The vast majority of automatic knives covered in this column are production knives made in large quantities by cutlery companies. However, every once in a while I like to cover a custom knife maker that is making exceptional automatic knives one at a time. So it is with Steve Busch.
By western standards, Steve and I are neighbors, living only about 16 miles apart in southwestern Oregon. I have been watching his work for a number of years and recently decided that it was time to introduce him to TK readers. Steve makes fixed-blade knives, conventional folding knives and automatic knives, with particular emphasis on the latter. His preference is to make fancy, high art-type knives using exotic blade and handle materials as well as fancy file work. He does exceptionally fine file work on back springs, spacers, liners, and blade backs. I recently got to inspect some high art automatic knives of Steve’s that are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. They would be highly valued additions to anyone’s collection.
Steve is a young guy who has been making knives for only eight years and has been doing so on his own for the last five. He is a full-time maker who builds every part of his knives without using CNC machinery or laser cutting. Thus, each one of his knives is a unique custom creation. Because he is young and relatively unknown, his prices are remarkably low for the level of quality he achieves. Busch is at that point in his career where custom knife investors like to purchase the work of promising makers before they become famous and their prices go up substantially. I believe that Steve Busch has the potential of being a famous, highly sought-after custom knife maker in the near future.
Busch guarantees his work against all defects in workmanship and materials for as long as he can work. This excellent warrantee does not include “abuse or tampering,” nor does it include cracking, checking or shrinking of natural handle materials. He also has a seven-day satisfaction guarantee that allows the customer to return the knife in unused condition for a full refund or an exchange credit against another knife if the buyer is unsatisfied with the knife they received, for any reason. That is a hard to beat guarantee!
If you take a good look at the pictured knife, which I have examined in person, you will see a double-action scale-release automatic knife with abalone scales and a Damascus blade and bolsters. The knife also has extensive fancy file work on its back spacer and liners. Doug Ponzio made the highly figured Damascus steel and the handle scales are gorgeous Paua abalone. This knife is made like a Swiss watch with extreme attention to detail and premium materials throughout. It sold for $2,000. If you go to Steve’s website you will find other Damascus blade scale-release autos for as low as $600 to $700, depending on material costs and extras.
If you live in an area that forbids the possession of automatic knives, Steve can also build you a conventional folding version of one of his automatic knife patterns at a substantial cost savings over that of the automatic version. If you visit the Busch website, you will find pictures and details on several of his completed knives for sale, as well as pictures and details on others that he has sold recently. This will give you the best picture of his work, capabilities and what he offers.
Like most of the better custom automatic knife makers, Steve prefers to make double-action automatics that can be opened either automatically or manually. He also prefers to use a non-obvious automatic opening system, with scale release being his favorite. With a scale-release knife the folder’s left side scale slides toward the back of the handle to fire the blade.
Steve Busch is yet another of the top-notch automatic knife makers that claim knifemaking-heaven Oregon for a home.
For more on Steve Busch and his custom operation visit www.buschcustomknives.com
The vast majority of automatic knives covered in this column are production knives made…
by Leroy Thompson / Nov 1, 2008