Italian Custom Knives Show 2019

Italian Custom Knives Show 2019

European Blades was invited to the 9th edition of the Italian Custom Knives Show, which was held on
April 7 this year. For this edition, the show was moved from Livorno to Pisa and was held in a wonderfully restored old railway station. It was a very pleasant visit, with many beautiful knives, as shown by the accompanying pictures.
Text Bas Martens and the ‘Associazione’. Pictures Bas Martens
A part of the ‘Stazione Leopolda’, a restored and converted railway station, where the Pisa knife show was held.
The Italian Custom Knife Show is organised by the ‘Associazione per la Valorizzazione del Coltello Artigianale’ (Association for the development of the artisan knife). The Association consists of Denis Mura, Andrea Bertini, Matteo Lepori, Franco Failli, Ermanno Beccani and Riccardo Gennari. The 9th edition of their show was a special challenge, because it moved from Livorno to a new venue, the Stazione Leopolda (Leopolda Station) in Pisa, a very pleasant place close to the town centre. We asked the organisers about their experiences and plans, and will let them do the talking:
The organisers of the Pisa Knife Show. From left to right: Denis Mura, Andrea Bertini, Matteo Lepori (first
sitting), Franco Failli (second sitting), Ermanno Beccani (standing left) and Riccardo Gennari (standing right).
Together they are the ‘Associazione per la Valorizzazione del Coltello Artigianale’ (Association for the
development of the artisan knife) 
- Can you tell us something about the history of the show, who started it and why?
The first edition of the Italian Custom Knife Show was held in 2011 and the exhibition was repeated every year. So, in 2019 the ninth edition was held. The first idea for an exhibition of handmade knives was by Riccardo Gennari, our current president. His business as a merchant in knife materials, and his passion for making artisanal knives kept him in touch with many cutlers. Talking to them he understood that many were interested in an exhibition in Tuscany. Up till then, the only knife exhibition in Tuscany had been held in Scarperia, a town near Florence which is well known in Italy for knives that have been produced by local artisans since 1300.
From left to right:
Francesco Salvadori demonstrated his scrimshaw talent.
Alessandro Simonetti gave forging demonstrations next to the exhibition rooms.
Kiara Meucci demonstrated how to make and decorate leather sheaths.


Leonardo Frizzi (Frizzi Knives) made this ‘Skull’ linerlock knife. The blade is carbon mosaic Damacus by
Greg Forge, the handle is Carbon Fiber and sculpted Titanium, coloured with hot salts.

