We love the diversity we see in our customers here at DesignAShirt.com. Vehement Knives in Longmont, Colorado caught our eye and we just had to know more about them after taking a look at the website. The sheer beauty of the knife designs as works of art make it easy to forget the high degree of functionality they serve. We got in touch with Jonny Bahlatzis, a maker, designer, process engineer and idea guy at Vehement Knives to find out what it means to LIVE VEHEMENTLY.
How did Vehement Knives get its start?
Jonny Bahlatzis – Vehement Knives started out of passion and necessity in 2011. Our owner, Matt, was working “on the grid” in Okinawa, Japan as a certified Unexploded Ordinance Technician and needed a tool that would allow him to carefully and efficiently excavate hazardous ordnance and ready them for disposal. However, there wasn’t anything purpose-built for that on the market. As a result, he came up with the EOD/UXO Dig Knife and sketched it on a scrap of paper while out in the field. This workhorse has been serving military and contractor personnel in the field ever since, and feedback was so positive that moving into knife-making full-time seemed like a logical choice. Everyone at Vehement Knives has a passion for edged tools, but we all feel that there is a gap which we can fill when it comes to “regular-use knives for hard-ass people.”
EOD/UXO DIG TOOL
Knife making is an ancient skill; how does one go about teaching new knifemakers the craft?
J.B.- Unfortunately, there is no specific formula to teaching or learning the craft. Obviously, some of it relies on a person’s raw skill with handwork and machines, but the majority of it comes from creativity, problem-solving skills, and attention to quality and details. One must be able to look at a raw piece of steel and envision something completely different. They must plan out each step to get to the final state, while paying the utmost attention to how each decision in the design and execution will affect the function and aesthetics of the knife. Once a person has the foundation of these qualities, the next step is familiarizing them with the various functions of each knife or tool, the features that drive them, and the processes to create them. This does not happen overnight. There are many books and videos on how to make knives, but there is no book or video on how to make a Vehement Knife.
What is the most complicated aspect of making a custom knife?
J.B. – When making a custom knife, there are two paths that one may take: Either you are taking a design that has never existed before and making it a reality, or you are making a knife that is reminiscent of something that has previously existed but required performance improvements to live up to modern needs. Either way, you need to take something intangible and turn it into something physical that functions and performs beyond the user’s expectations with very little previous example off of which to base it.
Custom Made EDC
What do you feel makes a knife made by Vehement Knives outstanding?
J.B. – At Vehement Knives, we pride ourselves on creating the utmost standard of fit and finish for our knives, but this level of quality is almost paradoxical in the knife industry when it comes to the near-indestructability and sheer performance capabilities of our knives. Every one of them is designed and built with the end-user in mind and with an attention to detail, ergonomics, and aesthetics that we feel is unique for hard-use tools.
The Elemental with Natural Micarta Scales
Have any of your customers shared any unusual stories that involved use of their purchase from Vehement Knives?
J.B. – One of the most gratifying aspects of creating knives is the fact that in a survival situation, a knife is arguably THE most valuable tool a person could have. Whether on home soil or overseas, we have had a number of customers send us reports about being in life-threatening situations and being able to overcome adversity with the help of their Vehement Knife. We have received emails and calls ranging from hunters being caught in whiteout snowstorms and being able to build emergency shelters, to young women deterring a violent attack. When we are designing or making a knife, these are the people about whom we are thinking.
What makes your customers “Knife People?”
J.B. – One of the things on which we pride ourselves at Vehement Knives is that most of our customers weren’t actually “knife people” when they first purchased a Vehement Knife. We love the knife-enthusiast community, but we founded this company with a much larger goal of promoting responsible knife ownership and usage and the idea that a good quality knife is an indispensable tool and companion in outdoor and everyday life for any person or family.
Which product has proved to be your most popular?
J.B – By volume, that would be Matt’s first design and creation, the EOD/UXO Knife, but we all have our own favorites!
What was the purpose of ordering custom t-shirts?
J.B. – We put a lot of time, effort, and even a little money into building our brand as a standalone image and idea outside of just knives. Our T-shirts are more than advertisement or marketing. They are a call to action. To “Live Vehemently” is to constantly pursue a life of intense passion—to fight hard for what brings you satisfaction in your life. The graphic logo (we call “Louis”) represents the heirloom quality of our edged tools. Our knives will outlast us and anyone who reads this; they will outlast any past, present, or future kings. This is not a matter of arrogance, but rather, it speaks to the fact that quality steel takes centuries to degrade back to its constituent elements. That longevity is motivation for us to do our absolute best work when making each knife. “Vehement Knives” will still be emblazoned on the knife long after the actual shop is gone.
Custom Printed Vehement Knives T-Shirts