Knife Future Looks Bright: 14-Year Old’s Flipper Design Goes into Production

“It all started over a year ago, when I was getting instagram messages from this kid,” said Elliot Williamson, co-owner of Ferrum Forge Knives. “I said to myself: you know what? He’s asking some pretty technical questions; A. for a 13 year old and B. just in general.”

Ben Chacon, a soft-spoken young teenager wanted advice on how to build a folding knife.  “We talked, and I was generally impressed with the kid,” said Williamson. “He was asking me really specific things – questions that older and well-established knife makers don’t even ask.”  Williamson was so impressed that he invited Ben to visit the Ferrum Forge workshop.  That first meeting set in motion a collaboration between Ferrum Forge and the young knife maker that would result in the Ferrum Forge Kylin, a titanium framelock flipper of Ben’s design.

The Kylin itself needed a notable tweak before Williamson could put it into the Ferrum Forge production schedule. Because Ben has such small hands, the size of the knife needed to be scaled up to fit an adult hand according to Williamson.

“my Mom wouldn’t let me buy any more knives”

Ben made his first knife on a bench grinder out of scrap aluminium when he was just nine years old.  “I had bought two knives and my Mom wouldn’t let me buy any more,” he explained. “So I thought: okay, I’ll make my own.”  Ben says he found inspiration by watching then-fledgeling knife makers Geoff “TuffThumbz” Blauvelt and Michal “Gavko” Gavak on YouTube as they recorded their own early knife design and manufacturing experiments.  “They were the first knife makers that I ever saw,” he recalls. “Gavko was a huge inspiration for me to want to make knives.”


Ben Chacon, designer of the Ferrum Forge Kylin with Brad Southard at the USN Gathering in September

“at first they didn’t really like the whole ‘knife thing’ “

Speaking about a possible future as a knife maker, Ben says “I enjoy doing the work, but as a daily thing I’m not sure yet.” Ben hasn’t decided if he’ll make a career out of it, but he doesn’t intend on stopping any time soon. The knife making tools are fast accumulating in his garage, including a manual mill gifted to him from Ferrum Forge. And, what do Ben’s parents think?  “They thought it was really weird in the beginning – at first they didn’t really like the whole ‘knife thing,’ but after they saw what the knife community was like, and that I really wanted to do it and was putting work in, they came around to it,” he explained.

Ben has only made a handful of folding knives, but they have fetched high prices from collectors captivated by such a young talent: “He did an auction piece, a folder that ended up going for $1999.  That’s as high as some of my auction pieces go for,” says Williamson.  “I’ve told Ben that: ‘since you’re just 14, you’re going to be a fascination to people.’ ”

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