this only really simple 2D CAD software, libre CAD.
Umm, I'll basically upload the picture straight into it and have it in the background.
I'll draw the lines around it and just because I've drawn it on a piece of paper doesn't mean it's actually going to work, so I'll kind of, you know, get my pencil image in the CAD and then you can rotate the blades if it closes properly and I just sort of tweak them from there to make them work and
just sort of look at the, you know the engineering and different bits.
I like it to sort of be balanced.
You know, even if people aren't, most people aren't necessarily going to use them that much.
You know I wouldn't put like a like a four mil pivot on one, for instance.
Just cause you know, like if the blades extremely thick and overbuilt then I want the stop and to be thick the pivot to be thick.
I'll use like a very heavy lock bar.
Even though most people are just be sort of flicking them open and stuff, but just, you know, just for that extra sort of meat in the lock recess just for extra lock strength, right?
There was a sort of a very I I was on my YouTube channel that's been deleted because it got hacked and there was a a video.
I had a gladius and I was doing the spine whacking test but it but I was whacking it so hard it was even though it was the blunt end I was like taking chips out of the table.
Wait, hold that, hold that up again, Phil.
If you're trying to get the.
So how, how, how thick would you say that handle is standard thickness we say is around maybe 1/2 inch to point .6. That looks like it's considerably more.
That'll be about an inch, I reckon, inch.
Yeah, roughly a little less.
Maybe no part was probably an inch.
Yeah, and I can see that pocket clip on there as well.
And that's swedge comes to a pretty thin edge on the back.
I could see how you could definitely take, so you said you like you like a good balance.
So where do you?
Where do you try and balance the the folders?
Like, well, just turn the handle.
Ohh OK ohm yeah, I do have a slightly uh, be sort of full finger.
OK, yeah, it's a little bit further back.
I've had them.
I usually put sort of a bronze or a steel backspacer and I noticed if I use titanium it starts to feel a bit front heavy.
Obviously the big cleavers they're going to be front heavy no matter what, but that's kind of the idea of them.
Yeah, just so it's sort of a little bit sort of tactile, and it's just what it feels like when you pick it up, really.
Just behind the pivot, really.
So you're in England and you know we have a vague notion in the states here that England has some pretty strict knife laws.
How does that?
How does that work in terms of your making these things and selling them in that that kind of stuff?
Or is that something we shouldn't talk about?
I'll talk about it about the sort of quite a few back and forth to MP.
I think part of the sort of the aggressiveness of my life designs is probably as rebellion to that.
As you know, we'll have some sort of gang violence, and then the city and the government's hands that rather than policing it properly, is to just ban some random type of knife.
And I mean I don't know what North Korea is doing, but I think England's probably the least life friendly country in the world.
Umm, so I mean these days you can't have UM, autos flick knives, whatever they are and you can't have flippers, apparently.
Yeah, it's very limited, but uhm.
I think the way I work around it is my stuff so weird that they haven't thought up a law to ban it yet, so they're kind of works like that.
But yeah, I just I just sort of ignore it.
I think it was it.
Was it Benjamin Franklin?
He sort of said if there's an unjust law, you have a duty to disregard it.
Something like that?
Yeah, that sounds good to me.
Sort of blatantly illegal, but in any way really, but you know, I I kind of keep within the law and I can be creative enough within that.
Really, a straight folding knife that locks is legal.
He just can't carry it.
Yes, I believe you could easily easily justify the making of your knives if you were making shivs and and little self defense implements and stuff like that, it would be much harder to defend, but your work is so obviously you know highly refined and just, you know, you could say this is kinetic
Yeah, it's got a sharp edge, but this is kinetic sculpture and I'm an artist so buzz off, you know you might even that might work.
I could try it if the police show up.
I guess we have in leave us alone.
I don't think they realize that knife makers even a job in the UK.
The politicians so.
Right, there's a lot of.
I do think we covered it a little bit on this show how at at at one point they were trying to pass a law in Great Britain that that would disallow pointy chefs knives because they were determining, you know that most knife crime was happening with the use of cheap kitchen knives that you just you.
You simply remedy that by blunting and selling only blunt ended knives and.
And I think that really worked and I think it changed the hearts and minds of people all over England.
And now there's no problem.
