Though none of his models have ever been produced, Kyle Chumchal of KC Designs is already making a name for himself as a knife designer. After only 10 months teaching himself Computer-Aided Design (CAD), the 20 year-old Texan can draft up a new knife in under two hours. Chumchal’s work has gained a healthy following on social media, and he says the next step is to make one of his digital drafts a physical reality.
For such a young designer, Chumchal’s portfolio is very diverse: futuristic dog tag folders, heavy duty flippers, tactical fixed blades. He is posting a new design every couple of days. “I couldn’t tell you how many I’ve drawn up. I lost count,” Chumchal says. He will also ‘reverse engineer’ the knives of well known makers for practice, going from physical knife to digital drawing. “CAD has totally changed how I look at knives. I’ve been at it ten months and I learn something new every day,” he says.
Chumchal is currently working in Fusion 360. 3D CAD programs like Fusion 360 and Solidworks allow makers to simulate different materials and watch their designs operate in three-dimensional space. Users can even calculate the final weight of an object without ever making a physical prototype.
Modern factory knives will start life in a CAD file as the precursor to manufacturing, but it’s less common in the custom knife world. As modern manufacturing equipment such as CNC mills become more prevalent, Chumchal says that CAD skills will continue to grow in importance. “I think modern knife designers with CNC machinery need digital drawing programs.” Chumchal has already been approached by makers to translate their models into CAD files.
Chumchal is just as impatient as his followers to see his blades get produced, but he has no desire to fabricate his own knives. He says he’s happiest in front of the computer. “I don’t ever see myself actually making the knives – I really just like designing them.”