North Arm Knives is Poised to Grow

North Arm Knives is readying plans to grow their Burnaby, British Columbia-based business. The father-son shop earned a bevy of new fans with the Skaha folder and would like to eventually work on other fresh designs.

Although they made – and continue to make – a variety fixed blades before pursuing folders, there’s no doubt North Arm’s Skaha flipper made serious waves in the knife world. An all-purpose EDC cutter, the Skaha comes with a 3.3-inch S35VN drop point blade, left with a distinctive, wavy CNC mill finish. The liner lock knife’s G-10 handle goes for gentle, simple curvatures, emphasizing the knife’s utilitarian bent. Mike Gudmundson, the son at North Arm Knives, says the ergonomics were one of the things they got right nearly from the start. “We were actually surprised at how much stayed the same in the Skaha from that original prototype.”

One of the major selling points on the Skaha became its flipping action. In this age of ball bearing pivots it takes a lot to stand out in this regard, but the Skaha’s smooth, snappy pivot reeled in the accolades, especially when compared to knives of a similar price. Father John Gudmundson says that getting a flipper to feel ‘just right’ takes both science and art. He reckons their special flattened detent ball and the fact that the liner is made of S35VN (as opposed to something softer) played a role too. “There was a mix of intelligence and intuition involved. I also think the material choices we made played a role in that.”

The immediate future for North Arm involves keeping up with demand for the latest version of the Skaha folder. But they say that a bigger shop is likely in their future and, once that happens, some other projects can be pursued. North Arm divides its customer base into three different segments, and envisions a new knife for each one. A bushcraft fixed blade would cater to their outdoorsmen customers, a 10-inch chef knife would please the home cooks, and a second, smaller folder with thumbstuds would target the hardcore knife fan audience. “We’d love to eventually do projects like these, but for now we’re at capacity,” says Mike.

Whatever the future may look like, the Gudmundsons remain committed to a mid-range price point. One of the elements to the Skaha’s success was its high performance relative to its price tag, and they tell us that was no fluke. “We do want to keep it there. We see a big appetite in the knife community for relatively affordable, quality knives,” says John. North Arm’s not breaking into the high-end collectible market any time soon. “The knives we make, we make as nice as we can – but they’re meant to be used.”

Knife featured in image: North Arm Knives Skaha II