Yeah, I I. I think I heard about that I heard another one where they they wanted to put.
Tracking devices inside handles of knives so that they could trace knife crime.
They had some ***** ideas at one point.
Yeah, most most knife violence is kitchen knives, isn't it?
Not that it's sort of comes into my thought process really and I don't make them to be.
You know violent, necessarily they might look aggressive, but it's not their design, really.
Yeah, that I mean, you know they're they don't exactly look light and fast.
They're not exactly something you wanna square up with someone with a little stiletto with, you know, no, I'm not.
I'm not a fighting knife knife guy.
I mean, sort of thinking about it.
If someone you know, not no one's going to wait three years on a waiting list to order a knife to go out and kill someone anyway, exactly that's a hell of a cool down period.
Yeah, I mean, I suppose they really thought it through at that point, but it's and.
You know, if they wanted to be discreet about it, I mean, mine aren't exactly the most subtle you know, and they don't sell that many, so it's gonna get traced back to them pretty quick.
It's a bit of a ridiculous sort of thing to think about, really.
Yeah, a $2000 murder weapon?
So who are your?
You said that you came to this from a collector's perspective.
Who were the designers or custom knife makers that really inspired you in terms of their work?
Well, I was broke at the time so I didn't actually collect any of them.
I've always been into the same sort of St as Todd and Frank Fisher.
I have a bit of trouble with them.
I try not to look at other makers knives just so I can try and stay original and the number of times I've drawn a handle that's you know it's been similar to something Stan Wilson's done.
Obviously, I looked at Medford thing like that and the sort of stuff I collect would be like.
Well, there's a World War Two bayonet.
Uh, my husband.
I use this as a pizza slicer, just Benchmade Spyderco is really I didn't.
I didn't have the kind of bank to be pulling in.
You know, really expensive stuff.
Obviously he's a legend.
He got, you know, we all use the same locking mechanism as him.
I quite like, you know.
Yeah, Michael Walker won best.
I like to sort of, you know, look at someone's work.
And not be able to work out how they did it.
A sort of call it that wizard level of life makers like.
You know, like his pivot designs and his sort of inlays with square corners and stuff.
You know, I look at that and I just I can't work it out and I like that sort of thing.
And I sort of try and emulate that in my own work, although.
Once I start getting fancy, it seems to get less sellable and people like the sort of brutalist almost simplistic type stuff which I'm happy to make.
Interesting, that's that sort of knife makers knife maker you looking at a Michael Walker knife and and not being able to figure out how he did it.
Yeah, that's I guess from one artist to another.
That's a that's a major compliment, yeah yeah.
Well, he invented everything, didn't he?
Come up with what I think is a bright idea.
I find out Michael Walker did it back in the 80s and better so did it better and retired the idea altogether.
Yeah, pretty much and then, well, I mean well so telling this into Michael Walker around if you follow his Instagram you know he's got.
I think he went up the mountains and built himself a log cabin with a chainsaw at the start and just made knives out of that.
Yeah, he's up in Taos NM I believe and it's if you've ever been there, that's a sublime.
Environment, it's weird and beautiful and desserty high desert.
Good good place to steal away to you to be creative.
I imagine so.
He just seems to have that sort of Renaissance man.
You know, thing going about.
And oddly I had to do a workshop move fairly recently.
I sort of lost my own workshop on it's Cornwall, UK as a like a housing crisis, and they're just any building.
If you want to building for something, it's extremely hard.
So it's sort of seeing him with that log cabin.
I've sort of.
I'm thinking about getting a like a horse lorry, like a big.
You know high payload lorry and just putting on my knife making stuff and now about 10 tons of it.
Ohh wow and just parking it in a field somewhere because there's nowhere to rent around it.
OK, I'm sorry, let me let me get this straight.
You're saying that there's a housing crisis in the United Kingdom and they're telling you that any accessory structure like a shed or workshop, you have to vacate.
No, no, no.
My current workshop had to vacate.
Ex girlfriend problem, Ohi got you.
I'm sorry when you and I like sort of went on a probably was a bit a bit vague and I yeah I was like OK I'll rent a unit easy enough just aren't any or their you know like a grand a month and I don't want to be working.
You know it's it's like more expensive to rent a workshop unit than as a house.
