Knife Collector Joined Forces with Balisong Maker on BaliMAX

Within the last several days the BaliMAX balisong axe has been taking social media by storm. The strikingly unusual custom knife was the result of a collaboration between a balisong enthusiast and a custom bali maker.

Despite its recent rise to fame, the BaliMAX is actually ten years old. It was designed in 2007 by Jon Kim, a collector and designer who says the gigantic balisong was a dream project that he wasn’t even sure could ever work. “The only reason I started design the BaliMAX was to see if it could be done.” Kim was inspired by the TOPS Mini Axe, designed by Paul Ehlers, for the BaliMAX’s double-edged head. “For some reason, my brain had this idea to transform the small tomahawk into a balisong,” he explains.

Designing an axe that can be operated like a balisong was no easy task. Kim says the biggest challenge was sorting out all the small mechanical details. “I definitely struggled with coming up with the idea for the three tang pin design.” Kim worked with custom maker Terry Guinn to produce the final product. Guinn, an expert in custom balisongs who has worked with Kim on other designs, further helped fine-tune the mechanics. “Terry Guinn deserves a great deal of credit for refining my design,” Kim says.

The BaliMAX’s head is made from CPM-154 and fully sharpened. But with a weight of 19 oz and an imposing 9” overall length, Kim is realistic about its performance as a tool. “As a balisong, it is very heavy and even I get nervous flipping it,” he says. “As an axe, it wouldn’t hold up to the rigors an axe would be put through.” On the other hand, Kim believes it could perform as a tomahawk or even a fighting tool – which was the original purpose of the Ehlers-designed TOPS ax. “Would it be my first choice? Nope. My intent when I had the BaliMAX made was for my collection.”

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The BaliMAX cost almost $2000 to produce. Kim says that he and Guinn have communicated with people in the industry about a production version, but advises would-be customers not to get their hopes up. “I don’t think this design can be made at a price point where it would sell and still be a quality product.”

Knife featured in image: BaliMAX Balisong Axe