Justin Carvin of DC Blades (aka Tier 1 Gear & EDC Reviews) – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 442)
Justin has been a knife collector from a young age and began offering his take on modern EDC gear on YouTube with his Tier 1 Gear and EDC Reviews channel. He has loaned many knives to the Knife Junkie Channel for review and has a healthy love of custom fixed blades.
In 2022, Justin joined forces with knife maker Chris Harrison of Old Squirrel Knives to produce the first batch of the fixed blade pikal masterpiece Scythe. With Justin’s years of designing and reviewing gear and Chris’s CAD and knife making experience, they decided to solidify the partnership and work on new designs together as DC Blades.
In partnership with Shieldon Knives, a folding version of the Scythe was released to astounding success — in both high-value materials and premium materials. The folding Scythe sold out numerous times and was ranked #1 New Release on Amazon.
DC Blades’ new design is called the Ceto, a fullered, compound-ground clip point titanium frame lock with OEM Miguron at the manufacturing helm.
Be sure to support The Knife Junkie and get in on the perks of being a Patron — including early access to the podcast and exclusive bonus content. You also can support the Knife Junkie channel with your next knife purchase. Find our affiliate links at theknifejunkie.com/knives.Justin Carvin of DC Blades (aka Tier 1 Gear & EDC Reviews on YouTube) joins Bob on Episode 442 of #theknifejunkie #podcast to talk about the success of the Scythe as well as the new Ceto - two of several knives from DC Blades! Click To Tweet
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Welcome to The Knives Junkie Podcast, 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 your host, Bob DeMarco. On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Justin Carvin of Tier One gear and EDC reviews and DC Blades. I first met Justin when he reached out as a listener and generously shared some of his amazing collection with me, exposing me to some of my current favorite custom fixed blade makers. He's a longtime knife collector, he's a gear reviewer on YouTube, and recently he's been making his knife designs a reality. Thanks to a fruitful partnership with a knife maker and CAD expert, justin and DC Blades recently saw great success with their unlikely hit, The Scythe Flipper, an unabashed self defense masterpiece of the folding PICAL persuasion. But that was just the start for Justin's new venture. We'll find out what's in the offering for the company and how DC Blades came to be. But first, be sure to, like, comment, subscribe, and share the show. That's a great way to help if you like the show. Also, you can download it to your favorite podcast app. And if you want to help support the show and find out what you get in return, go on over to Theknifejunkie.com Slash Patreon and check it out again. That's theknifejunkie.com slash patreon. Justin, welcome to the The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Justin Carvin [00:01:40]:
Thank you, glad to be here.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:42]:
Oh, man, it's a pleasure. I want to congratulate you on your success and DC Blade success with The Scythe. And like I said up front, it was unexpected. Tell me a little bit about where that came from.
Justin Carvin [00:01:58]:
Yeah. Basically, I had no plans to start a knife company. I've been in the knives business to some degree for the better part of 30 years now. My pops was actually he was a dealer. He did, like, Spyderco benchmade, boker. He had a lot of different stuff in his shop, but he had an army supply shop back in the day, and that was something we sold behind the counter and stuff like that, and it kind of became an obsession for me at a really young age. But wasn't until the past couple of years that I really started kind of exploring some of the sketches that I've made over the years. And honestly, it just felt like the right time to try and put some of this together. I just kind of had a bunch piling up, and I've been sketching for about 15 years now, on and off, something like that, so I figured I might as well do something with it.
Bob DeMarco [00:02:57]:
Okay. I got to say, and I think I speak for my brother when I say this as well, but it sounds like you lived the dream as a boy and young man growing up in an Army Navy surplus supply store. We used to haunt those places. So what about the knives back in those days was so compelling to you, you're surrounded by all that other gear.
Justin Carvin [00:03:20]:
Well, okay. My pops, he was kind of like a local celebrity somewhat, around here. He actually caught one of the worst serial killers out there. I'm not even going to name the names or anything, but he actually was one of the people who caught that, and he ended up becoming an instructor for Glock when the police departments around the US. Started transitioning from the revolver into the Glock. So he was basically one of the people that Glock had paid to go to Germany, learn the Glock, and then come over here and teach it to different police departments around the US. So I kind of went with him on a lot of those adventures during the summer. And, yeah, it was just kind of part of my life. The knives just came with it. It was like apples and oranges, I guess, so to speak.
Bob DeMarco [00:04:14]:
So this is very interesting. There's a lot right there, and we'll get to the gear in a second, but obviously I want to linger for a moment on what you said. Your father caught a very famous serial killer, and you're not going to name names, and I appreciate that. But how amazing and interesting is that? That whole story must have been an emotional roller coaster because I know it takes a lot of work, but you're thrilled in the end, right?
Justin Carvin [00:04:40]:
Yeah. And the thing was, it was like kind of by chance how it happened, and they didn't know the guy was a complete psychopath until after they arrested him and he started admitting to crime after crime after crime. And my dad, being the original arresting officer and the one who found out who it was and all that, put a name to the face, he basically had to escort the guy all around the US. Afterwards and basically find all the remains. I guess I don't want to be too so I don't know. That's kind of what made him a local celebrity to an extent, and the fact that he was a veteran and all type of stuff. He worked for a lot of different government agents and stuff like that over the years, and it was just kind of his thing. Like they say they don't make them like that anymore. It's a different type of generation. But yeah, I kind of grew up under that shadow, and with everything that he would bring home every day, I mean, it was something different every day, whether it was firearms, knives, just gear. I was always exposed to that from a young age. Like I said, it stuck, and it's kind of probably overdue that. I'm actually designing knives now, but you got to start somewhere, I guess.