It would be cheaper for me to get rent a house if I could find 1 right?
Just do it in the garage.
So yeah, there's there's some quite strict planning laws around here, and not a lot of this stuff's been built.
So yeah, I'm sort of getting to the stage.
I'm just going to put it in a Lowery and just be a touring life maker or something like that.
Yeah, stop by restaurants, sharpen their knives for a little extra dough.
That's that's actually not a bad plan.
Yeah, I have a couple of.
I have one friend you know online friend who lives actually in Northern Ireland and I know that they have a real.
They have real strict knife laws there too.
And and I think that if you if you lay low and you're a collector, you can probably get away with it.
Kind of like I have with switchblades here in my state I'm not allowed to have though in in a couple of weeks here it will be legal.
Which is awesome.
But yeah, I think a lot of the times it's about laying low and just, you know doing your thing and you know not disrupting the peace.
Not not making a a reason for the cops to come by and then not going on podcasts and publicizing.
Yeah, right, exactly looking lives in Cornwall.
What's what is your present?
Uh, you know we were talking about Taos and how it's kind of a a great place to be creative.
What's Cornwall like?
Yeah, and the sort of smart history here likes the knives and stuff, and there's a bit of a sort of a hippie scene here, but I wouldn't say it's especially creative compared to anywhere else, really.
It's a yeah I don't like you.
Don't see many sort of knives around here.
I mean, there's a few of my friends are artists and they do really detailed paintings.
Mostly sort of, you know, coastal scenery and stuff.
I wouldn't say it's like a huge art Mecca in Cornwall, really.
It's more of a sort of a tourist county.
OK, so you're you're in this.
You know small tourist county in England and yet you have this giant international following or or I should say loyal international following how?
How do you?
You kind of get out there.
How do you reach out to the people that you're making knives for and?
The the knife world you're you're.
You're well known but how?
How do you get it out there?
Instagram mostly and people like you.
I've not been to a knife show at.
I keep meaning to go to blade, but obviously we had a a slight pandemic problem as well, which put better put a bit of a hold to that.
But yeah, it's really word of mouth and and Instagram.
And I used to have a YouTube channel which I'm going to have to get started again.
Mostly that just focused on.
You know the equipment around knife making and under occasionally show a knife in it, but not not.
You know how to like 1000 subscribers.
Like yeah, social media Facebook sort of getting a bit bigger Instagram.
That's about it really.
And obviously you know dark warnings are top bloke and he's you know shown quite a few of them on his channel.
And Jim Skelton obviously.
So they the word gets out that way really.
I mean, it's a bit of a freak show.
I suppose some people sort of see him was a freak show, so they're gonna get spread around on forums and things like that.
You have this incredibly visual medium obviously of Instagram, and that's a great place.
That's that's where I discover so many knife makers.
Because you can see their work immediately.
The the thought of bringing your stuff there and showing everything there and and then getting hands on.
That's like two different things and you know, I was thinking about Blade show because I was just there and you I think I think one of these years if you can make it after this whole thing blows over, I think you would be a phenom there.
I think people would be so excited to to actually get a chance to get their hands on your work.
Hmm, because it it is so unusual.
So unlike other people's stuff but it.
From what I've gotten from Dirk, it is.
It is the same sort of quality from all the most delicate and intricate small knives just blown up.
Yeah, so when you're when you're setting about to do something like this to design one of these knives to make one of these knives.
How did how do you determine the dimensions?
How big this thing is gonna be?
Because from that side angle it is one thing, but then when you turn it and you feel and you see how big it is like.
I'm I'm just curious what how, how you go into that aspect of it.
Well, the determining the dimension of the pure scale.
Yeah, the pure scale.
Ohh OK, so I'll I'll use UM Libre CAD to get the design finalised in there.
And then I'll print it off.
Basically just black lines.
A piece of a four paper and I don't know, you know.
I print like I printed off in different scales and just sort of say 15 to one or whatever you know and plug that into the printer and every time I print them off, you know I'll have like a smaller one and a bigger one printed out and I'll sort of cut it out and cardboard and feel it and I just I
just always go for the bigger one.
That just seems belly you know so yeah.
The Gladius I had to scale down a little bit.
