The Grand Plan Behind Utility

Angey Holt

Posted on July 03 2018

A couple of months ago I was emailing with a knife enthusiast about the Utility grade and I mentioned that we did not ever plan on releasing a large number of Utility grade knives. Based on the response I got, I am assuming this will surprise a number of people and I wanted to share a little back story on what we originally planned for the Utility grade.

When we were getting ready to start selling the first Specter, we knew of a number of people who wanted one, but could never afford the price.
Joe and I sat down and tried to find a way to build the same quality of knife, using high quality materials, hopefully at a lower price. We really struggled to find enough areas where we could reduce cost and hands on time to make this idea feasible. We eventually decided to remove all customizable options and simplified the handle design to reduce machine time. We understood at the time of conception that Utility would never be profitable for us. In fact, taking into account the number of hours we would invest in designing a Utility grade Specter, we would lose money. It was however, something we still wanted to move forward with on a very small scale. I share this to help emphasize that our desire to give a little back to the knife community was always at the heart of Utility grade.

Fast forward 6 months, and this idea of Utility has definitely taken on a life of its own. There are a number of people that we have shared this same back story with as we try to find the best way to move forward with Utility. Some people have commented that the small number we plan to make means they will become rare collector pieces that do not get used. If that is the end result of Utility grade, it will honestly sadden me as it really is the opposite of our initial goals. We have gotten suggestions about having an outside company make the knives for us, and we have given that some thought. At least for the time being, it is really important to us that we keep as much of the work in house as possible. It is possible in the future we will move in another direction, but right now we want to be true knife makers ... not just the assemblers or shippers.

Where does that leave us with the Utility grade?? To be honest, we are still trying to map that out. In hindsight, we do realize that our goals for Utility were naive and we have since spent a lot of time talking about how best to handle Utility. If we want to continue to push forward with new models and eventually become full-time makers, we simply cannot support a large number of Utility grade knives. I know the first question most people will ask is how many we plan to release. Right now the best answer to that question, is we really do not know. Our plan forward is to simply release them in a way that allows us to make progress towards becoming full-time knife makers.

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  • Jimmy Liu: January 16, 2021

    Hi Angey! Thanks for this informative and transparent post. It saddens me to hear that Holt Bladeworks would be losing money on the Utility grade and that the plans for a small batch would result in them becoming collector’s pieces. I just want you to know that I have sold most of my knife collection (i.e., less in the rotation) and freed up funds to purchase a Utility grade because I definitely plan on carrying this knife. I know my name is on the list, and I hope that I make the cut off! You guys do amazing work, and I look forward to having a Specter in my hands—and pocket—soon.

  • PAUL LEE: January 16, 2021

    Please put me on your waiting list for the utility grade. I actually feel much better putting a plain-jane knife to use than a dressed-up one with damascus, timascus/mokuti clips, zirc hardware…etc, and all that jazz. I will be eagerly awaiting their release! Love everything you guys are doing and keep up the great work!

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