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Knives from Pakistan provided to me by Waqas Yousaf Farooq

Background:

First of all let me tell you a little bit about me.

I believe that quality knives are not limited by the region they're made in. I believe people are people everywhere and when truly working hard and with the right intentions they have a right to success in any field they wish to work in.

So it was about two years ago that I was approached by a knifemaker from Pakistan. He asked me if he could send me some samples so that I could review them and give them my stamp of approval and (I think but he never said) that I might sell them for him over here in Western Europe.

I said:  sure, send me some stuff and I'll look it over.

He replied: What would you like me to make?

So I gave him some specs and we agreed that I'd pay for shipping but that the cost of the knives would be on him. I sent him money through bank transfer (and expensive endeavor to Pakistan I can assure you.) And waited for a long time.

Too long really but ok. Craftsmanship takes time, I get that.

When the package finally arrived it cost me a hefty sum extra in order to obtain it from customs...but hey, that's not the makers fault right?

So I got my package from the mailman and opened it up.

Imagine my surprise......NONE of the knives in there (out of four pieces he'd sent) were among the ones I'd requested.

So that was strike one and a critical right away. I cut off all contact with him. THEN I started to examine the knives only to find that they were all sub par. Misaligned scales, poor edges, bad grinds and the biggest one (a MASSIVE and very uncomfortable bowie knife) even had spacers simply falling off the handle...not to mention big gaps at the guard.

I decided right there and then that if I were ever to help anyone from Pakistan out again it would be different. My gamble paid off a second time and I still use THAT seller to get the mosaic pins that I use in my knives. He treated (and treats) me well and we've become good friends.

Then not too long ago I was approached by Waqas.And here's a quick report on 2 out of 4 knives that he sent me. (And two sheaths).

Knife 1 The traditional slipjoint.

Now to be honest this it the one I was most curious about. Good slipjoints are NOT easy to make. But it's a field of knifemaking that is dominated by a few high profile makers (at least in the custom section)

So let me introduce this knife to you.

It came in a pouch style belt sheath

It's a nice wooden type slipjoint with brass bolsters and liners. And filework on the back.

The wood appears to be untreated apart from being polished. The grain is very nice it's like a Lacewood type it seems.

As you can see the untreated wood does have a tendency to get some dirt in the grains of the wood however.

The other scale doesn't seem to have gotten this problem (I've not done anything to these knives. The states they're in is how I recieved them)

The pins are all nicely flat and don't stick out. The bolster is well polished and for a pivot it appears that steel was used rather than brass which makes for a stronger pivot.

The knife has a nice snap to it. Not a very heavy pull. The bolsters fit the liners perfectly and are well aligned left and right.

There is a slight gap between the backspring and the liners. But this might have something to do with the fileworked spring.

The blade is nicely centered.

Once you open it up a highly polished blade comes out. Waqas tells me that it's D2 steel at Rockwell 58. I've not had a chance to verify the hardness yet.

The bladeshape is a bit odd. But it looks kind of like a spey blade with less curve.

And I do mean highly polished.

(that reflection is the phone I'm taking pictures with today)

The grind is nice and thin and slicey and the edge has a nice bite to it. It's well sharpened.

The verdict/Conclusion

Is this a high priced knife in the same range of makers like Bose/Davidson/Britton? No it's not.

It IS however a very functional handmade knife with a decent (unverified) steel and pretty good fit/finish.

The price Waqas told me should be somewhere in between the offerings from Rough Rider and the Offerings of Queen/Great Eastern.

Now for that price you get a slipjoint with decent fit and finish. That has been put together by a proper craftsman that comes sharp (more than can be said for Queen knives...ouch.) is ground thinner than any production sljpjoints I've seen from varying brands and has a pretty good steel.

