Nick Rogers, Nitch Designs – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 395)
Nick Rogers of Nitch Designs joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 395 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.
Nick is a knife designer working with Artisan, Kansept, Two Sun and Bestech – creating stylish purpose-driven EDC knives and knife related merchandise. His “If you Know…” T-shirt is a knife world favorite, featuring a list of the alpha-numeric designations of our favorite blade steels.
Nick’s early labor of love, the Ingress frame lock went through multiple design iterations and prototypes and left an indelible style influence on his coming models, the Artisan Ahab and Kansept Ingress.
Other products designed by Nick and available for purchase include T-Shirts, hanks and patches as well as offering sharpening and blade regrinding services.
Find Nick Rogers and Nitch Designs on Instagram at www.instagram.com/nitch_dsgns.
Be sure to support The Knife Junkie and get in on the perks of being a Patron — including early access to the podcast and exclusive bonus content. You also can support the Knife Junkie channel with your next knife purchase. Find our affiliate links at theknifejunkie.com/knives.Nick Rogers of Nitch Designs, who has knife designs with Artisan, Kansept, Two Sun and Bestech, joined #theknifejunkie on episode 395 of the #podcast. Click To Tweet
Nick Rogers, Nitch Designs - The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 395)
©2023, Bob Demarco
The Knife Junkie Podcast
[0:00] 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. Welcome to the Knife Junkie Podcast. I'm Bob DeMarco.
On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Nick Rogers of Nitch Designs.
I first heard about Nitch Designs when three different prototypes of his early ingress model were doing the rounds for review.
I loved the Ingress, as did many other reviewers.
[0:36] And I was one of the lucky ones who ended up with a prototype for my collection.
Thank you, Nick, for your Ingress model remains the number one most coveted folder in my collection.
That's the one people keep asking for. If you're ever going to sell it, let me know.
Not happening. Nick now has models in production and development with Artisan Concept, Two Son and Bestech and has locked in a signature style basically across all those models.
He's also widely known for his If You Know t-shirt, which I would be wearing except it's at the bottom of my laundry basket and how do I know it's there? It's because that's the first t-shirt I always put on after I do my laundry. And if you know, you know. We'll get right to Nick, but before we do, be sure to like, comment, subscribe, and hit the notification bell. And as always, you can check out the show on Patreon to get a little bit extra. Do go check that out. The best way to do that is to go to theknifejunkie.com slash Patreon. Again, that's theknifejunkie.com slash Patreon.
[1:36] Don't take dull for an answer. It's the Knife Junkie's favorite sign off phrase and now you can get that tagline on a variety of merchandise. Like a t-shirt, sweatshirt, hoodie, long sleeve tee and more. Even on coasters, tote bags, a coffee mug, water bottle and stickers. Let everyone know that you're a knife junkie and that you don't take dull for an answer. Get yours at theknifejunkie.com slash dull and shop for all of your knife junkies merchandise at theknifejunkie.com slash shop. Visit the knife junkie at theknifejunkie.com to catch all of our podcast episodes, videos, photos, and more. Nick, welcome to the show. It's good to have you here, Nick. I just wanted to show everyone the knife I was waxing poetic about up front. This is your Ingress model.
This was a prototype. I think your first design that you had made into material form. I've always I always loved this thing.
It's definitely a weird one, a polarizing design. But yeah, I was surprised how many people seemed to really like it.
Yeah, an outstanding slicer and cutter and no doubt had a lot of influence on the designs you now have, coming along with all the four companies I mentioned.
And I may have missed one that I don't know about, but congratulations on your success with these designs. It's exciting to see.
[3:02] Thank you. Yeah, for sure. Or like the Ingress, pretty much everything I've designed from that point, I think, starts with like a focus on performance.
And sometimes that leads to weird looking knives, but I think they usually work pretty, well. Okay, so you say performance.
Now, what do you mean? Like what kind of performing are you looking for?
So, I mean, personally, for my daily life, slicing and, you know, tall grinds are usually my preference.
I mean, dealing with a lot of boxes and just kind of office type of tasks.
I don't live a super hardcore life, but I tend to like harder steels, wear resistant steels with really thin geometry that slice really well and are gonna stay sharp for a long time and then kind of go from there.
Okay, so you've obviously kind of built up a taste or a preference for the kind of things you want, knives in your own life to do, but you were talking before you were showing, about how your Instagram feed, which is kind of the locus of your online presence, You were talking about how it's a lot of pictures of your favorite Strider, which kind of defies everything you just said.
I mean, so people think that, but this is the knife.
[4:16] Just a normal Strider SMG, but it is a full flat ground SMG with a G10 scale, which is actually important.
So I mean, a lot of people, they hear Strider, they know vaguely about Strider, and it's a very tactical oriented brand, and there's a lot of cache to that.
But without knowing anything about the brand, this knife is just one that happens to perform really well.
So you don't have to care about anything else about the brand or the people that make it.
[4:43] But for some reason they made a knife that performs very well. The steel seems to be heat treated really hard, stays sharp for a long time, they use well performing steels and it's also ground a lot thinner than a lot of other production knives surprisingly. So there's just a lot about it that I like that is people do get kind of surprised by that because the brand itself has its own reputation but it's a good knife. Yeah the brand does have have a reputation but you know That to me, I've always been forgiving of, not forgiving of, but I don't have to like the artist to love the art, kind of ever.
It's never a prerequisite. So, but I don't have any issues with that.
But yes, I've had an SMF in my collection for a long time and there's a bit of mystique to that knife.
Just as there is a bit of mystique to, I'm gonna show the ingress again.
And some of that is because it's a prototype and it's a limited thing here, but I'm thinking about the designs that you are now selling through, the ones that really have my eye are the concept egress models.
Two different blade shapes, same handle, I think, and that handle is similar to this.
It has a profile very much like this one.
