Matt Martin of Vehement Knives — The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 84)
Matt talks about his journey in knife making, which included making a move, as well as the lows and highs of making knives. He also has an interesting perspective of selling out of his knives in under 10 minutes, why he chose one purveyor to sell his production knives and the one book that helped him begin his career.
He and Bob also discuss several knives specifically, including the MACV SOG Knife, the Grunt and the Tunnel Rat.Matt Martin of Vehement Knives joins Bob DeMarco on Episode 84 of The Knife Junkie Podcast to talk about knives, knife making and more! Click To Tweet
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Matt Martin 0:00
let's not kid ourselves and think that we're anything more than what we actually are. We're not important to society we're not celebrities, but you get that moment of feeling like a rock star when your ship flies off the shelves and that is just a it's a good feeling and it is what I would say is it's not anywhere near relaxing. I feel like now we have to live up to so it's like every night has to be better than the last otherwise people will be like guys resting on his laurels you know
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your hosts Jim Person and Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco
Jim Person 0:46
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast episode number 84. I'm Jim Person and I'm Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco, welcome to the show. The Knife Junkie podcast is the place for knife newbies like myself and Knife Junkie Like you to learn all about knives and knife collecting and hear from knife designers, knife makers, knife manufacturers, YouTube knife reviewers, anyone who loves knives. That's what we're all about here on the knife junkie podcast and our Sunday weekend show is the interview show Bob a knife maker we're going to hear from today.
Bob DeMarco 1:18
Yeah, Matt Martin of vehement knives. He's a guy who came onto my radar screen through bark river knives. You know, I love those knives and I love Mike Stewart's videos and the bark river shop tour videos. And then he started popping up in them here in there because he collaborated on a number of knives with bark river knives. And I loved the work they were doing. The first one that I saw from Matt Martin was the Mac v SOG. knife, a classic combat bowie knife. And anyway, he makes a lot of really beautifully interpreted modern versions of classic combat knives. And I had Talk to him. And you did. Yeah, we at length.
Jim Person 2:04
We're going to hear that interview in just a second. But first I need to ask you a favor if you're listening. We'd like for you to do us a favor. And if you're liking the podcast, tell somebody about it could be by carrier pigeon, word of mouth,
Bob DeMarco 2:20
Jim Person 2:21
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ever stop a knife again, even though it gets no real use. face up to what you are. You're a Knife Junkie.
Bob DeMarco 2:50
I'm here with Matt Martin of vehement knives of Michigan. He is a fixed blade combat knives specialist. I would say he makes some of the most beautiful comments. Inspired knives out there today Matt Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast it's great to have you
Matt Martin 3:05
Oh thanks for having me. It's a big honor to be honest with you guys.
Bob DeMarco 3:08
You came onto my radar safe two or three years back watching one of the mike Stewart videos you know what's new from bark river and I had heard of you guys before but but kind of seeing it in that video kind of mainstreamed you for me. It was a combat knife it was the Mac v SOG. And you got to tell me where where did your love for combat knives come from?
Matt Martin 3:32
Well, I mean we can put a finer point on it even still with just the Mac v SOG profile. I mean that is there are lines I can't remember his rank I want to say was a major Baker, the original designer of the Mac v SOG. Back in the 60s, but there are lines on that knife that are unparalleled. I think in the rest of the combat knife world there's a lot of style put into something at a time when people were focused on K bar maybe Mark tues even Randall model ones and This thing just comes out of left field. And it's got this menacing profile it has curb appeal that hadn't been seen yet. So as a kid coming up in the knife world surrounded by sock specialty knives that I couldn't afford, you'd see him in the mall in the glass case. That was what I wanted to achieve when I started filing away steel and trying to replicate this very complex shape. So going back to we had a joke OFF AIR about Moby Dick. That was my white whale. How do I capture the lines of the song profile and to this day, I still haven't put a harpoon in that bastards back.
Bob DeMarco 4:35
So it was the Mac v SOG. In particular, that kind of launched you on your on your knife making. I'm not going to call it a journey your life in knife making.
Matt Martin 4:45
It's a journey. But yeah, it is also the life in 100% I would say 100% that was the knife that jumped out at me that I always wanted to be able to capture that level of style, not necessarily replicate that life as I mature. As a maker that that level of,
Bob DeMarco 5:02
well I fell in love with the Mac v SOG. early in life as well. I saw it in two movies in particular. The first one was a movie called uncommon valor where you know a group of misfits get back go back to Vietnam to rescue their buddies like a mid 80s movie
Matt Martin 5:18
with Randall "Tex" Cobb he's got a hand grenade around his neck. Yes, sir. Yes,
Bob DeMarco 5:23
yeah. And there's a there's a scene where they're they're prepping for their mission and they're all kind of showing one guy's you know, showing off his his hand to hand skills one guy shown his explosive skills. This other guy's showing people how to how to take out a century and he creeps up on one of his buddies and he pulls out the the the SOG six inch you know, Mac v SOG of that knife and, you know, stick it in the back of the head and scramble the brain. I remember that was shocking for a 12 year old to hear however old I was, and then I saw it in Terminator two, when she jams it in the table. I'm like, What is that spectacular knife with those peaks. It's the peaks on the back. In their eyes bordering on superfluous to the design, it doesn't help it perform any function but boy does it just give that knife of look like you said it's memorable and uncommon valor it's memorable and T two and there it is. There's that. So I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the swale and the two peaks actually do have or could have I don't know if they had a purpose in the original design of it, but they can be used in reverse grip for trapping. If you're if you're doing something where you're kind of grabbing someone else's arm to immobilize them and you trap it between your arm and the back of the blade those those swells up if you will help retain that arm.
Matt Martin 6:42
I agree with that wholeheartedly. Sometimes I wonder and I know there's a term that I'm forgetting before we put purpose after the fact. idea when I was doing knife combative, combative straighting under the hood, I'll go Academy. That was something that we focus a lot on obviously the warrior knife, the Alomar, one You're from the same school of knife combatives and it's a lot of inverted grip basing a lot of trapping and stuff in the techniques. So I agree with that. It's something that I subscribed parenthetically with the D on the end putting it in past tense. But I, I don't know if that was the initial intent. I think it's just something we as knife guys picked up on and gravitated towards.
Bob DeMarco 7:23
It's like the military they have backronym like Patriot missile. I will bet you it was named Patriot missile before they figured out what those letters stood for.
Matt Martin 7:33
Bob DeMarco 7:35
So you started filing away literally started. You were inspired by the Mac v SOG. And explain what happened after that and how you came to now be a knife maker of acclaim.
Matt Martin 7:48
I can't speak to that part. I think it's dumb luck and obstinance you know, some amount of stubbornness just to not give up when you're making garbage, nice shaped objects and then be like, no, this is this is getting cool. You just haven't seen how bad it was when I started. That's I think that's really how that goes. But as far as everything else went, I ordered one book I ordered how to make knives with Bob loveless and Richard Varney, you know, Busta Rhymes keys in there and everything to this was the book, it was a tome, something important to me. And that's kind of where it all kicked off. I realized it was so much more to the knife world that was it my local mall, in those five glass cases. That's when the veil came off of the rabbit hole opened up.
Bob DeMarco 8:33
Okay, so I look at all of your knives now. And then I see daggers and I see drop point kind of pilot looking knives and I saw a recurve tanto. A while back, what is what is the underlying theme of all these knives?
Matt Martin 8:49
It's a pretty complex question. without it being we really specialize in what we call field knives. But if you look into our back catalogue, you're going to see some things a little bit more outrageous. Or To be honest, if you see a picture of a knife that I made on any given day where I was like, Hey, I'm possessed by Raja Bell and I just want this big sexy but nasty recurve for no other reason that I want the challenge of grinding it and finishing it and making it pop. I'll be completely Frank right here. I'm really not one of these like a mall Ninja, everybody's stabbing target. That's not really who I am. In nor do I feel like I'm a constant target where I need to defend myself with a bladed instrument all the time. In fact, my number one defense blade is a paramilitary to that I keep in my pocket. It's also my number one Amazon box opening blade and my number one apple peeling blade. So when it comes to our patterns, they're fun. And there's something about the knife that is a tool, but be when you get into the higher end. It's just fun. And it just appeals to people's aesthetic. They see it they go man that night gives me a feeling that knife reminds me of watching uncle Baba beller with my dad on Saturday morning sitting on brown carpet and they want to relive that experience through something tangible and I think that's the service if you want to call it at night because provide
Bob DeMarco 10:11
in particular I think I just sort of realized as you were talking your knives do something do a great service to these classic design cues from old military and field knives but they upgrade them in not just in materials and in attention to detail because they're handmade but also in design, you know you are tweaking, you are not just taking old patterns and and just making them in new materials. You are changing the designs to the daggers are really something else in that in that sense. So I mean to me, you're taking these classic knives and your classic come up a bit. You know I have this old K bar that I love but you know I scrutinize it and there are things that are left lots of things that are off you know, it was machine made for for Service quick and and so that's what happens but you're taking these things in classroom on puppet
Matt Martin 11:05
that's like Sir Isaac Newton, you know standing on the shoulders of giants and so it's easy to pick the ball up where wasn't even fumbled. It was just resting in the end zone for decades and I walked by and I pick it up and I'm able to walk it back to the opposite ends and so it that's a very easy thing and it's just little baby exercises we go through like how can we make this more contemporary more appealing to today's market but still have that? That attachment that nostalgic attachment that our customers are looking for?
Bob DeMarco 11:37
So how does your shop work is it how many benefits
Matt Martin 11:40
helping you out?