- This year, the Knife Show moved from Livorno to Pisa. Can you tell us the reason for that?
As we said, the Italian Knife Show was born in 2011, in Livorno, simply because Riccardo Gennari lived in Livorno. This also made it easier to reach an agreement with the administration of that city to obtain a suitable space to begin. However, the move from Livorno to Pisa is not the first time the site of the exhibition was changed. Within the city limits of Livorno the exhibition changed venue twice in the search for a more characteristic and, if possible, less expensive space. In fact, to allow young artisans to participate in the exhibition, it is important to us to keep the price low for exhibitors. Since the very first edition, the registration fee for cutlers has not increased. In the 2018 edition we had lot of requests, and despite the fact that every available space in the old and beautiful headquarters of the Monumental Old Fortress in Livorno had been used, many potential exhibitors were forced to remain outside. After verifying that it was no longer possible to find a new location in Livorno with all the necessary requirements, we moved to Pisa, and the Stazione Leopolda seemed to be the best possible choice, considering the large space made available to us but also simply its beauty, its history and its typically Tuscan appearance. Moreover, one of the members of the association, the well-known knife maker Denis Mura, lives near Pisa, and thus we’re still in place dear to the association.
The ‘Ginevra’, a dagger by Riccardo Caregnato. The blade is Damascus, forged by Alberto Favero from
Dolo (Venice). The handle is Swamp Sheoak and Black Buffalo. The overall length is 26 cm.
The ‘Scandinavian’ by Simone Raimondi. The blade is home-made Sanmai Damascus. The handle
materials are Desert Ironwood, Bronze and Sterling Silver. The overall length of the knife is 25 cm.
Vincenzo Balistreri made this Marlin framelock flipper. The Blade is carbon Damascus, the handle is
Titanium with Micarta inlays. The opened length is 19 cm.
‘Mother’ by Andrea Bertini. The linerlock folding knife has a 440C blade and Mother of Pearl handle scales.
- What do you, as organizers, think of the new location? Will you stay here for next year? And do you already have a date for 2020?
The Stazione Leopolda was restored about ten years ago and was converted from its original function as a railway station to a location suitable for exhibitions and fairs. Speaking from the perspective as an event organiser it’s an excellent location, especially in respect to the previous location, the Monumental Old Fortress in Livorno. Despite its former fascinating location, getting accessible routes to a fortress is obviously more difficult than walking to a station! Everyone, exhibitors and visitors, enjoyed the new venue, so we hope that next year the Custom Knife Show will still be at the Stazione Leopolda in Pisa. Concerning this location, however, there was some trouble, because the city administrators proposed a different use for the coming years. It seems that these ideas have been withdrawn, but in the coming weeks it will be necessary to understand what will happen. This process has in turn become the reason we do not have a fixed date for 2020 yet. However, we will try to get this information out as soon as possible.
Paolo Gidoni (Gidowolf) made this ‘Persian flipper’. The linerlock folding knife has a RWL34 blade and a
handle made from Timascus and Inox steel. The opened length is 23 cm.
Finnish knife maker Arto Liukko presented this ‘Wilderness Knife’. It has a 105 mm blade made from
RWL34 and a Birch burl handle.
The ‘Zuto flipper’ by Carlo Cavedon (Cavedon Art). The blade is Damascus from Simone Raimondi, the
handle is titanium. One of the handles sides is chisel engraved. The overall length is 22 cm.
- How many visitors did you get?
This year the number of visitors was a really a nice surprise. We had 45 exhibitors in 2018 and 58 exhibitors in 2019. That is about 25% more and so we were hoping to see a few more than the 300 people who visited in 2018. We had not reckoned an exact 25% increase, but that is what happened, because we had around 400 visitors. Moreover, we had the main hall full all day long, right up until it closed at 6.00 pm. In the past no one arrived after 5.00 pm. So there were more visitors and they stayed at the exhibition for a longer time. Perhaps one of the reasons for this increase was the fact that we donated four wonderful handmade knives, and raffled them off among the visitors!
Manuele Messori named this knife ‘Beast’. The blade is ATS34 steel with a DLC coating, the handle is
Zirconium and Grade 5 Titanium. The overall length is 23,5 cm.
The ‘Integrale’ by Roberto Giurisato. The 258 mm long knife has a M390 blade and a Sambar handle.
The chisel engravings are by Carlo Cavedon
‘Wolverine’ by Simone Tonolli. The linerlock folding knife has a 9.5 cm Niolox blade and a Copper Titanium
handle. Overall length is 21 cm.

