Do you have a guarantee?
We are a small, growing Internet based business that depends largely upon positive word of mouth in order to grow. So we like to keep our customers happy and obnoxiously shouting our praises in public places. If you ever have any problems with our blades, let us know, and we’ll work with you. If your problem results from typical, non-abusive use, we will replace the blade or fix the problem at no charge. If the problem results from you doing something stupid or being careless with your steel, we may charge you for the work. Please see Care & Feeding of your Zombie Tool for more info.
Can I have more blade-geek details about your blades?
Certainly! All of our blades are full-tang, battle-ready, sharpened and sheathed pieces of 5160 and 6150 spring steel that we heat-treat to yield a 54 Rockwell hardness. Our bevels are saber-grinds and our edge bevels run at about 19 degrees. Our handles are made from T-6 aluminum that is pinned onto the tang with mild steel pins. They do not come off.
The entire blade is given an acid etch with ferric chloride acid. This imparts a very slight corrosion resistance to the blade (in that the ferric chloride is, technically, pre-corroding the blade), but, being carbon steel, the blade still needs to be regularly oiled to avoid rust.
How long does it take to get my steel once I order it?
Typically, our blades are made-to-order and generally take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to ship from the time of order, depending on time of year and our workload. See the “Availability” field on the individual blade pages for the latest info on turnaround time. We’ll send you an email with a tracking number when your blade leaves our shop.
How do I care for my blade and sharpen it?
The basic care is to keep the blade oiled and dry. For novice blade sharpeners, we recommend sharpening with ceramic or diamond rods. See our Care and Feeding page for details.
Do you do custom work or make custom modifications to your designs?
No, sorry. Maybe someday, but for now we’re too busy making our production designs.
Will you make me one of your retired blades?
No, sorry, our retired blades are retired, not semi-retired.
Why do you retire designs?
We want to stay lean and mean as a company and always keep our blade catalog small. We don’t want to have a massive, bloated catalog, as this increases our financial and logistical overhead, and we’d much rather spend time doing what we love—making blades—rather than dealing with logistics.
Also, we’re on a quest to become the best blademakers we can be. We are constantly improving our processes and coming up with more sophisticated designs. So we retire blades that no longer reflect the best that we can do. We also get bored easily. After making a design for a year or more, we begin to lose interest, and that’s not tight. We do our best work when we’re excited about a blade, so when the spark fades, it’s time to lay a design to rest.
We think of our offerings not as a “line of products” but as a set of limited edition pieces, with the size of the “edition” determined by the lord of creative chaos.
If you’re bummed that a design is retired, take heart: we often bring the best parts of our favorite old design back into new designs. Only with massively magnified tightness.
Do you ship outside the US?
Yes! We’ve shipped our blades all over Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and a few spots in Asia and have only had a problem with shipping or customs twice. That said, every country has its own brand of bureaucratic bullshit when it comes to blades, and it is your responsibility as a blade buyer to know your country’s customs and blade carrying laws, and for paying any duties or taxes on your blade. We cannot be held responsible for seizure of blades by some customs dickhead. Usually, a quick web search for your country’s customs laws will tell you what you need to know. And if there is any doubt, it is a good idea to contact your customs authorities with photos and description of the blade to see if there will be any problems.
Here are a few country specific restrictions that we’re aware of:
UK: The UK has a weird law against importing “katana-style” blades, and according to that law, our Apokatana is illegal for import. The UK also outlaws double-edged blades. However, you can have just about any blade if you have a special license.
SOUTH KOREA: Import of most blades is forbidden without a special license. We have shipped two blades to license holders without a problem. We’ve had one blade going to a US soldier stationed in the country that got rejected.
DENMARK: The Danish postal service has apparently decided that they will not handle packages containing blades.
Have you guys ever considered making…?
What? A mace, a warhammer, a battleax, a glaive, a halbard, a rapier? A chef’s knife, a kopesh, a katar, a carambit, a claymore? A trench spike, a spetsnaz hatchet, a Scotish Sgian Dubh, a Klingon bat’leth? Any one of the 40,000 traditional Filipino blades? Throwing knives, spikes, shuriken, bayonets, spears? A shield, armor, bracers, a battle-bumper for your Jeep? A forty-foot kangaroo with armor-plated battle pouch and laser-beam eyes?
Yes. Yes, we have.
We have a long, long list of potential new blade designs that, at our current pace, would take us about 20 years to complete. We’ll get there. With many or our ideas, we face some design and production limitations, but we’re always working to expand our options and fill our shop with more tools for making more complex toys.
Can I come visit your shop?
Yes, visitors are always welcome at the shop, although your timing can greatly influence the quality of your visit. We highly recommend visiting the shop on Saturday afternoons and evenings. There’s usually at least a couple people at the shop on Saturdays and they’re usually drinking beer. (You might want to bring some of that with you.) If you’re traveling a long distance to visit, we recommend that you drop us an email to let us know you’re coming. Sometimes we’re off doing other things on the weekends.
Will you hire me or make me an apprentice?
Sorry, we don’t have an apprenticeship program. We just don’t have time for that. Talk to us when we’re old.
As for jobs, these come up rarely and we usually hire guys in Missoula that we’ve gotten to know. If you’ve got relevant professional craft experience, we’d be interest in seeing your resume.
How did you get started in blademaking (and how do I)?
Our business has been a 10 year long process of self-education. Along the way, we’ve gotten knowledge and help from:
1) Trying stuff, fucking up, trying again. Which is to say, using the scientific method. If you really want to make blades, we recommend you just try it. Find a piece of decent steel (like a car spring or old sawblade) and some sort of grinder (like an angle grinder) and try to shape the steel and put a bevel on it. Once you get bored with that, buy or make your own small forge. Get some railroad ties and try to hammer them into something that resembles a knife.
2) Reading books and online blademaking forums. One of our favorite books is The Master Bladesmith by Jim Hrisoulas. And there’s a massive wealth of info for novice blademakers on Swordforum and BladeForums.
3) Hanging out with local knifemakers. It might makes some time and effort to find them, but there are knifemakers everywhere. They usually drink beer. Bring them beer. We got a lot of useful advice from a few very generous Montana knifemakers.
What does the first (and last) page of your employee manual say?
Hot things are hot.
Sharp things are sharp.
And the eye of tightness never blinks.