Hand crafting custom knives has been a passion of mine for over thirty years.

As a veteran gunsmith, knifemaking appealed to me with the promise of creating something more uniquely my own. The idea of starting with a blank bar of steel, then adding patterns I designed myself, cutting out a quality blade and grinding and finishing it into a custom knife was a challenge that really inspired me.

After talking at length to other makers and reading a lot of books, I made and sold my first knives around 1980, and after that, I never looked back.

These days, at my shop in Powell, Ohio I make about 200 custom knives a year for special orders and shows in four states. I’m probably best-known for making nice, clean hunting knives, but I also make and sell Folders, Bowies, Boot knives and fighting knives.

I design and cut my blades from Damascus, S30V Stainless steel, ATS34 Stainless steel and 440C Stainless steel, and personally heat-treat Damascus knives. In my opinion, a good clean grind and a well-finished blade is the most important part of any knife; if you have this the rest of the knife will fall into place and be good-looking.

I particularly enjoy designing and making handles from exotic hardwoods, stag, ivories, bone and pearl. All told, it can take about 20 to 25 hours to make a folder. I outsource scrimshaw and engraving to talented local artists who help bring my designs to life.

For extra decoration on some models, I’ve added jewels like amethyst, citrine, topaz, tiger eye, peridot and diamonds. Primarily, these are set in the thumb bobs, but on occasion I’ve used pearl and tiger eye inlayed in the handles.

I’ve sold knives to collectors all over the continental US, as well as Australia, Japan and Sweden. My knives have won a number of awards at shows in Ohio and Michigan, but what’s much more gratifying to me the satisfaction of my customers, often expressed through their repeat business.

The gallery on this site spotlights a few models I’ve already created and sold. They should give you an idea of some of the elements that can be combined to create your knife.

I will make any knife to your specifications. Pricing varies depending on the materials chosen for the blades, liners and handles, and whether file work is involved. Please feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail.


All contents © 2019 James F. Downs