Owner & Operator, TriStar Knives
I’m a knife maker based out of the Tri-Cities area in Northeast Tennessee. I provide truly high quality knives that will last you a lifetime. My work is crafted with an owner in mind who can appreciate handmade items to add to their collection and can proudly pass them down through their families for generations to come. If you’ve got an idea that you’d like incorporated into your next everyday carry, or you’re interested in my latest production run, email me at email@example.com and let me make your dream a reality.
To view my work on EDC knives and other fixed blade knives, be sure to check out the TriStar Knives Gallery.
The Rockwell scale, or HRC, is the hardness of the final blade. Different steels are capable of holding an edge and performing well at a particular hardness. Most steels range anywhere from 58-63 HRC.
1084 steel is on the lower end of the Rockwell scale and makes for a very tough edge, but lacking in retention and sharpness. As a result, knives made from 1084 steel are ideal for chopping tasks. They typically have a matte brushed finish that can be etched, or etched and stonewashed.
Moving up the Rockwell scale, we have 52100 Steel. It’s a simple grade steel that was first created in 1905 to produce ball bearings. It’s known for its wear resistance and strength. Does 52100 steel rust? All metals rust in the right environment, but 52100 steel offers a high corrosion resistance that makes the oxidation process (rusting) less likely to occur.
W2 is saved for my most expensive knives. It’s a costly steel that has great edge retention and superior sharpness. It is further unique due to it’s ability to be differentially heat treated. This means, the edge of the blade will be as hard as possible while a good portion of the spine will be softer. The two “hardness zones” will have a unique pattern called a “Hamon”. What is a Hamon pattern, you ask? Well, it’s formed by a “clay” insulation technique I use during the heat treating process. It takes several hours of hand sanding the blade to reveal the Hamon. You can see an example of a Hamon pattern in a custom knife. In fact, I incorporate them in several TriStar Knives blades.
I use a variety of high end stabilized wood, firehose, and fabric, burlap, or canvas micarta. Wood options are more costly, due to the cost of the material, but are popular due to the aesthetics. Firehose and micarta options trade the aesthetics of wood for a better knife grip.
I use the Evenheat Heat Treat Oven – LB 22.5 from KilnFrog. I opted for the digital temperature controller in order to accurately recall any heat treat “recipe” I have optimized for any particular steel and HRC I’m targeting. That way, I know my custom knives will come out exactly as expected every time.
I converted an old out building on my property into a designated knife shop for TriStar Knives.
The building I was previously working out of to make custom knives was just a general storage building for everything that doesn’t belong in the house. It was one long open room, which was hard to contain the dust from the grinder. The new building has the machine room separate from the layout and finishing room.
I believe this building was built in the same time period as the house, which is well over 100 years old. The progress in converting it was steady, but filled with challenges. Luckily, it was small enough to somewhat quickly tear down entire walls and have them completely reframed in a single day. I ran into a few foundation issues that slowed me down a little more than expected but was able to complete it as you can see below. Making custom knives in a shop that is setup for making the process more efficient was well worth the investment and sweat equity.
Prices vary with each custom knife and the options chosen, but here are the approximate prices.
These knives have an overall length of 7″ – 8.5″ and come with a Kydex sheath. Knives fitted with fabric micarta handles start at $275 and wooden handles start at $325.
These knives have an overall length of 9″ or more and also come with a Kydex sheath. Knives fitted with fabric micarta handles start at $425 and wooden handles start at $475.
Made to order knives can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks. Or sooner depending on the build list.