Bob DeMarco [00:06:14]:
Well, I mentioned in my open that you loaned me a bunch of boxes a while ago with some amazing examples from fixed blade makers. And you sent me other production stuff, but the stuff that really left an impression with me and actually sent me in a different direction with my collecting, I can credit this to you, that medium to small sized, custom fixed blade, I love carrying them. I carry them on a daily basis using them, and I want to normalize the carry of them. And you had a huge influence on me in that. So with the designs that you're making and most of the designs that you sent me, they have that self defense, that tactical leaning. Tell me about that approach.
Justin Carvin [00:07:08]:
Yeah, my dad always carried a last ditch knife on him. He would carry a pocket knife, but he would always have something else tucked into his vest. And a lot of times it was just like a handmade ship. And he had a couple of little G ten knives that he had had over the years, even though that was a thing way back when. It's kind of becoming popular again today. But he's always carried something like that as a backup. And even like he would carry an ankle piece and stuff like that as well. But he always had that backup knife and I guess that was something that kind of stuck with me. He would come home with stuff like that, like I mentioned all the time, and he would just kind of leave it around and I would steal it and he'd probably find it in my dresser about two weeks later. But yeah, it always stuck with me, man. And that kind of influences a lot of the style that I make. Because smaller knives are honestly essential, in my opinion. They're not very aggressive looking. I mean, some are, of course, like the, you know, something small like the dishonor blade chimera. It does have an aggressive look, but I mean, you pull this out in front of somebody, they're not going to freak out or anything like that. It's a great little knife. Honestly, I can't get enough of them. Every time I see somebody making a new design like it, I just got to grab it to at least just try know.
Bob DeMarco [00:08:57]:
Those are beautiful, those little knives. David was just on the show not too long ago, and I didn't know him before Blades show, so it was nice of you to show off that cool blade, but let's see the scythe. I mentioned that up front. This is a booming success, and you were nice enough to send me some prototypes. I want to talk about your whole DC Blades venture, but let's start it off by looking at the site.
Justin Carvin [00:09:24]:
This is the fixed blade side, the original, but yeah, that's the original design. It came from a sketch that Chris from old squirrel knives. He actually put a little twist on it, I guess, so to speak. And yeah, we popped out about five or six of these prototypes and got a lot of people messaging us saying, hey, where can we get one of those? And it kind of became a thing. So we actually started making them and it felt like the right thing to do to make it an actual folding knife. Considering there are zero folding pacals under $100 out there, or haven't been for a really long time. I mean, the closest thing you get is like the inversion, which was like $160, I think by Dirk Pinkerton. That was the closest you get to anything budget as far as cacalus goes. So we wanted to introduce one to market that people could actually afford and not have to go without to buy one.
Bob DeMarco [00:10:34]:
So I talk about it a lot on the show, but just in case people don't tune into those episodes, tell us about what a pacal style knife is and why your first outing is a pacal style.
Justin Carvin [00:10:50]:
All right, well, honestly, it's very useful, even though the shape itself might look a little funky, but it feels good in the hand. And the fact that it actually goes with your body's natural movements in certain situations, more defensive than anything, you're just trying to back somebody away. This will do the trick. The thing about it is a lot of fights happen up close. And yeah, somebody might swing all crazy on you for a second, but chances are you're going to be wrestling around and I'd rather have something in my hand I could get a good grip on that. I could defend myself up close if needed. I mean, you have something very long, it's going to be hard to kind of swing that. And something small and compact like this just easy to conceal. You can't get any better than that, in my opinion. I mean, not saying better than the size, but just in general, just small knives have more uses than people realize, I think.
Bob DeMarco [00:12:04]:
Yeah, definitely. And for the purpose you're talking about self defense, it's really the only realistic option. You're not going to carry a dueling knife with you or a combat knife, chances are, because most of our lifestyles don't allow it, but they do allow a smaller fixed blade. One thing that I really liked about the prototype that you were just holding in your hand with the sukamaki wrap, which I just find gorgeous, and then also the folding version, which I'd love you to show off in a minute here is how the handle gets lost in the fist. It makes it very dishearten, very hard to disarm. It would be anyway, because all knife.
Justin Carvin [00:12:45]:
And all that is actually the shape of the actual handle is more like a bamboo kind of bone shape. And this little inward swell right here actually just kind of locks into your hand and it allows not to be pulled either direction. So it gives you a little bit more control. They've been making knives with bamboo handles for years, and it's always worked for a reason. So I figured, why not something like that on the side, especially considering that it is more of a Filipino style knife in general.
Bob DeMarco [00:13:29]:
So you're saying by the bamboo reference, you're kind of talking about how it kind of comes into a thin waist and tapers out or widens out on both ends.
