View Full Version : Up and Coming makers

Les Robertson
08-10-2001, 10:12 AM
Some time ago on Blade Forums, someone posted this thread. It started out ok and then digressed into everyone's favorite maker.

I saw names like Kit Carson, Darrel Ralph and Tom Mayo appear. I think most of us would agree that these are not "Up and Coming" makers.

For some like Mike Snody and Brad Duncan a year ago they were in this category. I think they have since moved past that category.

So who the up and coming makers out that? More importantly what is your criteria for putting these makers in this category?

Best Regards,
Les Robertson
Custom Knife Entrepreneur

08-10-2001, 11:46 AM
Criteria for me, is do people look at their work and buy it, is it something that catches the eye. Does it seem with every knife they get better and better?

For me my up and coming looks much like my BFTB list:

Eric Elson
Jens Ans?
Gavin Dickerson
Art Washburn
Neil Charity
Ron Leuschen (Little Hen Knives)

Sure there are plenty more, this is off the top of my head!

08-10-2001, 04:44 PM

I might take exception to your Neil Charity reference. BFTB sure, but U&C is incorrect. Neil is very well known in the southern hemisphere. He's an AKG best of show folder winner. His knives rarely last more than a day or two on the CKD. Most of his buyers admit having wanted one for many years, only to find him now available on the web.


08-10-2001, 04:45 PM
I wouldn't put Neil Charity in this category. He's been at it for quite a while. I would say that he's a good bang for the buck. It's just that he's not as well known to the US market. Steve Filicietti also. Lourens Prinsloo from South Africa. Great bang for the buck not well known to the US market, but not an up and comer. Well worth spending your money on though

08-10-2001, 07:43 PM
Ok sorry to Neil, I withdraw him from my list!

steve filicietti
08-11-2001, 07:48 AM
I agree, you got to leave Niel off the list. He has been making consistantly great stuff for years.

08-11-2001, 09:50 AM
Ok! He's off, shall I edit it ;-)?

08-11-2001, 01:35 PM
hmmm, I threw some names in Bang for Buck before I saw this thread but maybe they still belong.


08-11-2001, 09:52 PM

When would a maker's career pass through this line, in your opinion?


08-11-2001, 10:04 PM
I would like to add to the list,Bob Dogget.Dave

Les Robertson
08-13-2001, 08:10 AM

That is an excellent question.

For me, I watch what myself and other dealers think of a maker. Additionally, I listen to what my clients tell me. Also, on occasion I listen to other makers.

If as a collector you go to a couple different dealers web site and you see the same maker listed on 2 of the three. If you are at a show and there are 9 dealers there a new maker is on 2 or more of these tables. You are being told to pay attention to this maker.

Most of the well known dealers out there have been around for at least 10 years. Imagine how many knives we see, handle, buy, sell and trade on a yearly basis. Now mulitply that by 10, now times the numbe of dealers. Well you get the point.

So to see a maker you may have never heard of on several dealers tables or web sites. At this point, they are probably no longer "up and coming" makers.

I know for my part, if I place a second order with a maker, I no longer consider them up and coming makers.

Up an coming is kind of confusing term. As it may to some idicate someone who has only been at it a few months and is doing good work. To others like me, it implies someone who has been at it for a few years and who's work is showing a tremendous improvement.

For me, I like the bang for the buck makers more so than the up and comers. Too many of the up and comers get so many orders they get buried. As new makers they get these orders primarily of the price. However, as the makers starts to build these knives he/she finds out that they are not getting enough money. They know they can't raise the price on the orders. However, some feel it they raise the price on new knives, some will turn their backs on them feeling they did this only because their ego is driving them to do so.

They are now buried for a year. Because they have raised their prices the new orders have slowed. Many of these makers, because of the long delivery time (due in large part to their exposure as "flavor of the month" on the Internet) are now no longer even mentioned in the same fourms.

Collectors receive their new knife from this maker. Of course having lost his flavor of the month status the collector quickly posts this knife for sale on the Internet (as a reduced price).

