Of Blue Mohawks, Butterfly Knives and Buddies

The VMX-1 prototype was fabricated from BG42, however the manufacturing mannequin has a 4-inch blade of CPM 154 metal. The prototype deal with is black titanium, however custom-colored anodized titanium handles can be found. Paintings by Zach Burcham of West Predominant St Tattoos in Glasgow, Kentucky.

If you happen to may apply a motto to VMX Knives it could be: Let’s have some enjoyable. At the least that’s the impression you get after speaking with co-owners James Robert Buckley of Maverick Customs and Kyle Vallotton of three-generation-strong Vallotton Custom Knives. Rob and Kyle turned buddies on-line. For BLADE Present 2017, Kyle—sporting a brand new do—invited Rob, whom he calls Buckley, to share house on the Vallotton desk. However attributable to a confluence of points, Kyle, who is thought for his butterfly artwork knives, had no balisongs on the desk this yr. Rob, a machinist and welder earlier than entering into knifemaking, requested Kyle if he’d take a look at a design he’d provide you with for a balisong. Kyle appreciated it. The boys agreed to make the knife collectively, Kyle bringing his experience within the art-balisong business to the newcomer and Rob providing to point out Kyle what he knew about machining metal. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than a piece stream was ironed out and the VMX-1 was introduced from paper to actuality, a child born of blue mohawks, butterfly knives and buddies.

Rob Buckley was a machinist and welder before he got into knifemaking full-time.
James Robert Buckley is the proprietor of Maverick Customs out of Horse Cave, Kentucky. He’s additionally the co-owner with Kyle Vallotton of VMX Knives.

Rob Buckley grew up in Glasgow, Kentucky, about 45 minutes northeast of Bowling Inexperienced. Whereas in highschool and dealing at a family-owned cabinetry store, he got here to a realization: “I hated wooden,” he stated, laughing. However he took college-level programs in welding and machining. “It bought me,” he stated of metalwork. At 17 he entered the Military, wanting fight medic, however settling for infantry. He sustained accidents that may require surgical procedure earlier than persevering with his coaching, so he accepted the proffered medical discharge. Returning house, he landed a machining job in Dickson, Tennessee, the place his mother and father had been dwelling on the time. After these few months as a handbook machinist and welder, he moved again to Glasgow to work as a licensed welder. Six months later he took a place at {a magazine} printing plant, staying for 10 years. He left for a pc numeric managed (CNC) machinist place, however he discovered working the computer-programmed mills and lathes not as satisfying as hands-on metalworking. Three years in the past he started making instruments, then later knives, full time.

Kyle Vallotton specializes in art balisongs at Vallotton Custom Knives.
Kyle Vallotton hit BLADE Present 2017 with a blue mohawk. He’s a third-generation knifemaker and the fifth individual in his household to be making knives below Vallotton Customized Knives. He’s additionally co-owner of VMX Knives with James Robert Buckley of Maverick Customs.

Kyle Valloton marks the third era and fifth member of the family to be making knives below Vallotton Customized Knives. He started within the store when he was 10 years previous. He took a while off to check jobs away from the household enterprise, corresponding to phone gross sales consultant, however by the point he was 23, he knew he needed to make knives for a dwelling. He grew up in Umpqua, about an hour and a half south of Eugene. His grandfather Butch was an innovator within the tactical folder and computerized knifemaking world. The Vallottons maintain 15 patentable developments with seven still-running royalty contracts. Vallotton improvements seem in quite a few manufacturing knives, from Gerber to Spyderco.

Kyle, Rainy and Butch Vallotton have been making knives for close to four decades.
Kyle Vallotton, left, focuses on high-end balisongs, tapping into each the artistry of his dad, Wet, and the improvements of his grandpa, Butch, proper.

Kyle’s dad, Wet, made his mark within the high-end art-knife market, and Kyle’s specialty is the butterfly knife. He faucets into each his grandfather’s exactitude in specs and his father’s creative flare. Kyle’s demeanor exudes good-natured enthusiasm and a way of enjoyable with out being reckless. He contemplated attending BLADE Show 2017 sporting a blue mohawk, however wasn’t positive how it could go over. Lastly, he determined to do it. “Let’s have some enjoyable,” he stated. “Everybody cherished it.”

The VMX-1 prototype was fabricated from BG42, however the manufacturing mannequin has a 4-inch blade of CPM 154 metal. The prototype deal with is black titanium, however custom-colored anodized titanium handles can be found. Paintings by Zach Burcham of West Predominant St. Tattoos in Glasgow, Kentucky.

The balisong phase of the knife neighborhood is a microcosm of the knife business itself. There are those that use the knives within the follow of Filipino-style martial arts; those that use the knives in a mesmerizing show of twirling and tips, resplendent with the person’s distinctive model; and people who accumulate the knives created as artworks. As well as, as a result of many states have legal guidelines stopping the sale of balisongs—solely trainers can be utilized by residents of these states. Kyle talked about that he follows Knife Rights‘ work to overtake outdated knife rules in quite a few states.

Rob jokes that he is aware of simply sufficient about flipping balisongs to chop himself. In reality, VMX Knives will promote you its butterfly knife with out an edge in case you desire. At any time, you’re welcome to ship it again in case you resolve you need to go together with a reside blade.

