Liong Mah’s Disappearing SDC Flipper Made by Reate Knives

Yesterday, knife maker Liong Mah unveiled a knife dubbed the SDC (Slim Daily Carry). The design of the knife is remarkable, with a minimalist flipper tab that integrates seamlessly into the handle when open. The SDC is the fifth knife collaboration between Mah and David Deng of Reate Knives. The blades are primarily sold directly to consumers under Mah’s own brand, Liong Mah Design.

The SDC is long and lean and squeezes blade length from every millimeter of handle width. The disappearing flipper tab does doubly duty: it both deploys the knife and transforms into an index finger ramp when open, allowing the user to safely and comfortably grip all the way to the cutting edge. The innovative design also allows the knife to remain incredibly narrow – the 3.625″ CPM S35VN blade is just over one inch wide including the flipper tab.

Liong Mah SMC

The Liong Mah SDC – Disappearing Flipper Tab Does Double Duty

“I’m putting up my own money and the risk is all on me”
In conversation with Liong Mah, it becomes clear that he is driven to innovate out of a deep respect for his customers and their needs. “The End Line User (ELU) is a term Spyderco came up with and that I’ve embraced. I never forget that my job is to always look out for the End Line User. It means always delivering a great product at a great value and that I’m able to stand behind my products,” Mah reiterates. Mah refined the SDC over a number of years before he felt it was ready for the market. And even though David Deng’s Reate is doing all the manufacturing, “I’m putting up my own money and the risk is all on me,” says Mah. “The benefit is that I get to test out my ideas and give more people access to my designs at a lower cost than my custom collaborations.”

“The fitting on each part is unique to each knife and perfected.”
Working with Reate also means that Mah doesn’t have to compromise on quality to make a ‘production’ knife. “Some people call them production knives but I would class them as mid-techs because of all the hand work that’s involved,” Mah remarks. “[The knives] are hand finished and assembled. The fitting on each part is unique to each knife and perfected. The Reate shop is made of 15 highly skilled knife makers – each one could be a custom knife maker in their own right,” he explains. Mah told us David Deng takes responsibility for the final quality control step and personally inspects every knife that leaves his shop himself. So it comes as little surprise that Mah is delighted with the partnership: “I’m extremely proud to put my name on these blades. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with David Deng and his crew.”

“They must think I’m crazy”
Mah has gone to great lengths to make these premium knives as accessible as possible. One of the biggest challenges in working with the China-based Reate is access to materials. “It is so hard getting certain materials in China. You can find it but it costs a lot more because you’re buying from a chain of distributors who each add their mark-up,” he explains. Instead, Mah has personally helped to source materials needed to make his collaborations and keep costs as low as possible. “Because I am able to get materials to David for better prices, I can pass the saving to my customers,” he says. In addition to the American CPM S35VN steel that David Deng uses, “I also helped him source Loc-Tite for the hardware on his knives and now I’m getting him carbon fiber. I talk to suppliers and they must think I’m crazy when I ask them to ship 50lbs of carbon fiber to my hotel at BLADE Show,” Mah quips.

“Everyone has their own way of doing things”
In addition to his full-custom collaborations with various knifemakers, Mah’s design work can also be found at production companies like CRKT, who has offered many of his designs over the years. But with the Reate partnership, he has found the flexibility to bring an original design to market under his own terms. “When collaborating with larger companies it can take up to 24 months to get a product into the market. They will invest a lot of the time, energy, and money in developing the project with you and their engineers spend a lot of time getting the products into a $50-100 price point most people can afford.” It’s a time-consuming process, says Mah. “Spyderco takes the product to different shows for feedback which makes it at least a 3-year process,” he says. “Working with Reate, I have a better timeline right now. Projects take anywhere from 5 to 12 months.” The faster pace is a better fit for Mah, who has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. “I like it to be fast but I understand that everyone has their own way of doing things.”

Knife featured in image: Liong Mah SDC by Reate Knives