French maker Tashi Bharucha is embarking on a unique project this year: the Legacy Collection. This is a series of ten highly limited custom knife designs, each one paying tribute to a maker who has influenced the craft and Bharucha himself.
The Legacy Collection designs are not collaborations, but will take inspiration from the knife maker they honor, with Bharucha belnding his personal interpretation of their style and with his own. Each Legacy Collection knife is made with explicit permission from the maker receiving the tribute (or their estate if they have passed away). The first Legacy Collection honoree is, unsurprisingly, Ken Onion.
Onion hardly needs an introduction, but in addition to being a top-tier custom maker for decades, he’s had an incalcuable influence on the production knife scene. “Ken’s impact on todays’ knife world is spectacular in many regards,” Bharucha tells us. “He was not the first custom maker to collaborate with a production company, but he really took that partnership to the next level, working with them on entire ranges, creating trends and pushing them to innovate.”
Of course, we wouldn’t have the mid-tech concept without Onion pioneering the format. “That term ‘mid-tech’ has since then lost its original meaning,” Bharucha notes. “A Ken Onion Mid-tech was a knife made by Ken in his shop with some outsourced parts. He would have the handles machined and blade blanks cut elsewhere but still fit all the parts, put the knife together and hand grind every blade…which is what some makers call custom nowadays.”
The Onion Legacy knife is a large custom folder with a 3.8 inch RWL-34 blade. Onion’s influence can be clearly seen on this blade, with its curvy, organic twist on a tanto shape. Bharucha’s penchant for gleaming hand-rubbed blades is on display, but the angluer, humped handle design is where the French maker’s own style shines through most evidently. The scales are made from titanium, but the Onion Legacy – obviously a collector’s piece and not a user – is still a heavy knife, weighing just over 7 oz.
Bharucha built these knives with the explicit intention of keeping them very exclusive; only nine Legacy Onion knives have been and will ever be made. Bharucha kept one, but the rest have been spoken for – including the original prototype which went to Ken Onion himself. However, there are nine other makers Bharucha intends to honor with this series. “The next one would have to be Bob Loveless, who I probably should have started with,” Bharucha notes. “He is the father of modern knife design and my approach to this series is obviously through design. And after that, my hero, the great Tom Mayo, who’s main influence was also Loveless.”
“This will run for years to come,” Bharucha concludes. “Don’t exactly know when I’ll start working on the next one but definitely in 2021. I might aim for one every year.”
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