[6:08] It had, I mean, this shape, you look at this and there is some mystery, not mystery, that's not the right word, but there are some unusual shapes on there, but they all seem to make sense and they have a real beauty to them.
Well, I mean, the name sounds similar, right? Egress and Ingress.
This design, the Egress, is basically just the follow-up design to that initial Ingress.
It took a lot of the criticisms and feedback that I got from people at that time, which was, mainly that the ingress is a very wide knife. So it sits really wide in the pocket, which can be kind of annoying to carry for a lot of people and just a little bulky. It was not very heavy because of all the interior milling that was done, but a lot of people were preferring a slimmer design that was a little easier to carry and use. So this is basically very similar shape to the ingress basically just slimmed it down and taking basically the same blade minus the harpoon and it created this very geometric shape but it's still a very useful design so that one cliff blade shape that i started with because of its utility using draw cuts it's stayed with this design and then i added upon that with a couple other blade shapes like we were talking about before there's this this kind of wharncliffe harpoon, but it's got a bit more belly than the standard blade shape.
[7:34] And then on top of that, we have an actual front flipper super slicer with this full flat grind.
So some different options on this model.
Yes. Okay. So I was telling you before we started rolling that I just ordered my own and it was the second blade shape that you showed that wharncliffe.
And I was really vacillating between that and the front flipper version.
[7:59] I wanted, ultimately, I wanted the hole in the blade. that's kind of, you know, that was.
That was the thing that won it over. But I love that harpoon shape. I really like the, yes, I really like the straight edge and the nice point. I do not like cleavers as much because you don't get that point. Here with that swedge, it looks like it could really do a great job puncturing. For sure. Yeah, it's got a pretty acute tip on this one. Really good for piercing.
I know you're big into self-defense as a last resort with your knife, so this could definitely fit the bill as well. But it's just a good utility blade.
If you're doing a lot of detailed stuff, you can really get up on it and find cuts pretty easy.
[8:47] So the egress came on the heels, if my timing is correct, came on the heels of the Ahab, which you released through ArtisanCultury, another great company.
And as we were talking about before, Ahab obviously inspired spiritually, if not in a design sense, by Moby Dick.
So tell me a little bit about what goes into designing your knives and where your mind meets your hand and what happens there.
So like I mentioned before, a lot of the impetus for these designs is performance in a way.
I like creating something that is going to do what I want really well.
Going to slice through boxes or fulfill a certain task that I find in my day-to-day life.
[9:37] But at the same time, the whole reason I started designing knives was really just to learn more about the process and learn more about knives. I wasn't trying to really start a company or be this big brand.
I'm just a person who's interested in knives and I wanted to figure out what's going on with the internals. How hard is it to design like a pivot assembly?
All decisions go into actually making a knife that goes into production. So at the time I designed the ingress, I was really just getting a feel for how do I do a basic frame lock design. It's kind of the simplest version of a knife you can get. There's a limited number of parts. Just getting thing to pivot closed is a struggle all in itself that I had to figure out. But moving on from that family of designs, there was a few others with the ingress. I started getting into nested liner locks and I wanted to figure out, okay, how does this change the way that you have to design the knife, the internals, you know, having these basically scales that have to have this inside liner, It changes how things have to fit dimensionally.
[10:40] So I was experimenting a lot with that idea and this is an Ahab that Artisan recently made using Ultum scales.
It's a little prototype that they're debating whether or not they want to work with Ultum to do a bigger batch.
But it makes it a lot easier to see the skeletonization going on with the scales here.
Yeah, and the skeletonization, pardon my interruption, skeletonization really looks deliberate and aquatic.
You know, it looks like the ribs of a whale, you know?
Yeah, that's absolutely what I was going for. Just trying to keep things interesting.
But yeah, a lot of the things that I do when I'm designing is just figuring out, if I can do something new or do something maybe I think that hasn't really been done or explored very much, whether that's the mechanisms or just like the aesthetic of it. That's, usually what I'm more interested in doing. Sometimes that means designing things that that look kind of strange and maybe very different than most of the other stuff that's out, but it's kind of what I find interesting.
And then on top of all that, it has to do its job and actually cut things well.
So what were the main kind of lessons you learned from your initial outing and my connection, with your work so far? What were the things you learned through that process?
The ingress did not become a fully-fledged knife.
[12:09] Under your shingle. That's a very common and difficult hurdle to get over.
You had three prototypes, and you did a lot of research and development.
And it seems like you probably got a hell of a lot of information out of that process. What'd you learn?
Yeah, so much. Where to start? I mean, when I set out designing, I knew I wanted to do it in 3D CAD.
[12:38] That just made the most sense for being able to communicate as clearly as possible to a manufacturer.
[12:44] On a dimensional level like this is what I want you to make for me. So I started learning Fusion 360, which is a great program I recommended to everybody because it is amazing and it's free that's really important but I started using Fusion and right away there are certain things you run into like not knowing dimensions like the radius of a curve in actual numbers you know millimeters or inches you can model it out but then a lot of times you don't really know how that's going to feel in your hand if you've never done this before and I went through multiple rounds of prototyping because a lot of it was figuring out okay if I design it this way this is how it actually feels when they make a prototype out of it and fortunately for that Ingress design I I was working with WeKnives, who is a great company, great communication, and throughout the long time that we were working together on those prototypes, going back and forth with their engineers, submitting design changes, looking at their files compared to my files.
I learned a lot about the back end of doing the design work in CAD, how to model these parts accurately, so they had to do as minimal changes as possible.
And I think that is a really important skill If you want to have a manufacturer stay true to your idea, being able to model it accurately and in a way that is possible to make, that's really important.
Yeah, it seems like that's probably a huge part of it is learning that communication, learning the language.
[14:13] The technical language and how to talk to engineers and the fact that you had three different prototypes and just different back and forth, I bet that was like a university course.
