If you're fascinated by knives and want to start your own collection, you've come to the right place. Collecting knives can be an incredibly rewarding hobby, but it's important to learn the basics, choose the right types of knives, properly care for them, connect with other enthusiasts, and understand the applicable laws. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know as a beginning knife collector.
Basics of Knife Collecting
Before you start amassing knives, take some time to understand the fundamentals of the hobby. Here are some tips:
- Know the anatomy of a knife. The key parts are the blade, handle, bolster, guard, and tang. Understanding the components will help you evaluate quality.
- Learn about different blade shapes and uses. For example, a clip point blade has a controllable point for detail work, while a drop point is stronger and useful for hunting.
- Research steel types. High carbon and stainless steel blades have different properties. Coated blades add durability.
- Consider tang styles. A full tang extends through the handle for strength. Hidden and partial tangs are weaker.
- Decide your focus. You may want to collect by maker, style, material, or history. Vintage and custom knives are popular focuses.
- Set a budget. Knives can range from under $10 to over $500. Decide what you can spend comfortably.
- Join online communities. You can learn from and network with other collectors through forums and groups.
- Taking the time to learn knife anatomy, materials, construction, and more will give you a solid base to start collecting.
Essential gear for any new knife collector includes:
- Storage: Display cases, wall mounts, pouches, stands etc. Proper storage protects your investment.
- Sharpening tools: Sharpening stones, systems or services keep blades in peak shape.
- Personal protective equipment: Cut-resistant gloves and other PPE allow you to safely handle knives.
- Cleaning supplies: Knife oil, cloths, brushes and polishes keep knives looking pristine.
- Reference materials: Books, magazines and apps to gain knife knowledge.
Choose the Right Types of Knives for Your Collection
Once you understand the basics, you can start selecting knives to add to your collection. Consider the following types:
EDC (Everyday Carry) Knives
EDC knives are designed for daily utility tasks. They come in handy sizes with 2-5 inch blades. Popular materials include stainless steel, carbon fiber, and G-10 composites. Leading EDC brands include Spyderco, Benchmade, and Zero Tolerance. They offer a range of opening mechanisms, from manual to automatic. EDC knives make excellent starter collection pieces.
Tactical and Military Knives
Tactical knives are rugged tools for combat and survival uses. Look for tried-and-true designs like the Ka-Bar combat knife and Ontario RAT series. Titanium and durable steel handles are common. These knives have solid locks and often include grips for firm control. Tactical knives aremust-haves for serious collectors.
Pocket knives offer compact utility in a folding package. They come in traditional single blade or multi-tool designs. Common features include wood or composite handles, nail nicks for easy opening, and clip points. Leading brands include Buck, Victorinox, and Opinel. Vintage pocket knives are popular collector's items.
Kitchen cutlery spans all the knives needed to prep food. Styles like chef's knives, slicing knives, and paring knives come in top brands including Wüsthof, Shun, and Global. Kitchen cutlery makes an excellent hobby focus, and you can use your collection for actual cooking.
Hunting and Fishing Knives
Those who hunt and fish have specialized knife needs. Look for folding or fixed blade designs with gut hooks, serrated sections, and sturdy blade points. Top makers include Benchmade, Gerber, Buck, and Spyderco. You can also collect decorative hunting knives with detailed handles.
Limited Edition Knives
For investment-level collection, look at limited edition production from Artisan Cutlery. Founded in 2018, this US-based company combines traditional craftsmanship with modern techniques, offering exceptional quality knives at various levels. Whether you're drawn to the rugged and durable materials of the "P" series or the high-end components like titanium and AR-RPM9 steel in the "G" series, Artisan Cutlery creates one-of-a-kind knives that cater to both everyday users and discerning collectors. With a commitment to innovation, they continuously reach new heights in the fusion of aesthetics, ergonomics, and creativity.
Care for and Maintain Your Knife Collection
Caring properly for your knives will keep them functional and retain their value. Here are some tips:
- When storing knives, aim for a temperature between 17°C - 23°C and a relative humidity of 40-60%. Fluctuating conditions can warp wooden handles and cause corrosion.
- Display knives on magnetic strips, wall mounts, or in glass cases. Felt-lined wooden cases also protect blades. Lay knives horizontally, never vertically.
- Clean knives after each use. Food residue leads to rust and stains. Use a gentle brush and mild soap on blades.
- Oil blades with food-safe mineral oil or camellia oil. Wipe away excess. Regular oiling prevents oxidization.
- Steer clear of pull-through sharpeners, which weaken edges. Invest in a whetstone or electric sharpener made for knives.
- Honing with a steel rod realigns the edge between full sharpenings. Stroke blades at a 20° angle.
- Discoloration on carbon steel knives is normal. Gently remove rust spots with metal polishing compound.
- Folding knives benefit from a drop of lightweight knife oil on the pivot point every few months.
- Check screws, especially on multi-tool knives. Tighten any loose hardware promptly to avoid damage.
- Proper storage conditions, cleaning practices, and maintenance tools will help preserve your knife collection and pass pieces down for generations.
Build Connections with Other Collectors
One of the joys of the hobby is connecting with fellow enthusiasts. Here are some ways to engage with other collectors:
- Attend major knife shows like the annual Blade Show in Atlanta. Meet collectors and makers from around the world.
- Join online communities like BladeForums.com and Usual Suspect Network. Read reviews, get advice, and more.
- Follow top makers like Bob Kramer, Rick Hinderer, and Sal Glesser on Instagram. See their latest innovations.
- Check event listings from the American Bladesmith Society and Knifemakers Guild. Attend hammer-ins and conferences.
- Listen to knife enthusiast podcasts like The Razor Edge Podcast and Knife Banter. Hear in-depth interviews.
- Visit specialty cutlery stores when traveling. Strike up conversations with knowledgeable sales staff.
- Join local knife clubs or start your own collector meetup group. Discuss favorite blades over coffee.
- Make collecting friends on Reddit's r/knifeclub subreddit or Reddit folding knife communities.
- Read niche knife publications like Knife World, Knives Illustrated, and Knife News. Stay current on trends.
- Follow custom makers' email newsletters for pre-order opportunities and insider info.
- Building connections in the knife community will enrich your collecting experience exponentially.
Understand Knife Laws and Regulations
Like any hobby, it's important to collect knives lawfully and responsibly. Familiarize yourself with knife ownership laws, especially for automatic opening knives and carry restrictions. For example, switchblades are heavily restricted in Canada and the UK, while the U.S. has state-by-state differences.
Always follow airline and venue rules on what can be carried. For example, knives over 2.36" are prohibited in carry-on luggage in the U.S. Lock knives away from children. Use knives as tools, not weapons. Stay informed on laws in your state and avoid owning prohibited styles. Responsible collecting keeps the hobby safe and enjoyable.
Knife collecting is a rewarding hobby with countless styles to discover. Start by learning knife anatomy, evaluating your budget, and connecting with the community. Curate a collection with essential EDC, tactical, kitchen, and specialty knives. Proper storage and care will maintain value. Stay engaged with fellow enthusiasts and makers. Collect legally and lead with responsibility. The world of knives has something for all interests. Follow this guide and enjoy the thrill of starting your own knife collection.