Flipper Knife Expert Brian Nadeau Details Plans for New Folders

SharpByDesign’s Brian Nadeau sat down with us ahead of the 10th annual USN Gathering (G10) to talk about the past, present, and future of his business. Nadeau elaborated on his recent releases and also talked about two new projects he’s considering for the remainder of the year and 2019.

Nadeau is bringing three different knives to G10 this weekend. One will be the Reate-produced Micro Typhoons, smaller versions of Nadeau’s award-winning Typhoon model. The Micros’ blades are scaled down to 3 inches, and those inbound for the Gathering will have 3D inlays and Damasteel blade options. Nadeau also tells us that he’s bringing an Arch Nemesis, a massive, elaborate flipper that comes across as a modern take on the classic American switchblade profile.

The final major model en route to the show is the Chicane. “The Chicane is a compilation of all my knife making knowledge to date,” Nadeau tells us. For this knife he adopted a trailing point blade measuring at 3.6 inches, and turned out a contrastingly curved handle equipped with the same upturned flipper tab that has become a sure sign of a Nadeau design. As a project incorporating 7 years of knife making experience, Nadeau confirms the Chicane is “made with the best materials out there with some of the tightest tolerances in the business, it’s up to any task a folding knife should be used for.”

It’s an obvious understatement to say that flipper knives have flooded the market. But Nadeau says he has managed to take the most popular deployment method in the community today and make it his own, thanks especially to an innovative detent. “Up until just recently, I was the only one doing this,” he notes. “I don’t use a ball detent in my knives. Instead I machine an engineered shape into a hardened lock insert.” This shape enjoys a better position against the tang than a ball detent can achieve, creating extremely fine-tuned action. “You also don’t have whip marks or that second stop when closing the blade. It’s one smooth motion.”

Nadeau got into his particular brand of tight tolerance, high-end knife making in 2011. He took up the challenge of a blacksmith who was committed to the old ways. “Like most guys who make forged knives, he didn’t respect CNC guys,” Nadeau says. “I was intent on shedding some light on his uneducated opinions.” Almost immediately Nadeau found customers for these early knives, but it took more than five years for him to bridge the gap and become a fully self-supported, growing knife maker. “I am able to provide for my family and play artist at the same time.”

Most of Nadeau’s designs are produced in very limited batches before being more or less retired. But fans can rest assured that more models are on the way. “I will be working with a company to produce a new unnamed design in the 3.75” range. Think of it as an evolved Typhoon,” Nadeau says. “I also would like to pursue an integral design. I haven’t done one yet and would like to take on the challenge.”

Knife featured in image: SharpByDesign Chicane (Image credit: SharpByCoop)