The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
There are some very good makers in Pakistan, in truth...but the scammers outnumber the honest 10 to 1 there. I will *not* bring in Damascus knives from my dealer there, as I find the damascus 1) is too easy to make from garbage steels and is very tough to gauge quality 2) It seems that every "knife expert" out there, automatically classifies damascus as "cheap paki crap" and hurts sales a lot. I pick and choose my handle materials, blade steels, blade styles etc and have my own stamp put on them. When asked, I will never say they are handmade or custom. I will tell folks I order them in. I am not going to risk my reputation by being a liar regarding what I sell. I have quite a few repeat customers, and after about 4 years, I have never had a knife come back to me for any reason. There is some good stuff coming from that region, if you take your time and do your research.
However, as dead_left_knife_guy and you both brought up the term "custom", I think it is important to keep in mind that custom is two sides of the same coin. There's the maker's perspective - a catalog of blade styles but offering a range of handle materials or file work, for example, that makes that knife "custom" from the standard offering. Painted Pony Buck 110's would be an example of this. Then there's the buyer's perspective - a "custom" order that will make his/her knife truely unique from any other produced. A simple example of this is a set of three SOG Mini Fielder production knives I bought and had engraved "BRT 2014" to commemorate a backpack trip with my brother and son along the Buffalo River Trail. And, of course, it also means a custom order between maker and purchaser that is truely a one of a kind order.
Echoing dead_left_knife_guy's implied comment that this thread is not necessarily the place to fully define the term "custom", I do think it's important that we keep a wide perspective of how and what "custom" can mean or be used. I make letter opener's in my wood shop and offer an option to "customize" them with a US one cent coin of the customer's choice of date.
To that end, when one looks across a particular catalog of Ash knives (staying on point here), I think one could argue they are "custom". I guess it just depends in the context of the offering.
I'm not sure what the term "Custom Knife" really means in today's world.
A new Randall knife costs $500+ and involves a multi-year (4?) delivery wait. But it really isn't a "one of a kind" knife -- it conforms to a model number in the Randall catalog. And yet, most people would consider it to be a custom knife, made to order.
At the very least, that Randall would be considered an expensive deluxe product.
Type in Ash knife, on eBay, you get over 1,700 results. Type in Ash Custom knife you get 177.
Just having fun here with the conversation - not trying to win any arguments or prove any points.
Indeed Jerry - it's all about the implied context within the English language. As an adjective, Custom Made by definition is anything created under particular specifications, unique from the standard offering (perspective notwithstanding). As a transitive verb in the first person, it's from the maker's perspective as to what is custom. As a transitive verb in the third person, it's from the customer's perspective - as in custom made to their specifications (size, materials, fit, and finish...etc.) So in a sense, both are correct.
Needless to say...however you want to define it, consider the context of the offering. If you are really looking to own a knife that is custom made to your specifications (even if limited to selected options in a catalog), then you don't want an Ash knife. You'll want to call your favorite bladesmith and order up a knife.
But if you want a knife that is unique and custom from a maker's perspective (and in my case a little more affordable), then Ash or others just may fit the bill.
Consider my Ash-made Achaea Bowie...the standard offering for this knife in the catalog at the time was a mirror finish 440C blade, Ash etched on the obverse blade, walnut handle, brass guard and pommel - no file work. He had 4 of them at the time. Then there was this one - a Damascus blade with fancy file work, and brass spacers added. It appealed to me as a custom art knife because it was unlike any of the others, and I haven't seen one like it since.
So how does it perform? Well I get a LOT of compliments and comments when I use it to carve up a smoked port shoulder or a brisket, that's for sure! Would I take it hunting as it was marketed? Nah...I have other, more trusted non-custom knives for that.