Would I buy this knife personally? For the price quoted to me.....probably. I like the man who made it. He's honest and open in his dealings with me and appears to properly want to do right by his customer. And the knife is good enough that, for the money, it's be happy owning it. Even if I wouldn't keep it for myself it's really cool to be able to give a friend of mine or a relative a proper handmade slipjoint.

Don't compare it to the handmade slipjoints from well known makers however. But then again, those cost easily 10X as much.

The sheath it came with is also fairly nicely made. The leather isn't the highest quality. But the stitching is nice and even and appears to be quite solid.

Sheath #1

The second knife in our lineup I put in one of the sheaths that came in the package. I do feel however that this sheath wasn't specifically made for it. So first I'll comment on simply the workmanship of the sheath.

This sheath is a lot nicer than the one that came with the slipjoint. Thick Stuff leather. Double row of stitching (appears to be a saddle stitch of some sort) with a very thick welt.

(note, the stains on the sheath didn't look like that when I got it. Something appears to have spilled on it while it was on my breakfast table at home)

The leather is untreated by any coating or dye or some such which does make it it prone to staining.

Like I sait the welt is fairly thick and solid and this makes the sheath a bit stiff but DOES give it a quality feel.

And the stitching is very clean and even.

Verdict/Conclusion

This is a very well done sheath. Personally I'd opt for a dye of some sort (I might still do this myself) and coating it with a wax or something just to make it that much more stain proof. But the workmanship is very good.

Knife #2 a persian/fighter/hunter/something?

Now I don't really know how to name this knife so I'll just call it a Persian from now an due to it's upswept point.

Specs (measures are just an estimate. I don't have any rulers or anything with me.)

4"blade

5"handle

Blade: Firestorm carbon damascus (Waqas tells me the composition if 1070 carbon steel and 4340 nickel steel)

Bolsters: Damascus (don't know the composition but I'm assuming it's the same)

Scales: Micarta, Black

This knife is pretty much exactly large enough to be held in my hand. Any smaller and it wouldn't fit. The finger grooves make it fall prefectly for a solid grip. For my wife it's too large. But she's a cute pocket size so that's no surprise.

It appears to me that the Damascus on the bolsters was NOT heat treated. (Damascus etches a lot lighter before heat treat) but the blade in contrast was. It has a very nice pattern with lots of contrast and there appear to be no flaws in the damascus.

The fit of the bolsters to the blade and the scales is well done and without gaps.

There are no gaps in between the blade and scales either. And the bolsters are nice and even on the blade.

The blade is well sharpened (like on the slipjoint) and is thinly ground and perfectly even on both sides, this aint no sharpened prybar.

And the fit is tight all over.

Verdict/Conclusion

The fit, finish and grind as well as the handle materials are all VERY well done. I'm talking rivalling a lot of western makers that charge a LOT more money for their knives.

The only and I mean ONLY thing that I could possibly have for a point of critique (apart from there not being a makers mark...which is also true for the slipjoint) is the use of 4340 steel in the damascus.

I did some research and 4340 steel will reach a max hardness of rockwell 54/55. Now this is somewhat compensated by the 1070 steel in the blade which'll reach rockwell 58 no problem. But it DOES make for a blade which will test low on the rockwell scale in some parts and high on others. And which will (as an effect there of) become dull on some parts of the blade a lot sooner than on the rest.

This results in....well....not a bad blade. Just an inconsistent one. It should hold up just fine in most uses. But it might need resharpening a little more than a blade that's made of 100% one simple carbon steel.

To be fair though, all this is just in theory. Most knife collectors (and even users) won't even notice this. In fact. Due to the fact that some parts of the edge will wear down faster than others this might make for a type of micro serrations which will actually HELP in cutting things. I've yet to test it out. But it IS a point to think about.

Second of all...for the money charged (similar to that of the slipjoint I believe) this is an EXCELLENT knife. And it wouldn't not be a bad way for a lot of collectors to dip their toes into the world of handmade knives this way.

