Filip De leeuw

  • Surname: De leeuw
  • Fisrtname: Filip
  • Country: Belgium

Could you depict a self-portrait ?

I'm 28 at the moment, and started making knives about two or three years ago.
Couldn't find a job, and needed something to spend the time.
I've always been fascinated by knives, and balisongs in particular. Since I couldn't afford a real Benchmade, I'd make one myself.... yeah right.
Although I never learnt metalworking in school (studied Law and Criminology), I started with my first knife: a balisong based on the Spyderco Civilian...
That first project is still laying around somewhere in pieces....

How have you come to balisong, and why do you like this kind of knife?

One of my first balisongs was the coolest knife I ever saw: it had a stainless steel black blade, with camouflage handles..... must have been 12 years old. Since it was as dull as a butter knife, flipping it wasn't dangerous and I played with it for hours and hours.
Learnt a few tricks by myself (didn't have internet, and didn't know anyone who could teach me. But even if I didn't even think of doing arials etc., I never got bored of this kind of knife.
And that's exactly the reason I like this kind of knife: I never get bored with it. AND: it's completely the opposite of other knives: When you are comfortable with opening a standard folder, the opening take less time. With a balisong, the better you are at it, the longer it takes. Completely not logical, but sooo much fun.

How have you come to produce balisongs ?

After that first project of mine (my first knife ever) I realised that a butterfly knife was not so easy to make as it seemed. So I didn't try for a while.
But then, I got some carbon fibre, and started thinking about making a completely non metallic balisong. And I gave it a try.
I used .125 carbon fiber for the blade, G10 for the handles, and 1/6th" carbon firer rod as pins. (held together by pressure, epoxy and super glue.
Tuan saw my pics and asked me to make him a small one. I did, and when he got it, he wanted me to make him one in metal too.
That was my first metal balisong.
Since then, I haven't finished one. (wanted to get more experience first) but I have a couple of blades ready, and looking to buy titanium for the handles in the next few weeks.

What inspires you, what is your muse ?

Well, everyting actually. Pics of knives, bikes, cars, nature,.... you can find beautifull shapes everywhere. I also like to read American comic books, in wich the villains often carry the most gorgeous blades.

Is balisong a knife which permits you to artistically express yourself ? Does it better than for another folder ?

A balisong is a much bigger challenge since the blade has to fit in between the handles. With a normal folder, you can put a big 'hump' on the spine, wich isn't an option with a balisong. So it's more interesting.
But, you can sharpen both sides of the blade, wich is an advantage sometimes.

Which material do you prefer for blades (different steels) and handles (Titanium, g10, brass, wood) and why are they your favorite ?

For blades, I like RWL-34, ATS-34 and damasteel for folders. On a folder, I'm not a big fan of carbon steel: fingerprints will stain the blade and little spots of rust can get around the pivot pin without getting noticed.
For handles, I like titanium: it doesn't stain, is strong, weighs a lot less than steel,... It looks great when beadblasted, anodised or simply satin finished. The variety of options is just great.
For handle material, I like G10: easy to work, and it doesn't shrink or cracks when you alter the environment. (working in a cold shop and storing the knives in a warm living room can destroy a very nice wood handle)

Do you use CNC machine or do you work exclusively manually ? What do you think the CNC machine brings ?

Never used CNC before, but I am looking a lasercutting at the moment.
I'm thinking about getting some blanks cut out of a titanium plate. When I do it by hand, it makes a lot of toxic dust, it takes HOURS, and I waist a lot of expensive material. Not the mention the close tollerances the laser can obtain.
If the costs aren't to high, expect some 'mid tech' balisongs soon.

What do you look for in a knife? (specifically in a balisong)

In the first place, I have to like the design. Doens' have to be a 'classic' usefull knife, since I only use it to open boxes and enveloppes and stuff. Things I can do with any shape of knife.
For an EDC, I want materials I can thrust: good steel (S30V, RWL, ...) hand strong handle material. (G10, titanium,...)

Do you EDC balisongs ?

I wish. Strictly forbidden here in Belgium.

Do you flip balisongs ?

Off course J I use my modified BM 43 for flipping.

How would you describe your creations ?

Well, American style mostly. Modern and different. Only a few makers here in Belgium use G10 and Titanium. (I even think I was one of the first)

Which advice could you give to an amateur or professional knifemaker which wants to start making balisongs ?

Just do it. But it wouldn't hurt to try and make a 'normal' folder first. A balisong looks easy, but is one of the most difficult knives to make correct.

According to you, how will the balisong evolve in the future ?

I see more makers getting in the market, wich is a good thing. I really hope that the balisong knife gets rid of it's 'ugly' reputation.

Thank you M. De Leeuw for taking the time to answer our questions.