Unknown Speaker 11:43
I my wife does all the weather work. I've actually dealt with leather work longer than I've been doing it for it but at some point nice took priority and I didn't want to do anymore so she does. She has her own companies in vendor leather works and she does all of our shoes as well as I mean, five, six days a week custom work for other customers also. And then we have one shop and Jane, we've been through a few, I would say that we hit the biggest home run with this guy. And he's kind of like a cricket in Times Square, I can show him something once. He can repeat the process, the only places that I'm not very eager to give up the reins are going to be in the actual bevel grinding. And in the kind of rudimentary handle shaping, he can finish the map that I lay out the handle shape, but neither one of us wants him to do the rough shaping as of now
Bob DeMarco 12:36
Okay, okay, so then take take me through, take me through the birth of a knife as a design through, you know, so it hasn't even been designed yet through production
Unknown Speaker 12:47
The entire thing can be summed up in one word, and that word is obsession. So it could be a movie, it could be a book, it could be anything I tell you, I've read Churchill's secret warriors and that's by Daniel Lewis. And in that they talk about the beginning of the OSS basically as we know it now is this special boat service when it started and or is he so we for Britain knows us and America but the special boat service and Anders Lassen period of fair being sucks well that knife got so burned into my head, even though I appreciated the knife previously, that I had to go to the shop and make it so in that now we begin the process now we begin the design process. So that's hours of sketching and handier with an eraser that I am a pencil when it comes to making the designs and then we start off with a basic custom knife and start with a bar steel, precision ground set up to screw with it and trace that pattern onto the knife.
Bob DeMarco 13:48
I'm sorry, back up you said I prefer precision ground because I don't like to screw with it. What does that mean has a non knife my ground? I don't know.
Matt Martin 13:54
Okay, yeah. When you receive material from the mill, it's going to have a middle skin on it and milski Some cats leave on which I think is inappropriate. Speaking euphemistically, but, but some people like myself like to have that bright steel revealed, and it has to be surface ground to a specific dimension. And that means that my, my steel is completely flat. By the time I receive it, by the time we go to make it into a knife, it's precision ground to thickness. And that's what I do, you know that so that's the first step is either I have a surface grinder, they have a surface Grindhouse, or I can order the steel ground from the gotchu. If that makes sense. Yes, to Father God. And then from there, it's just, I mean, this is where it gets into work. I think all knife makers do the same shit. I don't know where those are. But you draw the knife on the cars do you blank it out with a grinder and then you you turn it into something that's gonna last you near anybody we've ever talked to.
Bob DeMarco 14:56
So from knife to knife, each one is hand Made soup to nuts. So even though you're you might be replicating the same design, say your version of the fairborn Sykes or or the Mac v SOG. Each one is going to be a little bit unique because it's been cut out from a blank from the start. Is that what you're saying?
Unknown Speaker 15:17
You can ask my mom or my wife, inherently flawed individuals. So yes, every knife is going to be different from one to the other because I'm not a machine. And even on our midtech knows, I still hand grind those but we get a waterjet we have the machine, but even those are going to have variances from life. I might be hung over that. Maybe I'll make it right to itself but I honestly I have never hung my hat on consistency. Just because it's like a fingerprint people should be able to pick up their knife blindfolded and know that it's their knife because they grew up familiar to that handle shape or that balance.
Bob DeMarco 15:55
Yeah, yeah, that was that was Spoken like a true artists make it right to itself. Yes, like internal logic of a movie. It's, you know, it's a lunkhead who sits there says this isn't real. This is so unrealistic. It's like well, either the movie maker hasn't done this job and there's no internal logic or you're alone head. And so what you're saying is, you are not a machine. You're not trying to replicate each time. You're going for the best example in that steel of that knife at that time.
Matt Martin 16:24
Hundred percent. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco 16:25
So when you decide when you come up with a new knife, a new knife design, for instance, the runt was a big one. Is that is the runt a?
Matt Martin 16:36
There's a G in front of that "r". Oh, grunt
Bob DeMarco 16:41
Oh, dude, I'm sorry.
Matt Martin 16:42
Oh, you should see the look on your face. It was such an epiphany.
Bob DeMarco 16:45
Yeah, I wrote I
Bob DeMarco 16:46
wrote it down is run because it's little. How do you like them apples? grunt I'm gonna I'm gonna write this down. So with the grunt it was that a midtech because that that is one that I've been Seen get a wider distribution.
Unknown Speaker 17:03
It started as a customer as they do, and it came a bit tech and to be honest, it's one of our earliest designs. In my opinion, it's a pretty mature design. I'm surprised that it got the traction that it got. And we are going to be reintroducing a new version with you know, kind of this year's design, if you will. We're going to scoop it up a little bit my opinion and but yeah, it's it's a midtech now, and I do believe midtech it will stay because people seem to really enjoy that model. It but the fun part is is even on a midtech It doesn't mean you can't take that extra collective out and give it that custom finish. And I think that's what people appreciated that price.
Bob DeMarco 17:44
do you think that if one of your other designs took off, like say the grunt did, but that knife was, say a larger, more complex affair? Would you be more likely to want to see the That just be a mid tech thing. And, and then you save for the lower numbers, you do all that stuff yourself,
Unknown Speaker 18:08
you know, at this stage in my career, what I want to do, and this is going to get into the weeds a little bit as I have a tendency to do, but at this stage in my career, I would like to wake up, have a cup of coffee, design a knife, prototype that knife, maybe make a small run of not exceeding 50 of them, and then move it into midtech and that way, we have that bread and butter coming in all the time. And that affords me the opportunity. This is gonna sound very San Franciscan but to be creative, you know what I mean? And to kind of just do that thing that I like to do those, those 16 hour Nuys, I don't get the money out of it. I'm not comfortable getting the money out of but if I can build that, that process in where we can midtech it all of a sudden now it's a product that people are happy with, but the Passion is already on to the next bottle or the next.
