For too long, knifemakers have had to accept whatever thickness, width and formulation of blade steel was available from their local supplier. While that worked for some, there are always a few that want to experiment with something different. Since steel mills are volume producers, making small batches of product specifically for individual knifemakers isn’t something they are very enthusiastic about.
If you’ve been frustrated by the lack of availability of certain blade steels, there’s no need to fret about it anymore. Niagara Specialty Metals is a manufacturer whose company is built around producing customized orders in small or large quantities—custom rolled and cut to whatever specific size is needed.
J. Barry Hemphill and Louis Valery originally founded Niagara Specialty Metals in 1982. The mill was created to serve the tool and stainless steel market with custom orders and factory-direct deliveries. Niagara is a rolling mill that purchases slabs of steel directly from various foundries and rolls it into sheets or plates. Niagara buys steel slabs from various mills, including Crucible, LaTrobe Specialty Steel, Carpenter Technologies and American Stainless.
Knifemaker Chris Reeve used CPM S35VN blade steel, which he developed with Crucible and Niagara Specialty Metals, to craft the Pacific, this rugged, tactical fixed-blade knife. Niagara encourages input from knifemakers to perfect their steel offerings.