A while back we hosted a reader question about groomsman knives. As I just got married a couple of weeks ago (that’s me arguing the finer points of the seating arrangements above), I figured it was time to revisit the subject, this time for my own attendants!
First off, I’d like to apologize for my lax output these last few weeks, and thank Clay for cutting me some slack in the run up to my nuptials. Things have finally started to return to a new normal, and I have been able to get back to more writing.
I’ve actually been thinking about my groomsman gifts for a long time. As a knife blogger and owner of my own knife company, I naturally had to give something sharp to my guys. As I pondered what that something should be, I assembled quite a list of requirements which made the selection fairly difficult.
In the process I got to play one of my favorite games. I call it knife-algebra. Take the variables (needs/wants) and solve for X (the knife needed to satisfy the needs/wants).
I wanted the blade to be actually useful, so nothing purely ornamental at the expense of utility, and I wanted my guys to be able to carry it and use it safely if they so chose. But it also had to be something special. To do that, I needed the following:
(L) A Legal-Compliant Blade: amongst my entourage were guys that can’t carry anything larger than 2.5” due to their local regulations, or live near places that have an outright ban on assisted opening knives. Playing to the smallest common denominator then, a sub-2.5” manual blade was needed.
(S) Decent Steel: This would be a lifetime gift. I didn’t want to give my guys something from the low end of the spectrum such as 420HC or the like. Something a knife enthusiast would be proud of is needed.
(H) One hand operable: I didn’t want to give a slipjoint, but rather something that only needed one hand to operate. A strong lock would be a bonus.
(G) Gentlemanly: I wanted the knife to be a certain amount of “classy” – they ought to be able to carry the blade in an office or in a suit pocket.
(E) Engravable: A place for their initials to make the knife extra-special.
(U) Made in the USA: This was the biggest hurdle to clear. For an event as special as a wedding, it was no time to be giving out something made overseas as far as I was concerned.
So a small, unassisted, one-hand operable, US-made gentleman’s knife with space for engraving and good steel. Yikes! For those keeping track, the equation is thus:
(L + S + H + G + E) / U = X
There is just one small problem… I never did manage to find a knife I was happy with that fit the equation. A few came very close… the Kershaw Scallion was on my radar, but the spring-assist and cheap steel kept me away. The closest was probably the Spyderco Dragonfly with stainless steel handles. It fit all my criteria except for the made in USA bit.
So, in the same spirit that led me to start Nordsmith Knives, since I couldn’t find what I wanted, I designed it myself!
I don’t have a name for this small fixed blade yet, but it is my take on a pocketknife. It has just enough handle length (about 3 and a half fingers) to take on most everyday utility needs.
Measured from tip to scale, the blade falls under the 2.5” length, satisfying (L). AEB-L steel takes care of (S) and then some. Thanks to a slim, leather pocket sheath, the knife is easy to carry and can be deployed readily, meaning (H) is no problem.
As for (G), I wanted to maintain the signature Nordsmith colors of green with yellow liners. To class it up, I ordered some beautiful jigged bone covers in green that were actually made by a slipjoint parts maker. Against the yellow G10 of the liners, the colors really pop. A little extra detailing on the sheaths thanks to my buddy Spen at JRE Industries completes the gentlemanly package.
It must have worked. The guys were blown away and almost immediately one of them exclaimed “Tux knife!”
Which brings us to (E). The blade steel is 3/32” thick with an almost full height convex grind with secondary bevel. This not only keeps the geometry nice and slicey, but it also leaves a nice unbroken side to the blade. Perfect for centering some laser engraved initials without having to worry about the lines from the grind’s shoulder messing things up visually.
And finally (U). Although my own knifemaking skills are improving, they are still not presentation quality. Like every Nordsmith knife, these blades were built for me by the fine folks at L.T. Wright Knives in Wintersville, Ohio. With heat treating performed by Peters’ Heat Treat and leatherwork by JRE Industries, these gifts directly supported three small businesses right here in America. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the material suppliers based here as well.
I have to say I am very pleased by how they turned out. My groomsmen were blown away. As always, thanks to L.T. and Spen at JRE for bringing my vision to life! I couldn’t be doing this without them and their support.
Right now, there are only five of these knives in existence. I haven’t decided if I am going to put the design into production yet, but I could see them looking great in a few different bone/liner color combos.
Thanks everybody! It is good to be back.