Look. Here at Knafs we don't get in fights on the internet. No one wins. But also: the internet is a beautiful place to start conversations. It's the public square where ideas take shape, evolve, and solidify into opinions and fact. We're willing to talk it out. My friend Zac made a video a month ago about the Lander. The comments rolling in like this, and I kind of got defensive:

Not defensive in a "let's call each other names and punch out teeth online" way. But I wanted to explore the idea of copies, clones, and cultural contact more. I wanted to "defend" a thesis the same way a PHD candidate does: stand in front of the board and lay down my research and ideas. Get feisty in the comments. Challenge the questions. Challenge my own beliefs on the topic.

Lander, Rat II, Banter, Elementum, Dozier, Bugout -- Similar Knives. Different Knives.

So, I started researching. And reading. And writing. And then I called my good buddy Zac in the Wild again to see if he and video man Jamie wanted to explore this topic in another video on his channel. We made a copy (or clone?!!) of the good old days when we worked together. Here is the result: 

If you're more of a reader, here is a quick synopsis:

I've handled thousands of knives over the years. I've carried hundreds. I cannot sit down and draw a cutting tool without those inputs playing into my design philosophy. However, there is a difference between that contact and copying someone's homework. Let me explain:

I contend that there are three ways to look at design that borrow ideas from the design, biology, and anthropology worlds:

Cultural Contact:

  • Definition: culture contact, contact between peoples with different cultures, usually leading to change in both systems. The effects of culture contact are generally characterized under the rubric of acculturation, a term encompassing the changes in artifacts, customs, and beliefs that result from cross-cultural interaction (Brittanica)
  • Have I had cultural contact with other knife designs? Absolutely. Do they influence my knife designs? Of course. But is that copying or plagiarism? Let's keep exploring:

Convergent Evolution:

  • Definition: Convergent evolution occurs when two organisms that lack a recent common ancestor end up more and more alike as they adapt to a similar ecological niche. (Masterclass)
  • I contend that many knives like the Lander, Banter, Dozier, Elementum and Bugout are a type of convergent evolution that is surely influenced by cultural contact. The style of the knife has evolved to fit human hands and needs. Of course simple design will converge.

Divergent Evolution:

  • Definition: divergent evolution occurs when two organisms with a common ancestor end up as different species. For instance, bats and mice share a recent common ancestor, but divergent evolution has turned them into two entirely different species. (Masterclass)
  • Think of any knife designed by the late Elijah Isham. His knives diverged in splendid ways. He was a brilliant, divergent designer. The Boker Mermaid also diverges. These knives are still cutting tools, but they're so far past vanilla ice cream, they give them a new name like, say, a Slurpee. 

So, in conclusion, design is a fascinating topic that converges, diverges, and influences. The Lander clearly has inspirations from many different corners of the knife world, as it should coming from the mind of a guy who has handled a few knives. But it's highly likely that those inspirations came from other inspirations came from other inspirations. There's nothing new under the sun. Finally, one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
Thanks for listening to my TED Talk. Keep turning that kaleidoscope, amigos. 

Further reading:



July 11, 2022 — Ben Petersen


Bjoern said:

Everytime something new is coming, some people jump on the Train „that is a … knife“
But the reality is, every serious Knivemaker looks on other knives to look on advantage or disadvantage of it, to make a better product!
It is in every production so..

Knafs… uncomplicated, wonderful knives for the real urgent part.. cut
And also a variety of designs and materials.
Ben… I love it.

Greetings from Germany

Ben_Banters said:

Hey James! That’s awesome that you’re in tiny campers. One of my favorite books I own is a book about vintage camper trailers. You see the same design iterations and changes in campers from 60 years ago. Kind of fascinating stuff. I’m glad you’re enjoying my work.

ToxicFpV said:

Ben. Let me just say that the lander is by far my favorite knife I have ever owned. and boy have I owned some knives. It is the perfect edc. My high dollar knives I Carry when I go out and about. My Monday thru Friday work knife is allllllways my black and purple lander. I love it so much I ordered the micarta version also. And might possibly order another black d2 lander as I loaned my knife at work and got it back looking like a serated knife. And that’s the great thing about the lander. It’s good enough to carry for everyday use but not so expensive that when it gets damaged I can just pass it off to that person and get a new one. Sorry a bit off topic. Make what your heart leads you to make. As long as it isn’t an exact replica of another knife then influence will always be at play. All knives have sharp blades. Doesn’t mean all knives are the same. Keep doing you brother man and keep up the great work.

James said:

I love your take on this interesting topic. In my world – tiny camper design and manufacturing – we deal with the exact same thing. Look at teardrop campers and you’ll find dozens of manufacturers building the same thing – only all of them are different.

I enjoyed your website and I like my SMKW Baby Banter. Keep up the good work!

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