They were getting so they like I do want the gladius to fit in people's pockets easily so I scaled it down a little bit.
It's still you know big but they're just getting bigger and bigger and it's like well you know I've got cleavers for that I want want to actually be able to carry this one.
Do you have any designs for anything smaller and what would that look like?
Yeah, right at the bottom of my Instagram.
If you wanna scroll that far.
But yeah, I did some little fixed blades and the friction folders they only had like a 2 1/2 inch blade.
But they didn't really sell so.
So I sort of followed the market.
There really is, but but now having followed the market, having made what you've made and being known for that, if you were to scale back down, do you think they would look different from, say, those initial friction folders?
Maybe small versions of what you're doing now?
Sure, yeah, I mean the friction folder.
I've sort of updated that design and did it like a year or two ago I think.
I just sort of messed around with the lines a little bit and I sold one of them and I think I've had one guy asked for one cent.
I mean, you know, like, like I am accustomed, maker of someone like someone the the cleaver I'm currently working on.
He asked if I could scale that down a little bit.
Hey Jim, Jim, stop right there.
Actually scroll back up a little bit.
So OK, we were talking about so that knife in the center right there, that drop point that looks very pocketable.
That's what I was thinking, and then I look at the backspacer in the center.
You gotta tell me about that.
Backspacer and others like it.
Yeah, it's just a coke backspace.
I think it's solid bronzer.
I can't quite see it.
OK, that's my face again.
I think I think he's gonna go large on that central thing.
That's just my aesthetic, you know, I just wanna go thick so all the other stuff I make I end up.
I made someone a birthday card recently out of 10 mil thick steel plate.
And while that happy birthday on it with some nails and stuff, but that backspacer looks like a saw blade, at least in this.
In this with the way the shadows are falling on it, I take it it's not.
It's not sharp like that, but so I was what I'm getting at is I was looking at.
I was like oh that looks like a very reasonable pocketable blade.
And then I saw the backspace and I was like, wait I take it back.
Yeah, I'm just calling out myself.
This knife, this gladius is, is really a beautiful knife man.
He was just scrolling by it.
I really like the giant fuller in the middle.
I love the symmetry of it.
The handles that you make with the, especially on the.
Especially on the Gladius, have a lot of partitioning.
They have a lot of finger grooves and that kind of thing when you're making a a. When you're taking a custom order, say like, let's say for instance, if I ordered a gladius from you, what I tell you the size of my hands to get and you would make it so that those scallops fit.
Or do you have just like a standard size, that you?
That you make or like how did how custom is custom.
And you could do.
Certainly, I've done that before.
And usually I ship them in a sort of a standard size.
But if someone wants to send their hand measurements, I mean you know I'm printing off a piece of paper with lines on it and cutting it out.
You know I can do it either way.
It doesn't make a difference to me, so someone had.
Small hands, I could make it a bit smaller.
I get you.
You scale it by a percentage in CAD and then print it out and you have the size that you need.
Like if I told you yeah OK I get it.
Yeah I'm there with the pier scissors and I cut the handle out of paper.
Stick it to a piece of titanium and then go to the.
Well, I don't actually use a bandsaw because.
Like I know knife makers use bouncers, but if you put in like a an 8 mil thick piece of titanium into a vertical band saw your thumb start to get sore quite quickly.
So what I actually do is I I go to the drill press and I just drill holes all the way around the profile.
And then I'll I've got a plasma cutter which will go to through titanium fine and all the little some kind of slithers between the holes.
I'll just blast that off with the plasma colour and because the holes are there, the sort of heat affected zone doesn't get into the titanium, which would ruin it because a tiny little tiny little piece of titanium between the holes.
Yeah, yeah, if I if I tried to cut the whole thing with titanium you'd get heat affected zone and it wouldn't anodize properly and it would be really brittle and just horrible.
But putting the holes there it just makes it a lot quicker.
And then I just take it to the grinder and just blast off all the little nubs and stuff.
Also, that plasma clutter slag is, I mean it's titanium oxide, so if I did.
At one point I had I had, I've got a 3 dimensional pantograph and I put a jig on it that would hold a plasma cutter head and then went the way he used a plasma cutter head.
You know I'd have a two time scale model of the knife I cut out of wood and I plasma cut on the pantograph.
