Neil Warren, Maximus Knives: The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 470)
Neil Warren of Maximus Knives joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 470 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Neil is an ABS apprentice, a Texas Knife Guild member, and the proprietor of Maximus Knives of Texas. He specializes in forged outdoor, EDC, and culinary cutlery made to last for generations.
Maximus Knives offers handsome “field-grade” knives that encourage hard use, and it offers a Platinum Line featuring exotic materials and exquisite forge-welded Damascus.
Neil was a contestant on Forged in Fire (Season 8, Episode 23), where he was challenged to forge a knife from a sledgehammer.
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Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast, your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your host, Bob the knife junkie DeMarco.
Bob DeMarco [00:00:16]:
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast. I'm Bob DeMarco. On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Neil Warren of Maximus Knives. I met Neil at the Texas Custom Knife Show where I bought one of his Mamba fixed blades, A sweet little tactical utility knife with a dark blue rich light handle and a menacing profile. Now my wife took my mama with her on a recent business trip to the big apple for peace of mind, at which point it somehow became our Mamba. Now weeks later, it is clearly Her mamba. And I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but that's how she wants it. Now I like knowing that it's on her, but I'd like knowing that it's on me too.
Bob DeMarco [00:00:59]:
We might have to remedy that. I see that as the ultimate endorsement. The knife is small enough to EDC, but mean enough to make to feel safe and pretty enough to be seen in the maelstrom of my wife's handbag. We'll meet Neil and talk all about Maximus knives, but first, be sure to like, comment, subscribe, Hit the notification bell, and also download the show to your favorite podcast app and share it with friends. That makes a big difference. Share it with friends who you think might like this kind of stuff, and be sure to join us on Patreon, where you can get extras like, extra interview, like we'll hear From Neil Be sure to check it out, the knife junkie.com/patreon. Again, the knife junkie.com/patreon.
If you search Google for the best knife podcast, the answer is the Knife Junkie podcast.
Bob DeMarco [00:01:49]:
Neil, welcome to the show.
Neil Warren [00:01:51]:
How's it going?
Bob DeMarco [00:01:52]:
It's going well. It's good to have you here, and, you know, with that, glowing review of the Mamba up front. I I totally forget to mention in my in my up front that people might recognize your face Because they've seen you before on Forged in Fire. A lot of people, who watched the show, watch this show, watch that show for sure. And, you were on season 8 episode 23, making a knife out of a sledgehammer. Before we get into what you're doing right now, let's let's set up some context and find out a little bit about that. What was that experience like?
Neil Warren [00:02:28]:
It was pretty fun. I mean, honestly, a lot of people are We're not happy with the results that they saw on TV, but it is what it is, TV. The editing was a little thrown off. The timeline was actually kinda thrown off. That's the only thing that bothered me. But overall, retracting a little bit. But overall, the experience was amazing. It was fun, Had a great time, met a lot of new friends.
Neil Warren [00:02:54]:
It's always good to see people in that community because it's like a little subculture community and all the shows and stuff. So, yeah, really really all in all, I mean, I got to travel to places I hadn't been before and do some things, but it was fun. It was not as stressful as I thought it was gonna be once the clock started actually. So, you know, it worked out okay. I mean, the whole thing of it all, it actually was around my son's birthday. So the fact that I didn't move on actually worked out in my favor because there's one little day gap between coming back home And starting the filming at the home forge, that one day would have been my son's birthday. So it would have been just a madhouse, and I'm like, I'm kinda glad I didn't progress on to, you know, ruin that kind of a thing. So
Bob DeMarco [00:03:45]:
Well, they they say everything happens for a reason.
Neil Warren [00:03:49]:
Bob DeMarco [00:03:50]:
You know, maybe there's a reason behind that, but, I I work in TV, so I get the whole thing about editing and the time line And, Ford, to make things fit in that in that time space, you might have to misrepresent reality a little bit.
Neil Warren [00:04:04]:
Bob DeMarco [00:04:05]:
Smith, you said it wasn't stressful. That's crazy for me. I haven't heard too many people say that up till this point. How long had you been forging, and were you Used to doing things kind of under the gun like that?
Neil Warren [00:04:18]:
I had been porting at that point, I would say right around 3 year. Excuse me. 3 years because that was a couple years ago now. Yeah. Right around 3 years. So it was two and a half to 3 years that I was part time forging at that. Under the gun, not really. No.
Neil Warren [00:04:38]:
I mean, I had done some I timed myself. You know, I was a fan of the show, so there was plenty of times that I went out and I, like, tried to see what I could do myself, How fast can I make stuff, but I think being able to just hyper focus when I got there was the main thing? It's just, look, it's another day making a knife. You know the steps that you have to do. Start with step 1, go to step 2. If you run into a problem, solve that problem, go to step 3, you know, just run through what you gotta do to to make it, You know, pretty simple.
Bob DeMarco [00:05:12]:
So you you said 2 things there. You said hyperfocus, and then you you talked about how it's got, How the process has a very prescribed, step by step, sequence of events that have to occur to make a knife.
Neil Warren [00:05:31]:
Yeah. You can. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:05:32]:
Well, okay. So let me ask you that. Is is that something that You rely on as a knifemaker. It seems like like knowing that there is an order to things, and that you're not just out there in outer space Might be reassuring, during that creative process. No.
Neil Warren [00:05:49]:
It definitely is. If you know what you're trying to do And what you need to get that final result, then, yes, there are steps. If you're just out in the forge Letting the wind fly and just being creative. Just, you know, you know you're making a knife, but you're not trying to make anything specific, so you're letting the metal kind of Tell you where it wants to move versus moving it in that direction, then it's kind of just being creative, You know, so if but if you're trying to make something specific like on the show, it's like, okay, well, I need a handle about this big. I need a blade exactly this big. So it's like, okay, well, I need to mush this much material out to make sure I've got plenty for that, you know. And I call it dissect math. If you can do quick dissecting math in your head, if you know you've got a quarter inch wide piece of metal, I'm just gonna use this as a a simple example because a lot of people will forward with a quarter inch billet and forge into a knife.
Neil Warren [00:06:50]:
If you've got a quarter inch wide billet that's inch and a half tall and 5 inches long, if you want a 1 8 inch thick blade, then you know you can double that material either direction for the most part because you're already at a quarter inch wide. So you can go and put 2 inches on the back and make a 4 inch handle An eighth of an inch wide and still end up with, you know, a 6 inch blade on the other end, even if you leave a little space for a finger choil and a and a forged in guard, You can still have a 4a half inch blade with a, you know, close to 4 inch handle, 4 4a half inch handle, perfectly balanced, ready to go, like, hunter style, 8 inch thick. You know, just just as simple as that. So I say if you can if you can kinda learn to do that mentally, Then you can do those processes and steps a lot faster when you're, say, under the gun or if you're just looking at a piece and trying to move it around and go, you know.
Bob DeMarco [00:07:49]:
Well, before we move on from, Forged in Fire, I I gotta ask, what was it like having your work tested?