- Do you select or invite knife makers, or is everyone welcome? And if so, where can knife makers inscribe? Facebook, website?
We think it is important that the organizers of an exhibition of handcrafted knives keep the knife quality under control. Ever since the first edition, the exhibition has not been open to everyone. We have always maintained high levels of quality. In this 2019 edition, for example, there were twenty CIC masters (CIC is the Italian Knifemaker Guild) and other masters from France, Finland and Ukraine. This does not mean that only the famous knife makers are allowed. Indeed, we take care that at every edition there are new people, preferably younger ones. But before registering it is necessary that the works of the knife makers are assessed by the organizers. Many exhibitions that have paid more attention to the quantity than to the correct realization of the exposed knives have had to close, or have seen a decrease in the amount of visitors. We believe that this was in part due to the fact that handcrafted knives do not interest a lot of people, but those who are interested, are very competent. So they are all very careful concerning the objects they find on the tables of the exhibition. Seeing trivial or even badly made knives drives visitors away.
The ‘Simo’ by Angelo Marcandalli (DLL Knives). The blade of this linerlock folding knife is CPM 154 steel.
The handle is Titanium and Silverberry Burl. The overall length is 25 cm.
The ‘Alamo’ by Denis Mura. The 20 cm blade is made from Greg Forge Damascus, the handle is Sambar
with a Walrus tusk butt cap. The sheath is made by Kiara Meucci.
A Bowie by Claudio Esposito. The blade is Inox Damascus, the handle is poplar wood. The overall length
is 30 cm.
To encourage those who are not yet expert enough to exhibit, but that have the will to learn, we organize a competition for amateur knife makers together with the actual exhibition. Their knives are displayed on a separate table and they are evaluated by the public and by a panel of experts. At the end of the exhibition the winners are awarded a memorial plaque. Often, the winners become exhibitors the following years. But the exhibitors at the Italian Custom Knife Show are not only knife makers. There are also vendors of machinery and materials for making handmade knives, such as wood, horns, bones, synthetic resins, leather and blades ready for handle mounting. Knife makers or vendors of knife-related products who would like to participate in the exhibition can write an email to or contact us through the Facebook page

Simone Milanesi and Gabriella Orippa make knives and knife sheaths under the name La Cantina. 
This is their ‘Pescatore’. The 223 mm long knife has a San Mai 416 / 1095 blade and a handle from
stabilized Maple with a Copper guard.
Roberto Ottonello aptly named this knife ‘Air’. The handle is only 1.5mm thick and the knife weighs just
14 grams. The blade is 7C27Mo2 Sandvik steel and the handle is Grade 5 Titanium.
The overall length is 16 cm.
The ‘Swede’ by Claudio Ercoli. The linerlock folding knife has a blade from home-made mosaic Damascus.
The bolsters and Damascus and the scales are Resin.
The ‘Integrale’ by Luciano Ferraudo.  The knife is made from Böhler M368 chromium steel. The handle has
four inserts of fossil Mammoth tooth and some very subtle geometrical engravings on the spine.
- What are the plans for next year?
The organization of the exhibition requires a lot of time each year, not only because it is necessary to assess the knives of many new exhibitor candidates, but also because every year we want to present new interesting activities. This year for the first time we hosted a medieval sword fighting school that took place in the area just outside the exhibition. We always have Daniele Dal Canto who is an instructor of the FISSS (Federazione Italiana Survival Sportivo e Sperimentale He showed some groups of boys how to use the knife outdoors, when and how it’s necessary to light a fire or build a shelter from the rain. We also experimented with conducting small conferences on the history of the Nordic knife and the history of steel. Our friends Alessandro Simonetti and Kiara Meucci are now regularly present giving demonstrations in front of visitors on how to forge blades and build leather sheaths. Even the presence of established collectors who show precious and rare knives seems to be appreciated by the public. An idea that’s been in the organisers group for a long time now is to hold a competition according to the rules created by Blade Sports (, but the organization of events like that is complex, even if the spaces of Stazione Leopolda are suitable.
Giuseppe Pala made this ‘Flipper’. The blade is RWL34, the handle is AISI 416 and Mother of Pearl.
The overall length of the knife is 220 mm.

The ‘SM79’ by Riccardo Mainolfi. The blade is from 154CM Crucible steel with a double grind. The handle
scales are Carbon fibre. The overall length is 23 cm.
- Is there anything you want to add or think is important?
Our exhibition is first and foremost a meeting place for friends and lovers of technique and aesthetics. The female presence is high (about 30%), unlike other similar events, and is evidenced by the fact that in this edition, two women have won two of the four knives given to the public with the lottery. We therefore hope to be able to comply with the official description of the aim of our association which is, "to spread the culture and the responsible use of the knife".
The ‘Frontier Wolf’ by Gionata Montani. The 28 cm knife is made from 7mm thick RWL34 and has
synthetic elephant ivory handle scales.
This utility and hunting knife is made by Maurizio Mattioli. Blade and handle spine are from hand-forged
random carbon Damascus, the handle is wood. Overall length of the knife is 27 cm.