Yeah, it was very helpful, having them to reference. I mean, there's a lot of things like this flipper tab is too pointy or this flipper geometry is not gonna work.
The first Ingress prototype actually was a flipper and I realized pretty quickly, that the way the pivot was positioned and how that geometry was, it was not the best for a good flipper action.
So you learn a lot of things when you're prototyping a knife for the first time that you can kind of carry on in the future designs, which helped me a lot.
So now with your newer models, I'm looking at some of the ones you had up on your Instagram feed, like the Prick and the Weyden and the Icarus.
[15:12] As you're, I'm not sure what states of development these are all in, which ones are out.
But as you go and as you design, Do you still get prototypes for everything you design and send in?
[15:29] Does that still happen with everything you make so that you can know what's happening, with the knife and how it feels in hand? Or do you just kind of send them the design and they're like, we'll take it from them? So as a general question, that's kind of like, what is the experience of licensing a design, basically? And I get that question a lot. I guess people are, A lot of people are getting in designing knives now, which is really cool.
And for the most part, yes, you do get a prototype. You'll submit your initial design.
There's usually some back and forth with either 3D or 2D as they revise it and figure out with their engineers how they want to actually make it. That usually involves some changes to the design.
But they'll usually, after that, you guys agree on everything, they'll send you a physical prototype to review. And that's super important to get the final feel of the ergonomics, You know, the action, any final changes you need to make, adding, jimping, removing texturing, like all those little details.
I don't think you could do without getting a physical prototype.
Part of the difficulty though is that you only get that one chance.
When you're working on your own design, like I was with the Ingress, like you said, I did three rounds of prototypes because I really wanted to make sure on a fine detail level that I was getting the knife that I thought was going to be the best for people to buy.
When it comes to licensing, there's a lot of things to consider like costs from the manufacturer, timelines. really.
[16:56] Are trying to speed things along. So you have one prototype, one chance to get all of your changes made and review everything and then you just kind of hope for the best after that. Right, right, right. It's their knife designed by you. They're in a sense, and I don't mean this in a in a untoward way, but in a sense they're using you to let they're leveraging your name to sell knives and your awesome design to fill their catalog with awesome design. So they're getting something out of you and you're getting something out of them for sure, seeing your designs being made real by some of the best companies out there, period. But yeah, I could see how, you know, all right, this is our knife. You make sure that this is in, we'll send you this prototype, but we're not going back and forth a million times. Whereas if it's your knife, you'll go back and forth however many times you feel necessary. Definitely. Yeah. I mean, from the onset, you're coming up with these designs, you think things are really cool and exciting, and you still have to pitch them to companies, right? There's no guarantee that what you're designing is going to line up with their style or their catalog, the things that they're trying to release that year.
So you kind of have to either design specifically for a company and match what you think is going to work for them or just kind of do your own style and hope for the best.
[18:11] But it's a long process of working with a company. It's very different than trying to do things for your own brand. Personal preference here, what would you prefer if one of the companies that you've worked with thus far that you love, you know, who does great work said, Nick, we want you to design for us exclusively and we just want to do your designs and you can't design for anyone else or have any of your designs produced by anyone else, how would you feel about that?
Just a hypothetical. I don't have a job offer.
[18:47] Yeah, that is a pretty sweet deal, if you can get it. There's probably only a handful of designers, I think, that I know of that are like the go-to designers for specific companies.
And it's really cool to have that opportunity to basically define the artistic direction of a company like that. For the licensing work, it is kind of nice because you work on the design, and then they really handle the rest. They do all of the marketing, all the exposure, they take it to shows. Sometimes they invite you to shows. That's always fun.
Doing things on your own is definitely more difficult, but I think it can be more rewarding also because you have a lot more control over the end product and you really get to define, your brand, your company, your values, everything. So it'd be a tough choice.
I think maybe as long as I could still make my own knives with that deal, that would be okay.
Yeah, I could see either way, you know? But yeah, it does sound like a pretty sweet deal.
I know Kombu, he's the only one I can think of who's got that, one of those kind of deals.
Oh, the late great Elijah Aishin was a big one for We Knives for a long time.
[19:57] I'd say for Artisan, you got Dylan Mallory is really a big face there.
He's probably come out with most of their big winning designs and now Chris from Cerberus Knives as part of Artisan family, so that's really cool.
Nice. Artisan, man, they're doing some really great stuff.
What did I just, oh, I just recently got a Ray Laconicco Sirius.
It's a couple of years old, but it's a beautiful, clean design.
And I don't have any Ray Laconicco in my, in my, it was, I had to, I had nothing in my collection.
But what about your collection? I know that you were a knife lover before you started doing this.
Tell me about your past and your history in design, but also in knife loving and how that all came together.
[20:42] Yeah, I mean, the design stuff is really new to me, actually.
I really didn't get into that until, I think, like 2018, just a few years ago, really.
And even before then, I had only been collecting for maybe a little over a year.
I wasn't like, I feel like a lot of people have nice stories about getting knives handed down to them as kids, and that really wasn't my upbringing. I grew up in Southern California and we didn't have too many needs for knives outside of the kitchen.
And besides movies and normal pop culture, I wasn't really exposed to too many knives.
We weren't like avid hunters or anything like that.
But I think it was around like 14 years old, I ended up getting a knife at a White Elephant gift exchange. That was really cool. I carried that for a while.
And then through college for some reason, the idea stuck with me.
I kept researching, watching videos online, scrolling through Blade HQ, just looking at all the things that I could not afford to buy with all of my student loans.
[21:40] Eventually, I actually put it aside because it was just making me too upset to see all these things I couldn't afford. But once I got out of college, you know, got a job, it was basically top of my mind. Once I got like that first paycheck, I was like, okay, it's time to buy like a really nice knife finally and see what that's about.