Bob DeMarco 19:03
I see you're right. Yeah, the you do not want to lose the fire in your belly because you keep getting orders for something I got a guy get keep making more of this damn knife. I'm so sick of this knife, but I keep getting these orders. Yes, that seems like, Well, that seems like the way that to remain fresh, right? You you gauge the popularity of a custom. If it seems like a reasonable risk, you have a mid tech made of that and you move on and see what what might catch on next to
Unknown Speaker 19:28
100%. Ultimately, my goal is to have a small but mighty, a team of mid tech makers where I can go in and put out fires answer questions may be performed, the more difficult tasks of the build or the more complicated tasks on the bill. And otherwise, it's fairly autonomous. And these guys are making knives in the Vehement building under the Vehement brand to the Vehement standards. And at the same time, I'm at the drafting table or I'm on my own grinder, making the next one making sure that these guys have job security ahead of them too.
Bob DeMarco 19:59
Yes. Yeah, well, let me ask you this. How did you meet Mike Stewart he kind of seems to have mastered that process over and over again Actually, he seems like a great sort of mentor.
Unknown Speaker 20:12
You know, we wouldn't even be in Michigan if it wasn't for like the rest of his family. She reached out to me one day, unsolicited on one of the bazillion you know, knife groups on Facebook. And he said, Hey, why don't you come out here and kind of see how we do things. And he introduced me to our complete distributor network. We were in with Blue Ridge knives because of Mike we became very close friends with their quote of nice ship for us now passed away. Very unfortunately there because actually, when we moved up here, him and his wife Wendy brought Chinese food dinner to our house on the first night. So I mean, and then of course, Jason down at DLT trading, and through that process, I mean, like just contacted me on Facebook. And then here we are. There's a lot of yada yada yada between those two margins, but it was unreal. And he shed a lot of light on it. I learned a lot of design cues from him from him because Mike is a historian. First and foremost, that's so I would say that I met Mike at the perfect time in my career, I've met him too early, I wouldn't have cut my teeth, and I'd be strictly on his coattails. And if I met him too late, I'd be too much like him to ever listen to him.
Matt Martin 21:31
Yeah, it was it was just a perfect storm. And we're very grateful to the
Bob DeMarco 21:35
perfect timing. He's uh, He's, uh, he just seems like such a cool character. You know, I watch his videos and and i watch and watch the videos from around the shop. It just seems like a really cool outfit. Large and small, kind of at the same time. You know?
Matt Martin 21:50
It has that feeling you get when you're inside the walls. You're like, this is a hell of an operation. And then it's also you're answering every message on Facebook. All right. A very large and small well book.
Bob DeMarco 22:02
Bob DeMarco 22:04
Mike Stewart was the guy who started blackjack cutlery is that right and then and then they sold it it got sold and and but I managed to score a blackjack model one dash seven I think it is it's kind of like their Randall
Matt Martin 22:20
The only black jack I have buddy
Bob DeMarco 22:22
Yeah. With the with the yellow micarta handle you know that oh god man, that is a man. I love that knife and it's so bark River. It's nice and convex ground. So when you collaborated with them on the Mac v SOG. Was that your first collaboration with them?
Matt Martin 22:39
Bob DeMarco 22:41
So on that I remember. I was curious. I was like, will this have a convex grind? And and it did. And it's not surprising because bark river knives does an amazing convex grind so incredibly sharp but also robust at the same time. But what kind of design changes did you have to take your work through or do you have to take your work through when you do collaborations?
Matt Martin 23:09
How do I
Unknown Speaker 23:16
swing for it I there isn't much outside of what makes Vehement knives Vehement Knives is what makes our knives what I my opinion and the feedback that I've gotten from our customers and supporters and everything is in the details, right? So on our choices, they're going to be fully radius they're going to be mere polish, there's going to be this this lock to your hand when you hold certain things. So what we do is we give bark river, the design, I spend, I don't know four 610 hours with their engineers to put it into CAD. I help them you know, develop the design process but I don't short anything or have to alter anything. When it comes to design. It's how far bark rubber Takes within you know, a reasonable ability to turn a profit to finish the night and if they don't spend the extra three hours per knife that's their prerogative. You know, you don't you don't dumb it down for them in any means they're very capable but it's in those little nuances that you'll see the diff erence between a bark river back macv sog and a Vehement knives macv sog
Matt Martin 24:21
so it's just the time spent on every individual knife
Bob DeMarco 24:24
got you got
Bob DeMarco 24:25
you because yeah, I mean it's a more intimate process in your shop at the moment. So I don't know if this is you know, something that most fixed blade makers encounter but I'm sure this is a question you hear all the time what about folders? And and when I asked you that I'm not just saying your knife maker you have to make folders to be relevant. What I'm because there are people who actually feel that way, by the way, but what I'm actually saying is there are some knives now bless George has made a few and and these are knives that are folders but are evocative of knives from a different era with all of the updated kind of style cues. Rick Hinderer does it with his ex ma teens in the in the Parker rising and the end the walnut stock he uses it seems like fertile ground that's what I'm getting at especially with sort of resurgence in the last five to seven years of people's love for traditional knives, you know, be that hunting knives or, or slip joints, that kind of thing. How would you see a vehement folder what what would that unit what would it look like?