Justin Carvin [00:13:39]:
Bob DeMarco [00:13:40]:
Okay, so the folder now this translated, tell me about taking this design and why first of all, why you translated it to a folder and then what the challenges were.
Justin Carvin [00:13:52]:
Yeah, actually, it's on my desk about 10ft away.
Bob DeMarco [00:13:58]:
That's right. If you're not lassoed to your computer, I can talk for 10 seconds while you get it. I'll grab it and just say that. The folding version of this scythe was where I really became aware of the fact that the handle is getting lost in the hand, lost in the best way, melting into the hand without a lot of excess coming out. Now, you just saw him with a ringed version and that it's being used as a pommel there. So that's a different case. But when you have something as small as the folder handle or the non ringed fixed blade handle, it gets lost in there. And all the disarms that happen off the pommel in Filipino martial arts, as he's mentioning, you can't do if there's no pommel to be leveraged. Okay, so tell us about this and working with the OEM and also tell us a little bit I'm asking you a lot of questions here, but you mentioned old squirrel knives. I, on purpose didn't mention him by name in my intro because I wanted to talk about him and first find out about how this relationship began and how you discovered that you worked well together creatively.
Justin Carvin [00:15:07]:
Okay, well, yeah, I think he probably just started maybe his Instagram didn't have it up too long. And I search hashtags all the time just looking for gold mines, and I just come across one of his posts, and I reached out to him. I think it was about one of his tontos. And, yeah, we got to talking. He did an excellent job on it and just shot him an idea. I was like, hey, I have this design here. Take a look at it. Maybe prototype it for me or something. And he did. And that was the size, the original fixed blades version, and it came out perfect. Every little detail that he changed that I couldn't see when I was making my initial sketch, he caught it and it just happened. We didn't try for it. It just kind of fell into place. But it worked out. I mean, the thing is, the knives came out absolutely perfect, what I wanted it to look like, but couldn't get it there myself. And so we just kind of made a great team on that. As far as the folding knife goes itself, there really weren't too many challenges as far as trying to get it to close, necessarily. A lot of Pacals, you got to have like a curvy handle for it to sit right into the handle whenever it shuts. But with this, we didn't want to lose that handle shape. That is something we knew we wanted to keep just because the arch on the pummel and just how it feels in the hand all around. We did not want to lose that shape. And we started playing with it. And, yeah, through all his expertise on the CADS, he come up with a working version of it. And the funny thing is, I was actually shopping for OEMs, and at the time lefty, EDC was working with shielding on the very first growler and is the original black micarta growlers. And whatever happened there, basically, they absolutely killed it. On the prototypes for these, which on the original, you see the pocket clips are different. One's just a standard deep carry and the other is the wire clip. But this was the one we originally got, was the standard deep carry clip. And when they first arrived right out the box, it was absolutely perfect action, felt perfect in hand. The size, I mean, they absolutely nailed every aspect of it. And basically they liked it as well. And they kind of shared our vision for the knife. So they took a chance on it, and the rest is history. I mean, it just kind of fell into place.
Bob DeMarco [00:18:15]:
So in this one in particular, I couldn't tell, is this under the DC blades shingle or is this no shield side?
Justin Carvin [00:18:26]:
Actually, the folding side itself, we leased all rights to this to Shielded, and we collect a royalty share of it, but we help promote stuff like that, use our channels through that. And, yeah, pretty much. Like I said, they took a chance on this because not many companies really knew what Pacals were, so to speak, at the time. I mean, yeah, they're catching on. Certain people know what they are, but not everybody, and not a lot of people are willing to take a chance on something like this just because of how crazy it looks. It's a crazy idea. But needless to say, they actually shared our vision and took the chance and it paid off. So I'm just glad myself that we're able to put a budget, something that could save somebody's life, something that is small, compact, easy to conceal. It is not over $100. These things go for like, what, $65 to $67? Something like that, I believe. And it might can save your life one day. To me, that's enough. I don't need to make any money off this. I'm just happy to have the first budget Macau on the market.
Bob DeMarco [00:19:47]:
Yeah, and it's pretty cool, it seems to me, like, for a young company such as DC Blades, to have your first knife or a knife, one of your first knives licensed by a company. That's amazing because it gets your name out there. You do get paid for it in royalties, but they're assuming all the risk. And the fact that they made the Call Knives fly really means that you have a pretty good partnership with them.
Justin Carvin [00:20:17]:
Yeah, I cannot complain. They've been really easy to communicate with, and they haven't told me no on anything, any little detail. I said, hey, let's change this on this one, or let's change this last minute. They've been completely up. They trusted our vision as well as we've trusted them with our vision, so it's kind of taken off a little bit. And now, like I said, we've got three other variants coming out before the end of the year, including a titanium version. Do you have any of those?
Bob DeMarco [00:20:55]:
Do you have any of those to show?
Justin Carvin [00:20:57]:
Not yet. I should have them probably within the next month, and I'll be sure to get them to you.
Bob DeMarco [00:21:03]:
All right, so take us there. You released the scythe and it goes up on tell us how you sold it and tell us how that all went down.
