Michael Burch is a custom knifemaker who specializes primarily in high-performance folders. A native of Missouri and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, he has been an outdoorsman and knife collector since childhood. In 2002, his deep passion for knives inspired him to make his first blade and after several years of perfecting his skills, he became a full-time knifemaker in 2007.

One of his most popular custom models is his Chubby folder—a stout, folding knife that packs an impressive amount of cutting edge into a compact package. Its popularity and distinctive design made the Chubby the perfect platform for Spyderco’s first Michael Burch collaboration.

The Burch Chubby/Spyderco folder is wide and thick in comparison to its length with satisfying hand-filling heft. Its broad blade is precision machined from 0.175-inch (4.5mm) CPM S30V stainless steel stock for extreme strength and durability. This thickness is offset by the blade’s wide profile, a deep hollow grind, and a pronounced swedge on the back. Collectively, these features complement the blade’s long, sweeping cutting edge to provide exceptional edge geometry and cutting performance that far exceeds its compact size. Spyderco’s Trademark Round Hole™ completes the package and guarantees immediate blade access.

The handle defines the knife’s short, stout character while providing plenty of purchase for a good grip. It is constructed of two solid titanium scales joined at the end by a G-10 back spacer. The obverse scale features three precisely fitted round carbon fiber inlays that contrast with the matte gray color of the bead-blasted titanium. The other scale houses the knife’s sturdy Reeve Integral Lock (R.I.L.) mechanism, which locks the blade securely into place when opened. The carefully machined relief cut for the lock is located on the outside of the scale to ensure a straight-line force vector for maximum lock strength and reliability, while still allowing easy one-handed operation. To ensure convenient carry and easy access, the Burch Chubby includes a custom-designed, broad-profile clip that is configured for right-side, tip-up carry.


What started you in making knives?

I started making knives when I was pretty little. I grew up on a large plot of hunting land and used to do a lot of “exploring” with my black lab. I always had a knife on me. My dad did a lot of woodwork and he had a few of the “old school” Dixie Gun Works kit knives that he probably put handles on in the 70s. I was completely fascinated by them, so I made a few fixed blades when I was about 12 or so just to try it out. My mother still has one that I made out of a file, a deer antler and a piece of brass. She keeps it as a letter opener, but says it doesn’t do that very well!

You focus on custom primarily on folders but do you also make fixed blades?

I occasionally make fixed blades, but the focus is mainly on folders these days. I have an integral fixed blade that I forged out a year ago that I still have on my bench. I’ve never made one before and figured I needed to. I started out making cord-wrapped tantos and Dao fixed blades before starting with folders.

What was your design philosophy behind the custom Chubby?

The Chubby was probably the third folder design I came up with and the first knife with the licensed Spyderco hole. I wanted something wide, but compact and I like the hole to be above the handle without cutouts and maintain as small an opening arc as possible so the range of motion to open the knife stays small.

Customers like your titanium handle design with round inlayed insets. What is the reason for the insets?

When I started out, I did a lot of fixed blades with stingray under cord wrap. When I started making folders, I would do three holes in the frame or three inlays as a stylized version of the diamond seen in the middle of stingray.

You have worked with interesting steels (1095 and W-2, CPM-154) for your custom pieces. Do you have a preference in blade steels and handle materials for your custom knives?

I love creating hamons, so I do a lot with 1095 and W-2. The hamon is like a window into the heat-treat and a well heat-treated carbon steel blade can be beautiful and functional. It is a great knife steel that just needs a little care to ensure it doesn’t “patina” too much. When going with stainless, I usually stick with CPM-154 because it’s a very consistent steel that performs great. It has almost as much spring as the carbon steels, and holds a good edge without requiring a diamond hone to resharpen.

For more of Michael’s work and his custom offerings, please visit his website:



Since we made our first knife nearly 35 years ago, Spyderco has developed a well-earned a reputation for “pushing the envelope” of cutting tool performance in every way possible. One of our most significant accomplishments in this field has been our concerted effort to introduce exotic, state-of-the-art steels into the realm of factory-made knives.

Through our close working relationships with both U.S. and international steel manufacturers, Spyderco consistently offers one of the broadest selections of blade steels in the industry. As we move into 2015, our spectrum of steels will expand even further to include several exciting new high-performance steels. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect and some insights into what makes these unique alloys so special.

Carpenter® CTS® B70P

CTS B70P is a high-chromium air-hardening steel that is a powder metallurgy derivative of Carpenter’s CRB-7® alloy. It offers comparable corrosion resistance to 440C—long an industry standard—but with the advantages of enhanced wear resistance and increased hardness capability. The addition of molybdenum, vanadium, and niobium to this advanced alloy, in conjunction with the uniform carbide structure that results from the powder metallurgy process, greatly improve edge retention. Its alloy composition also enhances this steel’s grinding and polishing characteristics, making it an ideal material for high-performance knife blades.

Carbon 1.10%
Chromium 14.00%
Niobium 0.25%
Manganese 0.50%
Molybdenum 2.00%
Silicon 0.30%
Vanadium 1.00%

Crucible/Latrobe CPM 20CV

CPM 20CV contains the highest amount of chromium of any high-vanadium stainless steel currently available. It contains a large volume of extremely hard vanadium carbides that give it excellent wear resistance and edge-holding capability. At the same time, its 20.00% chromium content makes it extremely corrosion resistant and easy to polish. And because it is a powder metallurgy steel, these properties are enhanced through the benefits of a fine, uniform grain size and an extremely clean microstructure. The result is a superior steel that combines wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and toughness into a material that is tailor made for knife blades.

Carbon 1.90%
Chromium 20.00%
Tungsten 0.60%
Manganese 0.30%
Molybdenum 1.00%
Silicon 0.30%
Vanadium 4.00%

Damasteel® RWL-34

RWL-34 is a martensitic stainless steel produced by the Rapid Solidified Powder (RSP) process. A martensitic variant of the 420 stainless steel family, it combines a minimum of 13% chromium with molybdenum and vanadium to yield a corrosion-resistant steel that also has high hardenability and excellent grinding and polishing characteristics. Collectively, these qualities give it all the traits necessary in a high-performance knife steel.

Carbon 1.05%
Chromium 14.00%
Manganese 0.50%
Molybdenum 4.00%
Silicon 0.50%
Vanadium 0.20%

Carpenter Micro-Melt® Maxamet® Alloy

Maxamet is a high-alloy powder metallurgy tool steel that outperforms conventional tool steels and possesses many of the performance qualities of cemented carbide materials Its alloy composition features over two percent carbon and high amounts of vanadium, cobalt, and tungsten. The result is an ultra-high-performance tool steel that maintains good toughness, even at high hardness levels.

Carbon 2.15%
Chromium 4.75%
Sulfur 0.070%
Tungsten 13.00%
Manganese 0.30%
Cobalt 10.00%
Silicon 0.25%
Vanadium 6.00%

As metallurgical advances continue to yield steels that offer higher and higher levels of performance, you can count on Spyderco to make these materials available to you in our world-class knives. We remain committed to making our best even better. Spyderco anticipates using each one of these steels in our Mule Team series in 2015.


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Through the years Spyderco has offered several different catalog formats, including a Dealer catalog, an OpFocus® catalog, and a Consumer Product Reference Guide. For 2015, we have combined all three into a single comprehensive product reference. You can request a hardcopy to be mailed to you via post and also download a digital version at: