TK: Suppose I wanted a designer to do a custom knife for me—say a deer-hunting knife to go on my belt—what are some of the things I should be thinking about?

The first thing I would recommend is that you go to the bank and take out a loan…because it’s going to cost a lot of money. Secondly, I would recommend that you don’t cut any corners on the steel. Get the best steel you possibly can—one that is easy to sharpen yet holds an edge. This knife is something you’re planning on having for life. I like a good, thick blade—if you don’t want to cut with it, you can pry with the damn thing. I like a handle that has a little bit of an angle on it—down slope, down angle. Think about it, how does a boxer box? He punches with his fists, right? And if you grab hold of any knife with a straight handle, you’re punching with your thumb, aren’t you? So I would recommend that you go with something fairly nice for the handle—something that’s non-skid, non-slip. For temper, it depends on the kind of steel that you use, but if you get good steel, the temper should be about 58 Rockwell Hardness, something of that nature.

When you shoot your deer, you want to dress and skin it as quickly as you can. At the end of the day you don’t want to have to sharpen that knife three or four times in the process. I like a nice drop point. One that goes in real nice, and you can even cut with the topside of it. I’d prefer a good-size blade length, something that’s probably 3 or 4 inches long. And scabbards are important too. If the scabbard doesn’t fit right, it’s not going to keep the knife sharp. And if every time you slide that thing into the scabbard, you’re cutting the bottom of the scabbard, that’s not good. It should slide in real nice and easy. I don’t like any of the synthetic stuff—I’m a leather guy all the way.

TK: What do you like for a pocketknife?

I like a folder that’s got a couple of blades. You know, they even have folders now with a gut-hook blade, which makes dressing out a deer a lot easier. You don’t get inside the deer and cut the stomach, and have a big mess inside the deer. Some gut-hook blades cost more, but if you’re going to buy a knife and have it for the rest of your life—what the hell? You might as well spend some extra bucks and get what you really want and need. Get something that’s really worthwhile.

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