But the the titanium oxide slag on it as soon as you put that to a grinder, it's just ripping the abrasive off and just have thought through it so.
But the holes, it'll just kind of knock it off.
It's really brittle, so it'll just knock it out rather than trying to grind through it, right?
So that that whole process of going around what is what is presumably a pretty large frame on a pretty thick piece of titanium, making holes with a drill?
Presumably a drill press that sounds maddeningly.
You must put in.
Soothing music or some sort of meditation to get through that or that might be part of the the process that is meditative to you or or or flow like like does.
How does your process you know your creative process?
How does it feed back into the knives?
By creative process, do you mean design or like my methods?
I mean, like your methods, you're I see you at a drill press making a thousand holes very close to one another around a drawn out frame so you can remove it from the titanium so that you don't overheat it so that you get a nice anodization later.
Like that's a, that's your you're thinking many steps ahead and you're and the process itself seems like it.
It strains the, you know, the ability to tolerate.
Well, my my soothing music is a tool usually so oh good choice yeah tall and caffeine but.
Uh, sort of.
After you after you done like I'm getting quite quick at it still takes ages, but it's still quicker than trying to put it through a band sort really, but yeah, it's just sort of.
You know, like that sort of pace so and like moving it across and you got a huge birds nest of swarf on it.
But it does get through it.
I would like to sort of find a better method really, but obviously titanium you can't get it too hot or steel for that matter, so that's what I got at the moment.
I could send it out to water jet I guess, but I don't like outsourcing.
It's sort of.
I just like to be able to, you know, walk up to whatever machine and do it straight away rather than waiting for a a waterjet shot to send it to me.
I mean, if they make a water jet that you can have in your own garage, I'll be right up for that.
But until then, it's sort of all done myself.
Well, that's not kind of in the nature of your work to do big batches of the same thing, so I could see how that wouldn't make sense, you know?
Yeah, I think like 6 knives at a time is like my record.
Six months at a time, that's good.
Yeah, the uh, well, the hand sight of finishing process.
Obviously with all the fullers and everything it's quite time consuming if you try and do six in a row you start to go a little bit party so I sort of keep them to like 4 two or six really depending on what I want to take on.
I'm I'm thinking of people who who might not be familiar with the with the hand finishing process on a knife.
Tell tell people who might not understand what that entails, what that entails.
Well, I have some sort of very.
Like I was thinking of making a YouTube video on how to handle that and finish a knife and I thought it's not a good idea because I have some very weird methods, but basically I'll I'll take it to the grinder and I've got, you know, small wheels for the fullers and flat pan.
I'll just grind at the standard way.
Umm, and then yeah, it's I'll take it up to like 120 grit.
It's not necessarily the finish that slows you down hands task finishing.
It's like kind of distortions in the blade like you know, like dimensional distortions.
If it's not flat and it's supposed to be.
So I'll get it to like 120 grinding and then I'll start with like stark mattered or paper and carpet glue.
And I've got all these little wheels for the fullers and big flat bits of steel and I'll stick it to them and just just go at it.
Basically you know the standard way doing it at different angles and I got an oven that cooks off the paper and I'll stick another piece of paper on.
I'll typically get through like a 50 sheet ream of like.
Stock mattered or paper for a knife like a big quarter slice cleaver type thing.
I want them sort of like the fullers I wanna.
You know I want the flats to sort of be optically cracked, so it'll like.
I mean this.
I only take it up to 320 grit because I quite like the look of it, but I want it so that the light hits it.
Like you know, if you're looking down from the point of the blade and you look up the full, I want people to be able to tilt it in the light and see the light kind of flow up the fuller like evenly like a perfect source hemisphere.
So that's what I'm trying to achieve.
Anyway, well, this this to me is.
Seems to be another area, kind of like putting the holes in.
That is painstaking that you have to get correct, because when I look at your blades I see especially we're talking about the clever.
I see multiple planes I see curved planes like in the fuller and everything is crisp.
You know, you're you're, you're literally hand sanding steel back and forth back and forth and yet still the transitions between that curved plane of the fuller and then the flat plane of the swedge or the edge itself.
Is crisp the line between the two is crisp and to me that's something that I don't understand.
How, you know?
Obviously I'm not a knife maker, but take to get that edge.