Neil Warren [00:07:56]:
Well, I didn't get to round 2, where they contested. And that's what I really, Really wanted to do. My Texas mouth almost got me there. I I was I was so close because they had some critique about, well, the editors, not really the judges, but kinda the judges, because it wasn't as refined. And the guy with the warp, like, all I had to do is grind online some more. And part of it was that I was doing some grinds that I Realistically, I had 30 minutes left on the clock in the 1st round when I was at a place where I was comfortable going to round 2. And I was like, well, I don't wanna just stand here. I just started started grinding some meat off the blade and just kinda whatever.
Neil Warren [00:08:42]:
So it wasn't as pretty as the other ones, But it was perfectly straight, and everything was good to go. I already had it. My handle was already drilled. I did a normalizing cycle. I I mean, if you watch, it shows on the show like I was the last one to quench, but you'll see holes in my handle when no one else had them, you know, things like that. But, coming back around to it, having them look at my work was, You know, whatever. You know, at least that part. But I was real close to telling him, like, I know it's not pretty, but I bet Jay can't break it.
Neil Warren [00:09:17]:
And I and I I didn't say that. You know? And Jay even has later I mean, we've you know, you you gain relationship with people, you know, over the years. But, Like, Jay's even said himself that if I would've said that, they probably would've pushed me around too. But I didn't wanna get there that way. I didn't wanna get there for the sake of TV, You know, the sake of the drama. Like, they had to build the drama in that episode because we were all just making knives, Running running smooth for the most part. You know? It was it was pretty good.
Bob DeMarco [00:09:50]:
That's the problem with making reality TV In such a cool demographic, knife makers, like, almost to a man or a woman are cool people. Everyone I've met almost everyone I've met has been cool. So that's that's you know? Because we all know that reality TV is about drama and and nasty people being nasty to each other. So So it on that show, you don't have that, so you gotta create other drama. Like, oh my god. Is he gonna quench in water? This is crazy. Alright. Like, my wife, every time we watch that show, she'll say something like, oh my god.
Bob DeMarco [00:10:26]:
Didn't this guy ever watch this show? And and when you when you talk about having holes in your tang before you quench, that's exactly what I was thinking. I was like because I've I've dabbled enough to know How hard knife making is, not even forging, just stock removal, and I know how hard it is to drill holes In a in a, in a heat treated blade. Yeah. Blade. And, so to see little things like that, before the quench, to see, you know, just well, to me, that's that's the sign of someone who's thinking ahead, who knows what they're doing, and, Who's not making a, an absent minded mistake because they've done it so many times, you know.
Neil Warren [00:11:07]:
Right. Right. Well, it was just a process. I'm like, okay, well, I've I've done a normalizing cycle. Let me go ahead and throw some holes in my handle, you know, so I can I can I had my primary bevel set up, Put holes in the handle? Trying to think what else I did. Primary bevels, holes in the handle, the normalizing cycle. Yeah. And then I quenched.
Neil Warren [00:11:30]:
Yeah. And then just went to grinding and stuff, made sure I was underweight, made sure they didn't show, but I actually drew what I forged. And I forged probably, I'd say 97% to exactly what I drew on the piece of paper with all the dimensions, which I wish they would've shown that. They could've made it a really funny episode, quite honestly. There were stuff that happened during that episode, like, There were stuff that happened during that episode, like the kid next to me, Brian, who now is a power lifter. Like, if you check his about he just power lifts all the time now. He's he's hilarious. But he was 18 when we filmed, and he kept knocking the fire bricks off.
Neil Warren [00:12:04]:
I still got the pair of pants I was wearing on the show, and there's a hole in my pants from where a firebreak bounced and hit my pants and burned a hole in them. Luckily, I was wearing boots, so it bounced off the leather, but, yeah, I was like, come on, man, you know. But that was funny. Me not Plugging in the angle grinder, which they didn't show. I was trying to cut that hammerhead with everything they had. Their chops all suck, so that was just that's known. Everybody knows that. Their chops all suck.
Neil Warren [00:12:35]:
So then I went to the the porta band. I ripped all the teeth off of that after about 3 quarters of the way through. So that was shot. So then I grabbed the angle grinder and I kept plugging it in, And it wasn't working, but I didn't notice the light on the porta band was coming on because I kept plugging that in instead. So I was hitting the switch on the grinder, and it wasn't working. You know, all of a sudden, all the judges yelled, it's the wrong plug, which was hilarious. They didn't even put that in there. You know? Yeah.
Neil Warren [00:13:02]:
Or when the the guy that that came in 2nd place, Mike Baldino, he He was he started he when he put his medal in the press, he put a little too far in, so it came out kind of bulging on the end and kinda phallic looking. And me and Brian were making jokes about that, and we were mic'd up the whole time. You know, we were and he we we all hung out afterwards. We are telling him about the jokes I thought they were hilarious. Again, it's a community. Everybody has a good time, you know. But it was just it was really funny, and they didn't put any of that in. I'm like, come on.
Neil Warren [00:13:37]:
You know, all the fun stuff. They could've made it a hilarious episode. They did show Mike flailing about trying to get the hammer a part, you know, when he had to, like, cut halfway. He was trying to, like, hammer it like hammer it into pieces, but, you know, it was it was a lot of fun. He's a he was a tiny dude, but he he worked hard.
Bob DeMarco [00:13:55]:
So Well, you were, talking before. You you differentiated between sort of, an artful approach when you're in the forge where you're kind of letting the, metal kind of decide where it's going. I've heard writers talk about writing this way. Like, the characters just kind of determine what's gonna happen. Or the difference between someone says, to you, I I want this knife, and I want it in these materials, 2 different creative processes happening there.
Neil Warren [00:14:29]:
Bob DeMarco [00:14:31]:
you do both? How does it work for you?
Neil Warren [00:14:34]:
Yeah, I do both. There's times that I'm just like because I do I'm starting like the Mambas, you know, semi production, or I say, so no, Not semi. Production style stock removal because it's it's pointless to forge a bar That was already forged at a factory, then just go from there, but
Bob DeMarco [00:14:53]:
Let's let's show the Mamba. I talked about it upfront. We still haven't shown any of your knives. Let's show what you're talking about And and and continue.
Neil Warren [00:15:02]:
Right. Okay. So let me move that out of the way and not cut myself. So the Mamba, I've just had one that's heat treated because I was working on a batch today, but it's this EDC here. So you got jumping right here up So where the blade is, the blade only ends up being about a about a half inch bevel, because it's just around 3 quarters of an inch tall. It's a 8 inch thick ADCR v 2. It'll end up having, like, this little shelf right here on the front that's almost like a diamond shape. So whenever it pierces into something, it pierces very well, and it'll have a swedge a swedge here on top.
Neil Warren [00:15:42]:
This has become a benchmark for me. I mean, there's a lot of people that forgot I even make culinary knives because the EDC community started picking me up so much, but These are great. When I put them together, they only have 8 inch scales, so the whole thing's only 3 eighths thick. So it can Run as a neck knife. It can ride in your pocket or, like you said, your wife's purse. I I fell in love with it myself, and that's actually a culmination of Two different EDCs that I had already made, I took what I liked about both of them and made that one. And did a lot of testing on it, carried one for 2 months before I even started making more, you know, just to make sure I like the design for everyday use.
