Tactile Knife Company, the new knife-making branch of the EDC pen masters at Tactile Turn, is up and running, with big plans for the future and their first model, the Rockwall, available now.
In 2019 we talked to Will Hodges, Founder of Tactile, as he was putting the finishing touches on the BAK, a pen-shaped, bolt-action utility knife. During that interview Hodges alluded to a full-fledged flipper he was working on; and now that knife has arrived as the Rockwall. But because the processes involved in making flippers were so different from those of Tactile’s pens, a fresh game plan was needed.
“We’ve been a machine shop that has mostly focused on turning, so last August I hired several people to get the knife company started,” Hodges explains. He brought on two knife makers, Tim Harbert of Ardent Knives and Matt Palmore, and also relied on Kevin Taylor, a Tactile Turn Co. stalwart. “He’s brought tremendous turning skills to our Swiss lathe lineup. We have more turning capacity than almost any knife company out there,” Hodges says.
The texturing on the handle is a detail carried over from Tactile’s pens
Along with the new personnel, Hodges had to find the right machinery for knife making. “In the last 6 months I’ve added a lot more equipment,” he says. “We now have three vertical mills, an EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) hole popper, three wire EDMs, two surface grinders, and a lot of support equipment.” In the pen realm, Hodges’s work is well-known, and his success in that field, as well as the overlap in interest between knife and pen nerds, provided the perfect gateway into the industry. “People know and love our pens in the EDC community, and that success has allowed me to invest heavily into hitting the ground running making these knives.”
The Rockwall, flagship folder for Tactile Knife Co., was designed to be a sweet spot EDC. “I really wanted a slim, light, and easy to carry flipper,” Hodges says. “I have a lot of larger flippers, but my main complaint is they just take up too much pocket real estate.” Thus this one has a 2.84-inch blade and a 4-inch closed length. Hodges focused on a thin grind for the Rockwall, too. “I like thin blades that are ground really thin so the behind the edge measurement is very small, while still being tough enough to hold up to some tougher tasks,” he explains. The Rockwall’s blade is made from CTS-XHP steel, but Hodges disclosed that CPM-20CV is planned for the future, alongside some ultra-premium Chad Nichols damascus blades.
One of the most recognizable elements of Hodges’s work is the meticulous texturing on his pens – and he tells us he brought that same visual hallmark onto the Rockwall. “Tactile Turn pens have a texture that helps hide wear, and the texture on the Rockwall does the exact same while also improving grip and maintaining a simple aesthetic.” Titanium is the current handle material of choice, but others are planned. Hodges also notes that the Rockwall’s pocket clip took a lot of effort to get just right. “I also wanted as deep of a carry clip as possible, and we’ve pulled off one of the only original clips that’s been done in a long time – something different than anything else out there and it is incredible.”
Hodges is particularly proud of the Rockwall’s clip
The Rockwall is available now, rolling out in small batches; if you’re interested in getting one, you can sign up for the wait list to secure your place in line. And with this first project proceeding smoothly, Hodges is already looking towards the future: “We’re just getting started,” he asserts. “We started with a very challenging knife, and we’re working on a slip joint and we’ll get into some fixed blades as well as kitchen knives before too long.”
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