Matt Martin 25:35
Clipoint lock back
Bob DeMarco 25:38
tell me how you really feel.
Unknown Speaker 25:40
That's look like I've got a ton of sketches. It's a little race stuff, but you know, carrying the same paradigm that we have with the fixed blades, it has to have that the storage it to it. It's not it's not a book 110 folder, it's a VM at night, if that makes you feel like you're holding a buck 110 folder. Without any of the inconveniences that come with a Buck 110 folder. So that's, that's really where we're at. And the only reason we haven't touched on it, I mean, I have the designs drawn. I've even tried to get them midtech with let's say machine shops to deal with those companies are unreliable at best, right? until you find that sweetheart and then you never let them out of your sight. But as it sits right now, I'm still on Tinder. But I know I honestly we have this albatross hanging around our neck, which is the queue we have a backlog. We have an accepted orders in earnest since 2016. And I'm very proud to announce that we are within 39 I'm sorry, closer to 40 about 39, 38 knives, but we're in the 30s from exhausting that queue that we've been carrying for years. And so it's it's like once that's done, we start making knives again, new remodels and I get that breathing room. I get that living space. Then I will circle back to folders but as it sits right now, I mean holy hell ... humblebrag if you will just we just dropped 125 knives on DLT trading calm, and they sold sold out in less than 10 minutes.
Bob DeMarco 27:19
Unknown Speaker 27:19
Yeah, that's so I don't need to make folders.
Bob DeMarco 27:23
Dude, that's that's funny because you're you just said that I'm like, Oh, I started writing down dlt
Bob DeMarco 27:29
go check out dlt Yeah, right.
Bob DeMarco 27:32
Well, I'll tell you what, man hey you snooze, you lose. That's that's pretty awesome man congratulations. That's like, you know, having a record and and, and touring and having it sell out. I me an, you know and it
Unknown Speaker 27:42
Bob it is, it totally is. I mean, look, if you saw Bob loveless in line at the grocery store at any given moment, he'd be an old man and a funny hat. So let's not shoot ourselves and think that we're anything more than what we actually are. We're not important to society. We're not celebrities, but you get that moment of feeling like a rock star when you're Shit flies off the shelves. And that is just a it's a good feeling. And it is what I would say is it's not anywhere near relaxing. I like now we have to live up to that. Like every night has to be better than the last. Otherwise people will be like He's resting on his laurels, you know? And I can't have that.
Bob DeMarco 28:21
Yeah, well, it's a judge now. This experience is a judge judging you. You know, how are you going to come out with this next patch? How good is it going to be It better be as good or better than the last so yeah, your success is is looming over you judging you. But you know what, you know, you need the good thing to strive for. You need the scary thing to run from two what model was that? That sold in 10 minutes? Was that the runt
Bob DeMarco 28:43
the grunt right. Yeah,
Matt Martin 28:45
he's got a speech impediment. He can't pronoucs "G's" in the front of words.
Bob DeMarco 28:50
I thought it was silent.
Matt Martin 28:51
It is. It's Scandinavian
Unknown Speaker 28:55
It was a tunnel rat. So we we've had multiple successful drops at the tunnel rat. Sub 10 minutes on every drop that we've done, sell through grunts perform equally as well. Although it's been so long since I've delivered a batch of drugs that I have no idea
Bob DeMarco 29:13
right? The tunnel rat though described that knife.
Matt Martin 29:17
It's a you know what, I'll give you the history of that night I went to we used to attend every single Park river grind and even we live in Colorado. And I came up and I fell in love with the blackjack model 15 jet pilot or air or something of that effect. And I found a blank and Mike knows that of a scavenger and you almost has to check my pockets when I go to this. But But I walked into Mike's office and I said hey, I found a 1516 you know jet pilot night. I'm going to take this blank and go make it into something else. I just liked kind of the silhouette of cast. And so I took that knife and I reground it and I changed the guard and a change the handle and and I brought it back to Mike and it goes oh this is awesome. He's like that was a terrible Silly night for us that's going to be a home run for you with these. Wow. And so at that point he got the blessing from the current owner of the blackjack label. Even though Mike still makes all the noise there's a brand you know that that is owned by another party and he said hey can Matt use the waterjet profile for this to make his own and you know, the gentleman said oh hundred percent no problem. And that was kind of how it was born. So again, even more contemporarily I saw a classic knife and I grabbed it and I altered it to make it our own and then it became what it is.
Bob DeMarco 30:37
I love how you altered the blade. And I think it might be knowing what the name is but it definitely looks like the kind of blade you put in your teeth and you know while you're while you're gearing up to do whatever you're doing,
Unknown Speaker 30:48
Bob that's the feeling we sell more than anything else. It's that feeling that's our target is to give you that puts you in that that place so that when your car camping, you're like yeah, but I think This
Bob DeMarco 31:00
I got this baby
Bob DeMarco 31:04
Well, I'm the tunnel rat there's one it's got sort of a commando style handle like that kind of coke bottle and I'm assuming it's like oval in cross section but it's got that that coke bottle handle but I've also seen pictures I'm actually looking at one right now with a sort of that sort of horse hoof Bowie shape. I don't know
Bob DeMarco 31:25
exactly how you can like build Yes,
Bob DeMarco 31:27
yes, yes. Yes, exactly. That is handsome. I mean that that. So when you make a knife like that, so it's got a single pin in the middle of the handle. Is that is that a totally different blade going into that? Or are you just altering the tank to fit that kind of handle?
