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Joe Watson Custom Knives

Joe Watson Custom Knives

The overall mission of Watson Knives is to offer a variety of high performance, handmade knives from kitchen to outdoors to self defense pieces. Joe does things the right way, one piece at a time. He is meticulous in his material selection, heat treating and effort in the details to offer the best knives he can.

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As someone who enjoys the craft of knifemaking and has a lot of interests, I make knives for a wide variety of uses. Generally, these are broken down into two simple categories: 

-Field Grade: Everyday working knives made to perform with good geometry, heat treat, and materials suited more towards ease of maintenance and durability. CPM-154 is the most common steel used as it is the best all-around steel for most situations. Sometimes, steels like CPM-3V or PSF27 will be offered as well. A stonewash finish is the most common finish I offer on Field Grade pieces.

-Signature Grade: My opportunity to explore and deliver a higher level of old-world craftsmanship. The performance, high-quality heat treat as the working knives, but with more premium features, more striking cosmetics and the use of more rare materials. Finishes can vary, from painstakingly hand-rubbed and polished metal, high gloss satin finishes and pattern acid-etched finishes. Blades may be stainless, or carbon steel with visible hardening lines-commonly referred to as a Hamon. Thicker stock will often come with a tapered tang. You will also see hand-sanded handles made from exotic woods, vintage phenolic materials, and other specifically selected accouterments. 


At 17 years old I enlisted in the US Army during the peak of the War on Terror, which was a great learning experience to kick off my adult life. Between training and combat missions, I'd gathered a lot of thoughts about what knives should be. Upon leaving the military to work in the private sector in various security and training roles, I got to meet some of the finest trainers around and have been continually blessed to have them as mentors. I've always spent as much time as possible outdoors and continue to use these knives every day, not just working around the shop, but also during hunting trips and property maintenance. As a single guy, I had to learn how to cook or be stuck the way of pizza boxes and easy mac, so I enjoy making and using kitchen cutlery as well, although I don't get to do as many as I'd like at the moment.

Initially, I just wanted to make functional stuff and didn't give a thought to fit and finish. A few years down the line, as I continued to learn under some of the great knife makers, I started wanting to refine my work further and found that as I improved the details, my skill grew and the knives started not just working, but looking a lot better as well- go figure!

By remaining active in the defense training industry as both a teacher and student, I am blessed with constant feedback on my designs as well as awareness of what people on the job require in ever-evolving environments. Since I respect the value of other methodologies and experience, I also frequently work with professionals from the military, law enforcement and civilian sectors to vet and create new designs. I am proud of the fact that the designs I make are painstakingly evaluated by a diverse group of people, with our experiences combined built into every piece.

-Joe Watson