Darriel Caston Circles Back to Kickstarter with The Whorl Knife

Hot off the heels of the 2015 Spyderco Squarehead collaboration and the successful Kadima Kickstarter project, Darriel Caston returned to the crowdfunding platform earlier this month with the Whorl, a folding dog tag knife with an innovative framelock and a one-of-a kind circular design. The Whorl has already exceeded its crowd sourcing goal by over 50%, and there are still 19 days left in the campaign. The response has been so positive that Caston has plans to expand the Whorl line later in the year, with a larger, 2.5” version on the way.

The Whorl was inspired by mankind’s earliest cutting tools. “Those first knives had no point. Why? Because they were made for slicing, not thrusting and piercing,” Caston explains. “If you wanted to pierce something you would use a spear or an arrow, not a knife.” The Whorl subtracts a tip, but adds a small, half-circle chisel ground blade. It rides on caged bearings, on a frame that is knurled to enable a secure, if unusual, grip. “It’s weird at first,” Caston acknowledges. “But once you put it in your hand it gives you a lot of control over your cuts.” The Whorl’s unusual traits got the attention of a military bomb squad, who asked Caston to make them a batch for in-field testing. The small size and lack of a point make the knife well suited for cutting around wires and other delicate components.

Caston says that Kickstarter is an ideal platform for small-scale knife distribution. “Kickstarter gives you a global clientele.” The people who are interested in enthusiast products like the Whorl can find it, no matter where they live. His first Kickstarter-funded knife project, the Kadima, was successfully funded for over $19 thousand from just 81 backers. Kickstarter works great for small-batch knives because a maker knows exactly how many blades to produce, and the cash comes in even before manufacturing begins.

The Whorl is Caston’s fourth Kickstarter experience. He’s learned the hard way that managing too many variations and customizable options can be a logistical nightmare. So as not to make the same mistake, he is offering just two options this time: raw and blasted finishes. “Offering everybody every little thing just isn’t cost-effective,” Caston points out.

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Caston is just returning to knife making after a 12-year absence. In the early 90s he won an award for Best Maker at the Oregon Knife Show. Family and professional life intervened, but during the hiatus Caston was always thinking up new products. Knives, watches, and pens are all things Caston has in store for the future. “I have a lot of designs that are ready to go,” he promises.

Knife featured in image: Darriel Caston Whorl Circular Knife