Brian Tighe is an industry legend. For years his custom designs have dazzled collectors and his production collaborations are unmistakable. But recently, the Canadian knife maker has been feeling restless: “In the custom market, you can only do so much,” Tighe says. The high cost of entry for a Tighe custom meant that his designs weren’t reaching as many people as they could. And production collaborations, while affordable, were more limiting creatively: “Those were fun, but I really like to be more hands-on.”
These were the reasons Tighe decided to enter the burgeoning mid-tech market with the new Brian Tighe and Friends (BT&F) label. When Tighe and his collaborator David Reiser first discussed the project, the question they asked themselves was “What exactly is a mid-tech knife?” That can be a hard question to answer. Mid-techs straddle the line between production and custom: they are made with a greater attention to detail and significantly lower volume than production knives, but in larger-scale batches than customs. For Reiser and Tighe, the ideal mid-tech is a knife that is more affordable than a custom, but more ‘special’ than a production blade.
According to Reiser, who now heads up Brian Tighe and Friends, the defining aspect of a mid-tech knife is the human touch. Every BT&F knife gets attention from trained craftsmen. A particular point of pride are the hand-ground blades. Machines simply don’t grind blades the way a skilled maker can. Reiser also points out that when they do use machines, they’re used differently: “Even the steps done by machine are similar to processes used for making custom parts,” Reiser tells us.
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“Quality is always paramount, always a priority,” says Tighe. Tighe and Reiser plan to keep that in mind as they move forward. The first BT&F release, the USA-made Tighe Fighter, has been very well-received. The next design will be a small, California-legal auto knife, also based on a Tighe custom design. And as far as Tighe’s future custom work goes, he always stays a few designs ahead to keep on top of his workload. “People always ask me what my favorite Tighe design is,” he says. “And I always tell them, ‘The next one!’”
Knife featured in image: Brian Tighe and Friends Tighe Fighter