Justin Carvin [00:21:14]:
All right, so we got pretty close to where they were coming out of production. They were boxing them up, stuff like that, and they hosted it. They have an Amazon account, like an Amazon store, so we put it on there as a presale, and I think it took like, three minutes and they were completely gone. They added, I think, another, like 100 units the next morning, and I think those lasted eight minutes. And then, yeah, we also sent a certain amount to White Mountain Knives. They just lasted a couple of hours over there. It's been really humbling, considering that our main goal was to put something in somebody's pocket that might be able to save their lives. We're not making a killing off these at all whatsoever, and that we don't want to. This is more basically a gift from us to the community, if you want to call it that. It's just more of a thank you, I guess, so to speak. But, yeah, the first two presales went out in less than ten minutes total, I think something like that, and think the other one lasted about 30 minutes, but there was more on that one. But yeah, other than that, it's kind of surprised us how good they have been selling, to be honest.
Bob DeMarco [00:22:45]:
It's a thank you. Sorry to interrupt you, but you say it's a thank you to the knife community, but I bet there are a lot in the knife community who want to thank you, and that was totally corny. But the reason I say that is because a lot of people want to support people they like, such as yourself. You're not only DC Blades, your tier one gear and EDC reviews from YouTube people know you. People like you, people want to support you. But it's not always easy when guys like us design knives, sometimes they come out real expensive because we love the fancy materials and then you can't support that guy. So I think it's really a great goal to put an awesome pickle style knife in people's hands. But I also think it has this nice side effect, the fact that you kept it within reach, that everyone gets to have one. Pretty much, yeah.
Justin Carvin [00:23:36]:
And that was our main goal. We wanted everybody to be able. Even the people that don't even like pacals, they just see it, think it looks funny, and want to try it. That's the reason for the price. We really want more people to try this out and just see how useful the actual pacal is for an everyday carry. I mean, it's still a sharp edge. You can't deny that.
Bob DeMarco [00:24:04]:
You mentioned Pinkerton's inversion earlier, and that knife is the know. I have the Emerson LVS love that knife. I have a bunch of know. But the inversion was the first one where I was like, oh, this really does make a great EDC. If you just hold it the way you hold a regular knives. That curve takes care of everything, puts the point where you need it, but then you can use it for other reasons. Now, have you gotten any feedback on any owners of the site as to how it's fit into their EDC or if it's come in handy in any way?
Justin Carvin [00:24:44]:
No crazy stories yet about it saving anybody's lives. But I have gotten a lot of videos and a lot of people share their reels that they make just cutting random stuff. I mean, I appreciate that. I enjoy the feedback. That's why I do it. And that's why I started my channel. You know, I I actually hate social media. I really do. I'm not going to lie, I hate social media. But the thing is, selling knives for as long as I did with the shop and everything, being able to help somebody choose the right knife for them is kind of one of my favorite things, honestly. Somebody goes to ask me a question in the comments, hey, what do you think about this knife compared to this? I actually enjoy telling them, well, hey, what do you do? What do you do for a living? You're going to just find out certain little things. And that's how I would sell stuff at the counter of my store. Just find out what they do for a living, just little things about them. And then I would help them choose their knife. Same things, just what? 30 years later and the fact that I'm still helping people is all I ask for. Might be corny to say that. I guess that's the type of person I am. But I enjoy helping other people, even though I don't know everything. I am not a knife expert by any means, but I have a lot of experience with knives and if that I can help somebody in their decision, buying a new knife, then, yeah, I'm completely happy.
Bob DeMarco [00:26:35]:
We all like to be useful. We all like to be and I know exactly where you're coming from, and I might even be the one to start the conversation. You need a pocket knife. Let's figure out which pocket knife. Glad you asked.
Justin Carvin [00:26:48]:
Yeah, I've always been like that for some reason. I don't know. It's a good feeling. It's a good feeling. Especially if that knife saved their life or helped them in a certain situation. It's a good feeling. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:27:03]:
And no doubt, the longer DC Blades exists and starts turning out more and more knives, the more you're going to hear about that, the longer your stuff is out in the world. I mean, I think that's a very interesting aspect of what you're doing and what other people do in making knives. Those things have a life once they leave your nest.
Justin Carvin [00:27:28]:
I say that all the time. Can you imagine where this will be 100 years from now? I mean, it's kind of weird to think about. This is going to be in somebody's drawer or somebody's toolbox or hopefully on somebody's hip.
Bob DeMarco [00:27:44]:
It's going to be in a lot better shape than you, my friend.
Justin Carvin [00:27:47]:
Yeah, exactly. These things, all of them will probably outlive me, and that's where I see the value in a lot of it, honestly, is you see something like this. This is the absolutely love this is the auxiliary yeah, auxiliary manufacturing. Wild card. Absolutely love this. Knives about $250, which might be expensive for some people. This thing's going to last me a lifetime.
Bob DeMarco [00:28:17]:
Yeah. Made by hand by Michael Jarvis. Made by hand. $200. We buy that, we spend that on a spider co. Yeah, exactly.
Justin Carvin [00:28:29]:
I mean, like you said, that thing is going to outlive me.
Bob DeMarco [00:28:32]:
Not to talk about another knife maker, but the auxiliary manufacturing is I love that stuff. He's making some really cool stuff.
Justin Carvin [00:28:41]:
Bob DeMarco [00:28:43]:
But so is old squirrel. And actually, before you and Old Squirrel linked up, his name is Chris. Chris Harrison. Right.