So, that's really what started the collecting. I just, like most people, just started buying knives that I thought were cool, trying to see the differences between different knives and did that for a while. Eventually that reaches some limitations, mostly of your budget, because you can only buy so many knives. I'm just the kind of person that wants to go deeper with things and learn as much about something as possible. I looked into knife making at the time, which I thought would be really cool, but it didn't make a lot of sense for me in my situation where I lived.
That is also very expensive to start, depending on how you do it. There's ways to do knife making on a budget, but the way that I made the most sense was going to have to wait.
[22:42] So Fusion, being free, made the most sense. I can just sit here and design knives and then I can actually send them out and have them prototyped.
That's a really new experience where I feel like I can learn a lot about this hobby, about knives, you know, it really takes this a lot deeper than I was.
So that's kind of how that developed.
That's something that's amazing everyone's got a computer obviously everyone's got that technology and then you add the free.
Software that's available and then you add on top of that the availability of top notch oem manufacturing that is affordable with you know with.
However you raise the money for it it's it's within reach to many many people that's amazing thing it reminds me of a.
[23:26] Steven Spielberg quote from, I don't know, back in the 70s or something. He said, the future, in the future it'll be, you know, 12 year old girls with video cameras making movies in their garage, you know. And he was right, you know, because everyone's got a camera and there are people who are doing things very differently than they were in the past. And, you know, we are all beneficiaries of that because I get to get your designs in my pocket. Whereas, if If you had to start by knife making, no doubt you'd start fixed blade making and then that would be a long and arduous and wonderful process, no doubt.
And then eventually you would dip your toes into, you know, folder making.
Probably that's most of the time the route people take. They don't generally want to show.
That's basically the path I'm on now, yeah.
So you're making knives now?
Yeah. So I have some here that I've been working on. But like specifically starting with culinary knives.
[24:22] Because that's just kind of an interest of where I'm at right now I know it's not showing up too well with the lighting, but it's showing up beautifully This is a clip point chef's knife my lord. That is gorgeous. I love that profile man.
[24:37] Yeah, interesting one. We'll see how long it takes for someone to snap the tip off this thing. Oh, I could do it real quick quick. Hey, tell me about this knife, how thin it is.
Because to me when I think of kitchen knives like that's a very demanding thing to build and unforgiving That's the word I'm looking for. It seems like a very unforgiving knife to grind, So you just jumped right into a kitchen knife making well, I wouldn't say I jumped into that.
[25:07] It's been kind of an arc of how this has developed, right? So I started with the collecting and I did that for a while I felt like that gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about pocket knives what I liked about knives, I learned a lot about the metallurgy, the construction, used all that information to start designing pocket knives, holding knives for different companies and that was really educational and insightful but, I'm kind of relentless and I still wanted to continue to take things deeper, but like I said, knife making is expensive. The equipment, everything that you need to get started with that, it could be kind of a barrier for a of people and it was as it was for me. So I have this kind of pragmatic approach where I actually started with sharpening and I did start a local sharpening business. It was all freehand sharpening and I did it out of my garage and I'd have people constantly coming over dropping off knives, and that gave me an opportunity not only to save up some money because that is a business but.
[26:06] Learn a lot about how to sharpen knives, different geometry of knives, you're dealing with a lot of kitchen knives, a lot of times really cheap kitchen knives. You get to see how these things work, how well different types of knives cut and you spend a lot of time sharpening. You learn a lot about the metallurgy, what heat treatments are good or bad. It's actually really educational and on top of all of that, you know, you gain a lot of body mechanics doing it freehand the way that I was doing it. So, I did that for a good while and I think it was after a year or so.
So eventually you get tired of sharpening other people's really cheap kitchen knives.
But I had enough money saved up that I could finally start getting some real equipment.
You buy like a 1x30 grinder, that's helpful for sharpening.
You can speed up corrections like reprofiling, fixing chip knives and things like that.
So now you've added another equipment.
And on top of that, you can add something else like a bigger grinder that can make you, do sharpening a lot faster.
You can basically slowly build up the tools that you need to actually build a complete knife that way without having to do the whole thing all at once, which is financially pretty rough.
That is beautiful. All right. So if you're just listening, Nick has about an eight inch.
What is that? About an eight inch.
[27:24] Yes. Okay, so why the clip point on the chef's knife? And I am not arguing. I think it is, perfect. But tell me, why did you go with a clip point?
So I do have some of these eight inch chefs that are going to be like normal Kyoto style with a thicker point. But the idea behind the tip is it's basically less material, so less resistance when you're cutting through certain foods. There are certain cuts. Like if If you've ever diced an onion, a lot of times they're going to slice through a few times to create some layers and then you'll actually want to go and create lines through it before you go and do the main dicing portion of it.
And having a really thin cross section is really easy to slip in and do little cuts like that.
So, I'm hoping it'll be, you know, beneficial for little detailed things like that and then you still have the main thick portion of the blade that it can do like the heavy chopping and smashing against the cutting board.
Yeah, I love that. But like I said, hopefully it holds up because this is 26C3 steel.
So, it's similar to like a Japanese white paper steel and it's run pretty high.
I had these done to 65.6 Rockwell.
So, definitely higher than the kitchen knives that most people are going to be used to.
[28:36] But for the type of steel that it is, it should hold a really fine edge and really fine geometry pretty well. So, I'm excited to see how they actually work.
The whole idea of that clip point makes total sense now that you mentioned it.
Less resistance, less surface area at the tip when you're swiping it through an onion or that is cool because I recently bought, I brag a lot about it, I don't brag about it, but I love this new custom chef's knife that I got. It's nice and thin and I can do things that I couldn't do on my shuns or with my Henkel or my Wusthof, which those are nice knives, but by comparison, you know, they're a mile thick, you know, and their wedges. And it's a whole revelation. And I'm looking at.