But that transition edge to be so crisp.
To me that seems part of the art.
Like you know, that's that.
That requires practice and talent.
Yeah, I mean obviously I'm always.
I'm still learning all the time.
After a while it's sort of muscle memory, really, it's.
You know, I've done it so much now.
It's almost like brushing your teeth or something just to back and forth motion, and you know I could kind of look at it and sort of see the angle I need to head of that.
I mean generally if I do one stroke that's off, it usually takes about sort of 20 strokes to fix it.
So you you you get punished if you mess up and then you you know you soon learn to sort of keep it flat.
You know on flat plane.
Well, OK, in that spirit you say?
You say you mess up one stroke.
It takes 20 strokes to fix it what?
What about I've spoken to a lot of knife makers for whom you know?
You can get so far in the process 90% of the way there, and then make a false move and it kind of ruins everything you know does does this.
How does this happen with you?
And it seems like you're so committed when you make a knife because you're you're committing so many materials you know and so much actual effort to get them into shape.
And I'll, I'll keep referencing the drills, the drill holes, how far in that process, how forgiving is your process to to make up for when something goes wrong, deep into the process.
Uhm, I mean how sight and finishing you can always.
Keep him sight and finishing to get rid of it one time.
I think I've been making knife for like 16 hours straight and I was quite exhausted and I don't know if you can.
There's a kind of a lightful you can see.
There's like a cut out in here like a, you know you can get your finger in to move the lock bar.
I accidentally put it on the wrong side on a on a finished lock side just because I was so exhausted and that was like, you know.
So many days, almost a week's work down the drain and just a split second.
Ohh, but yeah, you could have introduced it as the new model.
I didn't want to do that because people would know you're full of it.
Yeah, I mean I I typically use D2 for the blades.
Which there's trouble is if you go to sort of a knife supply place.
And you want a piece of S90V or whatever.
They're not really catering for people like me, whereas obviously D2 tool steel you can you know bash out car body panels with it, so that's typically what I go with, but.
Yeah, I've done what I was doing with that are you are.
Are you suggesting that like if you go to a knife supply place and ask for S90V you're not gonna be able to get it in in?
You're not gonna get it 16 mil thick.
I don't think unless you are part of it and I'm not that big of a business.
Yeah, that's when I sort of liked.
Decided I like D2.
Was I one of the really early knives and the top swedge I messed up on the grinder on a like a pretty much finished blade.
And I had a bit of a hissy fit and whacked it against a paving slab and it was like pulling chips out this paving slab but the blade was surprisingly intact.
It wasn't like majorly.
I mean it needed a sharpened but it wasn't majorly messed up so it's good for that sort of thing.
When you're working with steel, I mean obviously you get a harder steel like S90V.
It's gonna take more abrasives and more time to sculpt and such.
How is D2 for that part of the process for?
For grinding it and getting it into shape?
Umm, because I'm kind of like pretty much exclusively used D2.
I don't have a lot to compare it to and I used the RWL 34 once I managed to find a piece of that and that was a lot easier.
To hand satin finish.
But that's that's all I've really got to Ohio.
No one as well, but that's a bit softer as well.
I'd say D2 out of those three is the hardest, but I don't really know what to compare it to really so.
Alright, so if someone forced you to work.
With someone else that sounds like you don't let that I'm painting you as antisocial, and I don't mean it like that, but if you if you had to collaborate with someone and you had your choice of living knife makers to collaborate with, who do you think you'd want to work with?
Based on their on their knife styles.
Well, I mean, it's a very different style, but it would be Michael Walker, definitely.
Or perhaps second choice, Ron best, I doubt either, would have for me.
But you know, I'd love to sort of team up with one of them and have a look around and see how he does things.
Because I mean he he sort of I get impression he's like a front runner and he makes it up as he goes along as well.
You know some of the jigs I've seen him use, so it's just that sort of problem solving mind that people like that have.
To be honest, I'm I've not actually been in another knife makers shop.
I think I've met 1 custom.
Of a custom knife maker in the flash.
So it was probably one of my methods are so weird, but yeah, I'd love to team up with someone like Michael Walker or something like that.
Even though it's very different styles.
Yeah, I mean so so much you could learn so much from someone like that.
