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North Wind – the current version was released in late 2017. Future batches are planned indefinitely and the pattern will be modified to fit available steel thickness on a batch-by-batch basis. If this item is sold-out, we are making more as soon as possible.
Arrow – limited edition. Future batches are planned indefinitely and the pattern will be modified to fit available steel thickness on a batch-by-batch basis. If this item is sold-out, we are making more as soon as possible.
Javelance – all spike production is suspended as we work on moving/upgrading the shop. Production is expected to resume in mid/late 2019.
SWH – one batch per year, usually in February, pre-order only. An announcement will be sent out to those on the email list when the order book is open.
Items not on this list are retired, but may be brought back in limited batches.
Jan 3, 2018
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In 2018, I will begin making knives on a batch-by-batch basis. The steel grade, thickness, weight, and price may be different with each batch, although I will always attempt to keep the thickness and weight as stable as possible. New batches of knives will not be released until the previous batch is sold. This new strategy brings several new complications, listed below:
- There will likely be a lapse of availability between batches. Buyers are advised to join the email list and not expect a given knife to be in-stock at all times.
- Unfortunately, knives from one batch will not exactly match the same knife from a different batch, due to the variance in steel thickness and weight. Buyers are advised to build sets from one batch.
- The Quality Policy will be revised accordingly. In the event of broken knives, the new policy will provide store credit equal to the original purchase amount.
The good news is that I will have more freedom to explore better steels and new designs. In the past, I have taken extraordinary measures to provide stability and continuity from batch-to-batch. Furthermore, I have always felt that there is a hard ceiling on the price people are willing to pay for a throwing knife, and I have selected affordable steels accordingly. These factors have severely limited my ability to innovate and respond to shifting dynamics in production or the market.
Now, I am re-thinking my position. The steels I have been using are very good, but when I’m aspiring to build the best throwing knives on the planet, it seems incongruent to settle for a steel that is merely “good”. It is very possible that 2018 will be the last year I use the more affordable low-alloy steels. It is also possible that I may continue to do one or two “economy” batches per year in an affordable steel. As for new steels, there are two basic directions to go in:
- Premium Shock-Resistant Steel. In this category, S7 is the ubiquitous and obvious choice – it was the very first type of steel I bought when I started making throwing knives. It was clear at the time that it would be the perfect steel for throwing knives. It was also clear that an inexperienced knifemaker could not expect the market to bear the fair price of a S7 knife, so I spent the next decade working with more affordable steels. Other steels in this category are 3V, A8, and L6. Of these three, only 3V is available in a suitable thickness – but it is several times more expensive than S7, which itself is several times more expensive than low-alloy knife steel. It is highly likely that future batches of knives will be in S7.
- Stainless Steel. This option presents a bit of a conundrum – on one hand, everyone wants a knife that won’t rust. On the other hand, stainless steel is perceived as being weak and brittle, especially in the world of throwing knives. A throwing knife requires steel with incredible levels of toughness, and with that said, much of the perception of stainless steel is accurate – a given grade is generally less tough than its non-stainless counterpart. However, there is a family of stainless steels that harden in a manner completely different from a typical tool steel. They are too soft to hold a cutting edge, but they are extremely tough, and used for demanding applications such as aircraft landing gear. Of these, 17-4 (aka 630) is a grade I will experiment with – I am confident that the toughness will be adequate, but I’m concerned about the relatively low final hardness. There are other stainless grades with reasonable toughness, but none of these are available in a thickness that I currently use.
In conclusion, 2018 will be an interesting year. You’ll start to see these changes roll out in late spring. In May, you may see North Wind knives that are S7 steel, 0.28″ thick, 280 grams, for $150. In July, you may see North Wind knives that are 17-4 steel, 0.25″ thick, 250 grams, for $120. In September, you may see North Wind knives that are 8670 steel, 0.24″ thick, 220 grams, for $90. Below, you will find more information about the knife models and other current factors. As always, thank you for your business, patience, support and understanding.
Oct 1, 2017
In the past decade, I have run Flying Steel with a quiet voice, generally keeping my identity and personal matters in the background. However, I now find myself at a crossroad that requires action and change in my life, and I feel compelled to offer some explanation to those who wonder about noticeable changes with Flying Steel. If you are not interested in the personal details, the following paragraph provides a summary.
In short, Flying Steel will shift to higher quality, higher price and lower volume production. Prices will rise periodically. The more affordable items, such as the Talisman knife, will be no longer, but may return in the future when automation can be implemented. Product offerings will become more narrow as I focus on a “perfect knife” model, as opposed to a “select a knife that fits you” model. Mostly, these changes are necessary to give me a workload and living wage that is competitive with other income options, and commensurate with the sacrifice, skill, and risk required of me.
It has been an amazing ten years since starting Flying Steel. I have personally made thousands and thousands of knives and shipped them to buyers in over twenty countries, near and far. Flying Steel has brought me an immense sense of self-worth, purpose, community, and accomplishment. I have built a valuable brand – tiny and obscure, but world-class. I am honored to have been inducted as IKTHOF Knifemaker of the Year. However, this has come at great cost. In the early years, I worked 45-50 hours per week at a day job with a 2-hour commute while also working 20-30 hours a week on Flying Steel. Like many other knifemakers, I was eager for business and I sold knives at low prices. I borrowed money to launch and sustain the business. I gave everything I had and pushed my resources to the limit.
Now, ten years later, the business is in debt, I am exhausted, and my health is suffering – I have a pinched nerve that is aggravated by the tasks of grinding knives and heavy lifting. I ensure that my children have good health care, but with my current income, I can’t afford proper health insurance for myself. Something has to give in this equation. Selling more knives won’t help – knives are already selling faster than I can make them. Hiring an employee won’t help – I can’t train someone to grind near-perfect bevels by hand, nor can I afford the required employee insurance, nor is there enough space for two people in my current shop. All roads lead to one answer, and that answer is to raise prices and downsize production.
I have always felt a duty to offer items that are both affordable and high-quality – and doing so has brought me much satisfaction. I am truly sorry that I can no longer fulfill this duty as long as I am grinding the bevels by hand. In coming years, I will look into in-house automation with hopes to bring back the economy items. I understand that my prices may seem unreasonable as time goes on, especially because of the dynamics in the knife market.
There are two very strong factors in the knife market that drive down perceived value – mass-produced pricing and low maker’s pricing. Makers may sell at low prices for a variety of reasons – perhaps because they are new, eager for business like I was; perhaps they are simply recovering some costs of their hobby; perhaps they work under the table and don’t pay taxes; perhaps they have access to free machines or workspace; and so on. These observations are not directed at any present maker in particular – in fact, I speak primarily of what may come in the future. I both hope and predict that someone fills the void in the market I am leaving. It would lift my heart to see a young knifemaker find the same sense of purpose, community, and accomplishment that I’ve been blessed with, and it would please me to know that the knife throwing community has access to affordable and quality equipment. Whatever may come, I understand that there will always be an apparent better deal out there, and I encourage buyers to be wise with their money and make informed decisions. In other words, you owe me nothing. I seek only what is rightfully earned in your eyes.
I grind knives one at a time, by hand. When you buy a knife from me, you are buying a piece of my life – a piece of me. You are buying a piece of the Flying Steel story, which is a story of sacrifice, quality, integrity, and the quest for perfection. The North Wind and sister knife East Wind are my finest offerings – arguably the best selling, best performing, and most notable no-spin knives in the world. These are not lifeless, static designs that are the work of one person at one moment in time – instead, they are the latest in a living design evolution, built on a decade of global community feedback and experimentation.
Thank you for your understanding and ongoing support,