Matt Martin 31:45
what it comes down to the brand's? basically all I do is cut off the threaded section. And then seated in there, we had a customer I wish I could share this right now but we had a customer who was a expert Tech you actually the X rays, all his knives to kind of sum it up I believe and he was really surprised at how much Tang is actually in that knife and how fitted it is to the channel. But that's that's what we do we just cut off the threads and then sink it in there and then hand wrap the face of the the handle block until it matches up with the whole and everything fits.
Bob DeMarco 32:23
Man. Well I'm not trying to get your industry secrets here but just I don't know just a beauty and then I've seen the one. What is it? It's one of your models that has a gigantic fuller it almost comes to the cutting edge. Does that ring a bell or was that a one off?
Unknown Speaker 32:42
Quite a bit of one-offs. you might be thinking of the jet pilot knife that we rebooted. Was it like a black wash finish?
Bob DeMarco 32:47
Yes, I believe it was had that sort of the stack leather and all that.
Matt Martin 32:51
Yep, that's the that was a one off that we were just playing around with harkening back to the 1957 marbles jet pilot survival knife was dead, believe it or not underbid by camillus by seven cents a unit and camillus in Ontario ended up winning the contract in perpetuity. So the designer of the night never got the government contract. And the jet pilot knows that you see today by Ontario camillus. Those were designed right here in Gladstone in the 50s. And the contract was sniped. So, after I learned that I became obsessed with that blade, and I said, I have to make a jet pilot survival knife, you know, just to bring it back home.
Bob DeMarco 33:31
Well, yeah, I mean, obviously at that point, it's a moral imperative, or somehow the universe steered you that way, right. Yeah, it's a little Whoo. But it's I think it's probably true. What is your what is the hardest part of this whole enterprise? What's the hardest part of running a knife company? I mean, you're a small but you know, American business. What's, what's the hard part,
Matt Martin 33:52
the hardest part? The hardest part is making decisions that caused me to move away from my dearest friends and even further From my family, in the name of being able to push this business a little bit farther, the second hardest part is taking my entire life out of my garage out of my layer. Well, my friends used to ride their bikes up and we drink beer and listen to rock and roll. And it was more of a hangout spot. And now it's a business. I would say the hardest part is maturing and making personal sacrifices to further the business. It's cost me
Matt Martin 34:33
a tremendous amount of what I helped do back home. That's the hardest part.
Bob DeMarco 34:38
Wow. Well, you know, you can't have anything really valuable without that kind of sacrifice. I mean, if you're building something and you're building something meaningful, those sacrifices will repay you. And it looks like they already have I mean, the work you're you're producing and, and it seems like meeting Mike Stewart and moving to Michigan has really put everything in kind of ultra mode for you. And I'm not going to tell you you made the right decision but I gotta say you're making some fantastic knives.
Matt Martin 35:07
Appreciate it. Yeah, no meeting Mike was an octane booster for sure. But the reality is, is if I just rode bikes with my buddies and got drunk in the garage for the rest of my life yeah, we turned out a decent night here and again, but all I would leave my daughter is a motorcycle and empty beer cans. So you know what I mean? This we have to do something for the next generation and the only way I can see to do that is to build a brand that is marketable long after you know my ass is in the ground.
Bob DeMarco 35:35
So do you like the knife industry, the knife world in general, is it a good place to to operate?
Unknown Speaker 35:42
You know, I'm not a people person, per se. Anyway, so I have a lot of good friends in the industry. In the industry, so I mean, it's a microcosm of society. Yeah, but overall, I've got to meet some people that are my absolute heroes and sit outside in the pit at blade show and knock back at jug of moonshine with these guys, while other people were lined up to talk to them. And I go man, I've got it pretty good not everybody gets to meet their heroes not everybody gets to absorb the energy that these legends kind of put out. Put, you know too much esoteric ness onto it. But yeah, yeah, I do like it's my life
Matt Martin 36:22
inextricably tied together.
Bob DeMarco 36:24
Yeah. Well, I mean, you can't help but feel that when you're around masters of whatever the craft is, you know, and yet you They say it's dangerous to meet your heroes because you might be disappointed. I've through this podcast met a lot of people like yourself, who are my knife heroes, you know, like people who are doing things that, you know, you see me like, God, I wish I made that. As someone who makes things, you know, look at that, like God, wow. You know, And to me, that's the ultimate compliment. So it you know, it is always a pleasure to meet people who Who are, you know far along and have you know have made a go of, of the knife world or of making knives and selling them and, and? Well, anyway you get my idea.