Michael Walker, true innovator, but you said Ron best, I got to admit I'm not sure who that is.
Best I should?
Who's Ron best?
Well, I I only know this work but he's got to carry.
His designs are very interesting.
It's hard to describe really, but like the flowing lines and all the inlays.
OK I'm gonna have done as a. I think he's sort of well, obviously it's not that well known as possible.
I watched on Jim Skeltons.
He's one of those top tier ones you know up with.
I mean, obviously, you know if I wanted to learn from love and my life maker, I'd wanna go to people that are.
You know better than me really.
So yeah, yeah I don't know where Ron Bess gets his designs ideas from, but.
There's something else, really.
Well, this is this is how I learned from talking to people like you because I don't, I don't.
I don't look at the top tier often.
I mean I've I follow Michael Walker because it's so interesting and it's always kind of like breathtaking.
When you see what he's working on, but his posts are few and far between and and that top tier you know is so unattainable to me that I I've just not looking there until someone tells me to take a look.
So yeah, I will definitely check out Ron best.
It'd be interesting to see how your style would blend with someone else's style for some reason.
I think of there's a Michigan knife maker named Jeff Vandermeulen.
Whose whose work looks like it might be in in in the same universe as yours, but I don't know if that's the kind of collaboration.
If I were, if I were the yenta for this collaboration, I don't think I'd go that way.
I would find someone who makes the opposite work.
So maybe like Michael Walker, delicate, very delicate, kind of stuff and see how that collaboration works.
Yes, this stuff.
Done from something from it.
I don't know why he's got left for them, but yeah, I wanna learn stuff from it and he's sort of, you know he's got like wizard level and so different to me.
I did try and sort sort out this PM.
Is it PMP knives he makes very thick stuff.
It's more productive.
I was doing some back and forth with him on Instagram recently, but it didn't seem to go anywhere, but I was trying to.
Sort of team up with him a little bit to come up with something, but didn't seem to happen, but that's a that's that's odd that there that PMP wouldn't jump at that opportunity because I don't know how many big name collaborations they've done.
There's also midgards Messer out of Deutschland.
Who does those giant folders?
Giant folders, they're really cool too.
Yeah, midgards messer.
They're a little bit ridiculous.
Which is which is I like, yeah, we like that sort of thing when I sort of figured if you want a knife as a tool and you want to cut some stuff, you can get that done for like 100 bucks.
But I think if someone's you know wanted me to go to the effort of making a custom, they probably want it to turn head.
So I've sort of trying my best to achieve that.
And obviously have it somewhat functional as well if you want to split logs, which, right?
Yeah, right sure, and especially if you're doing a production collaboration, you have to justify it.
You know with with some practical usage you know type stuff.
Where where do you see Phil Harvey knives?
Where do you want to take the knife, your company and your output?
Or or your knives themselves?
Where do you want to take this all?
You know when you retire, what does that thing you want to achieve or will want to have made?
Well, will I ever retire?
I don't know.
Yeah, I wanna sort of like a. You know I wanna get into the the fine detail a bit.
Maybe well, sort of better, both really I I just want to sort of push the the techniques of it.
Really sort of.
Have you know getting to that wizard level?
I sort of talked about where people look at it and they can't work out how I've done it.
Sort of integrating more of that.
I don't have anything against you know CNC and things like that.
So I mean, at some point I'd might like to bring in something that's a little cheaper and a little sort of easier to make, rather than, you know, the way I design them.
I don't tend to put any thought into OK, that's going to be a pain, you know.
I just sort of draw it because it looks nice and I do it, but at some point I'd like to do some something really stocky and, you know, sort of short, but very thick materials that.
I can actually put some thought into how I'm going to produce it just to get kind of a like a cheaper tier one and.
Like yeah and then on the other end I've got this recurve model on my Instagram and that was more of a sort of.
You know I was using the pantagraph to do it was like an integral frame like titanium and then having carbon fibre emulate into that and I've got sort of ideas for like having a keyhole shape that you'd have on like sort of older custom knives and maybe dovetailing that shape in.
And then having the whole of the keyhole sort of screw into the carbon fibre and having it all sort of integral like that just doing sort of fancy stuff like that that you know, makes people sort of think.
How did he do that and that sort of thing.
And so far when.