Justin Carvin [00:28:53]:
Bob DeMarco [00:28:54]:
Yep. Before the two of you hooked up, I've been following him for a while and then when I realized that he's the one who made the scythe, when you sent it to me, that was a cool little bit of I don't know, it was cool to see those.
Justin Carvin [00:29:08]:
Two things come together.
Bob DeMarco [00:29:12]:
I want to talk about the new design, but before we get there, I want to ask you a little bit about your collection. I mean, as I mentioned before, you've loaned things to me, but I have a feeling your collection is sprawling. What are the types of things that besides, what are the types of things you like to collect?
Justin Carvin [00:29:29]:
Honestly, I'm obsessed with fixed blades, like you said. I try and buy one from every new maker. If I find a new maker and I don't have something from them, I at least try and get something in my collection from them. Just not just supporting them as makers. But I really like to try everything. I guess I'm never satisfied with one particular knife, and even if it's my own, I'm not going to be satisfied with it. I'm always on the search for something new and the fact that Instagram actually kind of, how do you say, encourages that. It's hard to look on Instagram without wanting to spend money these days. But yeah, I mean, there's just so many makers out there. Little fixed blades is my thing. I just can't get enough of them.
Bob DeMarco [00:30:26]:
Yeah, Instagram is like the arch enabler. I have 35 seconds to kill here at work. While this thing uploads, let me take a look at what I can spend my money on. Oh, here's a New Yorker. But obviously you saw a need for the site folder and now you're working on a new folder. Tell us about that.
Justin Carvin [00:30:50]:
Yeah, well, I've always had a thing for clip points, bowie's in general. But this is the sito. And I wasn't sure a week ago if I was even going to name it that. But yeah, this is actually might be able to see this one better. This is the sat one sito.
Bob DeMarco [00:31:14]:
What does that mean?
Justin Carvin [00:31:15]:
Yep, it is a goddess. It is a Greek goddess of the ocean, basically like daughter of Gaia. So, yeah, the name of a Greek goddess, basically nice. But yeah, it's funny, Nick Stasa actually mentioned the other day how this kind of looked like the okay, it is a clip point, of course, but our inlays on the new J cape and this are identical almost. And that was completely by chance. Like, whenever I seen the new J cape come out, I about died and scrapped this whole project entirely. But we ran with it.
Bob DeMarco [00:32:04]:
It bears a resemblance to the J cape in that it's a clip point and it's a frame lock and that it's compound ground. But other than that, I never would have put that together. But I'm not familiar with the new inlay on the J cape.
Justin Carvin [00:32:22]:
You mentioned it. Honestly, I can't unsee it now even though it is my own design. But here's the thing. I actually modeled this after the birch tree blade works. Sakant Just the size and the specs. I absolutely love the size of that knife. One of my favorite knives. And we just basically took the specs and made our own handle and all that. Basically on the second, the handle basically separates your four fingers, basically two up front here towards the front choil, and then two basically kind of hang off at an angle. And we wanted to kind of replicate that without stealing it, of course. So we actually kind of separated the fingers a little bit more and kind of. Made it more like a three finger knife. But this little edge right here, your pinky actually kind of falls right off it and kind of feels like a bigger knife in hand. We really took a risk with this handle shape by doing so, but it came out absolutely perfect. I couldn't ask for a better size. I mean, it feels pretty good in the hands, especially. I don't have big, big hands, but I have long hands and the width of the knife and just everything came together really nicely.
Bob DeMarco [00:33:50]:
The way you're describing or not describing, but the way the pinky area looks, it looks very comfortable. It also looks like sometimes almost like it doesn't look anything like a yo Jimbo handle. But you know how a yojimbo handle tapers towards the end and you get that feeling that it's locked between your pinky and your forefinger? That's what it looks like. You get the same effect there. And I got to say, I applaud the not doing two and two finger partitions. The spock thing, that does drive me nuts. There are a couple of knives that I have that I've gotten used to. It like the Emerson sacks, but like the benchmade contigo I just could never get used to.
Justin Carvin [00:34:36]:
You know, some drive me absolutely insane. I guess I can go ahead and say this. We have a design that is fixing to be released with Tops. They are working on it right now. Yeah. And it is called the Medusa. And we actually have that handle on the design. We haven't got the prototype it. I actually sent them we were working on something else with them, and I sent them the design, and they were like, oh, yeah, well, we got to do this one too. So we're trying to prototype it right now and get everything ironed out. And it basically is the same kind of handle thing, but where it splits in the center. But Chris had actually ordered a few billets, and we had them made and had them I can't even think right now. The water jet. They had a water jet, and it came out just a little bit low. So we've been kind of trying to adjust it before we send it back to Tops. But the thing is, if we can get it right, I think it's going to be a pretty good little project.
Bob DeMarco [00:35:54]:
Justin Carvin [00:35:55]:
Bob DeMarco [00:35:56]:
Okay. You know, I love Tops knives, and it's exciting knowing your taste and also knowing that you're working with Tops. I don't know what it is, but it sounds good. And I love medusa. My older daughter tells me all the stories. She's read them all. They're cool. So Medusa, great name for it. That's exciting. I'm happy to hear that. Working with Tops. So you're working with an American company. Couldn't get more American than tops. And then working with Chinese. OEMs, that's kind of an interesting spread there. I don't talk to too many people who are doing both simultaneously. Anything you've noticed?
