NY Knife Show - an interview with KnifeLegends.com


~ Elite 1000 Member ~
Nov 9, 2006
Doylestown, PA
Thread starter #1
While at the NY Custom Knife Show yesterday I had the chance to interview Mr. John Hanlon and Mr. Paul Shindler of KnifeLegends.com. I asked them what they were looking for as purveyors of fine custom knives from up and coming engravers who may want to break into the engraved knife market. Mr. Shindler said he was looking for “Great work at a good price delivered in a reasonable amount of time.†I asked him to define this further.

Great Work: He said that the engraver’s work must be as good or better than that of his peers currently in the engraved knife market. Is it as clean looking? Is the layout pleasing? The newer engraver should make sure his work measures up to what is currently out there – and – he says that the bar is always rising….

Good Price: Mr. Shindler estimates that 85% of the engraved knife market is a product that costs less than $4000, and that probably 60% of the engraved knife market is a product that costs less than $3000. These prices include the knife and the engraving. Do some research about similar model knives with similar types of engraving and set your fees accordingly.

A Reasonable Amount of Time: This was defined by Mr. Shindler as “90 days or less.â€

I also asked Mr. Shindler if he could suggest some knife makers that make knives in the high end category for engraving. In his opinion the following knife makers’ knives are a good match for engraving: Joe Kious, Warren Osborn, Scott Sawby, Tom Overeynder, Steve Hoel, Jack Busfield and Tim Herman.

In addition to the above advice he also noted that “Mediocre engraving on a great knife or great engraving on a mediocre knife will get you to the same place – a mediocre knife.†Great engraving on a great knife is the best way to go. Mr. Shindler also stated that if you want to break into the engraved knife market your work should be different than the other engravers on the market. That may be a different scroll style, use of a different design element, or the use of high relief. In his opinion if you want to be noticed your scroll work should not look like all the other engravers’ scroll work currently on the market.

Mr. Hanlon noted that there is a great need for good engravers. He mentioned that a group of 15 or so engravers have been working in the market for the past 20 years and some of them have cut back on the knives they do. This has created a demand for knife engraving from up and coming engravers.

Mr. Hanlon also stated that there is a technique to engraving folding knives so that the knife is not damaged in the process. He said that folding knives are prone to bending and can be damaged easily, so be careful and shim the knife properly before you attempt to work on it.

Thanks to Mr. Shindler and Mr. Hanlon for the great information!

Below Mr. Paul Shindler (l) and Mr. John Hanlon (r) at the KnifeLegends table.



Elite Cafe Member
Nov 9, 2006
Arvada, CO
Thank you Tira,

That's some great information, you just answered several questions that I'm sure many of us had. Now I just need to get some knives to cut. Hmmm.



Chief Administrator & Benevolent Dictator
Staff member
Nov 6, 2006
Covington, Louisiana
Great job of field reporting, Tira! That's some very valuable information for engravers that's not always easy to come by.

I might add a few things about holding and engraving custom knives:

1.) Be absolutely sure you have a holding fixture molded to the shape of the knife. This minimizes stresses caused by clamping and reduces the chance of a knife's action tightening up. GRS Thermo-Loc is a microwavable low-temp plastic that works beautifully for this. I plan to put a tutorial on iGraver which describes the process of making a holding fixture with this material.

2.) Shimming is something many of us used years ago, in which carefully made shims were placed inside the knife opening before engraving. These shims can scratch the inside of the knife, so I've abandoned this practice. A molded fixture is usually sufficient. Stuff the inside with paper towel and tape the opening closed to prevent gunk from getting inside during engraving and stoning inlaid gold.

3.) Knives should be refinished back to original finish. If you don't know how to do this, contact the knifemaker and discuss how to do it. Most will welcome the chance tell you how to have their knives properly finished after engraving.

4.) Stone handle materials require special polishing techniques that most of us can't do. Mother-of-pearl knives, wood, stag, etc, can be refinished, but stone is another thing. Rule of thumb: Don't scratch or scuff it, and don't try to polish it. Send it back to the knifemaker if you scuff it, and expect your engraving to be ruined. I've been lucky and this has never happened to me, but there are some horror stories of expensive engraving jobs being ruined because the engraver scuffed or scratched a jade inlay or other stone, and the knifemaker was forced to refinish the entire knife to fix it.

5.) If the knife tightens after engraving (and you can expect some of them do to so), send it back to the maker for tweaking. They can usually adjust them quickly and easily, but DON'T try it yourself unless a maker has personally trained you how to adjust them.