New Edge Knives

Kevin Smock: The New Breed of Knifemakers

SK21 Fixed

SK75 Timascus

In the good ol’ days, custom knifemakers wanting exposure had to travel the knife show circuit to show off and sell their wares, then hope the cutlery magazines took note to help them get the word out. The internet has changed all that, and today, savvy knifemakers travel the social media circuit from the comfort of their home offices. Talented custom knifemaker Kevin Smock represents this modern breed of custom cutlery artisan.

Before becoming a full-time knifemaker, Kevin was a product designer for a Fortune 500 company with design patents to his credit. He also happened to be a knife collector. Like most creatives, the imaginative side of their brain is always working and around 2012, he discovered “modding” — the art of customizing production knives. This, combined with attending his first Blade Show (the equivalent of the Shot Show), set Kevin on the career-changing course of being the successful custom knifemaker he is today.

In 2015, Smock took out licenses for Spyderco’s patented Compression Lock and round Spydie Hole blade opener and went to work. He reconfigured the Compression Lock from a spine-located liner lock to a push-button release on the front handle into his first custom design. He dubbed it the SK23, and the rest, as they say, is history. Spyderco liked the design so much they released a production version of Kevin’s SK23 in 2019 — simply the “Spyderco Smock” — making Kevin a household name among cutting-edge knife aficionados. Smock Knives has grown into a full-blown custom shop, adding a second folder as well as a bevy of fixed-blade knives, EDC tools, and even a line of custom aftermarket scales for modding the Spyderco Smock.

The demand for Kevin’s knives took off, and in 2020, his wife, Tracie, left her full-time management position to assist him with the administrative and customer service chores. Tracie also handles the production of custom Spyderco Smock aftermarket scales. Other notable companies, such as DNA Technologies and Metonboss, have jumped on the Smock train thanks to the “modding” boom taking place in the cutlery market today. Needless to say, the mom-and-pop Smock Knives team stays busy, and the waiting list for Kevin’s handiwork has grown exponentially. American Handgunner is proud to bring you a taste of Smock Knives here.

SK23 Damasteel

Stock Smock-Modded Scales

Smock Edges

Smock’s SK23’s styling is a pleasing balance between eye appeal and practicality, no doubt reflecting his years as a product designer. The folder’s streamlined profile, 7.125″ in overall length, mates a 3.0″ Wharncliff blade with a 4.125″ handle frame that fills the palm in all the right places. The reconfigured Spyderco Compression Lock finds itself easier to access at its new location and mirrors a trend toward user preferences of button locks over the longstanding frame and liner types. The standard SK23 uses a flipper for accessing the blade made even smoother by a ball-bearing pivot.

The SK23 can be had in simple dressing or Kevin can trick it out to the nines in Damascus and Timascus or a myriad of colorful anodizing finishes and surface textures. This is the knifemaker at his best, when the creative beast is unleashed. The Smock SK23 featured here sports a patterned Damasteel blade with an eye-popping multi-colored anodized Timascus frame.

The Spyderco Smock is a tad longer at 7.92″ and, true to form, incorporates the trademark Spydie hole in the blade. Kevin offers the hole as an option on his SK23 models. As mentioned, Tracie handles the aftermarket scales for the Spyderco production Smocks, and these offer anywhere from custom machining to colorful anodizing or both, like the one we’ve pictured here.

The SK75 is the beast of the Smock hoard and uses a beefy frame-lock mechanism for securing the blade. Checking in at 9.0″, the length is distributed between the folder’s 4.0″ blade and 5.0″ frame. Having many of the characteristics of the smaller SK23 and SK45 (not pictured), the SK75 can accommodate the biggest of mitts. Pictured here is the largest sibling with a Matte Black Cerakoted blade and with a blue, purple and silver-hued Timascus handle.

Titanium Pry Bar

SK75 Logo Clip Detail

Fixers & More

Although Kevin is known for his folding fare, there’s more to Smock Knives to explore. His fixed-blade fare — which includes tactical, outdoor and kitchen knives — is every bit as impressive. We’ve included the SK21 Hunter here to whet your appetite for hunting and camping treks. The SK21 is 9.25″ in overall length with a 4.0″ AEB-L stainless steel drop-point blade ideal for camp chores, including setting up camp, bushcraft chores, meal prep, fire-starting, game processing and more. This versatile knife can be had in a variety of finishes from bead blasted and Cerakote to satin and stonewash. Name your handle material; Smock offers it.

There are other fixed blades in the Smock line, including larger knives and pure tactical fare. There’s even a balisong-style knife. There are also tactical Tomahawks and accessories like the pocketable SmocKey pry bar shown here. Other accessories include BrewKeys (cap lifters), SkullKeys, dog tags, lanyard beads and jewelry. Sometimes, Kevin makes products in small batches, so not all items are always available. You can follow Smock Knives on Facebook and Instagram or sign up for emails on their website to receive notice of these limited product drops.

Like most popular artisans, Kevin’s custom knives are in demand and be aware there is a waiting list. The good news is Spyderco has had the Smock folder in their catalog for three years running and shows no sign of letting up. The Smock Knives website is a feast for the eyes so if you like what you see here, cruise on over and spend some time. You’ll be amazed at how much Kevin and Tracie Smock have been able to achieve what used to take custom knifemakers many years to accomplish.

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