Tags: damascus, handmade, knives, pakistan

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Its a very interesting review and thanks for giving us a look at these knives in detail. Here are my thoughts:

  1. I always like to see a custom slipjoint knife. They can be complex, certainly more than fixed. This one looked good, although wood untreated would not survive in a hostile environment that I live in.
  2. I love the review of the sheath. If you have a sheath for a folder or a fixed blade the sheath can be an important part of the knife. Without it you can't carry the knife. A slipjoint you can put in your pants pocket but long term that is hardly viable if you work.
  3. The fixed blade is ok, appears to be file worked at the top which is unnecessary. And heat treating is very important.  The blade steel needs strength, if it is to survive,
  4. All in all these are good efforts, I am curious to see more.

There is a bit of filework on the blade indeed. Personally I'm not a fan of filework in general. It messes with the clean look.

But that's a matter of taste really.

Thanks for your review, Alexander.

WOW WOW WOW ! I do not have enough worthy complementary words on Mr.Alexander's views, because I was not expecting such a deep detailed reviews on some things in the stuff I sent. Like the sheaths, but these are bonus points for me I would say ! because my focus was on knives frankly speaking, so I did what I thought  as a knowledgeable knife "buyer's" preferences,first of all the performance then the fit and finish and then the esthetics. 

In this all, nothing was demanded with respect to customization by Mr.Alexander, even this all effort as well, I just wanted to get crystal clear and fair feed back on my work, so I felt him as a sincere and open minded guy and sent the stuff.

So the things and opinions regarding usage of different materials to improve the different aspects of knives can be done as per demand, which obviously can affect the price as well.

As a user (Hunter) I also use single material blades, the high carbon ones, D2, 440C, but as a manufacture we have to have an eye on different markets demands, so as the Damascus is also hot selling stuff therefore my focus is to combine the alloys that give its best not only in performance but also in out look. So in this regard the 4340 is being replaced with some other hard alloy(S) successfully and so as the 1070 that can be also replaced with 1090,1095.

 It is my fault that I did not said Mr.Alexander to not put the pouch of that slip joint in discussion but just to consider it as packaging stuff, because that is not good quality oriented with respect to leather.In short all the leather cover was intented to as a packaging stuff but the liking views on these are my bonus points, more fine stuff is possible. 

I prefer to do work as per customer's demand because we don't make factory knives, these can be called as full hand made or semi machine made.

Looking forward for more feed backs on Mr.Alexander's experience on this stuff. thanks to all !

Waqas,

With our discussion earlier, I am glad to see this.  I knew Alexander would do a fair and honest review.  I am looking forward to seeing his thoughts after having time to use them.  In regards to the wood, I know that stabilizing adds to the cost of production and ultimately the cost of the knife but I dont have an environment where an untreated wood would stand the test of time.  When I look for a knife, cost is only one aspect.  Thank you both, this entire conversation has been a great journey for iKC!

Very interesting discussion here. I am glad to see that there are some knife makers out there to break the stereotyping of where not to buy knives from. I know that,I for one, have been one who steers away from buying knives made in other countries that have had a reputation for making poor quality. 

Waqas, I admire your ethics and your craftmanship, but I must confess, I am a little confused on what you were trying to achieve on these examples-IMHO, it seems as if you could not decide if you were making a looker or a user--

1) the slipjoint-The lacewood and the filework ( although not elaborate) suggest a looker. However, the brass bolster detracts from the beauty of the lacewood due to the similarity of the color palette and the steel pivot pin in the bolster is visually unappealing, though structurally superior. By the same reasoning, the blade sharpness,strength and steel pivot pin suggest user, but the untreated wood is not practical in most user environments-

2) I have the same confusion about the "Persian" - Quality is excellent with beautiful Damascus-Once again, the similarity in the color palette between the bolster and does not highlight  the beauty of either. Once again, the filework would suggest a looker, but the black micarta suggests user and does nothing to enhance the beauty of the blade-Black micarta is a eminently practical handle material for a tactical or user knife, but, not the most beautiful of material,by any means.