You know, aesthetics a little bit like I think the reason I sometimes I draw like Stan Wilson's and Glenn Hovens and things like that sort of accidentally.
I mean, if he wants we want to make something aesthetically pleasing and a lot of knife makers tend to go with sigmoid curves and Fibonacci numbers.
And I got I sort of like mathematically designed a knife at one point and that was the recurve design like with you know Fibonacci ratios and stuff and it kind of looked like a stand Wilson or glenhaven so I don't know if they're consciously doing it or not really, but.
And sort of, yeah, chasing aesthetics like that a little bit.
But I mean keeping my stuff individual.
You know the sort of most knife makers out there trying to make something fun, functional and something beautiful.
So in a way that that design esthetic is almost oversaturated.
So, so I sort of look at it and I think OK. Where can I go to be original and the only place I can think of is crazy town really.
You know whether someone else would have the balls to do it because of the amount of trolling I get sometimes.
Yeah, that's sort of thing.
Yeah, yeah, that's so funny how people can allow themselves to be polarized by a knife design.
You know it's kind of like this is absurd.
How can so you mentioned?
I don't want to glaze over something you talked about making an integral.
But is this a design that you have in mind?
You you were talking about the recurve that was Fibonacci based or was that an actual?
Is that an actual integral?
UM, not an integral in the no backspace.
I mean, I'm integral.
What did you call it?
So you'd have like a?
You know a bolster there, and a piece of carbon fibre there.
And rather than having a separate piece of metal there going on to the, you know the frame screwing on.
That would be one piece of metal and then your machining it out and obviously with the pantagraph you can get any.
Any sort of shape you like out of that right?
Just you know, it's not real intricate machining operations that just you know it like serves a function because it holds the piece of carbon fibre in.
But really it's just kind of an art form in itself.
And then you would have to figure out how to get the pivot and everything inside and have a little so so the engineering would really stand out on that too as an integral handmade.
I mean that's the thing that that is surprising to me.
I know you said not in terms of the backspacer but.
If it's just the forward portion, it's still the same kind of challenge, actually even harder, because you still have to get the pivot and everything in there.
Yeah, you sort of.
You know you want someone to pick it up because it looks nice and then they're still holding it sort of 20 minutes later.
Looking at all your crazy, you know, machining details that you've thought up and like oh wow the like you didn't need to do that.
Why did he do that?
And just you know it just sort of keeps people's attention a little bit longer as well.
So all those little yeah, all those little details really and just a whole people's attention.
And you know, people spend a lot of money on them so you have to deliver, really.
OK, so your your story reminds me of sort of like a painter, like an Andrew Wyeth living in obscurity.
I'm sorry like to me that's a romantic notion.
I don't mean that in any sort, but you're you're you're kind of you know working under the radar, making these incredible pieces that are that are art and our design and useful tools.
And to me that's that's like a really interesting aspect of it is that is what you're making.
I don't know, it's it's to be it's to be used, but it's also to be pondered.
It's to be collected, but there are also stout and and ready.
So to me it's an.
It's an interesting bunch of I don't want to say contradictions, but different different sort of knives all-in-one.
Anyway, it was a it was a real pleasure meeting you Phil and finding out about more about your creations.
Pleasure being on here.
Alright, Sir, well we'll talk to you soon and you and I are gonna continue this conversation for a few more minutes for patrons.
So I will talk to you then thanks.
Still hang around.
Do you like the sound of the alpha numeric combinations M392O4P and 20 CV, but bristle at 8 CR 1 three MOV and AUS-8.
You are a knife junkie, probably worse.
I never turned my back on an opportunity to talk about art versus design and his Phil's knives most definitely are a conversation starter for that.
Like I mentioned before, this is not a plug for Dirk warnings channel, but you got to check out Dirk Warnings channel if you want to see some of these Phil Harvey knives close up.
And from the perspective of a true collector that is it for this episode of the Knife Junkie podcast, be sure to join us on Wednesday for the midweek supplemental and of course Thursday 10:00 PM.
Eastern Standard Time right here at YouTube, Facebook or Twitch for Thursday Night Knives where you can join the conversation for Jim working his magic behind the Switcher.
I'm Bob DeMarco, saying until next time don't take dull for an answer.
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