“5 From The Grinder” with James Clifton, Roosterfish Fabrication

Today’s installment of 5 From The Grinder features relative newcomer James Clifton, proprietor of Roosterfish Fabrication. He got his start only a few short years ago, and I met him competing at the Bladesports Keystone Cut last month. I haven’t had the chance to hold one of his creations yet, but his photos have me impressed. Enough from me, take it away James!

My name is James Clifton.  I live in Gallatin TN. I’ve carried and collected pocket knives since I was 7 years old. About two years ago I noticed how popular pocket tools and custom. Bottle openers were. I figured I could make something like that. So I made several brass openers to some great success.  That lead me to build my first knife. I’ve picked up speed ever since. I went full-time as a knifemaker on June 5th 2016. I mostly build balisongs and fixed blades with the occasional friction folder. I also just this year joined Bladesports international.  I am now a certified competition knifemaker for the sport. Through connections with that I also acquired a license from Spyderco to use their round hole trademark on my knives. I’m truly honored to be a part of the knife community.

Question 1: What knifemaker(s) or designer(s) have had the biggest influence on you? Do you have any mentors?

Being as new to knifemaking as I am, I can’t really compile who all have influenced me. I like a very broad range of designs to say the least. If I had to name a few I’d say, Jens Anso, Jesper Voxanes, D.J. Urbanovsky, and Dariel Caston. I have recently acquired a mentor. Donavan Phillips the executive director of Blade sports has really helped me progress in knifemaking. Love his tapered tangs!


Question 2: What is your favorite knife pattern or style from history?

My favorite folding knife design is the wharncliffe and as far as fixed blades go I’d say I like modified drop points.

Question 3: What is the next big thing in knifemaking? / What direction do you see the industry going?

It seems that pattern welded stainless is becoming more affordable and available. I see more big production companies using it in the future.


Question 4: Is there a knife from your lineup that you feel best exhibits who you are as a knifemaker/designer in terms of design elements, aesthetic or techniques used?

By far my Cleaversong is the best knife to represent me as a maker. It seems to be a big hit with the dedicated flippers and can be built to suit the collectors as well. It’s very different from the balisongs currently on the market.


Question 5: What is your EDC and why?

My EDC as of late is a prototype modified drop point hunter that’s about 7″ oal in CPM4V that I designed and built.


I also have been carrying a Microtech UTX 70 and a unnamed package opening knife I made from a CPM REX T15 drop.


You can check out more of James’ work at the Roosterfish Fabrications Facebook and Instagram feeds.

If you are a knifemaker or know a knifemaker that would like to be featured in a future 5 from the Grinder, please send an email to thetruthaboutknives@gmail.com


  1. cmeat says:

    the angles on two of those bali- song pics creates the illusions that the blades are longer than the handles.

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“5 From The Grinder” with James Clifton, Roosterfish Fabrication

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