In short, I find your ethics,craftmanship, and pricing very appealing, but I am troubled by some of the aesthetics-

Waqas, One other troubling aspect that was pointed out to me- Neither of these knives have any makers mark or tang stamp-Potential customers might be worried that the knife they ordered was, indeed, being made by the same maker as the examples they had previously viewed.I would consider this a major concern for any potential buyer  IMHO.

I've already pointed out the no makers mark about his knives. It's fine to no mark them under your own name when you're using an OEM kind of deal.

But when selling under your own name the MUST have your name on em.

As for the bladesteel issue. Waqas, if you can get your hand on 15N20 steel to replace the 4340 steel then you'll have a fine blade on yout hands. Replacing the 1070 with 1080 or 1084 would be even better. But 1070 is a pretty decent steel so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Mr.Alexander !

your suggestions are really valid, as I have informed in this forum that the composition of steels are subject to customer's demand which can be done under available sources, if the required materials are available then that can be done accordingly if any steel is not available the available alternative is offered to customer if he agrees on that. like 15N20 is not available in Pakistan as per my knowledge in the form to be used to blend in making Damascus. we are successfully doing work on blending the 1090 or 1095 and replacing 4340 with more hard alloys.

Alexander Noot said:

I've already pointed out the no makers mark about his knives. It's fine to no mark them under your own name when you're using an OEM kind of deal.

But when selling under your own name the MUST have your name on em.

As for the bladesteel issue. Waqas, if you can get your hand on 15N20 steel to replace the 4340 steel then you'll have a fine blade on yout hands. Replacing the 1070 with 1080 or 1084 would be even better. But 1070 is a pretty decent steel so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Mr.John , thanks for your valuable comments, as for as stamping is concerned, I would like to do that but under the phenomena of "right time for right job".as currently I am justifying my self and my work to create a positive image in minds of people who normally don't have good perception about my region or work ethics, and as per my observation these perceptions have been built on some genuine reasons and some are just with out any logical reasons. So as soon as I get success to achieve this perception in minds of my target market there will be a representation mark (logo) on my products. Because logo is not just a mark but a huge responsibility.
 
John McCain said:

Waqas, One other troubling aspect that was pointed out to me- Neither of these knives have any makers mark or tang stamp-Potential customers might be worried that the knife they ordered was, indeed, being made by the same maker as the examples they had previously viewed.I would consider this a major concern for any potential buyer  IMHO.

Sir ! please inform me  that what is (IMHO) mean? is it any abbreviation? Secondly my answer to your confusion is that I have tried to make attention both the user and the looker, the presented stuff was just to give a general idea about our capability. the points raised under this discussion are all achievable even we have been doing wood stabilization, different steels blades and also blending of different demanded alloys to make Damascus. 
 
John McCain said:

Waqas, I admire your ethics and your craftmanship, but I must confess, I am a little confused on what you were trying to achieve on these examples-IMHO, it seems as if you could not decide if you were making a looker or a user--

1) the slipjoint-The lacewood and the filework ( although not elaborate) suggest a looker. However, the brass bolster detracts from the beauty of the lacewood due to the similarity of the color palette and the steel pivot pin in the bolster is visually unappealing, though structurally superior. By the same reasoning, the blade sharpness,strength and steel pivot pin suggest user, but the untreated wood is not practical in most user environments-

2) I have the same confusion about the "Persian" - Quality is excellent with beautiful Damascus-Once again, the similarity in the color palette between the bolster and does not highlight  the beauty of either. Once again, the filework would suggest a looker, but the black micarta suggests user and does nothing to enhance the beauty of the blade-Black micarta is a eminently practical handle material for a tactical or user knife, but, not the most beautiful of material,by any means.

In short, I find your ethics,craftmanship, and pricing very appealing, but I am troubled by some of the aesthetics-

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