Folding Skinner #1
Hammer Forged Custom Knives
There are two reasons I build hammer forged custom knives.The first reason is, I think that if it's done right, the thermal cycling required for forging high carbon steel makes a better blade. The second reason I forge is it gives me more creative freedom in following my chosen art. I love the way I can make hot steel flow into almost any shape with a hammer. With the right experience and patience hot steel can be molded like clay.
Hammer forged. high carbon steel blades are the standard by which all new blade material is judged. When heat treated properly forged high carbon steel makes the best all round blade. If I thought there was something better I would use it.
Heat Treating
Other than the type of steel you start with, I think heat treating is the most important part of making a quality custom knife. I've studied this and experimented with it for over fifty years. I test every custom knife I make, from my most elaborate colector grade knives to my least expensive field grade hunter, I'm proud of the way my all custom knives perform.
Damascus Steel
I make my own damascus steel for my knives from high carbon steel. By making my own damascus steel, I can tailor the number of layers and the pattern to the blade style of any damascus hand made knife I build.  
I believe a damascus blade slices better because of microscopic serations created by the layers crossing the cutting edge. This is the reason I do a sharks tooth damascus pattern on the cuttubg edge of many of my knives.
Exotic Materials
I sometimes embelish my knives with carving .etching and engraving but I prefer the natural beauty of ivory, bone, stag,wood and other exotic materisals. I use a lot of bronze, wrought iron and damascus steel for guards, buttcaps and such.
Designing a custom knife is the most fun part of being a blade smith. This is why you'll see so many different styles of knives made by me. 
I believe in the old saying "form follows function". Therefore, when I design a knife I first think "what it is to be used for". Then design the knife around that.  I love flowing lines, curves and facets. All this is combined with the right building materials (and in the case of a demascus knife, the right demascus pattern) for an over all balanced look.
Balance in a knife is largely misunderstood. It isn't something that can be mechanically measured. It's something you have to feel. Experience is the main factor in building a balanced custom knife. Because you can't feel the balance until the custom knife is finished, the custom knife maker must build the balance into the knife from experience. Some of the factors involved are blade thickness, blade length, blade taper, blade grind, tange type, handle and guard size and material. When judging the balance of a custom knife I pick it up and imagine using it for the purpose for which it was designed.
Attention To Detail
Sometimes attention to detail is what separates a utilitarian object from a work of art. I spend hours and hours on details. All my blades are hand finished. All my joints are hand fitted. All my handles are hand shaped and finished. If I think there will be even the slightest difference in the quality of the finished product between doing part of the work on a knife by machine or by hand I will do it the better way even if this way takes a lot longer. Sometimes this affects the final cost of a knife but I don't compromise on quality.
When I started making custom knives over fifty years ago. I am to this day trying to improve my craftmanship  To me the most important thing has always been the quality of the finished product. I will never take short cuts that may affect quality. I know I will never build a perfict knife but I also will never quit trying to do so on every knife I build.
Some people aren't willing to pay for the time, dedication and craftmanship that goes into a hand made work of art.  For these people there are many good knives available. For people those who want a fine quality working blade that is easy to sharpen, will hold an edge a long time and will give them good service the rest of their lives and is a work of art which they can proudly display and pass on to their children, thats what I do.
I know I will never get rich building custom knives. It's just too labor intensive. Money doesn't always mean success. To me, success is designing and building a custom knife as nearly perfect as I can. 
ALL OF MY CUSTON KNIVES ARE THOROUGHLY TESTED      Jery Lairson Sr. 605 McAtee Lane  Ringold, Oklahoma  74754   Phone (580) 876-3426