Justin Carvin [00:36:44]:
Well, I mean, we're still in the early stages with Tops. It basically came into fruition after Blade Show and everything's just starting to come together. I believe we're supposed to be unveiling the medusa or maybe the other project, I'm not sure. At Shot show in January. Not 100% on it, but that's what I'm told. As of now, I think they're going to be having their meetings, their yearly meetings in the next month and then I'll know everything by then. But yeah, it's kind of humbling, honestly, because me, I absolutely love Tops. To me, as far as a fixed blades designer goes, that's always been like the epitome for me. Tops, I mean, they make some of the best knives in the world that are in probably some of the worst locations in the world, just actually saving people's lives. So it's good to know that my knife is going to be right there with all those. It's actually really humbling.
Bob DeMarco [00:37:55]:
Yeah, I bet. I can imagine because I feel the same way about Thompson. For a long time they were that unattainable amazing military combat knife that one day I was going to get. Is working with Tops. Is it a faulty assumption to think that working with Tops is a much more immediate process because they're right here? Or is it just business is business and whether they're in China or in Idaho or Justin, business as usual, man.
Justin Carvin [00:38:26]:
It's just business as usual. We actually are trying to yeah, we are working with six manufacturers right now, total, all at various stages with different projects. So, yeah, I've kind of got a taste of everything here lately. Late night emails. I think I'm up till probably three, four in the morning every night, just answering emails. It's just the time difference and all that. It's kind of a pain in the ass. Whenever you have to answer an email, then wait till the next day to respond. Most of my business has been done at night recently, so yeah, it's been really interesting.
Bob DeMarco [00:39:22]:
Different. So the sito so that is not being made by Shielding, right? Who's making that?
Justin Carvin [00:39:28]:
Bob DeMarco [00:39:29]:
They make a nice knife. I mean, so does Shieldin, but we know a they kind of introduce themselves in a sort of higher yes, yes.
Justin Carvin [00:39:42]:
I call them the budget ri. That's what I call know. The funny part is it's the same material. So what does that tell you? But honestly, it's been really great working with Migron as well. Sam, he has a knack for knife making and a little bit of a language barrier there. But everything seems to have gone very smooth. And this isn't the only one. This is one of three projects that we are working on with them right now as well. Should have prototypes on the other two within the next month or two. Should be right behind each other as well. But yeah, it's actually been really great working with them and just the fact that really hands on every little aspect, sending me pictures, saying, hey, what do you think about this? Should we do this? Should we change this? And I appreciate that because I'm OCD to begin with, so I'm constantly wanting updates and it kind of worked out.
Bob DeMarco [00:40:52]:
So that's what it's like working with OEM. That's business. And I'm sure it can have its frustrations and that kind of thing, but business is business. But what I'm curious about now is the design side, because you form a partnership, a friendship, presumably with someone old squirrel, chris but you're also co designing, and that's very personal, I would imagine. What is that process like?
Justin Carvin [00:41:25]:
Well, the thing is, we just kind of kick off each other's ideas. We kind of come up with what style we think would be good for the current climate. Should I say current buyer's climate? With our Pacal, with our side, it was just overdue. It was time. I think I seen maybe, what, two or three other Pacals come out right around the same time, both folders. And we were like, look, these things are starting to pick up steam. Let's do it. And that's kind of where we're at as far as our other designs go. We're like, okay, we want to do a ton toe. We want to do sheep's foot, we want to do a worn cliff. So I kind of pitch a few ideas to him. He does the CAD work and stuff like that, which he's really good at. Of course, he's the machinist, so he does most of that work. But, yeah, a lot of the ideas, I guess, are mine, and then he kind of makes them come to life. So it's a really good thing we got going so far.
Bob DeMarco [00:42:42]:
It just occurred to me. Well, first of all, yeah, there's nothing like a successful creative partnership to bring out the best in people and get them to grow. I think it's pretty cool. Or it was a good idea to bring out a pecal folding Picol at that attainable price, not only because there was a space in the market for it, but because it is a strange blade shape. People might be curious, but not willing to spend $250 exactly to get behind the wheel of a Pacal. So this is a way to dabble and to see, and it could be the one and only they ever get. But damn, is it a unique, cool and useful knife. And then, heaven forbid, deadly if you need it to.
Justin Carvin [00:43:38]:
Is that it? Is that I think it was about six years ago, I think when I first sketched the size out, it was pretty much like I said, chris he basically redesigned the whole entire handle. But the blade I had originally done as a double edged. And basically we knew we weren't going to get a double edge into a folder, not without having the handle twice as big. And it wouldn't have the same blade shape, it wouldn't be the size. It would have to be a completely different model. But basically, we knew we wanted to at least, if not, maybe OEM them if we did not get a deal with, like, Shielding or something. But the way it kind of worked out with Shielding is they were looking to basically how do I say they're trying to reinvent Shielding. They're a manufacturer. They manufacture all types of stuff, but they were basically wanting to focus more on EDC related items. So we kind of just right place, right time, and yeah, basically, we weren't even expecting to get this started as soon as we did, but the way it all worked out, I can't complain.