Bob DeMarco [00:16:24]:
So, this is a Perfect example. I I've spoken with a lot of knife makers, in a similar position as you who are Very, very good at forging. We can talk about your, your, your bona fides and such, but very, very good At forging, but also, to sort of keep things flowing, doing, water jet Cut, stock removal, knives of the same model, and and getting known for that model as well. I love that. I love that business model. We've spoken to a lot of people for whom that's, what's working, and I love that because, it seems like as, an art or a maker we'll say a maker. You're not an artist. You're a toolmaker as far as I'm concerned.
Bob DeMarco [00:17:20]:
I mean, wait wait wait wait. Don't don't be offended, but you do there's a lot of a lot of art in what you do, but it's Not just to hang on the wall and be appreciated. It's to cut and to be used and, so that's my differentiation. But
Neil Warren [00:17:33]:
Yeah. We we call it functional art. At a certain at a certain at a certain level, it is. You know?
Bob DeMarco [00:17:39]:
So you're you're using 2 different, 2 maybe to arrive at the design of the Mamba, You're going through some of that more flow state, just pounding on the on the anvil, and then you you find a design, and then you switch That design into a more production mode. How does that work for you in terms of, the creative side and the making side, kinda dividing yourself between those 2 modes.
Neil Warren [00:18:04]:
It's hard. A lot of times, because I If I had my druthers, as I say, if I if I had my preference and then I was a made man and I didn't need to make money, doing this full time to support me and my son, it's you know, you gotta think of things in a business sense, so that's why things like the Mamba have come about. If I had my option, I would just forge stuff all the time. I would forge what I wanna forge, have fun doing it, and just be creative all the time. Or I would just do, you know, sets of, like, culinary knives. And a lot of art can come in the sculpting of the handles and The layout of the materials for the handles and all that kinda stuff. There are art knife categories as well. I've done just full on art knives and stuff like that also.
Neil Warren [00:18:55]:
You can scroll down and look on my Instagrams and find that kind of stuff. But, like, if I had my option, that's what I would wanna do because I love Forging and or just even if I'm just stock removing something new, like, trying to make something I haven't done yet before, is always part of the fun of this This whole genre of making because you can never learn it all. There's 1,000 of years where people have done stuff differently, And you're trying to learn everything everyone's done, you just can't do it, you know. You can learn tidbits and and try to absorb and and Redo what you've done, but or what they've done. But, yeah, there's just so much to to try to do. You can't reinvent the wheel with it at all. So, you know, there's just a lot of things you have to try to balance and figure out. But With with I still get a lot of joy out of things like the the Mamba.
Neil Warren [00:19:55]:
When I started making them and people started buying them and they love using them, I've got my 2nd cousin bought a whole bunch for his, workers at his job or at his business. And he loved it. He skinned a whole white tailed deer with just that little mamba. I mean, then I got guys that have take I'm trout fishing, you know, so I'm going it's I've used 1 to shave my cheeks with, obviously, not the whole thing. You know, but I mean, you can shave with them. You can, you know, take them hunting, camping, whatever. You can strike a fire with it if you need to on a ferro rod. I mean, it literally does everything in a small package.
Neil Warren [00:20:35]:
But I have had people that are wanting something a little bigger, a little heftier. So I I am just now this is the the Premier preview of the Big Mamba. Sweet. So it's about a inch and so longer blade, same jimping, a little bit longer handle, so it's a full handle. And it has a lanyard hole, so it'll be a full on Bigger version, but still not very tall. You know, a lot of people think you gotta have this big old tall slicer or or a blade. And As someone who grew up in the outdoors all the time, I'm an eagle scout and all that kind of fun stuff. We went camping every month with our boy scout troop.
Neil Warren [00:21:17]:
I've had plenty of time in the woods using a knife for and we were old school, so we were doing stuff like Building our own small shelters every now and again or, you know, whittling down, you know, everything to build our own fires, Like, all that kind of stuff you would think that you would do to prepare for going on, like, alone or survivor or something, we did that every month. So, Like, it was a lot of fun, and it was great great to have a skill set like that built into me that I can translate into the actual usefulness of knives Because there are a lot of makers that haven't spent as much time as they think they have in the woods, So their designs are kind of chunky, if that makes any sense. Even if they're thin, they're tall, they're they're kinda weird, or they don't quite have enough quite have enough bevel. You know, sometimes people go A little too skinny on the scandi, I call it. You know, it's like
Bob DeMarco [00:22:19]:
Neil Warren [00:22:20]:
little little quarter inch grind on a 3 32nd piece of steel, and they're like, oh, it's scandi grind. I'm like, no. It's Like a tiny little wedge. You can get a little more than that, you know. I mean, I've I've built I I actually built a, A knife for a guy when I first started, he was working for a sheriff's department up in Central Texas and or North Central Texas, And he also did survival courses. And with 52 100 steel, I made an 8 inch thick survival knife and then a mini for his daughter. And he taught all through the summer. He taught courses all summer along with it, and it held an edge the entire time.
Neil Warren [00:22:58]:
You said you only had to sharpen it once. That's after batoning through trees and everything with an 8 inch thick piece of metal, not a big old quarter inch thick anything, and it was only like an inch and a half tall. You know, it wasn't this big old huge honking knife because he wanted something curable, You know, so being someone who's backpack in the mountains and all that kind of stuff, I know that ounces equal pounds. So, again, things like the Mamba, the Big Mamba is still gonna only have, Maybe I might ever so often go for, like, 3 16th scales, but for the most part, it's gonna be 8 inch thick scales. You know, just keeping it thin and white and durable.
Bob DeMarco [00:23:35]:
Yeah. That that is definitely one of the The things that I love about the Mamba is how slender it is. Now before it, it ceased to be mine. It I would carry that a lot in my In my waistband, but not, not with a clip. I love the DCC clips and I bet it would work great on that, but I just threw a piece of paracord on there And Mhmm. Do the the cord thing where I wrap it around my belt and then I just slip it in my waistband and then just tug on it, and it's right. But that knife is so thin. The whole package, even with the Kydex, it's so thin, that you forget it there.
Bob DeMarco [00:24:13]:
You forget it's there, but the contours keep it in your hand when you pull it out and grip it. I love it And, like I said, my wife loves it too. Her hands are a lot smaller than mine and it works great in both of them. It's one of those, one of those designs that kind of Fits across different hand sizes.
Neil Warren [00:24:33]:
Well, then that's my whole thing. It's like my hands aren't tiny, you know. I mean, they're not massive, but, I mean, I wear XL gloves, you know. They're not Yeah. Tiny little hands, but, yeah, anybody can hold like it. It fits just, you know, underneath my pinky. If I grip it, It just rests right in there underneath my pinky just fine, you know, very comfortably. If you've got smaller hands, it's comfortable.
Neil Warren [00:24:56]:
Like you were talking about carrying it, I I used to carry the last one I had, I ended up selling, that I had made for myself. But It was just in my pocket on a paracord, you know, so I can just pull it out, and it was hooked to my belt loop, and it would pop right out. I could use it, then put it back in, and It was good to go and just down in my pocket. I could drop my phone in there with it. I could put, you know, whatever in there, and it wouldn't feel like it was in the way at all. You know, there's a lot of people, and they have a neck knife, but they got a whole bunch of, like, a 3 quarter inch thick handle. And I'm like, what what do you know?
Bob DeMarco [00:25:29]:
And too long too.