Unknown Speaker 37:13
You know what I don't mean to cut you off but what is amazing to me is the guys who started at the same time who were my friends from the early days when we would call each other and be like, I can't do this anymore. watching them grow in two legends now is an amazing healing. I Brian Efros I don't know if you're familiar with the Efros Brian and I met at a usual suspects network gathering many years ago and we hit it off immediately. And we've been friends ever since. And I can tell you many phone calls of him calling me and me calling him saying I can't do this anymore or still in fishtails house business. Oh, we're killing it. Oh, we're so hand over fist. It's all BS. You know? And then now I, you know, I just talked to him yesterday, and he just had a new baby. So congratulations to the fo standing and seeing the accomplishments and the milestones that he's reached and seeing where his clientele is it seeing where his knives are, there's nothing that you can can that would give me the same rush as seeing these people grow into next generations legends. And that's amazing. We could be I could be talking about my buddy like he's the next Tom Mayo. You know what I mean? It's unreal. It's a fantastic.
Bob DeMarco 38:34
Yeah, especially, you know, Brian Efros has been on my radar a lot recently. been following him on Instagram for about a year. And man, I reached out to him to come onto the podcast to at some point, I'd love to speak with him, making some beautiful stuff, but that's great that you are seeing your contemporaries rise as you rise and what do you see in 10 years for Vehement and or what do you see for the future of vehement
Unknown Speaker 39:01
I know we're going to be here, but I couldn't tell you what tangent my obsession goes on after next month, either. I mean, I may be like, you know what, we can only do slip joints from now on who knows. And that's part of my manic minds. I have no clue. I just know that. Like, right now I'm in the middle of a bunch of Lovelace knives, which I enjoy making but I
Matt Martin 39:24
don't enjoy selling.
Bob DeMarco 39:25
Those are the little double edged ones.
Unknown Speaker 39:28
We've got we're doing drop hunters and shoot j=knives. We're kind of dancing around Bob's catalog right now. Okay, but I'm doing it for fun. A lot of them are people who contact me they're like, Oh, this customer of yours really likes your knives. Here's my budget. Will you make him something they don't know. They're not the wiser and I go well, this guy would probably really appreciate a drop hundred shoot knife or something like that. And then I'm not having to sell it market it because I feel kind of skeezy that way like there's a difference between standing on the shoulders of giants and standing behind them with knock off So it's, I'm not comfortable with it, but I like making them because it extends my ability. It makes my toolbox a little more.
Bob DeMarco 40:09
I get what you mean, I get what you mean by saying you're you like making them you don't like selling them. Yeah, it's because it's not exactly your design, but right. But yeah, yeah, there are a couple of people. Well, there's one shop in particu lar that makes outstandingly, beautiful other people's, that I follow on Instagram. And I've often thought, like, I go to the website, and I'm like, well, that's just about as much as the real thing. So I think I'll just hold out for the real thing,
Unknown Speaker 40:37
the guy that you're probably talking about, I've called numerous times, and I'll be like, I won't say his name, just because it's not the most favorable light that we've painted so far, but he's a hell of a guy. The guy is an amazing knife maker. And I've had to call him and say, why isn't this mere polish it What am I doing wrong? How do I get this right? And he's very forthcoming with his information and he does specialize in lovelace knives and I would say hands down, you know it will say it just in case we're not talking about the same. Zach Buchannon can never not open up Okay, okay, Zach can make a loveless knife better than Bob ever could
Matt Martin 41:14
He's amazine at it. He's just a phenomenal maker and a great guy, but he's what, whose catalog is not limited but specializes in the lovelace catalog. But he does such a fantastic job and you won't pay Lovelace prices.
Bob DeMarco 41:29
But in a way the loveless catalog is kind of like the Great American Songbook. It's a it's a bunch of great tunes that everyone from Billie Holiday to Frank Sinatra to whomever sang and cover and get to get to put their English on and to me you know there there are certain knife designs that have kind of reached that status to me the the your version of it was the big bear but the loveless fighter the double edge. Oh my good lord. I mean, is that not the coolest knife Ever. I mean ever with a sub hilt.
Matt Martin 42:02
Oh my god. yeah
Matt Martin 42:02
Yeah. I mean, it's a maker, you have to go down that path you have to say what can I do? And it's to me it's like I treat him as rites of passage. Like once you know, then you can go back to your shop and do the things you do hopefully with a little bit more glow to it, right?
Bob DeMarco 42:18
Yep, yep. It's also like being a painter and and doing your copies of dega or whomever you know, like doing master you know? Okay, so I'm going to I'm going to do a Vermeer today I'm going to try and paint Vermeer Of course I'll never paint Vermeer, but in trying you learn so much, it's got to be the same thing. The other day. I was I was like thinking about talking with you and and I was like, how would I sum up his outfit and and I wrote it on the back of this card. You know, I always have a little card, and I forgot about it until now. But when I asked you where do you see vehement in the future you said, Well, you know, it's hard to forecast beyond a month because of your whims. And I remembered I labeled your your vehement knives as a boutique traditional combat knife, I tell you
Bob DeMarco 43:06
I mean, is that
Bob DeMarco 43:07
Matt Martin 43:09
not to put too fine a point.
Bob DeMarco 43:13
I mean, in a way you're like, you're like the sorry. You're like Coco Chanel with you. And you'll pump out a couple of really like outrageously awesome things. And then when you want to mass produced you do it you figure out okay, all right, I'm gonna stop with that analogy there, but you get my point right.