The makers seeing this gets irritiated because this was the same guy who hounded me for 6 months about his knife. Also, the knife is now being sold at a substantially lower price than he is now asking for the same knife (with a 6 month wait).

If the maker can survive past this part it is then he may become an up and comer.

When I see the maker get past this point, their quality goes up, they start to develop a "style" associated with them. They show versatility (not making the same knife or slight variations on that knife) different types of knives, different materials, different construction techniques, etc.

They are no longer an "up and coming" maker. Now they are a custom knife maker. Who has to contiune to improve and get noticed. Today, this is a daunting task by any standard.


That Dogget guy seems to be entering in to that up and coming maker category. To think I knew him when he was just a "pup".

Actually, Bob fits exactly into my criteria. He has excellent mentors, he attends shows, has a presence on the Internet, shows versatility and has fair prices.

Now if I could just get him to give me that 50% discount he gives other dealers we could do some business! :D

Best Regards
Les Robertson
Custom Knife Entrepreneur

08-13-2001, 09:45 AM
50% discount? ... I paid full list ... where is that sucker? :)


Dennis Bible
08-13-2001, 04:18 PM
I would put Mike Obenauf in that category.

Les Robertson
08-13-2001, 09:40 PM

But why do you consider Mike an up and coming maker?


08-13-2001, 10:08 PM
Thanks for the nod, Dave, but I think I am still a year or so out before I could even be considered with any of those other names. I am not consistent, yet, on every aspect of putting a knife together. I am starting to develop a recognizable look, but I am nowhere near having my own style. I went to the Gator Show right when I started making knives. There was a lot of older stuff from "name" makers that looked nothing like what they make, and are known for, now. The same applies for all the books and magazines, where you can see the change in a maker's work over a period of years until they get the right formula.

To me, up and coming is just when a maker starts to hit that stride and really begins to make their niche. Sometimes it is right off the bat like Matt Lamey. Other times, it develops over years like Neil Blackwood. Some makers seem to plateau right there and never take the next step to being a truly successful knifemaker. You dial in your formula, then you continue to make it better every year, or you are going to get left behind.

I don't think I am "up and coming" yet, because I am still all over the place in design. I want to make a little bit of everything right now, because I am just having too much fun exploring and expanding my skills. I am just not starting to play with guards, which means a whole new type of knife for me to make. Same with folders...I have been so busy taking care of fixed blade orders, I haven't settled into folders yet.

I do have some significant advantages, though. I am very web savvy and it is working well for me. I have a national customer base that would have taken me years to establish the old way. I make my camera work for me.

Les is right...I have the best mentors in the world and I am totally humbled and grateful to be in this position. I am waiting for Steve to clean out that front bedroom and adopt me:) I only say this jokingly, but I have more mentors than Ii can shake a stick at:lol:

Also, thanks for blowing my scam, Les. I was milking Alex for every penny I could get out of him:lol:

Dennis Bible
08-14-2001, 01:04 PM
I think Mike really makes a nice folder for someone who has been making knives for as short a time as he has. He also has a great teacher in Kit Carson. The fact that he is Kit's apprentice will help him a lot I believe. Not only in the learning aspect, but also it should give him an advantage in the connection department also.

What do you think?

08-26-2001, 01:21 PM
Les what's your read on Pat Nihiser ? Yes I know those bolster's. I have one of his knives in the keep side of the safe.
Here's a pic. and des. of it.

3" satin finish ATS-34 blade with solid 14 kt. gold thumb stud.
Mokume Damascus bolsters with green anodized file worked liners and lock. Scales are Mastodon ivory with gold plated Torx screw throughout. Overall length: 7" Weight 3 oz.

My knives (

01-08-2002, 06:53 PM
I'd list two knifemakers.

Ron Leuschen from Little Hen Knives. He has an uncanny talent of building flowing knives, one that look like they grew instead of being made. Every line is a continuation of all of the others and his choice of materials is fantastic.

James Luman. His Damascus work is always pushing the limits, setting new standards.