Neil Warren [00:25:30]:
Yeah. It's not covert and it's uncomfortable and it's Yeah. It's And then you
Bob DeMarco [00:25:36]:
sit down and, unless you've got, a 6 pack abs, it's gonna stick into something. Yeah. I don't. Bulges up. Yeah. Yeah. Neither do I. So, you you mentioned being an Eagle Scout and doing all this, camping with the scouts on a monthly basis.
Bob DeMarco [00:25:53]:
Is this where you got your Love of knives, seeing how useful they are, or was this something that you had before this?
Neil Warren [00:26:00]:
Definitely delved into it. I did love knives as most, you know, Kids do kind of a thing. Like, I I was a boy growing up. You know, we've lived not rurally all the time, but we were definitely always In the woods all the time. So I remember my dad got me and my brother some of those really crappy survival knives That had the, the, you know, the hollow handle.
Bob DeMarco [00:26:23]:
The compass and the bottle opener and the whole thing?
Neil Warren [00:26:26]:
Yes. Yes. And I wanna say I was, like, 4 or 5 years old when we got those, which is a pretty big knife for a kid that age. Yeah. But they were kinda dull, you know. They weren't really All that great. But he was like, if I catch 1 of y'all chasing the other one, I'm taking them both away. And, of course, my I have an older brother.
Neil Warren [00:26:44]:
He was picking on me. We're outside. I chasing while while I was carrying the knife. I don't know that I was chasing him with it, but I had it in my hand. And my dad, I remember he took them From both of us and stabbed them, what seemed like way up in the tree, but he was, you know, he'd stand in normal height. I coulda got it now, but, you know, That's just so many right here. But, you know, it was just way up there and we couldn't get to them anymore. So we had to sit there and look at our prizes just stabbed in the tree because we Abused them, you know.
Neil Warren [00:27:12]:
Yeah. But that was lessons that we
Bob DeMarco [00:27:13]:
Neil Warren [00:27:14]:
you know. Yeah. It was, you know, don't do this, you know, so, Yeah. It was That's a
Bob DeMarco [00:27:19]:
that's a classic dad move, and that's a classic, I think I'm older than you are, but we're kinda basically the same generation ish.
Neil Warren [00:27:28]:
Bob DeMarco [00:27:28]:
And that that is a formative knife for, you know, kids who were around in the eighties, probably the nineties. I was seventies and eighties. So, you know, it was around, and it got hugely popular after, Rambo, you know, but had a terrible handle for the Lambo. Yeah. Exactly. The tang knife knife knife.
Neil Warren [00:27:49]:
Snap off so easy. Like, the the the the the tang was like a nub and
Bob DeMarco [00:27:53]:
that went in that little tube.
Neil Warren [00:27:54]:
Yeah. Oh, it
Bob DeMarco [00:27:55]:
was like a a quarter inch threaded piece of steel with a with a nut on it so you could fit all that other crap in the handle.
Neil Warren [00:28:02]:
Right. Yeah. It was garbage, But they were fun. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:28:06]:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean yeah. Exactly. They were fun, and they were affordable for kids. And and I love that your dad gave them to you when you were, like, 5.
Neil Warren [00:28:14]:
Bob DeMarco [00:28:15]:
That's about the age.
Neil Warren [00:28:17]:
Bob DeMarco [00:28:17]:
So this activity, like, the the camping and the survival, Is this what got you into actually making them? Were you coming up were were other knives coming up short for you?
Neil Warren [00:28:32]:
No. Not not at that age, strangely enough. I, you know, I had my little boy scout pocket knife and stuff like that. I kept it Sharpen did the job it needed to do for the most part. We weren't really encouraged to carry bigger fixed blades or anything like that. It's Like everything you need to do, you need you can be able to do with this little bitty knife, which was kind of an interesting, you know, lesson to learn. Kind of a gap in there as far as knife using and stuff like that, any kind of nice ones at least. I ran into a company.
Neil Warren [00:29:04]:
I started getting into I lived in California for a while, and before it got As bad as it is now with being able to own things, certain pew pewy things, you know, so I was in a pretty good run a group of guys that We're in that kinda realm. And then, of course, people started showing up with knives that were a bit above and beyond your average even high in Benchmade. I'm like, wait wait wait a minute, you know, people still make these? And they're like, yeah. And I'm like, So I ran into this company called Dead Moose Ops. The owner of the previous owner, I I think we might be kinda getting back into it some, but previous owner, Brian, actually struck up a kind of a kinship with and everything. I started buying their knives. They were not cheap, you know, but they were 10.95. They're coated, big old quarter inch thick honkers, you know, just like Badass camp knives actually cut through the tip of my thumb with 1.
Neil Warren [00:30:03]:
I mean, like, through the cuticle To the bone and out the end of of this thumb, and there's no scar because I did pretty good at doctoring myself up. It was really painful. I got pictures, but, yeah, it was it was, it was no fun. And, I doctored myself up. It was, you know, it's what you do. Just stick it back together, rub some dirt in it. But, Crazy glue. A little crazy glue.
Neil Warren [00:30:31]:
Yeah. It it hurt. I'm not trying to act like I'm tough. It hurt really bad. But, you know and so I got a couple of their knives. And, of course, they were pricey, you know, the 3, $400 range. And I was like, okay. Well, you know, but they're bigger.
Neil Warren [00:30:43]:
They were heavy. You know, I'd go on day day hikes and stuff. I'm like, man, I got this thing hanging off me. It's heavy. And then my buddy was like, oh, I know you love knives, Like, nice, good knives and forging fire had just started. So he was like, hey, check this show out. I was like, oh, people still, like, forged them. Like, I know they were making them.
Neil Warren [00:31:04]:
Like, these guys were having a water jet cut or cut them out theirself or whatever. And, You know, I was, like, wow, man. This is awesome. And so I was watching the show a bunch, and I kept Thinking to myself, like, I know how to design a good knife. Like, I can design a good knife. No problem. Like, I know I can do that, but, you know, can I forge 1? I I don't know. And, I just started getting the itch as they say.
Neil Warren [00:31:30]:
You know, I was both watching the show all the time. I got to where I didn't have cable, and I would just watch it on Hulu or whatever, you know, anywhere I could watch it, I would watch it. And of course, I like survival shows like Making the Parade alone, all that kind of stuff. So, you know, of course, there's people on there that, like, made their own knife. And I'm like, okay, so this is still a thing, like, there's still people that do this, you know. So I started digging and digging and digging, and I end up following people from the show. You know, I followed, like, Neil Kamimura, of course, You know, back when he only had, like, 10,000 followers kind of a thing, and he was able to respond to everybody. Like, I remember when he jumped to 50,000 followers, I was like, oh, wow, he's blowing up.
Neil Warren [00:32:11]:
Now it's like 600 something 1,000. But, and DeMarco, who I've luckily, I I would say honored to have built a relationship enough with him. Like, he's a awesome dude. He doesn't like a lot of attention, though. So it's like, you know, it's hard to kinda get in with him, but luckily, like I said, I feel honored that I've got a relationship with him. Like, I can walk up to them, give them a hug, you know, so I am. It's great. Super awesome guy.