Matt Martin 43:36
I guess. Perception is reality. So I was hoping you'd be like, like Mad Max with a drinking problem. Like
Bob DeMarco 43:46
you know what, man, you know what? Like, like, it's funny because I see this all the time. You look at the art and then you look at the artist and I love to see you know, you know, I see interviews with you and I see interviews with other knife makers. And there's a lot of character and there's, there's you know, there's a lot of gravity there and and and and rough around the edges and then you look at the knives and it's like refined, you know, this kind of is a real emergent theme for me artist and art you know are different than the person who creates the thing is not the thing and vice versa and
Matt Martin 44:24
it's complimentary contrast and that that's we try to impose that even on the works themselves. You know, I would say the earliest example of this is back not to just keep revisiting Bob loveless and shopping read liners on a knife is complementary contrast that stands out right. So a lot of times and more of our standard finishes we like to counter Polish one surface versus another you know, so that they're the scratch lines are running perpendicular to each other just to make things pop a little bit on a on a rough Tiger lips you know apocalyptic looking knife will throw a mirror Polish soil in there, just just to give that little pop. And that is that, you know, if I was going to be so arrogant to consider myself an artist, that's where the artist is in the work. It's you want to put that contrast in there because I recognize that there's a contrast between my works in my personal.
Bob DeMarco 45:20
Yes. And an element of surprise is absolutely necessary for a force. For something that approaches art. I'm not going to call a knife fired because it's got purpose other than other than being appreciated, you know. So how do you how do you get a vehement knife? How does one, how does one find and actually acquire one? I know there aren't tons of them? Because they're all handmade. So what's the best way to get in touch with you? What's the best way to get get our hands on your work?
Unknown Speaker 45:49
That's the $64,000 question. It's not by design. It's not by throttling productivity and keeping scarcity and being this kind of vaporware that nobody can get you After the secret handshake, it's just we make it as fast as we can. I mean up until the time that we went live. I mean, I'm grinding in the shop. The best way to get a Vehement knife is going to be get on DLT tradings mailing lists the we've we've pared everything way down to one dealer, this one mouth to feed, it makes it much easier, get on their mailing list. Otherwise, Facebook is antiquated. as that's getting is our number one source for real time updates in our group, the vehement syndicate. And if you join the syndicate, we kind of have a program going and you know, we keep it pretty small. It's only about 2500. Members, we have well over 10,000 on our fan page, but our group, we keep small, we keep it intimate, and the syndicate has its privileges, we call it ship. And that's where we announced release dates. That's when we announce upcoming models, and we have our own private sale group. GFYfB Go fork yourself Facebook, because they, they were coming down on knife sales pretty hard and we wanted to separate all our groups from sales. But in there, you'll see a few sold. Secondary prices are astronomical I would pay as much as people are paying for one of my knives, but that's just what the market does. But yeah, so I would say the best place is honestly get into the habit syndicate on Facebook. And that's where you're gonna get the most real time information for release dates and drops.
Bob DeMarco 47:29
Well Matt Martin, congratulations for your success thus far on Vehement knives. I think you're, you're killing it and just, I mean, I just drool over the stuff you're putting out. I follow you on on Instagram and on I see what I can get on YouTube and I love looking at pictures of your work. I think you're doing awesome stuff. And I really like the niche that you're filling. And I think you're you're doing it the right way. Thank you so much for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. It's been a pleasure.
Unknown Speaker 47:56
Thank you so much, Bob. And thanks Jim for hiding in the shadows over there and making this all work I appreciate it. And yeah much success to you guys and your podcast going into the future.
Bob DeMarco 48:06
Thank you sir.
You're listening to the Knife Junkie podcast. If you've got questions or comments call the 24 seven Knife Junkie listener line at 724-466-4487
Jim Person 48:17
and we're back on the Knife Junkie podcast episode number 84. show notes about everything Bob and Matt talked about can be found at The Knife Junkie dot com slash 84 The Knife Junkie dot com slash eight four as well as links to Matt's Facebook page along with the Vehement syndicate on Facebook along with we have a nice website and the podcast behind the blade podcast. We'll have links to all that in the show notes. Bob, a good conversation with Matt, you said you've followed him for a while. What was your takeaway from actually now talking to the man?
Bob DeMarco 48:51
Well, you know, I follow a lot of knife makers who are starting their businesses or have started them and are making a goal at it and definitely Matt Martin is making a great go out of added. But the thing that really struck me is he's got, he speaks like an artist. He's got the soul of an artist. I went to art school. Eight years of art school, and I know how art artists speak and he kind of has that soul, you know, he gets latched on to something that fascinates him and consumes him and he works on something and create something. And then when he's done with it, he moves on to something else that consumes him. And that just struck me as sort of an artistic temperament. So it was great to kind of connect with him on that level.
Jim Person 49:37
All right, well, as we said, everything can be found at The Knife junkie.com slash 84. And when you're on that web page, if you happen not to be subscribed to The Knife Junkie podcast and you're getting this from a friend, you can subscribe in your favorite podcast player, podcast catcher, whatever you like. You can find the links at The Knife junkie.com slash subscribe. So for Bob The Knife Junkie DeMarco I'm Jim that I've newbie person want to thank you for joining us on the Knife Junkie podcast.
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