[29:22] At that knife and I'm really liking it. But I'm loving the idea of less surface area at the tip.
Stan Yeah, I think it's kind of, you know, a utility to have something that you can really, especially through foods that are a little stickier and harder to get through or really rigid foods.
I think it can be nice just to not have to fight a thicker material basically. But so, So these started at basically 100,000 thick material, which is actually pretty thick if you're thinking about like Japanese style knives.
But once everything is kind of said and done, you lose some material after grinding off the heat trading scale and stuff like that. So it's probably around 90,000, I would think.
And then it's a full fat grind, basically ground to a zero edge, like I think most kitchen knives should be. So it's definitely a good slicer.
Yeah, that having it ground like that means that even when it's dull, it's still cutting.
You can still cut through a lot of stuff with that, you know.
Onions for... Yeah, that was something I learned through sharpening and collecting is like the geometry is really a lot more important than having the most wear resistant steel sometimes.
[30:34] Like a really thin geometry at a good hardness that you can sharpen and deeper really easily.
And that's going to serve you really well.
So this is a smaller utility size knife. Here I can do like a side by side.
You can see the size difference. So this is kind of like my first line of knives that I'm trying to finish.
I have this and then the first, very first one that I did was this little paring knife.
So when you say the very first, do you mean the very first model or the very first example you're holding in your hand?
This is the very first knife that I've ever made myself. Okay, okay. So how many of these have you made, would you say?
[31:10] These are the first three. Yeah, finally done. So it's really a more recent thing that I finally got into.
The steel, getting it back from heat trading, doing all the handles, all this stuff is very new to me. Okay.
So it's a big learning curve. Alright, so I'm going to back off but I'm going to keep my eye on that clip point chef's knife. I really like the idea of that but of course, you know, that's your first one. You got to keep that, you got to test it, you got to use it in the kitchen.
Those will be going out. The paring knife is the first one and I feel like on most people's first knives, you make a lot of mistakes. There are certain things about this that I cannot sell it but I will enjoy using it and I've already cut myself with it so it is plenty sharp and capable, but the other two are going to be going up probably for some of my Instagram in a little bit once they're done which should be pretty soon here and then I have a bunch of other blanks that I'm working on that I will be working on finishing including I think a couple more clip points and then like I said some yodos and a lot more of these utility size knives so if anyone is interested that can always hit me up on Instagram. I'll definitely have some available.
So are you doing other kinds of knives with different kinds of grinds?
Or are you all all culinary right now?
[32:26] For the most part it is culinary. I have a handful of really small hunting knife blinks, that I thought would be interesting just as a little, it's a little bit different because you're grinding a bevel that's not going to go all the way to the top, which means your bevel has to to be really clean, which I'm finding is a struggle right now. But it's an interesting challenge to do something a little different like that.
The reason I ask is, is that the geometry on say, the chef's knives you were holding up compared to the geometry on say the egress, one of the egress knives are going to be very different and I was just wondering if...
If there's any sort of prerequisite to, or I shouldn't put it that way, if actually grinding knives and working on the geometry of knives by hand informs when you're sitting down at the computer and you're like, okay, let me look at this blade in cross-section.
[33:21] Definitely. I mean, when I started way back in 2018, we were kind of at the tail end of like a big tactical knife craze. And what I thought at the time was all you really had to do to stand out was basically have a manufacturer grind a knife as thin as they possibly could and it would cut better than 90% of the knives that were on the market at that time. So, that's basically what I told we. I modeled the ingress as thin as I thought that they would be able to grind it.
I think they had to thicken it up a little bit when they sent me the revised CAD, but I wanted them just to take it as thin as they really could without it warping or doing bad things during heat tree but they got it very thin and that knife really cuts the way that I wanted it to which was really great. But in addition to the making of knives, before that, you know, after the sharpening, once I had gotten a grinder, something that I added on to my portfolio of things I could do was regrinding knives. So that's also really educational. People send you...
Pickly ground holding knives and working with them to get a geometry that's going to cut a lot better I think that also teaches you a lot about how to design a knife that's going to cut the way that you want it to, Well, okay, so is doing regrinds on blades other people's knives. Is that helping you with the?
[34:42] With the grind you were talking about say on the camp knives or you're not fully flat grinding it maybe you're saber grinding it, has to be even and clean on both sides. Is doing the regrinding, helping you in that process? It does a little bit, yeah. So regrinding is actually a really good place for people to start. The very first knife that I tried to bring to a grinder was like a cheap Cuisine Art. You can buy them in like packs of five from Target. They come in all kinds of colors and they basically just have a machine that cuts in these really small bevels that go up maybe like a quarter inch of the blade and they don't cut that well. And those are really good to start with because you have a bevel that's established that you can just widen out. When you're grinding a knife from scratch from a blank, it's actually one of the most difficult parts I'm finding to create that initial bevel when there's nothing there, right? If you're doing a V-grind, especially if you have something like a full flat grind, you have so much already established that you really don't have to mess around with finding the angle and kind of tuning it, you just slap it against the grinder and it's kind of gonna be where it's supposed to be.
But doing something from scratch is a little bit harder.
Yeah, that makes sense.
[35:55] And I get you also talking about the type of grind that's good to start with might be like a.
[36:01] I'm looking over at the wall like you can see, like a cheap Mora or something that has a nice defined and steep angle approach to that edge.
And you can feel it and be very much on that.
And then gently widen it out. That's interesting. Absolutely.
And I guess a huge part of regrinding is worrying about the heat treat, no doubt, because you could, you know, if your machine is running too fast, whatever, you're not cooling it.
I don't even know what you do to cool it. Do you dunk it in oil as you're doing it or water?
So what I do personally is just have a really cheap misting system, which is what I would I would recommend anyone who has a grinder and is trying to do any work on knives, basically just have an air compressor.