Neil Warren [00:32:38]:
But all these people that are looked up to in the community, you know, I was following them. You know, I was just loving what they were doing. I was like, man, these guys are awesome. And I've always felt like my hands were meant To do something, like or that I was meant to do something with my hands. That makes more sense to say it that way. I just felt like that was, like, okay, I need to Work with my hands. Like, this is what I need to do. And then I picked up a hammer, and I hit a hot piece of our own spike.
Neil Warren [00:33:09]:
And I was done right then and there. Like, it was barely glowing red. I didn't even wait on it to get any hotter, and I just started beating on it. You know, and I was, like, oh, yeah. This is this is it, you know. I gotta be one of these guys now. Like, I have to do this. And, I mean, I literally had a donated piece of railroad track, which I still have.
Neil Warren [00:33:31]:
I had a harbor freight little sledgehammer, which I still have, And I had bricks that I piled up, and I put a propane burner in the bricks. They were bricks that were from a fireplace, So they were fire rated bricks, but they weren't, like, the proper ones. And I shoved it in there. It's literally, like, stacked up bricks at angles, And it was just enough to get to a good warm heat. And then from there, I built a coffee can forge, which I still have. I built a 2 burner air tank forge, which I still have. And then a buddy of mine, Who's the pipeliner grabbed a bunch of scrap pipe and built me this behemoth of a 3 burner forge that's got, like, a 21 inch forge floor. And I had built some YouTube style burners for it.
Neil Warren [00:34:18]:
You know, they kinda work pretty good, I thought. But then Richard Beck of Beck's armory Had some burners for sale. He'll make them every now and again, and I got those. And I of my BTUs, I don't know how much. But I can get the welding temp. Even with all that air space in there, I can get Welding number 1 burner, which is insane, and just 1 the forge. So, Yeah. It's pretty pretty awesome.
Bob DeMarco [00:34:44]:
So I I know that you're an ABS, apprentice, and you're a part of the Texas, Texas, knife Knife Makers Guild. How how did you okay. You got all this very rudimentary stuff early on, and that's Inspiring because a lot of times people will stop themselves from diving into something like this, because they think the barrier to entry is really sweet machines that they absolutely need to do this stuff, and that's a cope, and I know I've been there. You know, we all stop ourselves from doing things that are difficult that way. But you got all that stuff. How did you actually learn to make The stuff you're making, and and you haven't even shown any of the exquisite, sort of platinum line stuff that you make.
Neil Warren [00:35:30]:
Yeah. I don't I've sold all my platinum line stuff, which there are some pictures on, Instagram. I do have a nice forged chopper, which I don't do very many of these. This one's my dark matter chopper. It's actually cable Damascus over an 80 CRV 2 core with a pure nickel shim. Timber Tiger Forged because I don't have a press. Timber Tiger Forged actually helped me put the billets together, and he sent me the billet. Then I forged out the knife with the billet.
Neil Warren [00:36:05]:
But he was able to put the billet together for me. It was still a bit thick, so I ran it out and forged this all. I would say I probably forged at 89% to shape then had to do some grinding on it to get it where I wanted it. Yeah. But that nickel shim is just stellar. And I've actually used this go ahead.
Bob DeMarco [00:36:23]:
Well, it it it really is stellar, and and what we're looking at, as a knife is a robust chopper, very refined, but a robust chopper, and some of the stuff I saw at your table at, Texas Custom Knife Show. Well, the culinary stuff, but, definitely the stuff in the platinum line are very, very refined in terms of surface and finish, and fitment is good on everything, obvious. I mean, it's All good. But what I mean is, like, there's a certain refinement that you bring to the Yeah. Platinum line, that is, you know it's a different level.
Neil Warren [00:37:01]:
Right. Right. And that's the whole point of those. I have my standard line, if you will, then I have my custom line, which would be, you know, some sort of Damascus, Baker Fortune told Damascus I like using them a lot, but it might not be quite as high finish as far as A polished finish on it and stuff like that. It won't come with the that the platinum line does. Platinum line is gonna be a numbered knife, so it's gonna literally come with a certificate of authenticity, which the chopper does too because I don't make very many of those. So it's kind of a one off chopper, but it's gonna come with a certificate of authenticity. It's gonna come with a hard case, which you can see, I think you show on it right there on the Instagram or one of the pages.
Neil Warren [00:37:50]:
The RS Petty pairing knife, That was the, platinum number 2, actually. So everything will be platinum edition number. The next one will be number 3, which I'm thinking I might do actually a set, a kitchen knife and a kitchen knife and a, paring knife set on the next one maybe. But, yeah, they all come with a bit more than a standard knife's going to come with, You know, especially the hard storage case and things of that nature. I'll get professional photographs done of them. Then whenever I get those photographs, I'll send you a copy of it if you want it. Some people just don't care. But if you want a copy of the photographs that have been done, because it could end up in a magazine.
Neil Warren [00:38:35]:
If it does, then you'll have a picture of your knife, you know, that's in the magazine. You know? Then I got ones like this Hunter here that's a 80 CRV 2 forged hunter.
Bob DeMarco [00:38:45]:
Neil Warren [00:38:46]:
But it's got a spalted hackberry handle that you can see it's all sculpted. I think you actually held this one, but it's got a nice mosaic pin in the back.
Bob DeMarco [00:38:54]:
Oh, that's beautiful.
Neil Warren [00:38:56]:
You know, and this one's got forged marks in it from the hammer, but That was just me getting a little crazy with it.
Bob DeMarco [00:39:03]:
What I was trying to get at was you started with a with some very rudimentary, tools to begin with. Yeah. But but you started somewhere, and you got to where you are now making these, Platinum Line Things, how did you learn that? Like, what did you do you have mentors? Did you,
Neil Warren [00:39:24]:
really? Really. No. I kind of I say not really because I haven't taken any classes formally or anything. I have Done my best to pick the brains or speak with people that are above what I consider above my level, and even though some of them say that they're not. But, But guys like DeMarco, for example, who, again, I'm honored to even be able to talk to at all, Guys like Charles Lionheart, Charlie Ellis, Charles Lionheart. He's amazing on the culinary side of things, especially. And, You know, some guys that I've just, you know, kind of ran in circles with just talking about different things and different finishes and And stuff of that nature. And just accidentally I actually accidentally ran across how I remain with the polished look Of the platinum line, there's a way I etch them that's actually really simple.
Neil Warren [00:40:24]:
But the hardest part is Taking it up to a 2,000 grit hand sanded finish and polishing everything to a mirror polish before etching it, And then doing that again and then etching it again. So it's like you you etch it, then you repolish it again, And then re etch it again. So Just
Bob DeMarco [00:40:48]:
so people just so people understand, what what's the work like of polishing it, you know, before you etch it?
Neil Warren [00:40:55]:
Well, that's too fast. So the 1st time takes the longest. You gotta hand sand through grits, literally hand sanding metal, Which you can imagine how fun that is.
Bob DeMarco [00:41:06]:
Neil Warren [00:41:08]:
But I'll hand sand up to 2,000 grit dry, then I'll hand sand wet. So I'll put some sort of lubrication, typical w d forty, and I'll hand sand everything to where it's basically polishing or burnishing With the sandpaper itself, then I've got 2 different buffing wheels and 2 different buffing grits that I have to buff afterwards, Which is the most dangerous part of knife making buffers that killed more people in shops than anything else.
Bob DeMarco [00:41:34]:
Neil Warren [00:41:35]:
Because grabbing the knife, it can sling around, come back at you. At this point, it's basically sharp. You know, it's not finished sharp, but it's sharp. And then so you get it all buffed and then Etching it takes about 20 minutes. But before that, you gotta get it clean, and I mean, Clean. Clean. Clean. You're wiping it down with a white linen rag to make sure there's nothing coming off.
Neil Warren [00:42:00]:
You know, it's like a drills drill instructor in boot camp running their White glove over the the top of a shelf trying to make sure there's no dust, like, clean, and then you gotta etch it, then you gotta pull it out, Do it all again. You know, but typically from there, you can just start buffing it again and you'll buff off the edge. But you gotta buff it, then you gotta rake your wheel to clean your wheel off, but you get all that grunge in the wheel. Then you gotta put your Compound back on and rebuff it again. Then you gotta reclean it all again, and then do the final etch. So you get some contrast and you get some texture as well. But, yeah, to keep it shiny, like, a lot of people thought I was oiling it for pictures and stuff, but you saw it in person. There's no oil on those knives.
Neil Warren [00:42:46]:
It's just the way they're etched at the final etch that they are super polished looking. Like, it just doesn't Etched long enough. I I use such a soft etching material that it doesn't hit the metal Where it dulls out like most DeMarco, the black is dull on it.
Bob DeMarco [00:43:04]:
Neil Warren [00:43:05]:
So it doesn't eat it fast enough. It just darkens it. So It works out, you know, and it's like saying, but you have to take it to the high level of polish or it's not gonna work.
Bob DeMarco [00:43:15]:
You you don't just do that kind of treatment or Use just exotic steels. You use a lot of exotic handle materials. I think I saw Raffir Noble and some other, crazy materials. What what is, what are you most attracted to in terms of handle materials?
Neil Warren [00:43:33]:
I like hard to find stuff. The even if it's just for an accent piece, but, Like, things like the emerald green vintage paper in my carta that's really hard to get a hold of. I've got a few pieces of that left laying around. I've got some super awesome purple bakelite. If you look at some of the most recent photos on my Instagram, you'll see a set of steak knives that have a purple space around them that's like The most vivid purple you've ever seen, and that's that vintage purple bakelite. And the the only guy I found it from was Hawk's Nest Customs Who's known for having a bunch of vintage hard to get materials, and he's the one that I got it from. And then I was like, I might need some more. He's like, dude, I can't find anymore.
Neil Warren [00:44:18]:
So I might have me and a few people might have the last set purple bakelite around for who knows where. I mean, You know, but old vintage stuff like that is a lot of fun. I have some Cape buffalo horn, which is evidently really rare. I've got a interesting backstory with some materials that I've been able to get ahold of, because of some Strangely local connections that I made, that actually connect me all the way to the sword that was made for Conan, The barbarian. Wow. Yeah. The out of all the places in the world for these people to be was left in Texas. So but, yeah, It's pretty crazy what you can run into.
Neil Warren [00:45:06]:
Some of the things I do that I like to do is mix Materials as well. You'll actually see, which I think you might have seen my personal Carrie Mamba that I had last had a, lamin what I call laminated scale set on it. So I'll take, like, a synthetic, like a burlap micarta or g ten and get a real thin, like, paper thin piece of wood And do a laminate over it like you would a guitar top. Oh. I think, like, the burl colored burl wood or whatever And mix and match those up and have a lot of fun with it. You'll see 1 in the, Mambas. There's that blue one that's got black all around it right there
Bob DeMarco [00:45:46]:
in the middle. Center?
Neil Warren [00:45:47]:
Yeah. So that's a a blue dyed bird's eye maple With, black G10 on the back, so when you grind all around the edges To do the 40 fives on the edge, give you
Bob DeMarco [00:46:01]:
Neil Warren [00:46:01]:
Like a yep. That sure is right there.
Bob DeMarco [00:46:03]:
Sorry. Sorry, I
Neil Warren [00:46:05]:
had to. Mountain was beautiful. I had some people tell me if I would've put a red stripe on it, it would've looked like a marine corps, freshman form. Yeah. I was like, oh, yeah. I guess so.
Bob DeMarco [00:46:15]:
Yeah. I love that. I I'm a sucker for, for that material in particular, that that make that rich lettuce.
Neil Warren [00:46:22]:
Yeah. It's beautiful stuff.
Bob DeMarco [00:46:25]:
So, folders. Now you Jim was just scrolling on your Instagram, and I've seen a little bit of Holder, and it was, looked like a frame lock front flipper. Tell me about, about that and what it's like Learning that, that's, like, seems like a whole other kitten caboodle.
Neil Warren [00:46:45]:
I brought 1 I'm working on with me, and it's, Insane. I'm not a CNC machine. So I crashed my mill trying to make lock sides, The the lock side on the frame lock. So I have these done by Simcut said now. I'm not gonna front my guy and did all this work. I did design it, you know. Mhmm. It is my design, but, yeah, you just flips out like that, and you're this one's already set and locked, But it's a BakerForge blade and copper infused Carbon fiber, I'm gonna have a rear bolster that I'm gonna put in here, and I did a copper spacer.
Neil Warren [00:47:31]:
So, yeah, learning how to do this, and people freak out because it doesn't open 180. It's actually the way I design them. So when you're holding it, it's already Yeah. Might got a break to it.
Bob DeMarco [00:47:42]:
Those those people have to get with the times. There are a lot of people making Knives with a with a downward rake, to the to the handle. It it it's an old design, and it it acts like a recurve without being a recurve. It really Yeah. Accelerates the cutting, puts the point where you want it without having to change your your wrist angle. I I love it. I I that was what What struck me first about that is that is that angle. You see the swords on the wall.
Bob DeMarco [00:48:09]:
A lot of these Filipino swords have that naturally, that downward angle, and it just Make some wicked cutters. So, in doing this, have you found that The folder people or the folder market folder, fanatics are different than fixed displayed, I love everything, including swords and spears and whatever, but are you finding, in general, that people are more aligned with 1 or the other?
Neil Warren [00:48:37]:
A lot of folder guys there's the folder community is its own little subculture and not in a bad way. I find that there are more people in the folder community that understand and appreciate The hard to get and expensive and exotic materials more than fixed blades. Fixed blades, it's almost like you have your more refined gentlemen ladies versus your barbarians. You You know what I mean? Like the fixed blade guy, it's a tool. It's gonna be used as a tool. He's gonna beat on it. Older guys, they want a grail. You know, there's not a lot of grail fixed blades out there, you know, unless you can find the Excalibur sword.
Neil Warren [00:49:23]:
You know what I mean? Like, There's there's just not a lot of grails out there that are that are you know? Now I've I've seen a lot of stuff that's 98% done by a CNC machine, and I'm like, That should be a $50 knife. Like, you know what I mean? Like, I get I get a little I get a little arrogant, I guess, which may not be the right word, But I get a little up in arms when people are charging $1,000 for something because they stamped a name on it, and all they did was assemble it and maybe throw an edge on it. Like, yeah, I get you designed it in anything to to earn that money. You know, you didn't do anything to earn, Like, just because the materials you used, like, you didn't heat treat the metal. You didn't grind the bevels. You know? Literally, you can see the CNC lines and the bevels still. It didn't even Clean up the CNC lines. I'm like, come on, man.