Zach Burcham of West St Tattoos in Glasgow, Kentucky, designed the VMX Knives logo.
Zach Burcham, proprietor of West Predominant St. Tattoos in Glasgow, Kentucky, designed the emblem for Maverick Customs and was introduced in once more to mix the M from Maverick Customized’s emblem in addition to a V for Vallotton Customized Knives to create the VMX Knives emblem. Just like the VMX-1 balisong itself, the emblem makes use of old-school lettering with a contemporary twist.

Rob bought his tattoo artist, Zach Burcham of West Main St Tattoos, who designed the M emblem for Maverick Customs—named after Rob’s son—to provide you with a emblem that integrated a V for Vallotton with the M for Maverick, and the VMX Knives emblem was born. It’s consultant of the gold-leafing in indicators of yore within the model of David Smith, for instance, however with a contemporary twist, which is strictly how this group approaches their design.

The VMX-1 utilizes a floating latch system designed by Kyle Vallotton.
The VMX-1 has phosphor bronze washers, titanium screws and standoffs, and a floating latch system designed by Kyle Vallotton. It measure 5.25 inches closed, 9.25 open. Paintings by Zach Burcham, West Predominant St. Tattoos in Glasgow, Kentucky.

Proper now, whichever of the 2 are ordering provides in the midst of their private knifemaking companies purchases no matter VMX wants. They cut up these bills 50-50, watching the value of titanium because it fluctuates. At current, Kyle machines the profiles and handles then sends them to Rob, who likens what he receives to mannequin automotive components linked to their frames by plastic tabs. “From the sheet I floor all the things flat, chamfer holes and form the tops by hand,” he defined. He additionally applies any last end, corresponding to anodizing, and machines some inner components. Presently, the blades return to Kyle for hand-grinding, hole on the stomach and convex on the purpose. Quickly unused gear on the Vallottons’ might be heading Rob’s method so he also can do the grinding. As soon as all of the parts attain Rob’s store, they’re prepared for clean-up, meeting, packaging and transport.


Blade HQ will have some VMX-1 balisongs or you can order directly from VMX Knives.
VMX Knives has constructed a high-end balisong that Kyle Vallotton hopes will change the best way flippers consider flippers. You will discover some provided on the market at Blade HQ or you may {custom} order yours by contacting Rob Buckley at Maverick Customs by way of strategies listed on the backside of this text. Tattoo artwork by Zach Burcham at West Predominant St. Tattoos in Glasgow, Kentucky.

“They’re the strongest folding knives,” Rob stated of balisongs. “There’s no locking failure; the pin stops it from closing.” Irrespective of how tight tolerances are, house owners will typically loosen up butterfly knives for higher flipping. “So it’s like a chain-link fence,” Rob stated. He and Kyle are striving for a knife that’s as tight as a bushings-and-washers development may be whereas nonetheless permitting for easy flipping motion. Sooner or later, they hope to supply a bearings mannequin, in addition to a limited-run high-end mannequin.

Rob Buckley of Maverick Customs finishes the rough parts that come machined from Kyle Vallotton.
Despite the fact that Rob Buckley is in Kentucky and Kyle Vallotton is in Oregon, the lads have labored out a division of labor that maximizes the strengths of every. Rob receives the components on sheets. From there, they bear quite a few processes earlier than they’re able to be completed, assembled and shipped.

The balisong neighborhood is an entity all to itself inside the knife business. Each Rob and Kyle acknowledge the achievements of others who began the place they’re now, whereas concurrently carving out their very own house out there. Bladerunners Techniques, which fits by BRS, began out as “flippers making flippers for flippers,” Kyle defined.

“I met the BRS boys earlier than they turned BRS,” he famous. “They’re a bunch of balisong fanatics and nice guys doing an incredible job.” In Kyle’s opinion BRS excels at utilizing overlay supplies that look cool and seize the eye of the group. “They’re a giant manufacturing firm making an honest knife.”

“They make an incredible product,” Rob agreed, including that butterfly knives made by Bali-Music Inc. (1979-1983), which turned Pacific Cutlery Corp. (1983-1987), which turned Benchmade (1988 to current) are effectively made as effectively. In reality, he owns a Benchmade Balisong 53 Mangus and a Spyderco Spyderfly.

VMX Knives is ready to launch its first spherical of VMX-1 balisongs in mid-November, 2017. They obtained 15 preorders, sufficient to get the mission off the bottom.

Kyle defined the partnership’s targets with the VMX-1. “What I’ve been doing and am now doing with VMX is simplifying and altering the norm,” he commented. “We’re a small firm making a really high-quality knife for a similar value, and it’s custom-to-order.” Kyle desires to alter the best way flippers take into consideration flippers. “I need to push boundaries and alter issues for the higher. It’s what I needed to do once I began making balis.”

It’s apparent from their banter, that Rob and Kyle take pleasure in ribbing one another and genuinely respect what every brings to the mission. The web acquaintances who developed a friendship and began a enterprise collectively have additionally seemingly adopted one another’s households. Solely Rob doesn’t flip balisongs in entrance of his impressionable son, he admitted with amusing.

Contact James Robert (Rob) Buckley, VMX Knives, 111 Nook Ave., Horse Cave, KY 42749; 270-576-4392. You may view the work of Rob on Fb at Maverick Customs and Kyle’s work together with the work of different Vallottons at Vallotton Customized Knives.

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