It's hooked up to a little, basically just a feeding tube with water and it's just spraying water at the grinder while you're doing things with the knife. And it keeps it cool.
It makes it so you don't have to really stop and quench it very often.
And it protects the heat treat. That's definitely the most important part.
It seems like all of the steps you're taking or you've taken including your design work, like your very popular t-shirt, which like I said, I wear it all the time, I love it, and then all my friends are trained, they're like, those are knife steels, right?
They got it initially, they're like, what is that? Are those? And I'm like, yes.
[37:28] But what I was getting to is every step you're taking, including that design work and the supplementary or adjacent design work, all seems very deliberate, like a very deliberate step-by-step approach to building a business.
How are you finding the approach to business and what are you coming out of?
Do you have another career that this is dovetailing with coming out of.
No but i'm glad you think it's all pretty much very much very much is not.
And it really doesn't have anything to do with my day job i work from home i set a computer basically all day but it's not.
Website design and that kind of stuff it's really like data work and programming databases.
[38:15] All of this night making business websites like all of that was all new to me and that was all stuff that i had to learn when i got started.
But that's just what interests me is taking on new challenges, trying to see how things work, how to, you know, learning new things like that.
It's just kind of what I've always been interested in doing.
And I really have not done too much of this in an organized way, I don't think.
I'm kind of just following my passions a little blindly when it comes to knives, but it's kind of worked out so far.
I know you mentioned in the intro that like the designs that I have and these different manufacturers, maybe they have like a cohesive language.
I don't really feel that they do, honestly. A lot of them are born out of completely different ideas and maybe one of them is just like, I wonder if I can figure out how to model this type of a knife infusion and then this design is born from that idea.
[39:13] Oh, I know you may think that. No, I'm just kidding. It's not up to you, Nick.
No, I'm just kidding.
But I saw even in what's the knife that you're working on right now that has the coffin inlay in the beautiful leaf shaped blade Yes, Yeah, so this is the one I'm going to wait in with artisan It's another front flipper, but yeah kind of spade shaped blade, now to me this is is, you know, it looks different, of course, but it speaks in the same language as say the egress that I want to get. I don't need to keep coming back to that egress. I just really like that. But it has that same.
[39:55] You know it doesn't have the harpoon in some of the extremities but it has the same gentle curve to it. It does have that uh you know an arc on the top and a real unique uh flare. I don't know I you put them like that maybe they don't look exactly alike. So I will grant you uh I'll grant you that for a long time uh I could not get away from harpoons and that was just a thing that I like. Um I'm actually one of the reasons that I enjoy watching you know your videos and your podcast so much is because I feel like we have some similarities in the types of knives that we like, and a lot of times just the aesthetic of the knives that I like are very aggressive.
[40:34] Harpoons tend to aid with that but yeah I like things with really good piercing tips that look really aggressive that look like you know they could do some damage even if you're only using them on boxes. Maybe that's just watching too many movies growing up. Well that Wade in, you know, know, I have mixed feelings about harpoons. You know, sometimes I think they look great like on this and like on the egress. Sometimes I think they look awful like on a like a like a hinderer sponto or something like that. It's just like, you know. But on the Wade in there, it looks like some of the youthful enthusiasm that goes into that is inherent in the harpoon design period.
I think that's like a, I think people design the harpoon, it's like, ooh, that it looks aggressive, you know, even people like Rick Hinderer, I think. But here on the Wadean, it's made into a gentle wave.
It's still there, it's still present overall, but it's maturing.
Definitely, yeah. So this is, the Wadean is probably the most recent design that I've actually done in CAD. And...
[41:48] It's probably the most evolved or how should I say because it's the most recent I feel like it's got a lot of the things in the design that took me a long time to learn. So like having these flowing lines and getting everything to work together like that was kind of a challenge.
[42:05] One thing that I did with this that I haven't done previously was having these chamfers that actually follow design but actually veer away from it a little bit to create some more dimensionality.
It's got a backspacer that follows it but also raises up above the frame a little bit.
So there's a lot of really little details like that that took me a while to kind of figure out how to do not only how to model infusion but how to make it look nice and flow well with the design.
And I think this captures a lot of that elegance that I've been trying to for a long time.
Yeah, the chamfers are something you mentioned in one of your posts about that.
And they really do look like they're going to create an enhanced comfort because they're not following the exact contours. And can you hold that up again, please? And hold it vertically and on the show side, if you don't mind. So you have this really cool little inlay. And two things about this inlay. First of all, it's a coffin shape, which is beautiful. And I always love the the coffin shape in handles of knives, whether it's a bowie handle, a profile, or an inlay like this, but I haven't seen an inlay like this on a modern knife.
It's also, I look at that and I'm like, oh, this is like in a movie.
[43:20] At the end of the movie where they're like, is he dead or not?
Now we have a sequel.
You can make an automatic out of this thing using that little coffin button.
Oh man. Definitely, yeah. That is a conversation that I've had with Artisan or even a manual button lock that we thought would be really cool because we do have that there.
The coffin actually will be changing for the production version.
We decided to go with a houndstooth shield for people who are familiar with that.
Probably my favorite traditional knife shield, but we're basically going for a bit of a modern traditional look, even though it is very modern when it's coated in black and has time ask this like this.
Yeah, I like the inlay and I like the tip of the hat to traditional knives.
You are a, you love traditional knives and I know you love the GEC 47, you know, just about as much as anyone.
That is the Viper, that's the classic swayback and I think you have it in a couple of, I think you have that plumb bone and you have it in the, oh God, it's such a great knife, such a beautiful knife. That's Kokobolo.
[44:32] This is just Ironwood actually from their 2020 run, but really good grain on this one.
But yeah, you know, it's a weird thing because...
I feel like a lot of people, when I started collecting knives, you see a traditional knives and it's kind of like that's that weird group of people over there that collect old man knives and I don't really understand it. But for whatever reason, you know, at the end of 2020, they decided to release a run of these swayback wharncliffs. And I've always been a sucker for wharncliffs. Like we talked about something about that aggressive shape just kind of calls to me.
But I saw that and then I just got sucked down this GEC rabbit hole and now I've got, probably way too many of these Warncliffe guys but yeah, I love it. I use them for apples, really good for utility cuts, easy pocketable, it's nice.
They patina beautifully. How many are they all 47s that you collect?
I have a lot of 47s and I have a couple 48s which is a dogleg pattern.
I have one that's an improved track or improved trapper. Oh, yeah Oh with the wharncliffe and a muskrat clip point and then I have another one that's got their, big clip and a pen blade but.
[45:47] 47 is definitely a favorite. Yeah, that was the one I was waiting for them to come back out with they finally did in 2020 I feel like that was my last great GEC score. So are you are you gonna make some slip joints?
That's what I'm getting at because you've got this abiding love of GECs.
I remember you mentioning when I finally got my plumb bone in 2020, you mentioned something about it.
And I was like, that's right. Nick loves these.
Are you going to have you designed some of these?
I have designed a couple of slip joints. Yeah. It's just a harder knife to sell, I think, just because the audience is a little bit smaller.
But right now, mainly I'm trying to see if I can get a custom maker to work with me and collaborate on a design for one of these.
I think that would be really cool.
But for myself making them, I think slip joints could be a cool place to start. they are.
Mechanically maybe a little simpler than like a folding knife or a tactical knife.
Even though from everything I've seen they look much harder to finish and make look nice.
[46:55] Yeah and to get certain things like the the lock geometry so that at the half stop everything's flush. You know you got to please the the nerds with the slip joints just like you got to please the nerds with every other kind of knife you know. Yeah so there's a lot of details for slip joints that if you're not into it, you may not know that they're actually kind of a detailed thing.
You might have seen my custom knife makers and they go for prices that may be strange to some people, but there's actually quite a bit of work that goes into them.
I had the pleasure working with Benny from Jack Wolf Knives on some of that design work.
He definitely is an expert on slip joint knives and the stuff he's making is probably the the highest quality in terms of modern slip joints that I've seen.
Yeah, me too, hands down. There are, that being said, there are plenty that I haven't checked out, but in terms of production, slip joints, I can't imagine it getting better, but I'm willing to be challenged on that.
I'd love to check, there are a bunch of knives like the Ohio River knives I haven't checked out yet.
Love to check those out.
[48:03] But I do like this idea of designers such as yourself having your hands in a number of different things, designing slip joints, designing and having produced a bunch of modern locking folders, making by hand kitchen knives.
I mean, this gives you a, you know, a breadth and.
[48:26] You have a lot to draw on from all of those different disciplines that can help in the other, you know, cross over into the other disciplines. Definitely. And that, I would imagine that to you, that makes you a better designer. Would you say that's true? Yeah, I think anything you can learn about knives is going to help with design work. Having experience making knives and knowing what's possible with shapes and, you know, what feels good to use, you know, that's going to be really important for when you go to design something of your own. And I know you've worked with.
[49:00] Making some knives in your garage that I've seen that actually look pretty cool and I think you are working on having one of them made maybe by someone else. So it's an interesting process.
I think like a lot of people, you just do it because you like it and you're not necessarily doing it in such an organized way. But I think it all feeds back into each other. The more that that you know about the hobby, the more that you know about knives, the more you can make, better decisions on how to design something that's going to be useful and comfortable and perform well.
And the more you do it and the more interested you are and the more you evaluate, say, what you already have or what you've already made, it seems like it opens up and there's ever more.
I frequently ask, like, where does it go from here? Have we seen peak titanium frame lock folder?
And I'm happy to say that a lot of people say no, but what would you think?
[49:58] I mean, I really don't think we're at the end of that yet. It's interesting to see all the trends constantly shifting, but I really like the cool things that have been coming out recently. People like TW Price Designs and Null Knives, I think they're doing really cool stuff when it comes to taking something as simple as a titanium frame lock and elevating it with textures you've never thought of and contours and things that just make the design pop.
There's a lot of ways you can be creative with something that is really basic like a knife.
So I think there's a lot of fresh blood coming into the design scene that are bringing interesting ideas.
So that's really cool to see. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think I think I'm being I'm not being generous.
It's just because something has is not being too much innovated on at this point doesn't mean that it's not something that's here to stay.
And you know like rock and roll for instance goes through all different sorts of iterations but but the frame lock the titanium frame lock or or the nested liner lock modern folder is here to stay and you know designs in within those those confines will will come and go and they'll be great and everything but there there will be other things to innovate with like like the magnetic knives or different locking mechanisms and stuff like that. What importance do you place on.
[51:25] Innovation? Is there anything that you want to see change or are you more of a how it looks and how it functions, or how it functions and how it looks, I should say.
No, I think innovations are basically the only way to push this hobby forward.
When I first started designing, I was basically trying to come up with new ideas that I hadn't seen implemented before. Even on the ingress, there were certain features that didn't make it into the final knife that I was trying to experiment with. I had designed a locking mechanism that was kind of like a reverse compression lock, but on a frame lock side.
I designed a pivot where you can screw down basically this cam to lock the pivot in place you didn't need lock tight and you can find tune it.
There's a lot of different things that are kind of quality of life for having a knife there's a lot of struggles of maintaining a knife and i think there's a lot of ways to improve that.
It's kind of fortunate at the same time that there's.
A limited number of things you can change on the night because i think that also makes it really approachable for people that are just coming into the hobby you're getting into design.
It's not this crazy complicated machine. You know, it's kind of something that we can all understand and make these little improvements to.
Right, it's still a knife.
[52:43] Still a folding knife. So what design are you, what design problem do you want to solve or what is the ultimate knife you want to design and make?
I'm sure actually the ultimate knife you want to design is different from the one you want to make right now, but what's out there that's kind of pulling you along?
I mean, in terms of innovation, there's not really too much that I've been chasing at this point.
So like this knife, the prick that I did with Tucson was kind of an experiment in that direction as well.
So this is actually an integral. That's beautiful. Really simplified design, but kind of I started with a very simple profile for this design and then it kind of got away from me during the design phase, which sometimes happens.
But the idea was to create something very simple that actually operates in a bit of a complicated way.
And an integral was kind of an interesting way to do that.
This has a bunch of internal milling that you can't see under the scales.
And the initial idea was to have the internal milling basically also allow you to fasten the lock bar insert from internally so that you couldn't see any hardware.
You can see that the pocket clip is also blind screwed, which usually you would not be able to do, but because there's basically skeletonization going on, you're able to get it through the inlay. So mechanically...
[54:09] I feel like I've been trying to explore different things but then a lot of times I just come back to well, a frame lock works really well. Sometimes you don't need to change it too much and I feel like that is really why I come back to carrying the Strider basically all the time because, it's just a reliable knife that is very simple and you know, you don't really have to worry about it too much, it just kind of works and sometimes over complicating things creates more opportunities for a knife to fail in some way.
Yeah, no doubt. It's like having a super sophisticated airplane, fighter jet, or having an old propeller jet.
I mean, they can both splash down, but one's got a lot more that can go wrong with it.
That can affect the whole thing. What, to you, is the benefit of the integral?
Now, I know it's cool, and it's also flex for the manufacturer but from a user's or owner's standpoint what's the benefit?
[55:13] I mean for one you are talking about limiting the number of parts so there's a certain stability that comes from just having a unibody design like this. There's a lot less to basically maintain with parts the fewer screws and the fewer like internal mechanisms that you have to to clean out and deal with, I think the better it is going to be for the longevity of the.
And simplifying it in this way, I think the goal is basically just to create something that is a little harder to fail, right?
If you can break this solid piece of titanium that's a block, that's going to be way harder to do than trying to pull apart some scales that maybe are just fastened together with really tiny T6 screws or something like that.
Right, okay, so I don't have any integrals, obviously, that's why I asked that question.
But I'm kind of fascinated with them and I've been told that they're very easy to disassemble, but that's still kind of mysterious to me because I never have.
But they seem like they would have the rigidity of, say, a Strider because Strider has that, the way it's built with the sort of half integral G10.
It feels like a really, really solid, solid thing.
Yeah, I mean, to be fair, a lot of integrals are actually pretty difficult to take apart because you're basically unscrewing the pivot.
And then in most integrals, you have to slide the blade out through the tip of the handle with the bearings, any washers that might be included, and then clean them, and then gently try to put them back in place, put the pivot back in to hold everything together.
So that was another problem I was trying to solve with this design.
You can see it has this really big pivot disc.
[57:00] So on this design, it's actually a lot easier because once you remove the pivot discs, everything is just sandwiched together kind of like a normal knife.
There's basically a much bigger hole in the pivot than you would normally see.
And that is able to fit washers, bearings, and you can kind of take everything apart and put it back together like you would a normal knife.
That's pretty cool. I really like the look of that giant pivot too. That's a beautiful knife. I like that.
I like all of the designs of your knives.
I gotta say, of the newest ones I've seen, the Weyden is a knockout.
That thing is gorgeous.
So in closing, what do you wanna see niche designs become? Now I know you claim that this hasn't been deliberate from an outsider's point of view.
You know, it looks different. So what do you want the company to become?
What do you want your designs to evolve into?
And you know, what do you want the whole niche designs name to me?
[57:55] Yeah, it's an interesting question. I mean, I have to ask myself that pretty often. And I don't have a clear answer to be honest with you. Like I said, a lot of it is just me pursuing whatever is catching my eye at the time. When it comes to the design work, you know, things like the weight in that's going to be coming out later this year, through artisan, it all goes according to schedule. But I mean, beyond this, I really only step in to design something new if I feel like I have a new idea of something that is not being done right now which fortunately is not too often because there's a lot of people doing a lot of interesting things right now. So a lot of my focus has shifted to making my own knives. That's been a really interesting source of challenging, you know, new challenges I should say, trying to learn new things when it comes to knife making. So I feel like I'm going to take that and see how far I can run with that. You know, if that turns into making slip joints or making folders and getting more involved in that process that would be really cool too. But I don't have a lot of pressure that I put on myself to keep cranking out new designs because I don't just want to...
You know, keep designing things and drawing things just because I feel like I have to.
I really only want to do that if it feels like I have something interesting to say.
[59:12] Now, I think it's really working for you. I mean, you can tell that each one of these, designs are a passion project. Nothing about them seem like work or like obligation. Nick, thank you so much for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast. It's been a pleasure to have you on at Long Last. We've chatted a lot over the years, so it's great to have you here. And thanks a lot.
Thanks. It was a lot of fun. My pleasure.
Do you like the sound of the alphanumeric combinations M390, 204P and 20CV but bristle at 8CR, 1.3MOV and AUS-8? You are a knife junkie. Probably worse.
[59:47] There he goes, ladies and gentlemen. Nick Rogers of Nitch Designs. You'll look for an upcoming egress review. It won't be a review. It'll be a gushing, I know, because I know who made it.
It's awesome and I know who designed it. It's beautiful, so I'm sure I'll love it.
Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for that and keep your eyes peeled for another great interview next Sunday.
Also, there's the Wednesday midweek supplemental and Thursday night knives 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time right here on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.
For Jim working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying until next time, don't take dull for an answer. Thanks for listening to the Knife Junkie Podcast.
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