Neil Warren [00:50:11]:
Like, dude, at least do something. If you're gonna ask $1,000 or more for a folder, You know, like that one with Baker Forging tool or Vegas forged metal or anything like that, proprietary carbon fiber that came out of Michigan. It's not from These, you know, skiff bearings. I'm using all the high end stuff.
Bob DeMarco [00:50:32]:
Neil Warren [00:50:32]:
You know, all the highest end 6 4 l v 4,000, whatever it is, titanium. You know, I'm using all the highest end stuff that all the high end guys use. That's from here on out gonna be a $1,000 knife, but I'm doing it 90% by hand. That blade was cut out by hand. You know? That was not done by a CNC machine. You know? So I'm going, yeah. I should be able to ask that. If other guys are getting 1500 plus, and all they're doing is throwing the bevel on after heat treat, You know, it's Yeah.
Neil Warren [00:51:03]:
You know? Like I said, I'm going in. I'm using all the same materials. I got all the high end vintage hard to get stuff. I've got the nice wood. I've got the all the good bearings and stuff, so it's like, you know, it's all there.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:14]:
There's also another segment, that, I mean, you're The the people that the knife makers you're talking about right now, program their CNCs, and they and they and they, and they make There are knives in their shops with their CNC machines, and and then there's another level, And and and I love it all. And Yeah. And, but there's a there's also a an enthusiast level, enthusiast designers. My peers, many of their knives I have that they've designed and have learned CAD, and then they have these Yeah. Great, Great companies that do great work in China for cheap and Like, like, concept and those guys. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Bob DeMarco [00:51:59]:
And you can have your knives made that way 2, that's a that's another,
Neil Warren [00:52:04]:
And I don't as as a business model, I don't hate on it. I'm not I don't want people to think I'm hating on it. I just don't I don't see the value in those knives. I'm not a consumer. I'm someone that can make I can take that same $50 worth of materials and make that same knife by hand. Not as fast as CNC machine, but I can still do it within a couple weeks, you know, like, by hand. If I'm working on that one every single day, Probably a couple days, to be honest, you know. So it it just kinda throws me off when people, like, it's it's like Nike shoes.
Neil Warren [00:52:41]:
Like, you can go buy A 1000000 pairs of Nike shoes. You don't have anything special, you know? Yeah. Yeah. I'm making stuff that's literally the only one in the world when it comes to my folders. I have no I have a good a good buddy that just got picked up by Concept. I've got another guy that I know down in Florida makes Beautiful knives, Sparrow knife company. He's picked up with concept. I wasn't I thought they were I didn't know they were in China So I just I was literally researching them today, and I was like, I just I get I I just it's hard for me If I were to try to go with them, not that there's a quality issue, because all those guys would not put their name on anything That's not quality.
Neil Warren [00:53:24]:
If it wasn't quality, they wouldn't do it, but they're still I wish they were in America. You know what I mean?
Bob DeMarco [00:53:29]:
Yes. Yes. I do. I do. And there, there there are, vanishingly few, American OEM opportunities, but they are there and And growing, I would say. And I know that there there are some very conscious efforts to try and make the economics of it work. That's Obviously, the most difficult part. That's why we're having the the conversation in the 1st place.
Bob DeMarco [00:53:53]:
It it it can it can happen. It's just Very expensive. And if you're trying to get the knives into people's hands at the moment, it's probably not the way to go. But When, when you were talking about the difference between, having your stuff OEM ed, and, and The fact that you create your folder, it's the 1 it's the only and and I'll and I'll say it's not just that. It's your fixed blades too. So as a collector, and that is what I am, there is a certain pride of ownership, in both. One of them is, Oh, I can't use that. There's a term my brother and I used to use, but it's it's off color.
Bob DeMarco [00:54:36]:
But but it was it's kind of a cheaper, thrill that you might get out of having, 50 cool ass Chinese knives that work so well and are designed by your friends or People that you like, very cool designs.
Neil Warren [00:54:50]:
Bob DeMarco [00:54:51]:
That's cool. That's fun to have, but there's a there's a very special pride in ownership Of owning custom knives. I have a a growing collection of they're mostly fixed blade custom knives. You're a part of that. And and that feels different. You know? And Yeah. Once you start accumulating more of those, I I argue you become less and less interested in the others.
Neil Warren [00:55:13]:
Yeah. And that and that's kinda my Process of thought too. It's like there's guys that make these knives that are $1500 and stuff like that. Yes. They are still mostly CNC machined and things of that nature, But they're still one offs. They're still only putting that material on that 1 knife. You know, they're not they're not making like, I will make a run of Mambas with g ten, all OD green, OD green and black. You know, I try I prefer doing a whole bunch of different ones all the time, but I'm trying to make it blue collar as possible because people will see one that they like.
Neil Warren [00:55:52]:
Like, I want 1 with that handle. Okay. No problem. I can do that, you know. I I I like different stuff all the time. But So if I'm making a batch that aren't spoken for, I'll just grab materials and just guess what you're gonna get. Like, there's gonna be out there. There's gonna be browns With copper pins or brass pins, there's gonna be rich light blue ones.
Neil Warren [00:56:15]:
There's gonna be maybe forest green with tan pins or maybe lime green pins. You know, there might be some glow in the dark pens. You never know. Like, it's just gonna be, like, whatever I feel like making. I might do, like, a snake eye stain one and do, like, white g ten, which gets So dirty and it's annoying, but Oh, yeah. I can do white g ten with, like, red pins, like, oh, it's a snake eyes, you know. Like, I mean, from GI Joe. Like, you can do So many different things if you want to, you know, but if I'm if I have people just want whatever, then that's the availability.
Neil Warren [00:56:47]:
I'll try Keep it blue collar. That's the whole point with, like, the EDCs, is that they are blue collar entry level knife because that's the kinda guy I am. But versus spending 2.50 on a folder from certain companies that are forgetting their place, and a lot of people are saying that about them. I'm not gonna call them out per se. They sound like an inch made. But, You know, they, a lot of people are complaining about certain brands because they're they're they're forgetting that their Whataburger. They're they're not Ruth Chris Steak House.
Bob DeMarco [00:57:24]:
Neil Warren [00:57:25]:
You know, like, you're you're you're good, but you're not that good. So But people are willing to spend money on the name, so I'm going to if a if a 175 to 200, 250 is something people will carry in their pocket, then I can make a fixed blade. And, again, getting them water jet cut keeps that price level down. I started off with that price level, so I didn't have to start off higher when I was cutting them all out myself and then lower it. I started low and lost money basically Making them and to come with the Kydex sheath that I form for every single knife myself. You know, I don't send them off or get generic ones. Like, I'm forming those Myself, per knife, every single time. You know, I mean, that that all matters.
Neil Warren [00:58:10]:
Me ain't that much. Yes. Yes. You know, but they're small, lightweight, taco sheets. You know, they're not bulky. Like, I try to keep it simple, You know, but, yes, they're gonna scuff up your knife eventually, not kinda stuff. But it clicks in every time. You're not gonna lose it, you know.
