Knives Illustrated

A TALK WITH ALAN FOLTS

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Like many knifemaker­s, Alan Folts is frugal with his material and was looking at ways to use leftover scrap steel from other projects. The first two Minimalist­s he started as a test of a new annular cutter that he had in his shop. He used it to bore three holes in his piece of scrap steel, and then cut that piece in half directly through the holes. This gave him two halves, each with the start of the three-finger groove handle design that we know so well today. His first blade shape was a Wharncliff­e that he intended on using as a canoe knife that he could attach to his personal flotation device. Alan carried those prototypes and used them for two years, learning from the design and refining it. He was focused on how the knife feels and indexes in the hand and wanted to give it scalpel like control using your fingers, not the palm of your hand as you would on a bigger blade. Alan enlisted the aid of many others in the design process as he would hand the knife off to people at knife shows and other places to get their feedback. He honed the design from that input and his own experience­s and started making custom versions for sale in his capacity as a parttime knifemaker. He said that CRKT has been great to work with over the years and that the people have become like family. Unlike a lot of companies, CRKT sources all its designs from knifemaker­s in a relationsh­ip that’s mutually beneficial. It gives them a broad and diverse line with a variety of styles and perspectiv­es provided by each maker. For folks who want a Folts design but maybe can’t afford one quite yet, the CRKT production models give them great, affordable options to purchase and use his knives. While CRKT has a lot of variations of the Minimalist, Alan has some versions that he only does in his custom line. If you want one, or one of the other models of Minimalist that he makes, you need to act fast. He said that when he posts knives for sale on his website, they typically sell out in two or three minutes, and his dealers sell out right away as well. Alan is big on having a personal connection to his customers, and sometimes that relationsh­ip starts with you walking up to a maker at their table at a show, or into their shop, introducin­g yourself, and learning about what they do firsthand.

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