Flavio Ikoma

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  • Surname: Ikoma
  • First name: Flavio
  • Country: Brésil

Could you depict a self-portrait ?

Well, I like to think that I am a high tech knife maker, but I like to try most kind of knives, I specially like the high tech field because it allows you to try new designs and materials, virtually without any bound for your creativity, what made possible for things like the IKBS and Guardian Angel design.
I have been making knives for more than 10 years, but I was actually raised in a shop, what means that my first knives were made during my childhood (of course theses knives were just a hobby) my father was a refrigeration technician and he decided to built his shop in our house backyard.
Since 1999 I have started to try the US market, visited some blades Shows and managed to sell some of my knives, but it was only in 2003 when I met Duane Weikum from EDC knives that I started to sell knives regularly to US, mainly balis, that was the year I started to make the Guardian Angel balis and the year before Korth and I developed IKBS.

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

The first bali I made was the Guardian Angel proto, stimulated by the sucess of the IKBS and Korth in this kind of knife, this bali was ordered by a local dealer and was purchased by Felix Sheng of www.balisongtimes.com , later then I met Duane Weikum of www.edcknives.com that is currently my exclusive US bali dealer, having a dealer specialized in selling balis made possible to invest more in this kind of knife.
I specially like balis because this is a kind of knife that seems to be evolving fast, not long ago there were just a few models available made with ordinary material and with the same basic design, but nowadays there are several different designs with different materials and techniques, there is a good number of makers doing several different kinds of balis and even some factory balis available. Besides the possibility to flip the bali to open or close it in several different ways, makes it a unique kind of knife, and since you can flip it, no matter if you are not going to cut anything with your bali you can still use it and get to know your knife better, also the way it locks open and/or closed makes the bali a very safe and reliable folding knife.

Which is your favorite blade profile and why ?

I don't have a favorite blade profile, I think all blade shape has its appeal, it will all depends on how the maker manages to add his personal style to it.

What inspires you, what is your muse?

In my design I prefer to use curves then straight lines to achieve a more organic look, my designs are based in things I love like, cars, firearms, motorcicles, jet fighters and of course women, (all of them have pretty curves)

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

Regarding CNC machines, the only one I have that may be considered CNC is my heat treatment oven, it is a digitally controlled oven I built myself, it is not completely finished, but it is already in use for some time, heat treating steels like S30V and Damasteel requires some precision to ensure everything is ok, so I decided to invest in a digital oven, it is quite precise and you don't have to stand besides the oven the whole heat treating process.
I have nothing against CNC machines, I just don't have them, they are quite expensive mainly here in Brazil and it is quite difficult to find one that fits exactly the kind of work a knifemaker do, maybe for the future I will purchase one, or maybe even built it like I did with my oven, I think CNC machines are quite valuable tools to increase the knife quality, this machine can work with very tight tolerances and shape the knife in a way that wouldn't be feasible to do manually, I just don't see the point of extensively use CNC machines to make very simple knives that could easily be made manually, since the machine is going to make a good part of the work I think its is nice to use your creativity a little bit more to come up with something different.

Do you flip balisongs ?

I do, but I am not a good flipper, wish I were better, luckily I am much better making balis then flipping them, if I depend on my flipping abilities to make ends meet I would probably starve to death

How could you describe your creations ?

Regarding my creations I like to think of them as the result of a passionate work, I make all my knives as if they were for me, trying to get the best of the materials and workmanship.

Could you give some advice to amateur or professional knifemakers who wants to start making balisongs ?

For the ones that want to start making balis what I can say is too go for it, the bali market is open to new ideas, so use your creativity and try to come up with new models and even some new mechanisms.

How do you think that the world of balisong will evolve in the future ?

Regarding the world of balisongs I think it is constantly evolving, it is quite difficult for me to predict how it is gonna be in the future, but seems quite obvious that the more makers start to make balis new ideas will come up, what will lead to further evolvement of this world.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of IKBS ?

Ikoma and Korth are currently working together in a prototype bali that we intend to produce in a joint effort, we would like to add some technical innovations in it but it is still in a prototype phase, we hope soon we have something to show.
Regarding the IKBS, the most obvious benefit is the enhanced smoothness, but there are also other benefits like eliminating blade play, long durability, since it is an open bearing it can be adjusted, so if the bali gets some blade play with time you can eliminate it by tightening the pivot screws, low maintenance needs, low production cost, dependability (it will work even with some balls missing), good lateral strength, fits in very tight space without the need to change the design too much.

Thank you Flavio for taking the time to answer our questions.