Bob DeMarco [00:45:10]:
So do you mean, like, Shielding was looking to rebrand Shield? Wait, does Shield and they make a bunch of stuff outside of knives? Is that what you're saying? Yes. Okay. Yes.
Justin Carvin [00:45:21]:
They make, like, multi tools and phone cases and stuff like that. And they really wanted to shift focus more to EDC related stuff. So, like I said, it was kind of a right place, right time.
Bob DeMarco [00:45:34]:
And maybe they were also looking for some collaboration because that gives them some clout, too. Look at what we're doing with these.
Justin Carvin [00:45:40]:
Guys over and, you know, they've got what, jelly? Jerry? I don't know. I always say that background. Dirk Pinkerton got a couple knives together with them, I think five or six other well known designers that they picked up to help them relaunch the brand. So, I mean, they definitely found the right strategy. So to I actually dirt pinkerton. And me and Chris DC Blades were actually having another the. I don't know if I sent you the image earlier. I don't know if it went through.
Bob DeMarco [00:46:25]:
You sent me four images. Two of them were the sito, but there was a folding pecal, and then there was a waved sort of scimitar kind of okay.
Justin Carvin [00:46:39]:
The pacal that is a collaboration with Dirt Pinkerton and prototypes should be here probably about a month, if that okay.
Bob DeMarco [00:46:50]:
You know, Justin, he's one of my all time favorites, as a matter of fact. I just happen to have this right in front of me. I love his work. You, him and Chris. That sounds like a match. What do they call a thruffle? Made in heaven.
Justin Carvin [00:47:11]:
Bob DeMarco [00:47:13]:
That's a pretty forceful group there.
Justin Carvin [00:47:16]:
Yeah, and we're actually making them the protos in the same style as we did the C toes, the black satin, and not sure if that's what we're going to offer for the actual production run. We're probably going to have a few different options, but the prototypes will be in black and satin like this. And like I said, we should have them within a month. And of course, I'll make sure it comes straight to you whenever they arrive, but I'm really looking forward to that. One. I've told a few people that's probably going to be my magnum opus right there. I'm pretty proud of that one.
Bob DeMarco [00:47:58]:
Well, magnum opus sort of implies that you're done after that because it can't get any better. So I would say that is the first of a line of masterpieces that's Justin called.
Justin Carvin [00:48:13]:
I tell you what, if I can beat it, I will surprise myself because I think it's going to be pretty special.
Bob DeMarco [00:48:19]:
It is beautiful. And I'm pretty sure we might have that image. Is that something you'd be willing to show off?
Justin Carvin [00:48:27]:
Bob DeMarco [00:48:27]:
Okay. If Jim has it, I'm pretty sure I may have sent it to him, but it was a long day, so if he has it, the folding will float it up on screen. It is beautiful. It looks very cool. The handle is notably different from the Scythe handle. They have the same purpose self defense folding pacal style knife. But this one that is in Prototyping right now, has a more contoured, more full handed handle. It looks like inversion. Like the inversion? Yeah.
Justin Carvin [00:49:04]:
I used aspects from the inversion when putting it together and basically I do a little bit send it to Dirt, see what he thought. Chris, that's what we landed on. And you can really see the inversion handle in it, but know, we have the actual thumb rest on the pond and everything.
Bob DeMarco [00:49:28]:
I love the thumb rest.
Justin Carvin [00:49:30]:
And we actually place the clip. It's not going to be a deep carry clip. It's just going to be a standard pocket clip. It's going to sit actually high enough out the pocket to where you should be able to clip that pummel with your finger and deploy the knife right into the reverse grip.
Bob DeMarco [00:49:48]:
Sweet. We can get carried away with deep carry clips, man, to the point where it's like you're not hiding anything. People can still see the damn clip. It doesn't need to be down in my pocket. And when it's so far, I mean, I like a deep carry clip as much as the next guy, but if it's too deep in there, you're pinching it. It's staying in your pocket anyway.
Justin Carvin [00:50:08]:
It's like the c code. We thought about deep carry clip on it and I was like, no.
Bob DeMarco [00:50:15]:
Justin Carvin [00:50:16]:
Too much to try and dig out your pocket.
Bob DeMarco [00:50:18]:
Well, no, then a year later, or six months later, then you come out with the deep carry pocket clip and then make people buy those too.
Justin Carvin [00:50:27]:
There you go. There you go. That's exactly what I'll do.
Bob DeMarco [00:50:31]:
Oh, man. I like it. So this is exciting. So you got six designs currently in the works in various stages of development.
Justin Carvin [00:50:39]:
Bob DeMarco [00:50:40]:
So when I was in the more.
Justin Carvin [00:50:41]:
Than six, there's six different manufacturers.
Bob DeMarco [00:50:45]:
Six different manufacturers working on more than six knives.
Justin Carvin [00:50:49]:
Bob DeMarco [00:50:50]:
Okay, well, pretty good. Let me ask you this, and hopefully this isn't too personal a question, but when you're working on that many designs, is it assumed that some of them are licensed and some of them you're paying for or do you pay for? Okay.