Neil Warren [00:58:30]:
I mean, You got a little trade off there. If you're gonna use a knife, it's gonna get scratched up anyway. So
Bob DeMarco [00:58:35]:
Well, in closing, Neil, what what, advice would you give Budding knife maker or maybe someone who is, been making knives a while and considering, Making a run at having that be their main deal, what advice would you give?
Neil Warren [00:58:53]:
Oh my god. I have a plan b. No. Honestly, if you're gonna do it, try to build a customer base first. I got There's if you go back to my Instagram, there's plenty of story about how I ended up going full time. I didn't make the choice on my own. I was going through DeMarco. She left my son in special needs.
Neil Warren [00:59:15]:
His middle name is Maximus. Hence, the brand hence the brand name. He's special needs, so I'm taking care of him full time also. And so I couldn't work, Like, you know, he's at home. He's not he doesn't go to school when he's homeschool. So, literally, I got thrust into I've gotta make money with this right now. I was making kinda money on the side, but I could kinda do it whenever I wanted to, you know. But then it just was like, you gotta do this right now.
Neil Warren [00:59:45]:
So And it was literally I mean, honest, no. Actually, today is 1 year. Today is 1 year.
Bob DeMarco [00:59:52]:
Neil Warren [00:59:53]:
Oh, so tomorrow. I'm sorry. Tomorrow, January 4th is 1 year since I had had to go I woke up and I had no job. So, yeah, I had to go full time. But if you're going to make the choice to do it, build your customer base first. I was busy building my name in the community, which is still fine. You want people to know who you are because even their customers might find you even if that's that's not why I do it. So that kinda sounds grungy.
Neil Warren [01:00:23]:
I just like knowing people. I'm a social guy. You know? I like to be able to sit and talk to people in the same genre. Something I love to do. So like I said but I've built a network, everything, but they there is cross pollination, And there's so many customers. You're never there's no there's no real competition. There's really not. You know what I mean? Like, I I sold to guys that are That live up in Michigan near friends of mine, and they sell to people down here in Texas near me.
Neil Warren [01:00:51]:
It doesn't matter. There's way more customers than there are knife makers. You know, some people just may or may not like your style. That's fine. Whatever. You know, like, people I don't know if you know what a nut cutter is or the bull cutters. They're like this little snub nose knife. It's almost like a straight razor looking thing.
Neil Warren [01:01:09]:
Mhmm. There unfortunately, there's a lot of overseas makers that make a lot of these on Amazon. So I try to stay away from any of those old western styles because that's what they make the most of. But there's guys around here in East Texas that are still, hey, man. Do you make those? I'm like, nope. But I know a guy that does. And that's the whole part of, like, if you're in this community, it's like, I'm not gonna waste my time with those. I don't like them.
Neil Warren [01:01:33]:
I don't like anything about them. I don't I just just got my gig. Mhmm. So I'll send you to someone that makes them, and the guy is local. He's right down here. I know 2 people that make them. So it's like, I can send people elsewhere, you know. So like I say, that's the whole point of this community and and and getting known in the Community as people will get around to I had a guy send someone to to me to make a sort of sabre bread knife, and I've never made one before.
Neil Warren [01:01:58]:
So I made 1, you know, But it's just how it goes. So I'd say, but building up, I I get I get I I rabbit trail. I'm sorry. Back to the question, Build a customer base first before you go. I mean, build a customer base to where you're so busy, or I would say probably give yourself 2 years Of being so busy, you can barely go to your day job. Like, that's that's what you wanna you wanna guarantee That you're either matching your income already on the side and you you're not getting any sleep or you're not seeing your family, You know, you wanna know that you have that support there before you go full time because if you don't, you're gonna be scrambling. It's so hard. I'm not a tech guy at all.
Neil Warren [01:02:46]:
You should see the amount of cables I have running right now. It's ridiculous. Like, I'm not a techie guy. I'm trying to build my website. It's It's a horrendous website. I know it is, but I'm trying, you know. But I'm really good at what I do. And what I do is make knives.
Neil Warren [01:03:01]:
It's like, okay. Great. You know, try to try to find some local people also. Feed stores. I don't know. It is pretty prominent around here, maybe other parts of the country still have them, but, like, feed stores, even maybe some local pawn shops, Anywhere you can put your product in I mean, there's a cigar store right over here that my buddy, Kevin, does. You know, cigar shops, you know, put them in there. Anywhere you might be able to, you know, befriend the people, don't walk in, but, hey.
Neil Warren [01:03:30]:
I sell knives. You wanna carry them? Have some on you. Take them in. Say, hey. Look. I'll do these on consignment. You know, give them percentage. Like, do your whole thing, dude.
Neil Warren [01:03:41]:
It's a business at that point. You know, you gotta make sure that If you're doing it full time, it's a business. It's not just for fun anymore. You're paying bills, you know. And if you are younger and budding or, I mean, you can be older and budding too, but I'm gonna go with the younger and budding guys because I've been getting a lot of them following me lately. Definitely do as much as you can now. If you're still in high school, that's fine. Beg your parents for Whatever you can.
Neil Warren [01:04:12]:
Sell whatever you can. Sell your PlayStation and buy a forge, you know. Like, do something Productive with yourself to where you can get the tools you need to work on this craft, and you don't need much. You can get these cheap Weber anvils now. So you can get an anvil, a cast steel anvil pretty pretty inexpensively if you wanna forge. You can get a hammer Pretty inexpensively, even a good one. I would probably say you could get even the even the cheap, Amazon forge works. You know? Mhmm.
Neil Warren [01:04:48]:
Definitely wanna make sure you put stabilizer on the cable. You don't wanna be breathing that in. But, Like, you can probably, I would say, get into knife making for sub $700 And even start with an angle grinder like like I did. I literally was clamping a knife to a a wooden ladder and angle grinding the bevels on and then hand sanding them to a finish, you know, to get all that out, which was Insanely, like, hours of hands in, like, days of hands in to smooth out the bevels. But then then go get you a $50 1 by 30. Start somewhere. Just start somewhere.
Bob DeMarco [01:05:27]:
You know? There's no reason not to not to start if you don't wanna do it. It's certainly not materials, and, I I like that. Build your community first. I I would imagine know your product, build your community, and
Neil Warren [01:05:40]:
And never stop learning. Never stop that.
Bob DeMarco [01:05:43]:
Neil, thank you so much. Neil Warren of Maximus Knives, thank you so much for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. It's been a real pleasure. I look forward to a couple more minutes, for the Patreon. Patrons, we'll we'll we'll break a couple of more things out. I really appreciate it, Neil. Thank you very much, sir.
Neil Warren [01:06:00]:
Ever strop a knife again even though it gets no real use? Face up to what you are. You're a knife junkie.
Bob DeMarco [01:06:08]:
There he goes, ladies and gentlemen. Neil Warren of Maximus Knives. Lot of information there. I look forward to Asking them a few more questions. Be sure to check him out, Maximus Knives, on Instagram, and do check out that Mamba. I know a lot of people who watch The show love EDC fixed blades, and, that thing is pretty sweet. Just ask, mrs. knife junkie. She'll tell you true.
Bob DeMarco [01:06:33]:
Alright. For, Jim working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying until next time. Please, I implore you, don't take dull for an answer.
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