Justin Carvin [00:51:05]:
Yes. We're oeming the stuff with Migron. All the Megron stuff is going to be OEM. And yeah, the other ones, we're doing royalty deals. So we have probably close to ten projects that will be royalty deals and six that are OEM. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:34]:
You guys are on fire.
Justin Carvin [00:51:35]:
Well, we're coming out swinging, man. That's the only way.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:39]:
Agreed. Agreed. Bob Turzuola talked about that when he was on the show. As mailbox money, the royalties. There are some things that you put everything into, and then there are some things that you design and you put your artistic all into, but then you let them fly the coupe and they live their own life with bigger on or whomever.
Justin Carvin [00:52:07]:
The great part about it is brands like Tops. If that knife is popular, it's probably going to sell for the next ten years, however long they decide they want to make it.
Bob DeMarco [00:52:20]:
Especially with a place like Tops that maintains such a huge inventory of active designs. And it seems like with your usage, first of all, with the sort of bend towards the self defense, but also with the love of EDC and medium sized fixed blade knives. I mean, Tops has a huge catalog of those. And that's one of the reasons I love them, is because you can always get your fix on that side.
Justin Carvin [00:52:50]:
Yeah, 100%. Have you tried the new MSK folder?
Bob DeMarco [00:52:55]:
I have not. No, I haven't. I like that it's a clip point now.
Justin Carvin [00:53:00]:
It's nicer. Is it nicer? Yes. I love it.
Bob DeMarco [00:53:04]:
Still made in Italy.
Justin Carvin [00:53:06]:
Bob DeMarco [00:53:07]:
Justin Carvin [00:53:12]:
I tell you what. I bought it probably, I don't know, about a month ago, and it's been one of my most carried since. Not just because I like tops. It's kind of like the Ocaso standard. It's just a really good neutral design. It's a knife. It's not super flashy with the design. It's a sharp edge, comfortable handle. And what more can you really ask for? Honestly?
Bob DeMarco [00:53:46]:
Yeah. So you've got, I guess we'll call it close to 16 maybe projects in various states of development, stages of development, to say, in the film industry. But as time goes on and DC Blades goes on, what do you see as your ultimate knife from your perspective right now? What is that thing down the road you would love to be responsible for designing and building?
Justin Carvin [00:54:15]:
Honestly, I would like to do and yeah, it might sound corny, but an.
Bob DeMarco [00:54:25]:
OTF picAll that doesn't sound corny.
Justin Carvin [00:54:28]:
Yeah. Not just a standard OTF pacal, but something that can deploy straight from the reverse grip. I'm really big on that. The dagger knives, OTF mermaid.
Bob DeMarco [00:54:43]:
Did you ever get to see that? Only in videos. I didn't see it in real life.
Justin Carvin [00:54:47]:
It has two buttons. One, when you hold the knife like this, flip it up, then it's got one down here. I absolutely love that. And if I can ever incorporate that into a fatal, then 100% I will. I don't know anything about designing OTFs at this point. If I ever can, I will.
Bob DeMarco [00:55:11]:
That sounds like an amazing challenge for a lot of reasons. One of them being, and this is something that you see on the site that I really love, is the weird angle from the handle. And that's to accommodate a back fist or a hammer fist. And it puts that point where you need it to be without. So how you would get that in an OTF, that is the big challenge because presumably the handle goes one way, the blade goes another. But you might see some I'm sorry, I keep interrupting you, Justin, but in the pacal you were holding up before by auxiliary. That does something interesting where it's kind of straight, but also kind of does that curve thing. So there are design solutions out there to those who want them.
Justin Carvin [00:56:02]:
Yeah, and I have a couple of things sketched out I have a couple of things sketched out that are kind of similar to this. I definitely don't want to bite off his style or anything, but they do have a straight spine like this and inwards edge. But I really want something a little more curvy. I really want to make that challenge worth it, actually.
Bob DeMarco [00:56:28]:
Well, we look forward to seeing you crack that code. Okay, so let me ask you about DC Blades then. So we know your dream build is an out the front pick. All. What about DC Blades? How do you want to see DC Blades evolve over time?
Justin Carvin [00:56:45]:
Honestly, just still running would be perfectly happy to be just us being able to. Just us being able to. I'm not one of those people that are really money hungry, so to speak. I can get by me on the absolute bare minimum. So as long as we're actually providing for our families from it and putting good knives in people's pockets, I'm happy with that, man.
Bob DeMarco [00:57:21]:
Yes, I love that. I love the idea of making a tool, putting it out in the world, know, knowing the good that will be done from it. Justin, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming on the knife jumping podcast. And like we said before, it's been a long time coming and it's been a real pleasure.
Justin Carvin [00:57:40]:
Yeah, dude, I appreciate you having me on.
Bob DeMarco [00:57:42]:
There he goes. Ladies and gentlemen, Justin Carvin. Of tier one gear and EDC reviews, but even more so DC Blades. I know that the Scythe folding scythe was a huge hit, sold out, as he mentioned really quickly, but have it on good word. There are more in the works, so keep your eyes peeled for Scythe in the future, including those made with premium materials. All right, be sure to join us again next Sunday for another great interview, as well as Wednesday for the midweek supplemental and Thursday for Thursday Night Knives, right here on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch at 10:00 p.m.. Eastern Standard Time. 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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